When you're traveling for business, every second counts, and every headache you can avoid could save you both time and what remains of your sanity. Sometimes it's a case of thinking ahead in order to do the right thing, and sometimes it's having the tools on you to fix problems when they arise. That's why I've found a few ways to change your traveling entrepreneurial life for the better.
Plans Change? Use Roomlia
Roomlia is a multi-faceted hotel-booking app that lets you book rooms up to seven days before you're going to arrive, with up to five nights of booking. While HotelTonight (which launched after Roomlia did) offers a similar feature, Roomlia's team is led by Michael Reichartz, formerly the VP of lodging at Expedia and still well-connected in the industry. This means that Roomlia has negotiated rates, based on your activity in the app (as you click around a particular city's available hotels, for example) that are many times better than those available elsewhere. Next week, the app will also begin to offer a loyalty program. This means that for every seven nights (not entire stays) you've stayed in a hotel, you'll receive a free night based on the average price you've paid. This means that you can make last-minute changes to your schedule and actually get rewarded. Roomlia serves over 35 different cities, including Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and even Oahu, Hawaii.
Trim Your To-Do List and Calendar
Glass Planner is an iOS app that's like an automatic day-planner, based on the idea that to-do lists belong in the same place as your calendar. Tasks that you need to do, like finish a home improvement project or complete a proposal, can be either given a due date (a deadline) or a target date (a personal target for when you want it done). Tasks then blend into your calendar in two views, the "plan" screen and the "act" screen. The plan screen is everything, which can be incredibly intimidating if you're on a two-day business trip. That's why hitting "act" brings up the things that you have to do today (both appointments and tasks) and prioritizes everything as you've organized it in Glass. The result is that you can focus on the two or three important things you need to achieve while traveling, as well as planning the rest of your life. It's one of the best planning and calendar apps I've used.
Don't Park Your Car
If you're visiting some of the major metropolitan markets, there are apps that will arrange for a valet to pick up your car and park it for you while you go to your meetings. There's Luxe ($5 an hour, to a maximum of $15; $10 extra overnight), which serves San Francisco and Los Angeles, and Zirx ($15 a day), which serves San Francisco, L.A., Seattle, and Washington D.C. Both apps offer the options to gas up your car, get a car wash, and charge your electric vehicle, but Zirx consistently covers more areas of the cities they're in. While Luxe's agents operate across more of San Francisco, for example, they have to be close enough to where you want to park to actually attend to your vehicle. Zirx quotes a smaller area but guarantees service within it. They'll also handle oil changes on request, and are discussing partnerships to offer extra services for long-term parkers.
Keep an Eye On (and Say Hi to) Your Loved Ones and Workers
The $149 Oco Cam can be used, like the Google-owned Dropcam, as a way to keep an eye on any space, using its Wi-Fi-connected camera. Providing higher quality (higher bitrate) than Dropcam, you can accurately keep an eye on employees or even just check up on your dog at home, if you're worried about them. The two-way microphone also lets you talk to whoever's on the other side using your phone or computer. It isn't necessarily as easy to organize as Skype, but if you want to quickly access your co-workers to tell them something, it's an easy way to do so. They have iOS and Android apps too, and you don't even need a computer to set it up or use it.