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Packing Lighter on Business Travel

© Marek Haiduk
New mobile technology lets baggage-burdened business travelers lighten their load.

“I think the problem right now is that we’re still tied to keyboards until voice interaction gets better,” McLaughlin says. He tried the iPad but found that its interface and productivity software fell short of his needs. Still, frequent travelers spend more time away from the computer than ever before. As McLaughlin points out, “I can go days on my iPhone alone.”

The latest business software has finally caught up with the explosive advance of mobile technology, leaving sore-shouldered executives with better tools to do more work with less stuff.

Lighten up: Six tricks for easier travel

1. Untangle: Even the sleekest new device can still weigh you down if it comes with a bulky charger. Power up your phone, headset, MP3 player and other devices at the same time with a multicharger, such as the Chargepod. The $60 model can connect six mobile devices at once, and the more expensive version handles laptops as well.

2. Go (Geo) Local: Many cities vying for visitors now offer smartphone applications that take advantage of GPS technology. Singapore’s new app, for example, can give users custom directions to dozens of businesses, as well as perks such as priority reservations at restaurants.

3. Transcribe: Try trading paper notes for one of the steadily improving voice-to-text programs, such as Dragon Dictation or—for text messages—ShoutOUT.

4. Organize: Keep your flight, car and hotel reservations in one place with a digital itinerary manager such as TripIt, WorldMate or Rearden Personal Assistant.

5. Forget Receipts: Recording expenses is as easy as snapping a picture, now that a growing number of expense-reporting systems make use of smartphone cameras. Expense2GO and Expensify are two of the apps available to make travel spending less tedious to track.

6. Make like a Marine: If all else fails, Trowbridge recommends this tip he learned in the military: Take each item out of your laptop bag every few weeks and ask yourself if you absolutely need it. You’ll be surprised at what you leave behind.

PETER BARNES can hunt down an electrical outlet at an unfamiliar airport in two minutes flat.

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