For me, the drudgery of packing and unpacking, have led me to develop and deploy luggage that is function specific. I have a bath kit (and toothbrush kit) that hangs from just about any fixture in the bathroom. Not only does it save space, but also keeps items off a normally cluttered counter and out of splashing water. I developed thin carbon fiber rod clothes hangers with paracord, which allow me to put all my shirts neatly organized into a roll-aboard, then simply pull out and hang at my destination. It saves huge amounts pack time, keeps everything virtually unwrinkled, and gives me more time to explore when I arrive at a destination.
Standup Desk: Be creative when working out-of-office. I find ways to elevate my portable so it becomes a standup arrangement. My favorite was a leather mini-chair (ottoman) that was on a MSC cruise ship. It fit perfectly on the small desk to bring my computer to perfect height. The leather provided a excellent non-slip working surface, and was very comfortable to work on.
Website Hosting: Try to find a website hosting service, which has easy access while traveling (either web-based or app based). I use WordPress, which as proven to be easy to update and access while traveling.
Communications: I use the iPhone when I travel. ATT (carrier) has some good plans abroad, but try to use free WiFi whenever possible. The biggest challenge is how to deal with phone calls. To that end, I'm now removing my phone number from my business sites, and just having email as the first point of contact. This reduces huge cost and time overload from traveling. The biggest problem with cellular phone calls is the major time difference (if traveling far away) and the big lag in sound. Most long distance calls will most likely go via satellite, making an already poor quality call go even worse. The best way to avoid this is to encourage your customers to use email. Not only does it provide a clear history of transactions, but typically is needed for a written follow-up or summary of a call regardless. There have been countless times when a customer claimed to have heard one thing, when reality was different (and was backed up with a written email). Proper business communication discipline really encourages the use of email instead of trying to rely on memory, and what was said on a call. I try never to use texting for business. It's sloppy, and does not provide an easy document trail. Keep emails specific to the point. Do not use mark-ups, or other clutter. Make plain text. Do not use huge signature blocks with junky images and other noise.
Battery Power: I use AA and AAA Blackube Lithium cells which are USB chargeable. They are available on Amazon (at a premium price), but retain charge, and function flawlessly. Using USB as the primary go-to hub for power needs, it reduces the need for additional cables, charges, etc.
Power Plugs: All resorts have adaptor plugs. I typically will carry one country-specific plug to where I'll spend the most time. The plug will have one passthrough 110V power, and two USB ports. This covers everything I need.
USB Hub: If you need more USB ports, consider a hub. Try to acquire devices that are USB concentric, which lessens the needs for other cables, adaptors, etc.
Proprietary Battery Packs Versus Standard: I prefer anything that uses a AA or AAA battery, which can use my Lithium batteries. While drones and some digital cameras may use proprietary batteries, try to find devices that use standard batteries. The result is less weight, and less complexity.
Email Structure: The backbone of most business communication are emails. I have a Filemaker email database, that I can easily search and display customer information. I use Gmail for my domain email hosting, and will copy and past a email into my Filemaker database, then move the email message into a customer labeled area, if they are a paying customer. Otherwise, the email gets stored into my Filemaker database, and deleted (into trash). I try to keep my email inbox updated and clear every day.
Standardized Email Response: For my multiple businesses, I have a detailed email response that I simply copy and paste for the first inquiry contact. That email includes a general description of the product I'm selling, advantages, profit potential, build status, availability, time to deliver, and pricing. Over time, I've developed a comprehensive list of 99 percent of the most asked questions
Morning Focus: After years of trying both late evening versus early morning work, the clear winner is early morning. Studies have been done (and it's well established) that you make the best decisions, and you're more focussed in the first six hours of the day. Included in my health regime is fasting for breakfast, which not only frees up more time, but is actually healthier for your body. The main issue is that with most resorts when traveling, they include breakfast with the stay (and at pricier resorts, this can be a huge factor). Breakfast can zap most of your morning. Instead, try green tea, and wait until lunch. You'll feel more energized, more productive, and establish a better routine. Trying a new focus is hard work, but the rewards will pay off quickly.
Morning Routine - Focus On a Strategy - Then Follow It: The first thing I do each morning is look at my daily to-do list, priorities, and strategy. I write down (on a daily basis) what I hope to accomplish that day, so I can track productivity. It only takes a few minutes, but has long-reaching implications. Write down your thoughts, and keep a log of what got done, so you can look back and duplicate successful days. When I start my morning, the first priority is revenue emails, which include new inquiries, existing customer maintenance. Next I move onto paying bills, and clearing all other emails. Then I move to any website maintenance, updates, and Google AdWords (or other advertising).
Work Environment: One of the advantages of early morning work, is a quiet working environment. Distractions (and noise) can be a productivity killer. If you have a loud workspace, consider noise canceling headphones (or earbuds). The simple option is to work, when distractions are lowest.
Maintain Routine: The importance of a daily routine can be the margin of success, or getting bogged down in unaccomplished lists. Make your daily routine and priorities achievable goals (not just wishes). Don't be a slave to details, be a master of getting things done. Few can multitask well, so focus on one task at a time. It is ok to group similar tasks, and indeed you will become very efficient at it, while knocking of items on your to-do list quickly.
