Starting out as a consultant? Having the right gear can save you a lot of headache and increase your productivity during travel. Below are my favorites:
1. Roll aboard bag
If you plan on staying in consulting more than a couple years, it is worthwhile to invest in a good roll aboard bag. You should make sure that the bag fits in overhead bins of the aircrafts. It is recommended to get a roll aboard as opposed to a garment bag, as you will be carrying the bag in the airport, to car rentals, around clients and you are most likely to fill it up. With frequent travel, a heavy garment bag on your shoulder can make a permanent dent on your shoulder.
Also, never check in luggage: it may get lost, you end up waiting ~20mins each way on the baggage claim every week, you may make your team wait for your luggage if traveling together. The saying among consultants is: “Only fools check in luggage!”
2. Laptop bag
You need to lose the rookie bag your firm gives you ASAP. They look bad and do not hold up to the wear and tear of travel very well. Get a light and durable bag, big enough to hold your laptop and all the other things like decks, notepad, bunch of pens, your favorite magazine, vitamins, chargers etc.
3. 3M Privacy filter for laptop
You will find yourself working in public spaces often. This removable plastic screen, prevents prying eyes from seeing your laptop screen. Last thing you’d want to do is to reveal sensitive client info to anyone including, employees of your client or your client’s competitors. New consultants get burned for this kind of negligence often. Slip it on the screen of your laptop easily and you can take it off whenever you like.
4. Extended battery
Extended battery is a must – usually lasts twice as long as the regular – must have for long flights, airports with few outlets to plug in, long drives from and to client. You never know when you need to fire up the laptop to make last minute changes on your deck.
5. Universal power source
Soon enough you will find yourself carrying chargers for your laptop, cellphone, ipod, etc. Get a universal power source from IGO. You can change the adapter heads to fit all your needs. Comes in handy when you want to plug in to your seat in long flights (some planes have these plug even in economy) and saves a lot of clutter and weight in your laptop bag.
6. Comfortable shoes
You will be wearing the same shoes 12+ hours a day for several days in a row during travel. Get the most comfortable shoes you can find. For guys, Ecco’s are decent. Since you will have carry on only, one pair is all you need, so spend the money for that pair.
It is hard to get away from Blackberries or Iphones. They are useful in staying in touch with your team during travel and answering to client emails. The downside is you can get addicted to it and check your email anywhere, anytime annoying people.
If you are going to a new client, either have one of these fitted to your rental car or buy one for yourself. You don’t want to show up late to the client meeting, or worse get lost while driving the partner to the client site.
9. Wireless card
They are still a bit slow for sending large attachments, but sometimes necessary. Some clients have firewalls, so connecting to their network can be an issue. Also useful at airports, much better than running around in the terminal to find a wi-fi spot.
You will get exposed to germs all over the place, hotels, cars, flights (air in the flights are recirculated). Boosting the immune system is a good idea, some people swear by Airborne, but any decent multivitamin will do the job.