Welcome to the second installment of my wildly popular #traveltips series. In my first post (link), I discussed some strategies for breezing through security. Now that you’ve used those tips to get to your gate without pulling your hair out, let’s talk about how to make the best of your time on the plane.

Let’s face it. As a frequent traveler spending a lot of time up in the air, you will likely be in the unenviable position of having to get work done on the plane, elbows glued to your sides and laptop screen in your face. Based on my experience, here are a few tips to help make your unglamorous office in the sky a little more comfortable:

Avoid Wifi Woes

First, never assume the wifi on the plane or in the passenger lounges will be functional. I’ve experienced many outages, often at what seems like the worst possible time, so don’t count on it. Consider downloading any files you might need to work on before getting to the airport, just in case you find yourself unable to access the interwebs.

Bye Bye, Bags

Check all your baggage except your laptop bag, especially if you’re not flying direct. If you end up having to sprint the 38 miles between terminals just to catch a connection at an airport like ATL, you’ll appreciate not having to do it while dragging a roller bag behind you. You will also have no reason to jostle with the other lemmings to board early, since you won’t need overhead bin space.

Storage Strategy

Don’t choose a bulkhead seat; in other words, always ensure there is a seat in front of you under which to stow your laptop bag. If you don’t have that option, you’ll have to put it in the overhead bin, negating part of #2 above and also meaning you have to get up to get to your stuff in the middle of the flight, possibly cascading luggage down onto onlookers and showing your lower back tattoo from that one night in college to all onboard as you reach up to sift through the bin. Lose-lose for everyone.

Prevent Power Problems

Always be aware of available power sources. Before your flight, check the airline’s app to see if your plane has power outlets. Just to be safe, make sure you pack portable chargers as a salve for the panic that ensues after looking down at your phone as you’re boarding only to see your battery near death at 6%.

Take a Tablet

If you can swing it, buy an iPad or similar tablet. As everyone who has flown at least once knows, airline rules require that you stow your laptop for takeoff and landing, but tablets are exempt from this regulation. If you’re on a deadline, you can whip out said tablet and crank away through the entirety of the flight. As a bonus, you can charge one with a portable phone charger. Try doing that with your MacBook Pro 9000 Retina Limited Edition Beasthog laptop.

Keyboards are Key

If you do spring for a tablet, make sure you also get a Bluetooth keyboard. You will be way more productive if you have to do anything involving typing. The best keyboards also double as a case.

Baby Barriers

If you need to work, you need to focus. Act as if crying babies are inevitable, so noise-canceling headphones are a must-have. Wireless units are best, because those stupid headphone cords are really good at snagging armrests at the worst possible time.

One caveat to wireless headphones: be sure to also bring the cord in case you do want to enjoy some in-flight entertainment. Don’t be the sucker that has to use the “headphones” that airlines pass out as a joke.

Get ‘er Done

There you have it. If you follow those steps, you’ve put yourself in the best position to make the most out of a business flight. Working on the road isn’t always fun, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Stay tuned for more #traveltips soon.

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There are 19 comments on this post
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