The breakdown occurred during a long commute from Maine to Florida when a traveling laptop crashed in the middle of the workday. Stalled without a portable office, we blew one deadline and suffered through a roadside meltdown with frayed nerves. Fortunately, convenient access to system installation disks — tucked into a suitcase — and online storage of critical data solved the problem.
Hitting the road with work assignments can be a challenge for even the most seasoned traveler. Deadlines, receipts and office files can clutter flight paths. And family drama can generate additional layers of chaos.
Stay streamlined with these road warrior tips.
Go digital: Avoid carrying large amounts of paper by storing critical information in a secure online location. Use a flash drive to save backup copies of key documents, images and other hard drive files. Jungledisk.com offers affordable storage with daily scheduled backups. You can also store the latest version of work files in personal e-mail accounts. Keep receipt piles at bay with a travel-sized scanner. Neat Receipts, www.neatco.com, has a unit with user-friendly software to document expenses in digital form.
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Use time: Stay current on projects by making the most of time spent on buses, trains or planes. Those blocks of time are perfect for tasks that don't require Internet access. Use airport delays to review research notes, e-mails and business contacts. Work around the schedules of young children, teens and other family members when business trips overlap with family vacations. Rise early or stay up late to work while the rest of your entourage sleeps.
Maintain records: Review workplace policies about travel expenses and daily spending allowances. Establish routines for storing or scanning travel receipts needed for expense reports and tax records. Collect paper receipts in a mid-sized notebook with built-in folders, and take notes about money spent on tips, vending machines and other cash-only expenses. If accompanied by family during a business trip, carefully segregate personal and work expenses.
Pack equipment: Before the trip, create a list of needed equipment. Computer cables, batteries, digital cameras and office supplies are among the tools needed to create a traveling cubicle. It can be expensive and difficult to replace lost or forgotten cables or computer accessories when traveling.