It can take a while to get into the swing of travelling for work, balancing the practicalities of doing your job away from the office, while maintaining a level of professionalism. To get this right, it is important to have the right tools, while not lugging absolutely everything at your disposal with you.
Every business traveller’s toolkit will be slightly different; evolving over time to reflect their needs and embracing new innovations. To help those starting to put their toolkit together, we’ve comprised a list of what it may contain and why.
Lightweight laptop or tablet
Getting work done while you’re on the move is likely to require some sort of computing device. While in the past you may have only looked at what a laptop or tablet can do, now its size and weight is of paramount importance. Weigh up the capabilities that you will realistically need on the road against the space it will take up and the inconvenience of carrying a lot of extra weight around.
Many tasks can be achieved on a smartphone without the need to get your laptop out. Ensure it is set up with all the apps and contacts you are likely to use, so you can be productive from the moment you sit down on the train or arrive at a coffee shop between meetings.
All these devices are great, but they’ll be no good if they run out of juice. Bring a fully-charged, lightweight external battery to give anything from your laptop to your smartphone an extra boost without having to leave it anywhere unattended.
Technology is brilliant…when it works. Travelling all that way to make an important pitch or show a carefully-constructed presentation to a client can be in vain if your laptop refuses to play ball. Important items, such as the aforementioned presentation or documents you intend to refer to, should be backed up on a USB stick. These handy little lifesavers can be tucked away in a pocket and if you need to use someone else’s device so be it, but at least you’ll be able to get access to what you need.
You’ve got everything you need to get a task done on the train or in the airport departure lounge apart from peace and quiet. Pop on your noise-cancelling headphones and it’ll be as good as sitting in your office working away, or even better.
Notepad and pen
It sounds incredibly old school, but packing some paper and a pen is a pretty good idea. Just a slim notebook can act as a great failsafe if you lose your smartphone or can’t power up your laptop. You can jot down important information, such as contact numbers or key figures or even draw diagrams of what you need if you are in a country where you don’t speak the language.
Clients often have marketing material and various handouts they wish to give you. Putting all of this into a folder will keep it all together and pristine, so when you return from your trip it will still look as shiny as it did when you packed it. Getting out a folder on a train is also infinitely better than stray papers, which may scatter everywhere.
An empty ziplock bag is the perfect place to store all the receipts you need for claiming your expenses. Having them all in one place will make the task of sorting them out a lot easier. An envelope works just as well if you don’t have a ziplock bag to hand.
You never know when you’ll meet a potential client or lead on the road and having business cards to hand will enable you to maximise such opportunities. It looks professional to hand one over with everything on it they might need to contact you.
The bag you put all of these items in is just as important as the kit. You want something that’s small enough to fit into overhead lockers and be allowed on as hand luggage on a plane, but also have enough space for everything you need. Separate pockets will also mean you can organise your possessions carefully for easy access to what you are most likely to need more often.