If you plan to travel internationally this summer for your small business, check out these tech tools.
By Millie Lapidario
When you’re traveling on business, self-sufficiency and preparedness become extremely important. When you travel, you’re living and working in an unfamiliar place, aiming for peak performance.
There are hundreds of widgets and doodads that can make life easier while you’re traveling. But researching and experimenting with tech travel toys can easily waste your time.
Here are five tech travel tools to consider:
1. Prepaid SIM card
When you’re on a business trip, you shouldn’t be worrying about high roaming fees from your cell phone provider. When you travel, you need data to look up directions, send e-mails and conduct endless fact-finding missions not typically required from home. If you take short, frequent trips abroad, monthly international packages from the major carriers don’t offer much flexibility. You run the risk of going over your limit and paying exorbitant overage fees when you travel. On the flip side, you also risk overestimating and buying too much data. Once your monthly period is over, you lose your unused data.
Prepaid SIM cards are the simplest, most cost-effective option for staying connected while abroad. Pay-as-you-go options as you travel like G3 Wireless offer prepaid data roaming without requiring contracts or term activation commitments.
Let’s say you’re going to travel to Europe and you’ll need to make calls, send text messages and use the Internet on your phone. Get a G3 Wireless starter pack for $29.95 and from there, you can make calls for 39 cents a minute, use data at 39 cents per megabyte and receive texts for free. After that, you refill your card as needed. (Note: prepaid SIM cards only work on unlocked phones.)
2. Universal plug adaptors
If you’ve ever tried to work during a power outage, you know it’s nearly impossible and downright maddening. It’s the same feeling when you’re in a foreign country and your gadgets don’t fit in the electrical outlets. Save yourself the frustration and take universal plug adaptors with you.
Plug adaptors range from $8 to $20 and you can find them at electronics retailers like Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon. This five-pack from Dynex includes pieces labeled with specific countries and continents. Consider plug adaptors as necessary as your passport.
3. Battery packs for cell phones, cameras and tablets
We all face the “dying battery” panic time and again. Stop the cycle by having backup power at all times. You never know when your next cab ride or flight will last longer than expected, leaving you dangerously far from an electrical outlet.
Take a look at the 16 battery packs ranging from $25 to $100 recommended by Tech Radar. There’s an especially sleek gadget not on the list called the Innergie PocketCell. The PocketCell, which costs $60, is about the size of a lipstick case.
Use this app to book flights, car rentals and hotels, look up directions and stay organized. iPhone users can also check in to flights through WorldMate. Wondering about the time difference between your home base and your destination? Planning ahead for the currency conversion? It seems the developers considered every possible travel need and made this app a one-stop shop.
5. Electronic translator
Language learning has come a long way from the bulky dictionaries we once had to carry around while traveling abroad. These days, you can easily get by in a foreign country using a handheld electronic translator.
TopTenReviews.com has a helpful guide of the best electronic translators of 2014, ranging in price from $30 to $240. One of the newest translators on the market is a device about half the size of an iPod nano called SIGMO, which allows real-time translations for 25 languages. You speak into the device in your native tongue and the device says the same phrase in the foreign language.
Unlike the other electronic translators out there, SIGMO is small enough to hang around your neck, clip onto your clothes or strap on your wrist.
Are you ready for your next business trip abroad? Shop around for these tech tools to make work-related travel more productive and stress-free.
About the Author
After attending UC Berkeley, Millie held an array of writing jobs, from journalism and reporting, to teaching and freelancing. She used all of her writing experience to start the copy writing company, Lapidary Copy. She also writes for the non-profit, Taproot Foundation, which makes business talent available to organizations focused on social change. Millie resides in Hawaii.