Business travel is fun, different and has its own unique challenges. Particularly an unsaid adversary with holidaymakers.

Making a trip great instead of good, is down to how prepared you are. So after 7 years of travelling, I have compiled a list of what I think are travel essentials for any business traveller. Below is a list of 11 indispensable items you need on your travels.

Tablet

I use the iPad Pro, partly because of the keyboard function and because it has all the functionality that I require. Whereas laptops can do more, it certainly is not as convenient. Tablet power-up far quicker and can be packed away quicker. Laptops, for all of their claimed portability, seem to require additional accessories, like the laptop bag, a bulky charger & cable and perhaps a mini mouse. All of which add unnecessary bulk.

Tablets offer all of the email and word processing ability you require on trips. Trust me, I never use a laptop now.

Pen

I cannot overstate the importance of this. Whether signing the visitor book, filling in a landing card or making notes. It is simple, requires no battery and will not let you down (so long as you keep an eye on the ink level). You’ll end up needing one when you have none.

Notepad

This leads on from the last point. If your tablet or laptop dies, then you will need somewhere to jot down notes. It is simple and does not take much room. Taking notes during a meeting on your smartphone looks unprofessional and gives the impression that you are just texting your friends. A notepad will always be the most convenient way to take notes. Even the tablet, which works with a stylus will never match how easy it is to use a notepad.

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Business Cards

Some people consider this a relic from a bygone era. I consider it essential. When you travel abroad it is a useful way to prove your business identity. Easy to hand over to someone you are struggling to communicate with. Plus culturally in some places, it is still an important item to have, a courtesy. It also saves the hassle of awkwardly texting your details to your newly acquired contact. It is a simple transaction to swap cards.

Anyhow the day you do not have one is the day someone asks you for one.

Mobile Phone

I am sure you understand the importance of this. Probably one of the most significant advancements to affect the business world. Being able to communicate with the office, check your emails and stay connected to your team is priceless.

Having said that, it is also vitally important you have either paid for roaming, (from 15th June there will be free roaming across Europe).

Extra-long data cable

Battery running low, but the plug socket is out of reach from where you are? The extra long cable is a lifesaver (mine is 2 metres). Hotels still seem to design their rooms without thought as to the placement of sockets by the bedside or use legacy Apple 30-pin phone docks (I imagine also an irritant to other brand fans, for other reasons). I never considered this an important item until I purchased one due to a lost cable. Since then the extra long cable has proven it’s worth several times over.

In fact, my colleagues each bought their own after having to borrow mine.

A book

Currently, I am reading a fantastic one, ‘How to Build a Billion Dollar App’ by George Berkowski. I highly recommend it. We all need something that is not electronic to de-stress from a busy day. A book does wonders. A chance to let your mind wonder and dream, perhaps also allowing you drift into a relaxing sleep. 

Headphones

It does not have to be a £300 top of the range set. Just something so that you can close your eyes and listen to your favourite tunes. They also help drown out the stressful ambient noise on planes. I tend to keep mine on, without music while sitting on the plane, or trying to sleep. It can help you focus when working, creating a bubble and separating you from the noises world.

Watch

Simple and easy to check the time. Far more discreet than checking it on a phone. It has even helped me as an ice breaker with a particularly hard client, who happened to liked watches.

Plus, in my case, it really helps bring the suit together. The perfect accessory for a nice suit.

Messenger Bag

Where do you store all these essentials? In an easy to carry bag. More stylish than a backpack/rucksack and less bulky than your large cabin bag. A messenger bag is more than adequate for a day trip. Looks good and can carry a lot. I sometimes take my messenger bag on an overnight business trip. Plenty of room to take everything.

What about the rest?

That is 7 years of experience condensed into 11 items, not without a little controversy I imagine. You will still need your business specific material, however, treat this list as a base layer, for you to add your own items to make your trips enjoyable.

Posted by Jerome Smith

It would be an understatement to say that I have experience travelling internationally for business. I was Head of Business Development for a trading company for several years, which meant I had to travel a lot! For 7 years I stay in 116 hotels, spend £30,400 on accommodation, visited 33 countries and accumulated too many air miles to count. My aim is to pass this knowledge and experience to fellow business travellers.

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