AS a freelancer, I need to be able to work on the go. It’s easy being a “road warrior” when I just move about in the city. All I need to bring is my laptop, which I carry in my backpack.
But when I have to travel abroad by air, it’s a different kettle of fish. For this, I require some special gadgets to ensure that I can stay productive during my travels.
Over the years, I’ve refined my “packing list” to include all the key items that will allow me to do work effectively no matter where I am. I trust that these items will also make a difference the next time you travel for work.
MOBILE PHONE POWER BANK
Today’s smartphones really eat up power. If you use the phone for anything other than just phone calls and text messaging, you’ll find that it’s hard to go through the day without the battery running out. Typically, my phone power runs out within half a day because I use it for a lot of things such as email, browsing, social media posting, shooting photos and videos, and more.
I even use it as a mobile hotspot when I need to use the Internet on my laptop. As such, a power bank is a necessity.
Like most people, you would probably already own a power bank of some kind but when you travel, you will want to have one that’s heavy duty because being out and about in a different city or country, you never know when you’ll be able to charge your phone to a power socket.
And the last thing you’d want is for your phone to run out of juice while abroad for business. There are many brands of power banks out there. Ideally, get one with 10,000mAH and two USB sockets (so you can charge other devices as well such as MP3 player, camera, audio recorder, etc.).
When abroad for business, you’ll probably do more text messaging than usual as it is cheaper to text message than make phone calls. Yes, it’s possible to make phone calls through Whatsapp and other chat platforms but the audio quality is sometimes not clear. So text messaging becomes all the more important when travelling abroad.
You may even need to compose something on your phone because you may not have your laptop with you at all times. Having a Bluetooth keyboard will make typing a lot easier than tapping away on a touchscreen. Even on a big phone it’s hard to type more than a few simple messages. For anything complex or long, a keyboard is ideal. These come in various sizes, from really small to full-sized. Get one that you feel comfortable with typing on.
Note that although Bluetooth is supposed to work universally with any smartphone, in practice this is not always the case. Pairing a keyboard with a phone can prove problematic at times. To ensure connectivity, it’s best to buy a Bluetooth keyboard from an established brand rather than a cheap, unknown brand.
LAPTOP POWER BANK
If you have a need to use your laptop on-the-go a lot — not just in planes but in cafes and other places where you may not have access to an electrical socket — you should consider getting a laptop power bank. These may not be available in local retail shops so you’d have to order these online.
I’ve bought some of these so-called “laptop power banks” that are supposed to be so powerful that they can jumpstart a car. But the problem is that unlike mobile phones which have standard Lightning or Micro-USB connectors, different laptops come with different connectors. Laptop power banks will come with an array of connectors which will cover the majority of laptops out there but you may have a particular model or brand of laptop that is not covered. So do your research online to ensure that your laptop is compatible with the power bank you’re buying.
If you want a really heavy duty laptop charger that is guaranteed to work with your laptop (whatever brand it is), consider getting the RavPower AC Power Bank which, as its name implies, has an AC output that can deliver a 100W of power. Note that this device is aimed at the US market and its AC socket is designed for two-prong plugs, so you’ll need to get a travel adaptor for this.
It’s available at Amazon.com at US$169.99 (RM753) but unfortunately, this item does not ship to Malaysia. If you don’t have a friend in the US who can order this and send it here, you could consider ordering it from 11Street (www.11street.my) but the price is rather steep at RM1,248.80.
A hotel room is the best place to recharge your myriad of electrical devices, including your power bank. The problem is, hotel rooms are not known for providing a lot of convenient electrical sockets. Sometimes I’ve even had to unplug a lamp in order to use its socket for charging stuff.
It makes a lot of sense to bring along a power extension cord, especially if you’re the kind who likes to work on your laptop in bed (your laptop’s power cord is usually not that long and might not reach the power socket in your room).
At the same time, as you’re charging your laptop, you may want to charge your phone and other devices that are chargeable via USB such as power bank, tablet, camera, digital audio recorder, MP3 player and so on. A USB hub would be suitable for charging multiple devices.
A handy device that serves both as power extension cord and a USB Hub is the Pineng PN-333 extension socket with 4 USB hubs. It’s an all-in-one device and priced very affordably at around RM40, from various vendors through Lazada (www.lazada.com.my).
This is a very cool apparel company that makes clothing with multiple secret pockets for carrying gadgets and devices. One item I’ve bought is a jacket that is suitable to wear for business meetings. It features 23 pockets, so it’s possible to carry an array of items like tablet, phone, camera, earphones, sunglasses, power bank, business plans, wallet, passport, etc. — all in one jacket!
The company also sells convertible travel pants that come with 10 pockets and compartments. It’s super practical in that it converts to shorts through the use of hidden leg zippers. The nylon fabric is lightweight, quick-drying and Teflon treated for water and stain resistance. The company ships internationally but unfortunately, our country is not on its list of countries it delivers to.
So if you want to get this, you’ll need to get a friend in the US or any of the other countries it delivers to order it for you. You can find the details at its website (www.scottevest.com).
FRANKLIN GLOBAL TRANSLATOR
This phrase translator has everything you’d need to communicate in a foreign land. For each language, it has in its memory over 800 phrases for areas such as accommodations, emergencies, food and directions.
A total of 16 languages are covered, namely Arabic, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai and Vietnamese. There’s a feature that allows you to save and recall 60 most commonly used sentences. And it comes with a world clock and alarm.
The battery is rechargeable and it has multi-plug adapters. This item is available from Amazon (www.amazon.com) and yes, it ships to our country.