Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My traveling stars: Apps, devices and more

With Charlotte Proudman at Parliament in London
Last year, I was on the road as much as I worked from my home office, and this year includes trips planned or already done to places like London, Oxford, Ohio, North Carolina, Connecticut, California, Boston and more. Each time I head out the door to another city, I'm looking for ways to get more efficient and effective as a traveler. I've collected a group of what I think of as "traveling stars" (with apologies to James Taylor) and keep adding to their number as I continue to travel. Here are the traveling stars that currently "watch my back and light my way:"
  • Airbnb used to be the furthest thing from my mind for business travel--until I found out I could rent an entire flat and get more amenities than I would at a hotel. Now Airbnb is my secret travel weapon. On my recent London trip, I rented a two-room studio I've rented before, in a great location with top amenities--and at less than half the price of a hotel room with fewer options. Use the link above to get $25 credit, whether you decide to be a host or a guest.
  • WhatsApp is one of my recent stars. It allows mobile messaging across platforms without paying for SMS--and it works across national borders, too. Facebook's finalizing its purchase of WhatsApp, and I'm watching to see how that changes this fine tool. Peter Diamandis thinks it's set up to disrupt, and that voice calls are next for this power app.
  • Regus runs rental offices, meeting space and business lounges, so when I do need one of those spaces, I can find them around the world. Their apps (at the link) make the hunt easier.
  • DocuSign, a document signature app that works on any device. It's easy to set up, and means that I don't need a business center, business lounge, portable scanner or local library when I need to review and return a contract while on the road. It's a step-saver, and because it's compatible with Evernote (see below), it makes storing my signed documents even easier. 
  • PicMonkey is a fast way for me to improve the cellphone pictures I snap while traveling, collecting images for my blogs or just for me. I can crop, auto-adjust, rotate and much more.
  • GateGuru got put through its paces on this international trip. I like the itinerary in your pocket features, and expect this will help reduce any aimless wandering around the airport.
  • Priority Pass is an airport lounge access card...and its app also is saving me time in airports. I've already identified my respites on upcoming trips.
  • FancyHands is my virtual assistant service. It works anywhere in the world as long as the work can be done by phone or web and in English. It schedules appointments, updates my calendar, finds me local resources while I'm on the road, and much more.
  • Uber, the on-request app for car service, works all over the world. In London, I found that UberX, its lower-priced version, offered the least expensive trip from Heathrow Airport into central London--without the need to transfer to 2 or 3 types of conveyances, and with door-to-door service. Best of all, I handle no cash when I ride with Uber--all my payment details are already secured, worldwide. Use this link to sign up and get $20 credit.
  • Evernote is a stalwart app for my business travel, as I've described at some length here. Wouldn't think of traveling without it. On this trip, I had notebooks for my destination cities, for the conference I'm attending and for my workshops and speaking gigs....as well as my virtual office.
  • Pinterest helped me envision and plan my trip. I created a board for my Oxford and London trip and added pins to it so I'd remember my priorities for visits. Pinterest lets you map your pins by adding a location tag--a nice feature.
  • IFTTT (If This, Then That) helps me automate everything from daily calendar notes on the local weather to shutting off home devices remotely and automating blog posts to sites like LinkedIn. IFTTT has more recipes for the constant traveler here.
On May 15, I'll be convening another session of Be The Eloquent Woman in Washington, DC. It's a subversive new workshop that helps women executives and public officials learn how women speakers are perceived and how to turn those expectations on their heads with confidence, content and credibility. Go here to read how the first workshop went and what participants had to say. But do sign up soon. Registration closes May 8.

On June 19, also in Washington, DC, I'll convene a session of Be an Expert on Working with Experts that's open to the public. Designed for communications pros who work with subject-matter experts, scientists and policy researchers, this is a popular workshop--and you get an early discount for registering by May 9. This is the workshop I wish I'd had earlier in my career, based on my own effort to understand why the smart folks I work with weren't always willing to cooperate with my communications efforts.