Working when travelling by plane/train

Some tips and tricks for maximising working whilst travelling

A recent trip to Belfast mid week got me thinking about some things which I do when travelling by train or plane. Some of these will seem like common sense and some it took a few working trips for me to catch on to.

Noise cancelling headphones

I have a pair of Bose QuietComfort’s and honestly these things were revolutionary for me. After hearing colleagues gushing about them I was dubious that a set of headphones would be as good. They are! They work by cancelling out ambient noise so won’t filter a short, sharp sound (but will dull it). This means in airports you can’t hear the babble of background voices or the noise of the airplane engine. For someone like me that gets very distracted by noise these are fantastic.

Spring for lounge access

If you are a stressy traveller like me and like to be at the airport early or you’ve finished your meeting in London and just want to get to the airport, the lounge can be great. Some lounges can be very pricy but others will cost you just over £20 and for this you get a quiet space with a workspace and charger, food and a few drinks. For me it beats being in an uncomfortable airport seat with a screaming baby nearby. Plus you may be able to business expense it as you’re working.

Notebook & pen

Sometimes a laptop doesn’t make sense. Imagine this: the only flight you could get to that meeting is with Ryanair and you’re practically kissing the seat in front and you didn’t want to pay whatever ridiculous fee they’re charging you now for having a carry on bag. A notebook and pen can allow you to do some really meaningful work. I line up a few tasks for myself to work on beforehand that lend themselves well to writing i.e. a blog post idea, steps to implementing a new feature on a project.

Smartphone with Google Docs/productivity tools

Again another space issue can be solved with your smartphone. Install whatever spreadsheet or word processing tool you use and ensure your documents are available offline for when you have to do into airplane mode. This may also be useful if the airport has no mobile signal or rubbish WiFi.

Portable charger

To enable you to use the smartphone above for longer.

Bring that Book

If you know your mind won’t be 100% in work or you’re not sure about space to work, bring that productivity book or programming guide you’ve been promising yourself that you’d read.

Offline email

There are many apps that you can have on your smartphone that allow you to view your emails offline and draft emails so you can send them when you get back to signal.

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