A Global Business Traveler’s iPhone (updated 21 Nov. 2015)

iPhone Travel folderBelow is a list of apps I use while traveling the world and keeping up with business and personal calendars. A few things on my iPhone and iPad make it simpler, more enjoyable, or both. The best apps give me abilities I couldn’t before – Made for Mobile(tm) is the IBM term.  I change flights while walking between appointments (Airline app) and re-book a car (National Car app). I land and get to a destination with only an address (GPS, usually Motion-X). Check prices, look up documents, and find better store nearby. Respond instantly with links to IBM Connections (IBM’s social business environment) stored in Evernote on every device (PC, iPhone, iPad). My life demands speed and range and the right apps and knowing how to use them makes it both possible, easier, and more enjoyable.

Three items of caution: First, I use an iPhone and iPad which works for me as I find the interface more consistent and elegant than others, but I am confident that other mobile OS’s have wonderful features and capabilities such as Android’s heavy integration with Google and especially Google maps.  Second, this is not an exclusive or comprehensive list nor do think these are the best, but a list of what works for me.  Third and final, I don’t work for any of these companies nor did they compensate me in any way in fact in some cases I paid them to get the app if it wasn’t free.

My SmartPhone Applications

* means I use it heavily or wouldn’t consider a phone w/out it.

Business

  • *ApptDialer – dial conference calls, best $4 I ever spent
  • *Linkedin – business connections
  • *Evernote – multi-platform notes & more, once you get it, you’ll wonder how you lived w/out it
  • *google – Apple doesn’t like them, so you’ll have to install it
  • *CamScanner – Use your mobile phone as a scanner
  • bump – lets you xfer business cards between phones by bumping them
  • webex, blackboard, IBM Meetings (and 3 others) – conferences on the go, great on iPad

Weather: What is it like outside and will it be next week

  • *Weather Underground – great weather & weather science (membership $5/yr), loved it since day 1 on the Internet, membership gives you add free everything
  • *Wunder Map – best weather maps using google maps overlay, also via Weather Underground
  • Every other weather app and there are lots of them
  • Navigation: Seriously, I usually have an address, no directions, & no time when I land
  • MotionX Drive – was an excellent navigation app, but after getting me lost several times, I dropped it
  • *Waze – FREE navigation app that beats most dedicated GPS units with constant social updates like Police, accidents, road changes, and vehicles stopped. It becomes an Adult version of I-Spy. Voice navigation is accurate, easy to understand and give sufficient warnings. The voice recognition is better than typing and it integrates into your contacts and calendar and gives you directions to your next appointment.
  • google maps – not native and clunky on iOS, but useful
  • google earth – cool way to look for a vacation spot or house
  • iExit – whats on the next exit on the interstate, free

News & Information: Even when traveling, I want to know what is happening in the world

  • *nytimes – my daily news of choice due to level of coverage of national and international
  • *kindle – yes, you can read all your Amazon kindle books on your iOS devices, but you can’t shop for them in the app, so you just have to use a browser
  • nyt now – a more modern look at NY Times
  • NPR News – NPR via internet and I do use the station finder when the hotel radio will work (not often)
  • TED – Short, important topics via well done lectures, makes you think
  • Flipboard – never got into this, but it has high potential for news, there are others, too.

Entertainment: All work and no play makes me cranky

  • *Pandora – listen almost daily, pairs well w/ good bluetooth speaker, repeats too much, but I want to set & forget when I listen
  • *tunein radio – listen daily to NPR, pairs well w/ good bluetooth speaker, has a sleep timer, hate hotel radios
  • *Amazon Music – stream every album Amazon sells for free if you have Amazon Prime. I’m in heavan. Can play for days w/out repeats. Playlists are decent.
  • at bat – if you like baseball, sound works over wireless, TV works better on a hotspot
  • netflix – the cord cutter staple
  • amazon instant video – free w/ prime, some good stuff including paid content
  • youtube – video by someone to show some of everything not totally obscene, actually a really good teaching / learning tool
  • soundhound – ID a song
  • night sky – (if you like looking up at night)
  • remote for electronics – most smart devices have smartphone apps

Photography: Now everyone has a camera to use everywhere all the time

  • Mostly use the native iOS camera app, but sometimes…
  • Fast Camera – rapid series of shots
  • 645 PRO Mk II ($4) – makes your iPhone nearly DSLR minus lenses
  • Camera+ ($2) – makes your iPhone super good point & shoot
  • I don’t edit on my phone or iPad, but iPhoto seems useful

 Dining: I’m always up for a great dining adventure

  • *opentable – high end dining, limited, use for business rsv mostly
  • *yelp – low end dining, the open now feature is great, heavily influenced so read w/ caution
  • starbucks – caffeine addiction & snacks, made coffee cool again

 Shopping: It is not a sport or fun for me, but my credit cards don’t lie and I do buy stuff

  • *keyring – put all your loyalty cards in the app. (lots of after midnight eating out of 24 hr grocery stores for this consultant)
  • *amazon – get Amazon’s price by scanning a bar code
  • Every big box retailer (Lowes, Home Depot, Target, etc.)

