We’ve said it many times before, and we’ll say it again: business travel is not as sexy as others might think.
But you already knew that. Between the debilitating effects of jet lag, and a host of other potential downsides to your physical and emotional well-being, you know you deserve better. Especially when you are doing your company a solid, and bringing in the dough.
Fortunately, thanks to modern technology, there are a ton of gadgets out there that can help to make your travels a little smoother. Here are our top picks.
1. All-in-one travel charger
You’ve faced this before: an urgent request comes down from your boss, or you need to quickly respond to a client’s feedback—but your laptop and smartphone batteries have simultaneously decided to bail on you. By chance, of course.
You need to charge your devices, but the chargers you’ve brought don’t fit into the local plugs—they’re for the wrong country. Cue in the panic and distress.
Skip the drama, and get an all-in-one travel charger instead, so no matter where you go, you’re always ready to plug in and power up.
For short trips, Nomadic Matt founder Matthew Kepnes recommends the JOOMFEEN Worldwide All in One Universal Power Converter, a universal plug adapter with two USB ports and one main outlet. More than sufficient for your business travel needs.
2. Cable organiser pouch
One cable for your iPhone. One cable for your laptop. Another for your camera. And yet another one for your work phone…
Now imagine them all stuffed into a pocket of your bag. With all the entangling and fraying, it’s a wonder that they can survive any of your business trips!
Here’s a low-tech solution to save the day: cable organiser pouches. These will sort out your cables permanently with little effort on your part, giving you quick access to them wherever you go.
Any one of BAGSMART’s travel organisers will do the trick:
Each of these have space not just to store your cables, but memory cards, chargers, and a handful of electronic accessories that you carry around on business trips.
Alternatively, you can try out Cocoon’s Grid-It! organisation, uh, grids. Think cable organiser pouch, minus any unwieldy zips and buttons:
3. Smart lock
Another potential source of stress, luggage locks tend to range from flimsy to complicated. Usually, somewhere in between ‘easy to cut through’ and ‘I forgot my combination again’.
Also, they add weight to your baggage without adding much else beyond an extra layer of protection.
Meet Airbolt, a smart travel lock that can be controlled by your smartphone. No more fiddling with combinations and tiny keys that always disappear just when you need them.
In itself, that is a major plus, but there’s more: it can also be programmed to alert you (again, through your smartphone) when your luggage happens to “wander” a bit too far from you, and track it down via GPS. Hello, peaceful naps in the airport lounge!
If you already have a lock handy, and you’re looking specifically for a luggage tracker, the Tile would be an excellent alternative.
4. Bluetooth earbuds
Business travel can get hectic. You want to make the most of the time you have in the country, and so you’re likely to pack meetings and events back-to-back. In other words, little to no time to decompress. Not great for your physical or mental health.
One way to take a quick breather is to make the most of your time spent in transit. And a good way to do that is to sit back in your Grab or Uber, plug in a set of comfortable Bluetooth earbuds, and put on a relaxing tune or two.
(Because chances are that your Grab or Uber drivers will just turn on the radio).
Why Bluetooth? See the previous point about reducing your cable footprint.
Why earbuds? You want to carry around something that’s light and easy to access. While headphones are certainly more comfortable, they can be hard to pack into a day bag.
For wireless earbuds, the top picks in the industry right now are Apple’s Airpods, and the Jabra Elite 65d.
Both are excellent choices—lightweight, easy to connect, and great sound quality—though iOS users might want to go with the AirPods because of the seamless connectivity between all the devices within the Apple ecosystem.
If comfort is a big must-have, then consider the Bose’s QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones II, which is widely known to be one of the best headphones in the industry right now.
5. Noise-masking sleepbuds
Of course, the best time to catch forty winks is while you’re trapped in steel vehicle with nowhere to go.
I’m talking about an airplane, by the way ;)
Whether you’re flying business or economy class, there’s always a good chance that you’ll be seated next to a snorer—or worse, a baby (gasp).
To make sure you can still get your beauty sleep, Bose have invented a set of high-tech earplugs that they’ve dubbed as sleepbuds.
Specifically: Bose noise-masking sleepbuds.
These don’t play any music at all. Instead, they use “pre-loaded, soothing masking sounds to cover up unwanted nighttime noises so you can get to sleep and stay asleep.”
Sounds like a dream come true, literally.
The only downside? A hefty price tag, at roughly US$250.
6. Personal safety device
It might not be the first thing on a business traveller’s mind, but safety should always be a priority when going anywhere outside of your familiar space. Especially when you’re travelling alone.
Consider getting a wearable device, such as the Revolar or Athena, which would allow you to easily send out a call for help—or a check-in notification when moving from point to point—whenever you feel like you’re in a dangerous situation.
The good thing about these devices is that they are fairly subtle, so they don’t stick out like a sore thumb on your person:
You might not actually use it, but it will at least give you peace of mind—and that is well worth the investment.
Take any advantage you can get
Being away from your familiar environment and spaces can be tough, especially when it happens frequently. But with some smart gadget picks—and a few adjustments for productivity—you might be able to make anywhere you travel to a little bit more comfortable as well.