Travel Toolbox: Working on the Road


Brian Jewell
Published March 12, 2018

Sometimes you just have to take your work with you.

The days right before a big trip might be some of your most stressful times in the office. In addition to making final preparations for the trip, you may be busy trying to get ahead on work that will be due while you’re gone or rushing to beat a deadline so that you won’t be thinking about a big project while you travel. And while you can often get everything accomplished before your departure, there may be times when the best solution is to plan strategically to do some of your work from the road.

Many business travelers are adept at working on the go, but most group tours aren’t set up with productivity in mind. You might be able to stay on top of your email with a smartphone, but getting more work done on a group trip will require special planning.

Here are some tips for those times when you must work on the road.

Schedule Strategically

If you head out on a trip with the vague idea that you’d like to get some work done at some point during your travels, chances are you’ll accomplish little. To make sure you finish what needs to be done, plan ahead and schedule some times during the trip to work, such as during a flight, in your hotel room before breakfast or during a long motorcoach ride. Planning will help you stay committed to a work schedule and will make sure the work has minimal impact on the time you spend with your travelers.

Plan for Power

If you’re like many smartphone-dependent travelers, you probably already keep an eye on your device’s battery meter and look for places to charge during a day on the road. When you need to work during a trip, your power needs can become even more pressing. In addition to using your phone or tablet more, you may need to power a laptop as well. So plan for times when you can charge your device batteries throughout the day and invest in a power block or a battery backup case that you can use to charge your phone if it gets low while you’re out and about.

Stay Connected

In today’s world, working means using Wi-Fi. It’s becoming easier to find free, high-speed internet access in hotels and on motorcoaches. But in airports or other public places, as well as in flight, you’ll probably have to pay to get online. Access fees of $5 to $20 might seem steep to leisure travelers, but if you have work to do, paying for internet access can be a smart purchase. If you plan to use public or in-flight Wi-Fi regularly, consider buying a monthly subscription plan from providers such as Boingo or GoGo.

Make Use of the Cloud

There’s nothing more frustrating when working on the road then realizing you’ve left an important file back at the office. To make sure you have everything you need at your fingertips when traveling, use a cloud service like Dropbox or Google Drive. You can upload your work to these services before you leave and then have access to the files from any internet-connected device in the world. And if you use Dropbox’s syncing features, work you do on your tablet or laptop will automatically be updated on your workplace computer when you return home.

Tether When Necessary

If you need to use your laptop to get online quickly and don’t want to pay full price for just a few minutes of web access in a public place, the solution may already be in your pocket. Most smartphones offer a tethering feature, which allows you to use your phone’s mobile data to create an internet connection for your computer. Look in your phone’s settings menu for the personal hotspot or mobile hotspot options and follow the on-screen prompts. If your itinerary includes international travel, you should check with your mobile provider to see if tethering is available outside the United States.