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The Productive Business Traveler

By following this advice, you'll create a mobile office that maximizes your productivity.

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Staying productive on the road is a matter of making the most of your downtime - in transit, waiting in the airport lounge, sitting in your hotel room, or driving to a meeting. By using the tools that are available today you can get as much as possible done on the road and minimize catch up when you get back to your small business office.

Use the tips below to help you create an efficient mobile office that maximizes your productivity:

Get a wired room

Many hotel chains offer rooms with special features that cater to business traveler needs. These can include in-room data ports and Internet access; personalized voice mail; free phone access for local or credit card calls; and same-floor office equipment (such as copiers, fax machines, and laser printers). You may have to pay a $10 or $20 per night premium for these features, but you can more than make up for the extra charges in additional productivity.

Locate a plug

Smart business travelers know that they only have a set number of hours available on their laptop computers before the battery runs down. To make the most out of your laptop, be sure you have a fully charged battery pack with you. Plug in your computer when a socket is available. In airport waiting areas, check for an electrical outlet in the wall space under the windows overlooking the tarmac or near support beams. For short trips, consider going by rail instead of air. In the Northeast, the Amtrak's Acela Express train features Business Class seating that gives you an electrical outlet at your seat, adjustable lighting, and a tray table large enough for a laptop.

Don't lose your phone power

Taking a cell phone with you on your business trip can make it easy for you to call back to the office, reach a need client, or otherwise stay productive. But your phone can't do you any good if it runs out of juice. Be sure to pack your phone's power cord so you can recharge it in your hotel room or from the airport lounge. In addition, pack a vehicle power charger that lets you power your phone from your rental car's lighter socket.

Take advantage of airline clubs

Airline clubs can provide you with a comfortable place to work and easy access to data ports, fax machines, copiers, and other equipment. Plug in your laptop and set up an "office" to check your email, get voicemail, or return important calls. Consider scheduling phone meetings during the hour or two before your flight so you can manage them from the lounge and maximize your productivity.

Be prepared

Create a technology survival kit that can help ensure that your computer, phone, and other mobile equipment remains vital while you're traveling. Be sure to include: power cords; adapters to let you connect your computer to the Internet and/or to printers and other peripherals; extra batteries for your PDA; a spare disk containing key files you'll need on your trip; and another extra disk to back up files created on the road.