Staying Productive Internationally

Part of the agreement I had with my boss about this vacation to Canada was that it be a working vacation... one that allowed me to get some work done while also enjoying some downtime. Nowadays, doing so seems to be so much easier than in the old dial-up days. Let me tell you about my set-up... it may provide some insight on how you can take care of business internationally the next time you travel.

  • Access to Clients - First and foremost, you need access to your important data, be it access to servers, client contact information, whatever... in our case, everything we do is via an Internet-based CRM program so I can access my customer data anywhere with an Internet connection. Clearly, that means you should travel with wireless and, just in case, an ethernet cord. First and foremost, check if your hotel has Internet access. If not, take a look at my links to the right and find wireless locations at your destination.
  • Access to Phone Calls - My TMobile service charges an absurd $.49/minute to make calls from Canada to the U.S. Yes, that's even if I'm standing on the northern bank of the St. Lawrence River and looking at the U.S. on the other side. So, I set myself up with Skype. If you haven't used Skype, it allows you to make free international calls to other Skype users via the Internet. It has good sound quality and works well with wireless. Now, if you plan on calling landlines, you need SkypeOut. Phone call rates are as little as $.021 a minute with no connection fees so the required $10 - $12 you have to spend to buy credit goes a long way. I've made quite a few calls and still have $9.96 in credit. You can even use Skype on a cell phone though I can't speak from experience.
  • Access to "Equipment" - Besides wireless and an ethernet cord, there are a couple of other things you might want to bring. First, Targus and Logitech make great mini mouses that can be used with laptops with USB ports. Some people prefer a wireless mouse but I find that the little thing that sticks out of the USB port just gets in the way. Second, Skype sounds much better if you use a headset. I picked up a Logitech headset from Amazon that cancels out noise and sounds good not just on my end but for my caller, as well.
In the end, I can sit in the lobby of the Marriott, make calls, check e-mails and pretty much do everything I need to do to stay in touch. Save for the time difference issues, I could've done the same thing in London, Milan or Tokyo.

Of course, once we head back to the Thousand Islands region, I'll be back on "radio silence" but, for now, this seems to do the trick.

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