Every once is a while I’ll do something like order a car service with a phone app or download a 20mb presentation in a airport and realize just how far business travel has come in 15 years. Being a road warrior sucked in the 90s. You had cool tools in the office, but once you stepped out you were a caveman.
The last few years have brought a flood of truly useful tools and services that have changed business travel forever. Travel is still tough but with things like this it’s a lot easier. Here are a few of my faves:
- Google Maps: Every time I use the app I think to myself: holy crap, I’m glad I don’t work for one of the GPS companies. Works all the time and hasn’t let me down yet and I use it EVERY trip.
- Starbucks: The only thing I love more than coffee is free wifi. I’m old enough to remember looking for a phone jack in an airport to dial up to the Internet to grab my email. Shudder.
- Uber: Once you’ve tried Uber you’ll never be happy with a normal cab ride again. Super easy user experience, the best drivers and reasonable rates. Plus there’s no cash or cards changing hands. Truly disruptive.
- Zipcar: I rarely need a car for a whole trip. I want a car for a couple of hours to run out to a far-flung office campus. This is where Zipcar shines. Grab a car at a downtown location, use it for a few hours, return it and never see a human in the process. Amazing.
- MacBook Air: Do you remember 15lb laptops? Well my shoulder does. My Air weighs about as much as a baby sparrow plus the battery lasts forever, it boots quickly and is super speedy. Hard disk size is smallish but who uses local storage anymore.
- Rdio: I listen to a ton of music on the road. It fills time in trains, at airports and walking to meetings. Rdio lets me bring everything with me with. Plus the playlists help me discover new music.
- Dropbox, Box or Google Drive: We use a lot of decks and video and they’re all a squillion MBs in size…..or close to it. I love keeping a library of content that I can access from anywhere at anytime.
- Speek: Remembering a conference bridge password while huddling in a quiet corner of a hotel lobby is a pain in the butt. Speek offers super simple conference call service where all you need is an app or a URL.
- Yelp: Coffee meetings, lunch meetings, dinner meetings and drinks. All in a city you don’t know. Yelp rules at finding a decent place if you learn how to read the reviews with a critical eye.
- Smartphones: Don’t laugh. It wasn’t that long ago the only place you got your email was on your laptop. The only time I open my laptop during the day on a trip is to do a demo.
I wouldn’t go back to the days of paper maps, dial-up Internet, big ass laptops, lousy cabs and eating in hotel restarants for anything. These are a few of the things that make my life on the road a lot easier. What are your faves?