An Unexpected Trip: Useful Tips for Staying Efficient on the Go

In modern society today, taking trips is more popular than ever, with sites like tripadvisor and travelocity easing your way to finding cheap hotels, flights, and the best attractions. With modern productivity planning and apps at your fingertips, you don’t have to ditch work when you’re traveling- in fact, they may never notice you left at all.

Here are some best practices and pro tips to make your vacation as productive as any workday, but still feel like luxury.

Make a list, and check it once.

You’d be surprised how many people don’t use lists, and for no good reason I say. Try NoteLedge, Google Tasks, or Apple Reminders– each one has been revamped for 2019. When you glance down to see what’s left to do, enjoy that luxurious warm fuzzy feeling of seeing all of those checked boxes. 

When you check into your hotel 1000 miles away from home and realize you forgot something- you know all too well that sinking feeling? Well, forget it, it’s about to be a thing of the past.

Leave the paper on the desk, where it belongs.

Going paperless: you’ve heard it before, but only you’ve assumed it’s for the opulent 1% and other people luckier than you. Think again! This is your chance to save the trees (and your back).

There’s an app for that (no, really this time). Full Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel: check. I bring them with me on my phone, I dictate long documents. It’s 2019. 

Mobile contracts- did you know you can do that in an app? DottedSign is my little worker bee, an esignature solution allowing me to sign and request contracts from anywhere. It even sends clients reminders on a repeating schedule, so I don’t have to even think about nagging.

Don’t you want some help with that?

There are tons of other people out there that help (for a living). You just need to know where to find them. For example, if you’re traveling and decide to make your vacation into your new life, you’re going to want to hire some professionals to help you move your stuff, and even handle the paperwork for you.

Listen to your fellow travelers, and join the conversation. 

If you want to hear what others have to say, try tripadvisor. It can help you find the best restaurants, deals, and even hotels. All of that great advice is always free too, which helps keep your trip cheap.

Speaking of cheap, you can always find new ways to save. Prioritize your most important things, by *not* spending on unimportant stuff, and you’ll have much more resources to splurge on the things that really matter, like your furry friends!

Don’t let your finances go on autopilot.

At least, make sure the financial autopilot you use is a good one. Download the Quickbooks Self Employed app to track all of your miles (you might be able to expense more than you think). Save money on all of your purchases with Acorns, and install Expedia app on your phone and smartwatch to count your airline miles, remind you when to be at your gate, and even hold your electronic boarding pass for you. Set it and forget it, and these apps can reward you big time later.

Download the airline apps before you fly! It might seem tedious, but you can connect these apps to your e-wallet, for boarding pass info and frequent traveler status. Don’t fly anymore without saving your frequent traveler miles and hard-earned status.

Increased freedom, efficiency, and free time are just some of the benefits of going mobile.

Once you switch to app-based work, your productivity will increase once you get back home, too. 

Let a robot do the talking.

Many people don’t realize that if you have a google account, there are built in robots to help you when you’re on vacation or on the go. Set up google voice, or skype number and you can send and receive phone calls from your local number from anywhere in the world. Visual voicemail transcribes your missed messages, so you can read them as an email, and some services even allow you to send and receive SMS messages.

Use email autoresponders with gmail and google docs to automatically direct people to the right information. You can embed presentations, documents, and even videos into custom autoresponders which can make sure your coworkers are up-to-speed when you’re away.

Find your home away from home.

I’ve almost always had better experiences at Airbnb or hostels, compared to staying in hotels. If you love bedbugs, bleach, and overpriced water, enjoy hotel life. Chances are though, you’re missing out on the vibrant, luxurious experiences on offer from alternative lodging options out there.

With options from renting a full villa to a single room, you can not only save money, but also you’re more likely to find a location close to where you need to be, and blend in with the locals. Ask your host questions about the best places around, fastest ways to get to your destination, or places to avoid- they probably know some secrets you won’t find on any website.

Un-pack, don’t pack.

Think backwards when packing. What are you going to unpack first? Then the stuff that goes in the very bottom of your bag- maybe you don’t really need it.

This way, you always put the liquids, electronics, etc. at the top, ready to go out at airport security. Apply the same concept to all of your pockets, clothes and accessories. If you need it first, put it on the outside or top of the bag. 

Skip all of the lines

If you have travelled recently, you have probably heard of Global Entry, Clear, and TSA pre Check. The fastest way to get through security is Clear, hands-down. It’s $179/yr +50/family member, but it has lines consistently less than 2 minutes. Set it up online before you go to the airport. 

TSA Pre Check is the next best thing, and costs just $17/year. Cut your security line down to just 5 minutes. And for $20/year, Global Entry cuts your return over US border to less than 5 minutes, instead of the typical 60-90 minutes.

Get your phone unlocked

Have you researched getting international minutes and text, only to find that it costs several times your existing subscription? And- for much less at that? 

Get your phone unlocked or buy an unlocked basic phone like this Nokia 105 on eBay, which has 2 sim cards and works anywhere in the world (for just $20). 

Make sure you have a “quad-band GSM,” antenna in your phone and a SIM card slot, and you can go almost anywhere in the world, buy a SIM card in most shops or gas stations, and just pop it in your phone. Enjoy 4G LTE data for a fraction of the cost of roaming on a domestic plan.

Watch out if you’re on Sprint or Verizon- you likely have a CDMA phone, which may not have antennas built in which can work outside of the US (although models some have both CDMA and GSM). You will need to do some research to find if your model number is GSM compatible. CDMA carriers don’t generally want you to switch, so they obscure this information from subscribers.

Keep it Simple.

All of these tips follow a basic principle- if it’s too complex, it’s more likely not to work. Making things simple is harder at first, but it pays off down the road. 

If you keep this in mind when planning your trip- or when you are already on the go, your travels will quickly become effortless. You can start doing more with less, simplifying your life, and allowing you more time and focus on the things that really matter.