Automate Duplication: One of the reasons why I have used Filemaker in my businesses for a long time is that it allows me to automate duplication, which frees up time and resources. It allows me to enter information (data) once, then use it in multiple applications. Even better, it allows me to format data so that it can be presented over a host of templates, from a letterhead, email, newsletter, etc. Being creative with learning to format a layout with Filemaker gives you unlimited ranges to run your business, from both your iPhone or computer (offline or connected).
Replicate Success - Don't Duplicate Failure: Part of learning from a feedback loop is recognizing when to just stop, if something is not working out. The big question then becomes, when do you stop repeating a non-working solution, versus the ambition to try to make it work. It's not a question of semantics, but a question of strategy. It's ok to fail, but only if you have multiple (varied approaches). Trying the same approach, with predictable bad results, is a waste of time. The precursor here is that the strategy must have a realistic outcome. For example, you probably won't change an alcoholic, no matter what approach you have. That is because addictions have predictable outcomes (all poor). The good news is that with business strategies, developing success experiments are fun, and have trackable results.
Whole Health Strategy: The concept of a healthy body and mind, translate well into business. Getting proper sleep, healthy diet, and exercise, are paramount to getting work done. I research self-improvement on a daily basis, to help improve nutrition and how to feel healthier. When I'm at my home office, I use a standup desk (sitting promotes back pain), mobile computer mounting on my elliptical trainer (for when I'm doing emails), and even work on InstaGram posts while on the exercise bike. Getting exercise when traveling becomes a real challenge, so I make it a priority whenever it is accessible.
Accept Paypal and Have Your Suppliers Accept Credit Card Payments: One of the forms of payment I accept is PayPal, for its universal availability, and ease of use. I make all my suppliers accept PayPal, so I can use my United Visa miles card to make payments. While a few suppliers still won't take a credit card, most do. Some don't want to pay the credit cards fees, so offer to pay it. The convenience and expediency is well worth it.
Files Backup: While traveling, backup your work on a daily basis. I use two USB thumb drives (256G), both a USB C and standard USB. With an adaptor cable, I can backup both my MacBook Pro and my iPhone. Having a backup drive is insurance incase anything happens to your devices. For added security, you can also have a online cloud-based backup server (like BackBlaze) which automatically backs up data while you are connected to the internet. When at my home office, I do multiple data backups to both a disk drive, and DVD.
Burn Rate: The amount of money you spend traveling, is best optimized to reduce as much as possible, which means you can travel longer. Essentially this means finding ways to stretch your dollar. Cut deals with resort operators whenever possible. The common technique for just about any reservation is to pay rack-rate (or near full rate) for a few days, and purposely leave days prior and after reservation, during which the operator will make you a deal. With airlines, this means finding a relatively empty flight, buying economy, and you will get offered a huge discount upgrade for business class. The same applies to resorts, sometimes even during the busiest seasons. If your suite is empty before or after your reservation (and you have made a payment which shows you have money), then it's almost a sure thing you will be considered for a discount. The other option is to trade social media exposure for discounts or compensated reservations. This may be anything from a upgrade, to free food, to free additional days. This only works if you have a good following and existing site.
How Portable to Go ? I've traveled with just the iPhone (I have a compact travel version of my Filemaker databases, which allow me to do business invoicing, emails, and other work). For fast replies and keeping up with emails, it works well. And it works well for travel under two weeks. But the ability to compose elaborate emails, file emails, file and pay bills (accounting) can only be done with the portable computer. The backlog of filing can be burdensome after more than a week out of office. The portable computer also allows multiple backup resources. Plan on having your data lost, and you'll always be prepared. My Filemaker resource here is called Travel FM (Travel FileMaker). Once I make this version online (cloud based), it will give the potential of completely removing the physical need to travel with a portable computer, with the limitation of having internet access. Less than two weeks: iPhone only. More than two weeks, both iPhone and portable computer.
PDF World: Some time ago, I took my office and business digital. That means my go-to resource is the pdf. Luckily, the new iPhone IOS has a document scanner built into the photo resources. PDF if the gold standard for attachments to emails (please leave the xls and other virus ridden attachments behind). It's funny (and alarming) to see that resorts and others still use xls for quotes, etc. Go to the pdf standard. For my invoice and quotes, I print to PDF, and then attach that. It gives you a written record of what you sent, and again, good discipline. Always write things down.
Pen and Paper: Yes, I still use pen and paper, especially when making calls and notes. I'll take a photo of the notes, to store in my iPhone for later reference. On flights longer than four hours, I buy a notebook and randomly write out lists, dreams, wishes, experiences, and forecasts. It’s a simple way to make time pass much quicker, all while organizing your thoughts. I buy the Moleskin brand on Amazon at a discounted $5 per notebook, or you can buy in the airport for $25. In either case, it’s a good way to get your thoughts down on paper.
It's the Experience: Don't let significant digits get in the way of a experience. While there's nothing wrong with attention to detail, don't let it get in the way of the overall experience, especially when traveling with others. Don't trip over a dime, to pick up a penny. I even find myself doing this at times. Sit back, and enjoy the sunset.
Best Travel Organizational Tool: You've heard me mention it. Filemaker is the number one asset I have that keeps me organized. Learn it, and it will set you free.
Time Zone - Friend or Foe ? The greater gap between time zones and your customers, will make phone conversations more of a challenge. Responding on the first call can set the tone for business, and trying to return a call with a large time zone gap, can be a hassle. Try to emphasize email communications whenever possible, since an email can be responded to at any hour of the day, and is not time zone dependent.