I’m a techie, so I’m always on the hunt for ways to use technology to make life easier. During the past couple of weeks I’ve had to do some heavy traveling. So naturally I planned ahead and tried out some cool gadgets, apps, and services that helped me stay organized and connected while keeping it moving.
The first thing I did was download the TripIt Travel organizer app. TripIt is a free service for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry devices that organizes just about every aspect of your trip. From airport, hotel, and car rental reservations and updates, to daily travel agendas, to updating the weather for whatever city you visit, TripIt has you covered. All you do is create an account online, create your trips, and start forwarding those confirmation emails to plans@TripIt.com — the service will extract all of the necessary information and organize it in a way that lets you view all of your travel information in one place. No scouring through emails to retrieve info and no carrying around printed confirmations either.
Speaking of keeping everything organized, my last trips were business-related (write-offs) and I hate carrying papers around with me. One of my go-to services is called Shoeboxed, and it helps me organize receipts and business cards while on the go. Once you set up an online account you can download the free mobile apps to upload your documents, or snap a pic and send the documents directly to your account. You can add notes for more detail, and the service will email you when the upload has been processed. Later, you can login to your account, view, edit, share, or download your documents for more control. Shoeboxed offers a free 30-day trial; after that, it costs $10 /month for unlimited use.
For some strange reason, my smartphone’s battery seems to drain faster when I am nowhere near a power outlet. Searching for a wall outlet and waiting around for your smartphone to charge while on a tight travel schedule is inefficient, so I packed up my Powermat Dual 1850 backup battery for my trips. This device is about the size of a hockey puck, and when fully charged, can power your iPod or smartphone back up to almost 100% before its own power is drained. It has a proprietary iOS port for charging iPods and iPhones, and a short Micro USB cable for charging a BlackBerry, Android and other small USB devices. The Powermat Dual 1850 can be purchased for about $40-50 bucks, and in my opinion is well worth it. Since I depend solely on my gadgets to function, I can’t afford any “2% power remaining” messages on my device when I’m sitting in a meeting or event with a wall outlet nowhere in sight.
Finally, a cool tip I learned when checking into an old-school hotel with in-room internet but no wireless, is to carry a portable wireless router that can connect to the room’s ethernet cable. They are small and can easily fit in your luggage and are helpful in those awkward rooms where the internet source is nowhere near where you would actually want to work. They are also useful if your smartphone or tablet can’t connect via its data connection. Once you connect to the hotel’s internet using the travel router, you can connect all your mobile devices from anywhere in the room. Travel routers like the Apple Airport Express (my pick) range from $50-$100 bucks.
Stay organized, charged up, connected, and ready to enjoy the trip, while others wander around looking for a wall outlet everywhere they go.
I’m a Husband, Father, Consultant, Writer and all-around “Jack of All Tech” who is constantly giving folks the “Low Down” on technology on my blogBrothaTech. I also get my tech-writing hustle on via various tech-related sites all over the interwebz. My main tech topics include: mobile apps, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, small business, social media and related web-tech. Yeah, I Tweet about tech (and some other stuff) too. Look me up @BrothaTech“