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Tech It with You: Essential Tech Tips for Travelers

Now that airlines charge fees to check bags and overhead stowage is in short supply, it’s essential to minimize what you take on trips. The new rules are certainly not compatible with the need to stay connected and take along some necessary tech gear.

Before embarking on a trip, look into mobile apps that will make it easier for you to manage your airline and hotel reservations, as well as restaurants and ground transportation., an app available on iPhone, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile, lets you put in your travel itinerary, hotel info, and car rental details. What you get back is information on flight status if there are any delays or gate changes; wait times at security; and baggage claim leading through your flight. Once on the ground get info on your car rental and hotel. The Web to mobile app can import trip details, or you can enter your itinerary manually. (; free)

Packing those downsized bags is another story. Think about what’s essential to your particular trip rather than what you routinely take.

By now most business travelers have upgraded to smartphones. A Blackberry, iPhone, or other smartphone running Windows Mobile or other program will give you access to email and the Web. If you don’t have one already, consider it for both travel and every day convenience. With a mobile device you can receive and respond to email, look up flight information, local restaurants, and directions using Google Maps or other navigation program. This might be all you need for an overnight trip.

Sometimes more than a handheld device is in order. If you can tear away from the office behemoth, consider a Netbook. HP has some good options for the category. The 311 has an 11.6” screen offering more real estate to show off spreadsheet reports, product demos, or watch a (downloaded) movie. Don’t expect to watch DVDs, since this class of notebooks typically forgoes the DVD drive to save on space and weight. (; $399)

Netbooks have varying amounts of hard drive space. For more capacity, or if you will need files from another computer, an external hard drive may be in order. There’s some slim and attractive drives that double as back-up devices from SeaGate. FreeAgent Go will bring any necessary files and then some. Drives are available in capacities ranging from 320 GB to one terabyte (TB), and in a range of colors to match your Netbook or personality.

An external dive is also another strategy for eliminating a notebook in your bags. It’s easy to put your presentation or necessary files for your meeting onto a drive, provided you know you’ll have a computer available at the meeting. (; $99 to $229)

It’s always a good idea to have a back-up plan, and smaller media storage than an external drive. Pack one or two USB drives. This way you have a second option. And sometimes you may need to hand off information to a business contact. A USB drive is easy enough to part with, and then replace. It also lets you transfer a presentation or necessary files to a client’s computer without revealing all your files.

With all of these devices, and the activities you’ll take part in, it’s good to have a charging option. You may not have access to a power outlet from the time you leave home to board the airplane until you get to your hotel after a day of meetings and wining and dining. To be sure you’ll have juice in your phone and other devices, a power pack is in order. The Energizer XP2000 Universal Rechargeable Power Pack is part of Energizer’s XPAL line. This device has a gel-based battery that stores a charge to transfer to a range of phones including Blackberry, iPhone, Motorola, and more. (; $37.99)

At the end of the day, the toothbrush case you choose can fail. The Violigh travel toothbrush sanitizer might add some bulk to your toiletries, but it will protect your toothbrush. It protects your brush in a baggage search at security and the cleaner at the hotel alike. The sanitizer uses ultraviolet light to rid your brush of germs from brushing or handling. Violight also has a travel case for your razor. (; $29.95)

On the plane, during workout, or other times of relaxation, you may want music. Tuck an MP3 player in your bag or look into what is available on your phone. An iPhone is a given, load your music and have fun. Most recent Blackberrys have a sizable memory card to store songs for playback. For streaming music consider Slacker Radio. This app, available for Blackberry and iPhone, comes pre-loaded on most Blackberrys. The streaming service has pre-set stations, and the ability for you to program your own channel with music preferences. (; free)

Before your trip power up and charge all your devices to be sure they’ll work. Also be sure to have all the necessary cables such as a USB cable for your external drive. It’s also handy to have a cable to plug your iPhone or Blackberry to your laptop. If you don’t have access to the Internet you can transfer your files to your Web-enabled mobile device to send via email. I had to do it on my last trip and it allowed me to meet deadlines without incurring the hotel’s high Internet charges.

By Enid Burns for SeeJaneFly