The Best Ultraportable Laptops and Tablets
If you're travelling regularly, purchasing an ultraportable laptop or a business-ready tablet lets you churn through your everyday work tasks when you're waiting in airport lounges, in the middle of flights, or in your hotel room at night.
The natural choice for a traveller's business notebook is one that is reasonably small and light, so it can fit in a carry-on bag, and one that has good battery life. It also has to be able to run all your usual business apps like email, Web browsing, and spreadsheet access - but if you have those documents saved online, whether you choose a Windows, Mac or other device doesn't really matter.
If you're going to be using your laptop for watching videos, taking touchscreen notes with a digital pen, or other tasks that don't require a keyboard or mouse, we'd also consider a tablet with a removable or Bluetooth keyboard. Our top choices for ultraportable laptops and tablets include the Apple MacBook Air, Microsoft Surface Pro 2, Apple iPad Air, HP ChromeBook 14, and the Toshiba Encore - they're all small and versatile with good battery life.
A Portable Battery Pack to Keep Up the Juice
Buying a big portable battery pack can be invaluable when you're away from home - charging your devices while you're on a plane or travelling between meetings can save you the anguish of a dead battery.
Whether you have multiple devices or just one, buy the portable battery pack with the largest capacity (measured in milliAmp-hours, or mAh) possible within your price range. As a general rule, around 2500mAh will net you an entire recharge of your smartphone's battery.
Digitalised Travel Itinerary and Documents
It's easy to lose track of your plans when you travel, especially if you're in an unfamiliar setting or have a busy schedule. If you're carrying a smartphone, you've got all the capabilities of a personal organiser, along with nearly-constant access to all your online data.
The easiest way to consolidate your important info is to use a cloud storage service like Google Drive or OneDrive, and transfer any emails or documents into it, using the free apps for each of these services to access them whenever you need them. Both services let you save documents temporarily to your smartphone or tablet - useful for when you don't have an Internet connection. Store all your email receipts and flight itineraries in the one place for easy access.
If you have documents that are hard copies only, without any digital version, it's a good idea to scan them and upload them to your cloud storage for safekeeping. Any good all-in-one printer will include scanning software -- even better is using a printer with optical character recognition (OCR) software, so your documents are saved as text files that can be searched for relevant info. At a minimum, scan your documents as images for quick viewing in a pinch.
Email and Video Conferencing Access on Your Devices
If there's one thing you absolutely must do to stay in touch with your office when you're travelling, it's enable email access on your smartphone. Missing out on crucial business information could cause a problem, and there's nothing as annoying as dealing with a pile of emails when you return to the office.
If your business uses Microsoft Outlook, Google or other web-based email service, adding external access from your smartphone is easy. You can use your iPhone, Android or Windows phone's inbuilt email client - each has a step-by-step guide to show you what to do - or use each email service's specialised apps for extra features.
Beyond email, it's often useful to chat directly with workmates and collaborate on tasks. Free software like Google Hangouts or Skype lets you talk directly with colleagues that are also using the service -- so get your entire office signed up to one service and use it consistently. Larger group chats are easily handled with collaborative chat services like Campfire.
Microsoft Lync, offered as a part of the Microsoft Office 365 and works perfectly for instant messaging, videoconferencing, and online meetings.
Noise-Cancelling Headphones or Bluetooth Speakers
There's nothing more aggravating and distracting on a long-distance flight than sitting near the plane's engines, or being stuck in the middle of a raucous aisle. Cut down on any in-flight distractions by wearing a pair of noise-cancelling earphones. We like Audio-Technica's excellent ATH-ANC9 , which has three noise-cancelling modes and can cut out 95 per cent of airplane noise, but Bose's QuietComfort 3 also does an excellent job.
If you're travelling for more than a couple of days, bringing along a portable Bluetooth speaker can help you wind down in your hotel room after a long day. You can also use most Bluetooth speakers to make and receive phone calls - they usually have in-built microphones, and if you're having a long conversation, they're far superior to your smartphone's tiny internal speaker. When we travel, we're partial to the Braven 570 and the Ultimate Ears Boom, both of which are compact with excellent sound quality and good built-in microphones.