8 travel tips to improve your next business trip or vacation.
Leaders travel. It’s been an unusually busy travel season for me. I’ve enjoyed discovering some new things that can improve our travel experiences:
TRAVEL TIP #1 – EXTERNAL USB BATTERY: Your phone can be in almost continual use when you travel. You’re lucky to get through most of the day before the battery dies. For $30-$75 you can get a rechargeable battery with a USB port. Plug in your phone during a flight and you will arrive with it fully charged. If you get a battery with 2 USB ports you can plug in your tablet, game or music player in addition to your phone.
Don’t wait for your mobile device battery to drain down before connecting it to the external battery. Plug the phone in to the external battery even when the phone is fully charged. You can then use the phone all you want and the phone battery will remain full for later use. When buying a battery, be sure to compare its “mH” rating. This is the amount of power it can store. The higher the “mH” the better. I like batteries rated with at least 10,000 mH.
TRAVEL TIP #2 – EXTENSION CORD: A simple household extension cord makes a huge difference. Keep it in your carry-on and pull it out in airports. You can recharge your phone or laptop without having to sit on the floor. An extension cord also allows you to plug in 3 things. This comes in handy in hotels where there are usually fewer outlets than you need.
TRAVEL TIP #3 – FOUR-WHEEL CARRY-ON: I replaced my traditional two-wheel carry-on suitcase with one that has four wheels. What a difference! It doesn’t fall over and my briefcase sits nicely on top as I wheel it through the airport. Be sure to get one with a solid handle. The four-wheel design puts a lot more strain on the handle; cheap handles won’t last long. Also look for a suitcase that expands. It seems like we always come back with more stuff than what we had when we left.
TRAVEL TIP #4 – AIRLINE APPS: These mobile phone apps make it easy to check in from anywhere and can be used as an electronic boarding pass. No more trying to print boarding passes at the hotel business center!
TRAVEL TIP #5 – TABLET WITH KEYBOARD COVER: It’s hard to open a laptop in an airline seat, especially if the person in front of you reclines. A tablet paired with a keyboard cover fits nicely on a tray table, even if the seat in front of you is reclined. I wrote this post in just this situation!
TRAVEL TIP#6: PORTABLE BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS: These are compact, rechargeable speakers that pair with your phone or tablet via Bluetooth. You can listen to music, movies or make a hands-free call. They are great for listening to music when you are getting ready in the morning or watching a movie on your tablet. I chose ECOXBT because it’s compact, waterproof and double as a speakerphone.
TRAVEL TIP #7 – QUALITY HEADPHONES: Smaller earbuds have all but replaced larger headphones. However, earbuds can be uncomfortable and they don’t block external noise very well. Recently a particularly loud infant was crying in the airline seat behind me. Earbuds could not block the noise. I found that a decent set of headphones did a much better job of eliminating cabin noise, were more comfortable for longer periods of time and sounded better. When buying headphones here are a few things to consider:
> On-the-ear headphones: These are smaller headphones that rest on top of your ear. They are more compact and easier to carry with you. However, they can press your ear to your head and can become uncomfortable with time. They also may not block external noise that well.
> Over-the-ear headphones: These are larger, but they completely cover your ear. This more effectively blocks external noise. They also press against your head (not your ear) which makes them comfortable for longer periods of time.
> Noise-cancelling vs standard headphones: Some headphones have a noise-cancelling feature. This helps mask external noise. However, it requires that the headphone be powered by a battery (that can go dead during a trip). It also affects the sound quality of the music. It’s a good idea to test-listen before you buy.
> Wireless headphones: Many companies now offer wireless blue tooth headphones. This eliminates being tethered by a cord, which is nice on a crowded plane. However, Bluetooth technology can affect sound quality and requires a battery. Again, it’s wise to try before you buy.
Decent quality headphones can be expensive ($100-$400). However, so is travel. Even the best headphones cost less than a plane ticket. They can significantly improve your travel experience every time you leave home. If you don’t mind buying used, you can find nearly new premium headphones on Craigslist for about half the price.
I chose Beats Pro headphones. I like that Beats provides the best deep bass. The Pro model doesn’t need a battery. The over-the-ear design is comfortable and does a good job of blocking external noise. The only downside is that, even when folded, they are pretty big. I can also recommend Bose Quite Comfort 15 (QC-15) headphones for their excellent sound quality.
TRAVEL TIP #8 – LARGE CAPACITY MUSIC/VIDEO PLAYER: It’s nice that media files can be stored on our phones. However, our phones also need to store a lot of other information (like apps and photos). That means capacity for media can be quite limited. For traveling I purchased a 160GB iPod that holds my entire music collection and dozens of movies. It’s compact to carry and allows me to bring a wealth of entertainment for long trips. It also saves me from draining my phone when using media.
Another way to take all your music with you is to upload it to Google Play (free). Using an app on your mobile device you can stream your entire music collection to where you are.
Travel is a great way to enrich your life and career. Investing in the things that make travel better means you’ll want to travel more. . . and that can pay huge dividends.
What travel tips make your life better? Share them in a comment below.