June 06, 2011

Ten Travel Technology Tips for Road Warriors

Tonya Johnson

Travelers, take note. With the busy summer travel season upon us, these helpful technology tips can help minimize the inevitable travel traumas.

  1. Use Orbitz for Business. Access to this online travel Web site is an ABA member benefit. Easy to use, the site offers a number of helpful tools, including: “TLC Alerts” that notify you—and anyone else you designate—about delays via phone, e-mail or text. Compatibility with Microsoft Outlook allows you to sync your itinerary with your calendar. Each leg of your trip can be added separately. Also consider adding confirmation numbers, phone numbers and Web addresses to your calendar. But be careful about time zones, which must be manually adjusted in Microsoft Outlook.
  2. Print your itinerary from Microsoft Outlook. First, select the days of your trip. Next, click “File,” then “Print.” For print style, select “Calendar Details Style.”
  3. Put your itinerary on a mobile device. Do you have a BlackBerry or some other smartphone? Synchronizing your mobile device with Microsoft Outlook reduces your need for print-outs.
  4. Use the global positioning system navigation tools on yoursmartphone to keep yourself from getting lost. Check with your wireless carrier to see if your device is GPS-enabled. Mobile navigation software offerings tend to vary based on your carrier and device model. For iPhone users, consider using MotionX GPS by Fullpower, the number one paid navigation app in the App Store, as of this writing.
  5. Or try Hertz NeverLost® GPS. Pre-installed in many Hertz rental cars, NeverLost Online Trip Planning lets you plan your entire trip before you drive away. Remember: Hertz #1 Gold Club membership is free to ABA members.
  6. Plot your course online. For backup in case of GPS failure, try Mapquest, Google Maps and Yahoo! Maps, all of which let you map multiple stops along your route. This is a great tool when you need to plot your route ahead of time. You can get directions from one stop to another, mapping all your visits for the day on one sheet—from the airport to the hotel to a meeting location to a restaurant to a client’s office and back to the hotel.
  7. Mobile security is important.
    1. Avoid unsecured Wi-Fi. Using it opens the door to hackers. While on the road, use your firm’s VPN to access its network. Otherwise, use hotel and airport ethernet ports.
    2. Lock up your laptop. A 2008 ABC News article reported on the vulnerability of laptops at airport security check points with skilled thieves taking advantage of the chaos that sometimes reigns at these locations. To minimize access to sensitive client data, encrypt your hard drive. Also, consider using a “check point-friendly” laptop bag (read: Don’t be a statistic: Leave the Laptop in the Bag). Lastly, before you travel with your laptop, check out Computrace’s LoJack for Laptops or the CyberAngel, tools to aid in laptop recovery.
    3. Password-protect your peripherals. Small travel items hold huge amounts of data and are useful for road warriors, but tiny flash drives and lightweight smartphones are easily lost or stolen. Password protection is your first line defense. See the June 2008 edition of YourABA for more tips on safeguarding your technology investments.
  8. Use Internet shortcuts to get flight status information. Before leaving for the airport you can check your departure and arrival status using Google. Type in “FAA:” then type the airline code (e.g. FAA: ORD) for airport status. Or put in “flight AA 123” to get status on specific flight using http://www.flightstats.com.
  9. Need information once you’ve arrived? Call Goog411. Use your cell phone to access Google’s free national information service. Dial 1-800-Goog-411 (1-800-466-4411), a free alternative to directory information.

    For calls: say city and state, look up the business and get connected (plus address, etc.) Alternately, to get a text of the phone number you need, say “text message. You can also get a map e-mailed to your BlackBerry, just say “map it.”
  10. Bookmark useful Web sites. To find something to do after hours, consider these online resources:
    1. Chowhound.com
      Dining options for most major metropolitan areas. Useful for intel when hosting clients and colleagues
    2. TripAdvisor.com
      Find food, sites, hotels, entertainment and more with user reviews and published reviews
    3. Metromix.com
      Available in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Cleveland, Baltimore, Denver and other cities. Or, try the local newspaper Web site.
    4. FareCast
      Find the best time to buy an airline ticket
    5. Tripit
      Forward your trip confirmation e-mails to this site to create a custom itinerary. Next, add maps, directions and notes to it. Then, share it!
    6. SeatGuru
      Locate the best (and worst) seats on the plane
    7. Jott
      Call yourself with a reminder and get it back to you—or someone else—via e-mail.

This article first appeared in YourABA e-newsletter, a monthly publication distributed via email to all ABA members.  Learn more about the benefits of belonging to the American Bar Association.

Tonya Johnson