 Travel: makes sitting hours in small seats inside flying tubes slightly easier

  • *flightaware – track a flight in flight
  • *uber – get a taxi, car, SUV in most major cities (signup & CC required)
  • flightboard – nostalgic look at what is departing and arriving at an airport
  • hipmunk – travel planning and discount fares – love the interface, so powerful on web & as an app
  • tripadisor – use for cities, hotels, & restaurants, etc. some helpful materials, I write reviews under ccflroadwarrior (Cape Coral FL Road Warrior)
  • worldclock – the iPhone / iPad has a decent one, but this is better
  • Your Hotel chains (mine is mostly Hilton)
  • Your Auto Rental company (mine is mostly National Car, Hertz sometimes)
  • Your top airlines mobile app (mine is mostly Delta and sometimes American)

I hope this helps you with travel and the necessary work / life integration (replaced work / life balance since mobile device proliferation).  Feel free to share and reply with your favorites and thoughts. I’m always open to better ideas for better outcomes.

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Extreme Business Travel stories

Business Travel is the most fickle part of my job.  I travel enough that I’m in upper tiers on airlines, auto rentals, and hotels.  I’m also pretty good at it due to practice.  I do decent job of planning so that I can easily get 3 cities in a week if required.  I have had to change plans including re-routing at my layover airport to new destination, but the plans gave me ability to adapt including the fact I always carry a raincoat.  Sometimes, it just doesn’t seem to matter what I do. 

In the last month, I’ve planned and executed well and had terrible results, and of course the inverse where I planned and executed poorly yet had a wonderful result.  Interestingly, both were the same airline, Delta, and out of New York Airports – LaGuadia Airport (LGA) and JFK (JFK).

First, the not so good.  I planned to take a flight from LGA to Fort Myers (RSW).  I started in New Jersey, so got there extra early to avoid the traffic since the flight was at 7 p.m.  I was extra early since it was raining and there were major storms in the area.  I knew I was in trouble when the times started pushing back by hours.  Eventually it cancelled.  The alternative was to depart at 10 p.m. to Tampa (TPA), rent a car and drive about 2.5 hours to home.  I had 8, 9, and 10 a.m. calls I needed to be on in the morning with the 9 a.m. requiring me to review a document. Unfortunately, the TPA flight was delayed and didn’t take off until 2 a.m.  The result was I got into TPA around 4 a.m.  I took a hotel, took my calls from the hotel, and got home around 1 p.m.  I had done everything right, but I lost.

I had the inverse, too.  I had JFK to San Francisco flight 7 a.m.  The airline adjusted the take off to 6:58 a.m. which I somehow read as the flight was at 8 a.m. or at least that is what I had in my head.  I had a really nice mid-town NY hotel, but that night I didn’t sleep well and found myself watching clock.  At 6 a.m., airline app gave me an alarm telling me I had 20 minutes to boarding and I’m in my hotel room in my undershorts brushing my teeth.  GASP!

 

  • 6:00 Panic! 
  • 6:01 Don’t Panic per the Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy (valuable even if fiction)
  • 6:01 Dress, stuff suitcase, etc.
  • 6:10 Ask for car via UBER (love that app).  The account is tied to your credit card, so no long goodbyes or failed credit card transactions at curb as with taxis
  • 6:12 UBER driver meets me on the curb with trunk open in front of hotel
  • 6:15 Looking up alternative flights for 2:00 pm PST meeting (none on my airline, so big $s if I miss the flight)
  • 6:30 Traffic is light and the driver is moving quick, but not insane. 
  • 6:46 Dropped off at the curb at JFK
  • 6:48 Go through TSA line asking for Pre-check and telling them “I screwed up, mis-timed my flight, and it was my fault”
  • 6:49 TSA agent closes her stand, walks me to front of the line, puts my bags in the front and puts me first in for the scanner
  • 6:52 Walk to JFK Gate 62 which is about 20 meters from security with my belt and shoes in hand
  • 6:54 Gate agent hands me an upgraded seat for the 5+ hour flight
  • 6:56 Butt in seat 44 minutes from mid-town on a weekday morning
  • 6:58 Sent a nice tweet to the TSA for their angel of an agent
  • 6:59 While shutting down I check the PDF bill for UBER (got to love it)

If you judged travel by these 2 sensational accounts, you’d argue planning doesn’t matter it is all luck.  What is missing is the boring part – the other 50 weeks where I made my flights with no real ups or downs, but got there on time according to plan.  Too often we define a topic based on the extremes and the sensational.

So besides being a good story, there is lesson.  Build your plans to give you enough structure to support your requirements, but enough flexibility to adapt to inevitable changes in your business.  Most of the time it will work to your advantage and sometimes no matter what, it fails due circumstances beyond your control.  All you can do is roll with it. Finally, sometimes you get help from an unlikely source – just be sure to send a thank you note / tweet / e-mail.  Even angels need encouragement.