Bon Voyage!

Travel Must-Haves

Luggage

When it comes to luggage trends, color is the new black. Hartmann's Mobile Traveler from the new Sky Luxe collection (in dazzling polka dot, solid and checkerboard patterns) is a cinch to spot on the luggage carousel. These wheeled bags, covered in a durable wool/nylon blend, come in 22-inch (the legal limit for carry-ons) and 24-inch sizes. Durable in-line skate wheels and a sturdy, push-button locking handle system make towing your bag through the airport easy. Cost: $775 for a 22-inch; $925 for a 24-inch.

Forget the briefcase. If you want to be on fashion's cutting edge, it's time to switch to a messenger bag. The Commute bag (available in a rainbow of colors) combines the durability and look of a messenger bag with business travel features like a protective pouch for laptops; a padded handle; quick-access exterior pockets; a a padded, rubberized bottom; a padded back; and a quick-adjust shoulder strap. Cost: $100, or $110 for an extra-large version that fits 15-inch widescreen PCs.

Travel Gadgets

You'll create 80 percent more packing space when you put bulky items like sweaters in the Eagle Pack-It Compressor Set , which sells for $19.85. Just place your clothes in these special triple-laminated plastic bags, then roll the air out through the one-way valve, flattening the bag. It's also a smart way to keep dirty or wet clothing separated from the other contents of your suitcase, and the clear plastic makes them easy to inspect at the airport. The set includes two reusable bags, one medium and one large.

At $24.95, Bucky Shades are the Cadillac of eyeshades, and a must-have for any traveler who has suffered through a sleepless red-eye flight. A lightweight eye mask with a unique sculpted interior padding that cradles your eyes is covered in 100 percent light-blocking blackout cloth, providing complete darkness for better sleep. An adjustable elastic strap accommodates all head sizes, and a handy, built-in pouch stores reusable earplugs. Sweet dreams!

Cell Phones

No mobile warrior would be caught working anywhere without a cell phone. It's your lifeline, your constant connection to your business. It can be daunting to wade through the many phone candidates, but the wide variety available means you can find one that's right for you. Keep in mind that pricing can vary depending on the plan you get.

Overseas travelers should check into a world phone like the $230 LG L1400. Like most phones these days, it has a camera. It also works on the GSM/GPRS network, so you're covered in the United States and Europe.

Samsung's a795 is an update to its previous world phone, the a790. It covers CDMA and GSM networks, and features advanced voice recognition and 64MB of internal memory. A clamshell design makes it stylish as well as functional. The price had not been set at press time. The $550 Siemens SX66 is a Pocket PC phone with a host of extras, like Wi-Fi, infrared, Bluetooth and USB. This all comes in a familiar, compact PDA-style form, but with the bonus of a nifty, slide-out keyboard. It's a good example of how the line between phone and PDA continues to blur.--Amanda C. Kooser

PDAs

You don't always have to haul around a laptop to have mobile computing power. Sometimes a PDA will do just fine. If you like to keep your PDA and cell phone separate, there are some PDAs that'll serve you well. For example, Palm smartphone lovers will be attracted to the Palm-One Treo 650. For $449, it has all the bells and whistles, including a camera, keyboard, Bluetooth and all the Palm OS organizer functions. It even has an MP3 player to help you relax while you're busy with mobile computing.

Hewlett-Packard iPAQ hx4705 Pocket PC has the specs you would have seen in a well-stocked laptop a few years ago. For $650, it features 64MB SDRAM, a 624 MHz Intel processor and integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to boot.

Also in the Palm camp is a hot device for early adopters and entrepreneurs who don't mind paying for the cool factor. It doesn't get more portable than the $249 Fossil Wrist PDA. But you will make compromises. It has just 8MB of memory and a small black-and-white screen, but it lets you access all the main Palm features, like the memo pad and datebook.--A.C.K.

Laptops

When you're on the road, it's important to have your computing power to go. The IBM ThinkPad T43 starts at about $1,499 and comes stocked with a Centrino processor. Centrino, with its integrated Wi-Fi, is becoming the standard in laptops for business travelers. At 4.5 pounds, it won't hurt to cart it around the airport. A built-in fingerprint reader is available for extra security.

When it comes to being ultraportable, the 3.1-pound Sony VAIO T-series notebooks fit right in. They come with CD-RW/DVD drives and 10.6-inch widescreen displays. Integrated Wi-Fi also comes along for the ride. The T-series starts at about $2,000. These super-light models are pricier than heavier options, but you may find the cost trade-off and smaller screen worthwhile.

Budget buyers should keep an eye out for a model like the Toshiba Tecra A4. Starting at $1,229, you get an Intel Centrino mobile processor, a 15.4-inch widescreen display, a 40GB hard drive and Windows XP Professional. The whole package weighs about 6.2 pounds--not a feather, but good bang for your buck.--A.C.K.


Chris McGinnis is Entrepreneur's "Biz Travel" columnist.

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This article was originally published in the April 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Bon Voyage!.

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