You're sleep deprived, hungry, cramped, surrounded by distractions, and stuck on a 6-hour layover in a tiny commuter terminal. The last thing you want to do is power up your laptop and dive into some work, but that deadline is tomorrow and it's not going to move. When you'd rather sit through yet another in-flight showing of Taken 3 than even think about your inbox, use these tips and tools to stay productive and get things done. 

Productivity Tips for Business Travelers

1. Don't tackle high-priority tasks. Instead, use layovers and shorter flights as a chance to burn through some busywork. Respond to emails, compile expense reports, update your budget, organize your desktop folders, etc. 

2. Carry extra business cards. You never know when a delay, fortuitous seat assignment, or waiting in line for coffee will lead to a great networking opportunity. 

3. Plan for no wi-fi. Although it may seem like a major inconvenience at first, being forcibly unconnected can be a blessing in disguise. You won’t be distracted by incoming emails or social media, so you can focus on the task at hand. If you absolutely must be connected, bring a personal hot-spot, fully charged. 

4. Pay attention to what you eat. Traveling is already exhausting, and airport or gas station food isn’t exactly going to give you a burst of healthy energy. Bring snacks that will boost productivity like nuts, fresh or dried fruit, and plenty of water, or try to keep your restaurant orders on the healthy side.

5. Leave your charger in your bag. Use the dwindling battery as motivation to race the clock and get tasks done before the bar turns red. 

6. Podcasts are your friend! Take this opportunity to listen through a few episodes of a series that will advance your work skills, or an educational podcast on a hobby or topic of interest. It’ll keep your brain active, and you’ll be learning something new. (I personally like Radiolab!)

7. Apply for TSA Pre-Check, Global Entry, or another Trusted Traveler program to speed through airport security and get settled at your gate faster. 

8. Bring a tennis ball or beastie ball to roll under your feet or along a sore neck/back during a long flight. You'll feel better when you land.

9. Fight jet lag by staying hydrated and eating meals on the same schedule as your destination. 

Productivity Tools for Business Travelers 

1. Helios Solar Charger  90 minutes of direct sunlight is enough to fully charge your smartphone. If the weather calls for rain, you can also charge it via built-in micro USB port.  Helios Solar Charger


2. ZUtA Printer This pocket-sized printer is only 10.2 cm around and 7.5 cm tall, and connects to your smartphone, tablet, or laptop via WiFi to print on any size paper.  ZUtA Printer

3. Plastc All your business credit cards, debit cards, loyalty cards, and gift cards on one card. Enter your unique pin to unlock, swipe to select the card you want, and then use it as you would a normal credit card. If your card is lost or stolen, you can completely wipe your data via your phone. 


5. Logitech Keys-to-Go Keyboard Work in comfort with this durable keyboard. It pairs via bluetooth and runs on a rechargeable 3-month battery. 

Logitech Keys-to-Go Keyboard

4. Anker Astro Portable Charger No open outlets at the airport? No problem.  Anker Astro Portable Charger

6. Livescribe Echo Smartpen Record and replay on-the-go voice memos or reminders, and transfer handwritten notes to digital text. 

Livescribe Echo Smartpen

7. Powerbag This backpack contains a portable battery for charging your smartphone or tablet. 


8. Gigs2Go Portable Flash Drives This tear-away USB pack is made of recycled paper and plastic: it’s shockproof, waterproof, and doesn’t need a cap. Gigs2Go Portable Flash Drives

What are your top tips for staying productive on the road? 

Share your secrets for spotting a coveted airport outlet, scoring free wi-fi, or securing an invite to a business lounge in the comments below!


Top photo credit: Nick Harris