by Niel M. Bornstein
Starting January 24, I will be taking a new job as a Senior Architect with Novell Consulting's Linux and Open Source practice. As a consultant, I'll be spending a good amount of time wherever the work is, so I expect Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport is going to become a second home to me.
Prior to this, I've always been a sit-at-my-desk developer, so this is a new experience for me. I'll still have a fair amount of time behind a desk, only now the desk will be in my house when it's not at a client site.
I'll be taking some time to clean up the home office so that it will be usable for an actual eight-hour workday, as opposed to the two- to three-hour after-hours writing that I have done there previously.
The time I've taken setting up my desktop box with Ubuntu will certainly pay off, as I'll be using it as the nerve center of my home office. It'll be time to get the wireless router as well, so that the desktop, iBook, and company-issued laptop will all act as peers on my home network.
But I still need some help outfitting myself for travel. Besides the laptop and cell phone, I'll obviously need an assortment of cables and accessories.
Aside from that, I'm at a loss. Does anyone out there have any tips for a new frequent traveller? Anything I can do to ease the pain of travel and bump me up against the technological limits without busting my budget?
Got any tips for a new Road Warrior?
Mac OS X for the traveler
Ooo, that sounds like an interesting new job! Congratulations! :^)
Maybe some of this could be of interest to you?
things I've found helpful
I've been an IT security consultant for four years, and here are some of the things I've found helpful. You didn't mention whether your company-issued laptop was Windows or Linux, though I'll guess it's Linux, and try to keep my comments restricted to things that run on Linux.
Some of these things are probably obvious, and you've already thought of them, but I've found them helpful nonetheless. I think the key mantra is "Travel sucks. Do anything you can to make it less painful."
- your laptop must have a DVD player
- Bose noise-canceling headphones (or equivalent; I only have exeperience with the Bose, but I love them)
- VMWare (and as much RAM as your laptop can hold)
- a large external USB2 or Firewire hard drive (for storing client files, MP3s, and VMWare virtual machines)
- some means of regularly backing up or synchronizing your laptop with a machine at home or at work, so that when (NOT IF) your laptop is stolen, you won't lose more than a few days worth of work
- some means of encrypting all your client files (again, for when your laptop is stolen). I've used PGPdisk on Windows, there's also EFS for Windows, and I'm sure there are equivalents on Linux. The key is to make sure every file is encrypted all the time. If you have to manually encrypt and decrypt a file to use it, you'll stop bothering with that pretty quickly
- a privacy filter screen for your laptop
- some means of syncronizing your cell phone address book with an address book on your laptop. I use www.mightyphone.com, but there are many options, depending on your phone and OS
- a business card scanner - CardScan makes the one that is probably most well-known, but there are others
- an expense tracking program (your employer will probably provide one, but if not, you'll need to do so yourself)
- some kind of portfolio/travel wallet for holding expense receipts/airline tickets/train tickets/frequent traveler membership cards and the like. Try ebags.com
- Get a backpack-style bag for your laptop; your back and shoulders will thank you.
- learn to pack four days of clothes into a carry-on sized suitcase; you'll get into and out of the airport much quicker. And get one of those carry-on bags that actually fit in the overheads - your fellow passengers will hate you less (you're a consultant; get used to people not liking you :-)
Finally (and perhaps most obvious), sign up for every single airline, hotel, train, and rental car frequent traveler program you can find. Depending on how much you travel, those things really add up. For example, I am taking my family on a week-long vacation to Disney World for free this spring. You might as well get some benefit from putting up with all the travel.
A Solid List:
A similiar question was posted at Engadget sometime ago - The resulting user posts are pretty comprehensive!
Give it a look: http://www.engadget.com/entry/8929361846181247/#c36879
Home is where you are.
Being away from home is an aggravation. In order to keep it up for long periods, you need to be creative in fixing what bugs you.
- If you're frequently travelling to the same location, pick one hotel and consistently stay there. Learn the names for the front desk and housekeeping staff, and let them know when things go right.
- If most of your engagements are 4 or more days, check and see if the weekly rate at a Suite hotel is cheaper.
- Most budget and midrange business changes offer free internet, and in some cases free wireless; some offer unlimited local and long distance telephony. Most upscale chains charge extra for this service.
- If you're a coffee drinker, ask if there's a coffeemaker in the room, and bring your favorite. (Most business class Suite and mini-suite hotels have them; unfortunately, few provided coffemakers have timers, so you cannot wake to the smell of brewing coffee...)
PS - Fedex and UPS are your friend. If the folks at the hotel know you, they help you ship boxes of junk to and fro, and save you the hassle of carrying training materials, dirty laundry, or spare laptops through airport security. In many cases, if you ship Thursday afternoon, it'll arrive on Saturday; If you ship from home on Saturday, it's there Tuesday at the latest.
PPS - Learn the company's rules on what is deductible and what isn't. Sometimes it's determined by what can be billed back to the client. Often, you can negotiate on reasonable requests (like UPS charges).
I see this thread is really quite aged, however I'll add my brief comments.
Recently there is a new business communications software which marries your VOIP with a contact manager database, as well as doing a ton of other really cool stuff you may or may not need at this time.
It runs well on a laptop.
You can check out more of the details at http://business.ask-us.biz
Best of success to you!