The Complete Business Traveller Gadget Checklist

The Complete Business Traveller Gadget Checklist

Packing for a work trip? There’s only one thing worse than hitting the road without the right equipment: hitting the road overburdened with junk you’ll never use. Here’s our checklist of gadget essentials that are worth the space.

Picture by Matty Candy/Getty Images

This list is based on personal experience, and your requirements might vary a little. But there’s not anything here that I’d count as an indulgence. For any job that requires a phone and a computer some of the time, these are essential inclusions.

To make packing really simply, keep this gear in your standard carry-on bag. That way, you may not need to do anything more when a trip comes up than work out your clothing needs and add your phone, PC and tablet (as needed).

1. Powerboard

Hotel rooms don’t always have enough power outlets; conference centres never do. Their location also often makes working difficult, and some chargers won’t plug in at all if the outlet is close to the floor or a wall. Pack a powerboard and you’ll have plenty of charging options. (Bulkier powerboards don’t always make sense in hand luggage, but are definitely worth packing in your suitcase. Smaller four-outlet boards shouldn’t be a problem.)

2. The right device(s)

The Complete Business Traveller Gadget Checklist

I’ve argued at some length before how the right device varies trip-by-trip depending on your needs. If you have to do a lot of keyboard work, or you’re on a lengthy trip, a notebook PC (or netbook or ultrabook) will be worthwhile. For shorter trips, a tablet (possibly supplemented with a Bluetooth keyboard) could be enough. On longer trips, both might be useful. The key is to identify your goals for the trip and pack your gadgets accordingly — the decision will also influence other items on the list.

3. The appropriate chargers

Worth listing separately because so many people remember their machines but forget the cords (I won’t shame my colleagues by mentioning specific names). If this happens regularly to you, buy spares to keep in your travel bag.

4. Universal USB cord

The Complete Business Traveller Gadget Checklist

If you’ve packed a computer, a universal USB cord will let you connect virtually any device to it, which is useful for both syncing and as an emergency charger. I still favour packing “proper” chargers for the devices you travel with, as the process is faster and you won’t run out of USB ports. The cord provides a tangle-free backup in case that goes wrong or you leave a charger behind.

5. Wi-Fi hotspot

Hotel internet services are overpriced and often slow. For domestic travel, using a 3G service will save money in less than one night of travel compared to hotel rates, and you’ll be able to use the service throughout the trip. Using a Wi-Fi hotspot eliminates the need for buggy driver software, and also allows you to connect more than one device at once.

6. International power adaptor

The Complete Business Traveller Gadget Checklist

For international trips, an adaptor that works in any country is a no-brainer; combine it with your powerboard and you’ll be able to charge up wherever you go. (It’s obviously not needed for domestic trips, but if you keep a pre-packed workbag, it may as well stay in there.)

7. Bootable USB stick with key documents

Grab a 4GB (or greater) USB stick and load it up with the following:

  • A bootable Linux environment you can use if your machine (or that of a colleague) won’t boot for some reason. Don’t know how to set one up? See our full guide. Another option is to set up a drive filled with portable apps.
  • Scans of essential documents such as your passport and travel insurance certificates, along with listings of essential contact numbers. (If you’re worried about losing the stick, get an encryptable model.) It also makes sense to store those securely online, but having a no-connection version can be helpful

That won’t fill the whole stick, meaning you can also use it to grab copies of documents from others if necessary.

8. Headphones

The Complete Business Traveller Gadget Checklist

You can go several ways here: compact Bluetooth headphones that work for both listening to music and making calls, or larger headphones to provide better sound when you’re relaxing. (In the latter case, pack a flight adaptor if needed so you can deal with two-pronged connectors on planes.)

9. Screen wipes

In your own office, it doesn’t matter how filthy your laptop gets. But when you’re presenting or using your machine on a plane, people will notice. Even if you’re relaxing and watching a movie on your tablet, it’s better to have a clean screen.

10. Portable phone battery

The Complete Business Traveller Gadget Checklist

Regularly find your phone running out of juice during the day on work trips? An add-on battery solution such as the Mophie can get you out of trouble. You won’t always use it, but in the case of a lengthy flight delay or other drama you’ll be glad to have it.

Got your own gadget travel essentials? Share your ideas in the comments.

Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman packs for speed, comfort and convenience — why compromise? His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.


  • Hey – you’ve been rummaging through my luggage bag again haven’t you?
    I carry most of the above and also find room for a “rugged” external hard drive (Freecom) for use as back-up/plug into any PC to retrive important files and as an emergency should my PC get swiped (it’s happened).
    Have also found a lightweight pen-torch very handy.

  • yep, good, I’ve been travelling recently-and have come to appreciate re-tractable short cables– espeically usb (especially now that most phones are mico-standard)and headphones, as they pack easier, and are good as failsafe,failsafe-

  • I have most of the above in my travel kit – this is a pretty comprehensive list. A couple of other things I find useful:

    – 2 sets of headphones – noise cancelling for on the plane (and sometimes while working) and ear buds for phone calls and mp3 player in the gym.
    – HDMI cable for connecting the laptop to the hotel TV.
    – Important travel documents saved on dropbox for access them from laptop and gadgets.
    – International travel adapter with built in USB ports for charging devices.
    – Multiple USB cables (not universal) so several devices can be charged at the same time.

  • I have to travel internationally at least once a month, so let me add some extra tips. (Aussie, based out of Singapore)

    International MIFI:
    You can still use a MIFI internationally, just need to get some prepaid data sims for each country. I use the Huawei E583C MIFI. Great little device I got in Hong Kong. Can be tricky in some countries. Seems like it doesn’t support Telstra in Australia as it roams to another carrier when I use a telstra sim.

    Power Packs:
    I also use a universal travel power pack for all my devices. So you don’t need to carry multiple power packs. I have the Innergie mCubeSlim. When I travel with the family, we can share just one power supply instead of packing multiple power packs. Also has a USB charging port, which is handy

    If you’re going to travel on a long flight, basic headphones are not going to cut it. You don’t know what you’re missing until you upgrade to 4 way in ear headphones and use an external AMP. I have the Westone 4’s plugged into a Govibe Magnum amp. Having in-ear headphones, with soft rubber plugs cut out just about all noise and are much better than those overpriced noise canceling headphones. Watching movies is actually not too bad. With the AMP, you can control the sound volume much easier, so any “announcement” interruptions are not ear bleedingly loud. In-Ear headphones also make it easier to fall asleep while still wearing them. I sometimes put whitenoise on the iPod and that helps to fall asleep.

    Oanda currency converter
    Concur for scanning expenses
    PriorityPass for finding lounges. (Needs membership)

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