Travelling can be an enormous time thief, but if you approach it the right way and with the right tech, you can make it work for you. From staying in touch to keeping your devices charged and banishing bawling babies, here are some of our favourite tips for making every making the most of being on the road.
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The lines between different kinds of devices are blurring, and that means you can do more while carrying less - so for example, you might carry a smartphone with a Bluetooth keyboard instead of a phone and a laptop, or use a tablet with built-in internet for working and voice calling, or have a hybrid PC that’s a laptop on a desk and a tablet in your hands.
We’ve all done it: the last minute panic pack that finds you in a strange city without enough pants or your phone charger. Lists are your friend here: drawn up in advance with a cool head, they’re much faster and more effective than chaotic case cramming.
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If you’ll be travelling mainly in urban areas, there are usually places such as coffee shops, where you can access free Wi-Fi. However, if you can’t rely on (or don’t trust) public Wi-Fi then it’s worth taking Wi-Fi with you when you travel. You can do that in three ways: by having a device such as a tablet with an integrated cellular modem; by investing in a Wi-Fi dongle, such as a MiFi; or by using your smartphone as a personal hotspot.
Timing makes a big difference to what you can get done on your travels. For example, arriving at the airport a little early can mean getting through security before it gets too busy, enabling you to spend your time doing instead of queuing.
Battery anxiety is less of an issue now that processor and battery technology deliver day-long battery life, but if you’re going on a longer trip it’s still important to think about how you’ll be charging your device or devices. If you’re going to be miles from a plug point then lugging extra batteries or using a battery case for your phone is a good idea, but if not then pack a charger (or a multi-charger if you have several devices) and a power strip: you’ll be surprised by how many places have spare plug sockets, and how uncomfortable it can be to sit on the floor right next to them. Don’t forget your mode of travel, too: many cars and trains have power sockets.
Turn The Outside World Off
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Noise-cancelling headphones are wonderful things in general, but they’re particularly wonderful on aeroplanes, trains and any other form of transport where there’s a lot of background noise. Even really piercing sounds such as crying babies are made less unpleasant. And of course, you can use them for music or for audiobooks and podcasts too.
Work in Context
Travelling time is often better spent on thinking, learning, scribbling and creating to-do lists than the more intense work you might do in the office. Instead of fire-fighting, you can catch up on industry-related reading and think about big picture stuff instead of everyday minutiae.
Take Your Online Stuff Offline
These days much of what we do lives in the cloud, but you can’t always be sure the cloud will be available everywhere you go - and we don’t just mean in places where people still point at the moon. If you’re likely to need it on your travels, get an offline copy of it before you travel. That doesn’t just apply to your work stuff: it applies to your travel documents, tickets and itineraries too.
Go Off The Grid
So far we’ve talked about staying connected, but you might find the alternative - going completely offline - is even better. With your phone on airplane mode and your Wi-Fi off, you’ve got time to reflect, to write those emails you’ve been meaning to do for days or to catch up on your reading list.
Look After Yourself
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All work and no play doesn’t just make Jack or Jane a dull boy or girl. It can be bad for their health too. Try to avoid the temptations of terrible food on the go, and try to stay in places where there are gym or spa facilities so you can work out or relax after a long day. Make time to Skype friends and family too. Just because you can work 24/7 doesn’t mean you should.
This article originally appeared on Lifehacker UK