In 2005, you were out of reach on a road trip. Maybe you had a laptop, with a dial-up modem. Wi-Fi was rare, expensive and flaky. In the early mornings and evenings, you watched emails crawl in and replied to them. A few people had primitive smart phones. Cellular modems were slow. Data was expensive.
Fast forward to 2016. High-speed Wi-Fi is ubiquitous and often free, even overseas. Smartphones are as big as early tablets, and do almost anything a laptop can do. Mobile data is fast, and the costs are dropping even faster. Laptops are much lighter, and runtimes have increased from 2 hours to 8 or more.
Of course, you can work remotely, but how much; and what are the best tools to use? Here are some considerations:
- How long are you going to be away?
- Do you expect to work while you are gone?
- How much are you willing to carry?
Different trips, different needs:
- Weekend trip – Unless you have a 24/7 career, pack lite. You can do most things with your smart phone. Pack a charger, and some headphones to be courteous to your traveling companions. Maybe get a battery pack, car charger and windshield mount, to use your phone for navigation.
- Overnight business trip – Add a tablet, or Microsoft Surface. With the cloud, a laptop is overkill.
- Vacation – Take a tablet, it’s easier to type on, and better for browsing, whether for business or pleasure. Leave the work laptop, or your employer may expect too much, it’s a vacation!
- Extended business trip – Take what you’re willing to carry. Most employers expect you to work when you are on business travel, so plan for your work away from the office.
Know what to expect, and prepare for the rest. What if your flight home is delayed or cancelled? Can you work? Or the big deal closes and you’re in Cancun, can you do the paperwork? Some pointers:
- Use the cloud, if data is in the cloud, you can probably access it from anywhere.
- Make sure you have access to high-speed internet – without it, the cloud is useless. Research the Internet service at your destination, you never know when you might need it.
- Set up remote access a couple of weeks before your trip, and test it from home and a coffee shop. If you haven’t used it for a while, test it again, and fix any issues before you leave.
- Make sure your data plan is big enough for your trip, and know what overage charges you may face. Make sure tethering/hot spot is allowed, and know if there’s an additional cost.
- For international travel, a GSM capable phone is best. Consider pre-purchasing a SIM card, and voice and data plans for your target location – they are generally much cheaper.
- Travel insurance – make sure company property and valuable tech are insured.
- Overseas cyber hazards – You’re more vulnerable in unfamiliar circumstances. Keep equipment close. Don’t take anything so valuable that you can’t risk trashing it when you get home.
- Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt. If you lose something, or your equipment gets hacked, it substantially reduces any losses.
A little forethought makes your trip safer, more enjoyable, and more successful.