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10 Proven Must-Have Things for Business Travelers

10 Proven Must-Have Things for Business Travelers

Being a business traveler to over 20 countries, I have a “things to bring” list that I keep on my phone whenever I’m heading out to a foreign land. It’s a pretty extensive list that helps me to remember what I need to pack in my luggage before leaving for the airport. Some of the things that I find indispensable, which often give me “thank God I brought that” moments, are at the top of my list.

Below are some recommended items to have in your suitcase.

1. Swiss Army Knife

Made famous by the TV series MacGyver in the late 80’s, this jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none tool is first on my list because of its novelty and life-saving qualities. I must admit that since I was a boy, I was captivated my MacGyver’s ingenuity in getting out of trouble by this using super handy tool. So, I begged my mom to buy me one, and after 20 years, I’m still using the same one she bought for me with my name engraved on it.

Okay, enough of nostalgic memories; the reason why this item is on my list is because you would never know when exactly you might need scissors, say to remove the label on the brand-new tie you just bought for the conference, or my most-used feature of all, a bottle opener for the foreign beers I love to try. But please ensure that you store this item in your check-in luggage, as it absolutely will be confiscated by the airport security officers during your security screening. This tool is still a Swiss military standard issue, which is why it is top on my list.

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10 Proven Must-Have Things for Business Travelers - swiss army knife

    2. Portable Luggage Scale

    With so many low-cost airlines around nowadays, chances are you might be flying with one of them, whether your company is under budget or not. And your flight might restrict the weight of the luggage to as low as 20kg/44pounds (“thank you” Ryan Air). So, weighing your luggage before each flight is becoming a routine for business travelers, especially if you’re on a long trip. This is when a luggage scale comes to your rescue (or your company’s rescue) from paying hefty fees on those extra kilograms you just packed into the plane. Investing around $10 into this gadget could save you hundreds of dollars in the long run.

    luggage scale

      3. Foreign SIM Card for Mobile Internet

      Today’s highly connected world requires us to always be, well, connected! Some of us may dread the feeling of not checking our Facebook or Twitter account for days, but beyond that, staying connected over mobile Internet is crucial for a business person to check their emails, texts, Linkedin, or to power those traveling apps (see item 10).

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      It also acts as your WiFi hotspot via tethering when you’re not getting good enough signals from your hotel’s WiFi. It’s getting more affordable and accessible for any foreigner in any country to get a pre-paid or post-paid SIM card, or a short-term cell phone plan. In Europe, a 2GB plan could be as low as $25 per month. I myself once bought a pre-paid SIM card from Hutchinson 3 of UK in South Korea for only $35 and used it all over Europe for 2 months, without paying any roaming charges. Even a post-paid dominant world like Korea has introduced SIM card plans for tourists.

      Besides getting a foreign phone line, you could also put your phone on roaming mode with data, or continue to hunt for those elusive WiFi zones around the city.

      4. Credit Card, ATM, or Debit Card

      This is a rather self-explanatory item that you must have, but do check with your bank if they charge extra (by percentage) for overseas transactions. If so, use your ATM/debit card to withdraw cash instead, via the globally connected ATM machines (check the logos on which interbank network the machines support). You only need to pay a small one-time withdrawal fee, on top of the cost of currency exchange.

      5. External Portable Battery

      Travelers are always out and about; not to mention constant photo taking and navigating via Google Maps. These activities will absolutely drain your phone’s battery, and if you can’t find a place to charge your phone, consider carrying an extra battery around, or an external battery pack to share with your other power hungry devices. Ensure that you bring them along with you in your carry-on luggage and not in your checked-in baggage, due to risk of fire hazard.

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      10 Proven Must-Have Things for Business Travelers - portable external battery

        6. 2 Travel Power Adapters

        Ok, I’m assuming we are not first-time travelers, so we never assume we could hook up our phones or laptop chargers to any power outlets in any countries. But, we should assume that we may need more than one power adapter in this ever increasing, digitally connected world. In fact, I carry two of this when I travel, because I just have too many things to charge or power-up. You could also consider bringing a socket extension as an alternative, but do watch your luggage weight.

        10 Proven Must-Have Things for Business Travelers - travel adapter

          7. Mini Sewing Kit

          I thought I heard you laughing. Well, some may laugh now, but wait till you accidentally pop that button of your favorite office shirt and you’re meeting your huge prospect tomorrow. If you think your hotel does not provide one, please bring one. What I do is I keep one from the previous hotel I stayed in.

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          8. Business Cards

          I add this on this list because I actually have it on my “things to bring” list just in case; you may forget (like me). Many foresee that business cards will be dead soon, and be replaced by new high-tech devices or apps (but many of these hopefuls have failed). So, until that happens, pack them in your suitcase and remember to bring lots of them.

          9. Business Card Reader App

          Okay, say you’re a pretty popular business person and in a day, you could collect dozens of name cards from your newly formed contacts. How do you plan to keep those cards? Name cards are becoming a real burden to store, as we swiftly move into the digital age and the current best option for you to efficiently manage these cards is via name card reader apps. I personally use CardHQ’s business card reader app because it’s lightning fast and super easy to use.

          10. Apps, Apps and More Apps

          Apps are already becoming don’t-leave-home-without-it essentials we all must have. My top must-have traveling apps are:

          • Google Maps (or Waze)
          • Google Translate
          • Whatsapp (or other commonly used chat apps in the country like KakaoTalk for Korea, WeChat for China, Line for Japan and Thailand, or Facebook Messenger)
          • Weather app
          • Currency converter
          • Booking.com (or any apps from your online hotel site)
          • Uber
          • Foodspotting

          Featured photo credit: Matthew Hurst via flickr.com

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          Melvin Wong

          Founder of Qoach - Over 300 free sports courses with 5,000 videos

          10 Proven Must-Have Things for Business Travelers 10 Proven Must-Have Things for Business Travelers

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          Last Updated on September 28, 2020

          The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

          The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

          At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

          Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

          One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

          When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

          So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

          Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

          This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

          Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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          When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

          Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

          One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

          Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

          An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

          When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

          Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

          Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

          We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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          By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

          Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

          While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

          I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

          You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

          Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

          When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

          Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

          Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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          Con #2: Less Human Interaction

          One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

          Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

          Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

          This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

          While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

          Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

          Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

          This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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          For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

          Con #4: Unique Distractions

          Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

          For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

          To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

          Final Thoughts

          Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

          We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

          More About Working From Home

          Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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