These days, being a business traveler means lugging around a lot
of expensive equipment, including cell phones, electronic datebooks,
laptop computers, and more. Here's a few suggestions on how to
keep one of your most valuable business-related items safe and
To help keep thieves at bay, it's always smart to keep your
laptop in a case that doesn't immediately identify it as a computer.
The same advice holds true for cameras, VCRs, and other expensive
equipment you might take on your business travels.
When entering a metal detector at the airport, do not put your
laptop on the conveyor belt to be x-rayed. Rather, ask the security
guard to conduct a manual search of the computer and any other
electronic equipment you may have with you.
Once on the airplane, keep your laptop nearby. Don't store
computers in overhead bins because they can get thrown around
during the flight. So when you're not furiously typing away
on a business proposal--or playing solitaire--keep your computer
underneath the seat in front of you.
Always travel with extra batteries and call the hotel ahead
of time to make sure it has modems and data ports available
in guest rooms or in the hotel business center. Also, if you
plan on doing a lot of work in your room, pack an extension
cord so you can use the laptop from your preferred spot, regardless
of where the outlet is located. In a pinch, move the furniture
to suit your needs.
||Using Hotel Telecommunications
While most hotels appreciate their professional guests, not all
of them make it easy or inexpensive to telecommute from their
rooms. The following tips can help save you money--and keep your
blood pressure down--when using phone and data lines away from
If your hotel has a dedicated business floor, make every effort
to stay there as these rooms are set up with the business traveler
in mind. These rooms are more likely to offer dual telephone/modem
lines, fax machines, and free local calling than other rooms.
You are also less likely to have punk rockers or screaming children
Hotels often charge guests high service fees for making long-distance
calls from their rooms. However, in the United States, hotels
are required to provide a connection to any long-distance company's
access number for the same charge as a local call. So use your
calling card and save money by placing your calls through your
own long-distance carrier. Or, just go downstairs and use a
lobby pay phone.
Hotels usually charge hefty fees to use their fax machine.
If you need to send or receive a fax and it's impossible to
do so from your room, a cheaper option might be to use one at
a nearby store or business center.
Remember that many parts of the world--including most of Europe--use
a different voltage system. This means that you'll need adapters
for anything you plan to plug into the wall, including your
laptop. Also, some European countries (notably Germany and Austria)
have noise on their telecommunications lines called "tax."
This noise, used to monitor rates of usage, can be very disruptive
to modem communications. Consider buying a filter.
It can be hard to keep on top of industry developments when holed
up in a hotel room working on a proposal. But as you probably
know, many news resources are available on the Internet. We've
compiled a list of some major business-news sources available
online to help keep you in the loop while on the road.
The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition features news that
is updated 24 hours a day, making it an invaluable resource
for professionals on the go. You can browse some of the information
for free. To reap the full benefits, you will need to pay $29
per year if you already subscribe to the print version of the
WSJ or Barron's, or $59 if you are not a subscriber.
You can currently access an excellent online edition of BusinessWeek
for free. As with the Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition,
subscribing provides access to even more articles and information.
Subscriptions to the online edition are free to print-version
subscribers, and cost $39.95 per year if you do not currently
receive the print version of BusinessWeek.
Forbes Magazine offers free access to its online edition. The
site is packed with articles and links to financial information.
Need to keep up with stock prices? Nasdaq has a free site that
gives quotes (with a one- to 20-minute delay) for Nasdaq, AMEX,
and NYSE. You can track mutual-fund information using reports
from Morningstar. There is a charge, however, for Morningstar's
Fortune Inc. has a Web site called Fortune.com. The site contains
a wealth of business and finance articles that may be accessed
without a subscription to the paper version of the magazine.
Kiplinger's Kiplinger.com site provides free access to many
articles relating to business. From this site you can also easily
jump to Kiplinger's popular Magazine and Letters, but there
is a charge to subscribe to these.
||Making the Most
of Your Time in the Airport
With flight delays rippling across the nation, many business travelers
find themselves stranded in airports with work that needs to get
done. For every minute a flight is delayed, the pile of work left
waiting back at the office can seem to grow commensurately. Surprisingly,
in the midst of all the airport hustle and bustle are several
convenient possibilities for those who need to engage in business-related
activities. Here are some tips on how to take advantage of airport
services to get your work done in the most efficient manner:
If you're tired of trying to plug your laptop into a public
payphone, look for one of the many Aerzone Business Centers
that are popping up in airports all over the world. Formerly
known as Laptop Lane, these centers contain virtually everything
a business traveler needs to work in a quick, efficient, and
productive manner. Here, you can check your e-mail, send a fax,
make a phone call, and much more. Features include T-1 Internet
connections, faxes, phones, copiers, printers, and support staff.
Some even have meeting rooms available and facilities for Web
conferencing. You pay a fee for the use of the office (usually
$5 for the first minute and $0.65 for each additional minute),
so it helps to be organized. All calls in the U.S. are free.
Similar to the Aerzone Centers, but with extra amenities like
cozy couches and tempting treats, most airlines have special
members-only clubs or lounges in the airport. Serving as comfortable
oases in the midst of busy terminals, most come with fax, phone,
power outlets, and other tools you need to get the job done.
As an added reward, most have complimentary snacks, sodas, and
juice. Some also have fully stocked bars, conference rooms,
and meeting facilities. Perks like these often come with a price,
or are awarded to travelers who log a certain number of miles
per year with a particular airline. Check with your airline
to see if you qualify for any of the programs they have in place.
Restaurants and bars can provide a more relaxed setting to
work in--as long as the Super Bowl isn't showing on the big-screen
television. If you're in a time crunch, you get the added bonus
of taking care of your appetite and your work at the same time.
If you want to check your investments, some airport restaurants
and bars have televisions that display stock-ticker symbols
across the bottom of the screen. You might also be able to use
this time to make important business contacts with other stranded
travelers. Although the bar may look tempting, you may want
to avoid alcoholic beverages as they will make you both dehydrated
Specialty stores and boutiques are increasingly setting up
shop in airports both large and small. Since you are already
stranded in the airport, they can provide a good venue for you
to buy a gift for a business associate or client. Your family
back home might appreciate a gift or souvenir as a momento of
your trip as well.
Since there is nothing you can do about flight delays, another
option is to take advantage of this time to relax. Allowing
yourself a few stress-free moments can actually help increase
your productivity later on. Read the paper, do the crossword
puzzle, take a nap, or just settle in with a good book.