These apps work well offline and on Wi-Fi so you can avoid cell data charges internationally,
Travel is an essential part of most small businesses’ success. But business travel can be a hassle, especially for those of us in small business who rarely get pampered road-warrior upgrades. But you’ve got an important travel tool right there in your pocket or purse — your smartphone.
And I’ve got some tried-and-true recommendations of the best small business travel apps to load on it.
I travel a lot for my small business — at least once a month, nine or 10 months a year. I fly to meet customers and prospects. We go to trade shows and conferences or to visit suppliers.
And I’m fortunate to travel all over the country — all over the world — to give speeches on entrepreneurship.
I need to stay in touch with my business and my family and to survive wherever I am. I’m also cheap and like to avoid using expensive cellular services when I travel internationally, so I look for apps that work well offline or on Wi-Fi.
Here are some small-business travel apps I depend on. All are available for Apple iOS and Android. Just go to the app store on your phone:
• Viber. This free app enables you to make free voice calls or send free texts anywhere in the world to other Viber users over Wi-Fi.
Just make sure that your staff and family have downloaded Viber to their smartphones and have them listen for the distinctive ring. I’ve used Viber in India, Kuwait, Turkey and other far-flung places. Every time the quality has been great.
• Kayak. I depend on the Kayak app to help me find and compare prices on flights and, to a lesser degree, hotels and car rentals.
But you have to be connected — via Wi-Fi or cellular — to access data.
• TripIt. I recently downloaded this free app and already rely on it.
It also has a premium version.
Whenever I make a plane, hotel or car reservation, I forward the e-mail to TripIt. It automatically organizes and keeps track of my details.
With the downloaded app, I easily access all my trip details on my phone even without Wi-Fi or cell access. I also can share my details with selected staff and family.
• Currency converter. If you travel internationally, a currency converter app is a must.
Download updated data about the currencies you’re going to use on your trip either before you go or when you have Wi-Fi access. Then you can do immediate conversions on the go — at a restaurant, market, hotel — even when you’re offline.
I use one from Oanda.
• Flashlight. This is a handy-dandy app in all kinds of situations but especially when you travel.
You’ll find lots of free flashlight apps in your app store.
• Dropbox. If you use Dropbox as a file sharing and storage device on your computer, this app gives you access to all your files on the go.
Just download the Dropbox app when you have Wi-Fi service.
• Nook. You don’t have to buy an e-reader device such as a Nook or Kindle to have e-books at your fingertips.
I use the Nook app on my iPhone and iPad to carry and read any number of books, including travel guides. Just purchase your books before you leave the United States and download when you have Wi-Fi.
• USA TODAY. Of course!
You can’t leave the news behind. Just make sure you’re on Wi-Fi to see the stories and video.
Most important: After recently having my iPhone pickpocketed in Paris, I’ve been reminded that it’s critical to set your phone to be wiped clean if someone tries to break into it, especially if it is linked to your company e-mail and documents.
On an iPhone, go to “Settings,” choose “General,” then choose “Passcode Lock.” Enter your passcode, choose “Erase Data.” This wipes your phone completely clean after 10 failed attempts to access it. (Just make sure you’ve backed your data up.)
I got my iPhone back thanks to some quick-acting undercover cops. Thank goodness.
Tell me your favorite app for business travel: @RhondaAbrams on Twitter or as a comment on this column.
Rhonda Abrams is president of The Planning Shop and publisher of books for entrepreneurs. Her most recent book is Entrepreneurship: A Real-World Approach. Register for Rhonda’s free newsletter at PlanningShop.com. Twitter: @RhondaAbrams. Facebook: facebook.com/RhondaAbramsSmallBusiness.Copyright Rhonda Abrams 2013.