But, out of the plethora of available applications, which offer the services and features you need? Let's take a look at five tools that could easily make your business travel much more efficient, productive, and successful.
Plnnr is a web-based itinerary tool that can save you time on trip planning. With a few clicks you can quickly get a full itinerary with routes, attractions, places to eat – all using your hotel as a central point of focus. The entire set up of your trip is simple and focuses on what you want. Although much of Plnnr is centered on vacation travel, it's a great place to start – especially when your business travel is taking you to new parts of the world. Need to find the best place for drinks or food, it's all just a click or two away. But Plnnr doesn't just list out those four- and five-star restaurants; it also maps out the routes from your hotel. Plnnr is free to use and always at your fingertips, so long as you have a web browser at the ready.
2. Packing List
Packing List (Lite or Pro) is an Android app that allows you to create packing lists from scratch, generate lists from previous saved lists, and even includes a master list which you can use for a base-line. The feature list includes: Save/use multiple lists, re-order categories, mass change for faster editing, group lists by location/luggage, save lists on SD card, add notes/quantity/weight to items, email/share your lists, and much more. If you're one of those that always seems to struggle with the idea of exactly what to take for a business trip, Packing List could certainly help. With this handy app, you can even create lists for each business trip you take, so the act of packing is just a matter of calling up the proper list and following the "instructions". The Pro version ($1.50 USD) removes the advertisements and allows you to check location weather and sync lists across devices.
Tripit is a nifty mobile app that helps you organize your travel. With this tool you can forward hotel, airline, car rental, and restaurant confirmation emails to email@example.com (from the same email you used to create a Tripit account) and generate an instant itinerary that can be accessed from your mobile device. You can manually set up trips or even allow Tripit to automatically scan your Gmail account to find travel plans and confirmations. Once Tripit finds those plans/confirmations, it will turn them into Tripit itineraries. Even if you don't use the itinerary generator, creating a trip manually is still quite easy and allows you to set up lodging, meetings, activity, dining, and much more. The Pro version of the app ($49.00/year) adds real-time flight alerts, seat tracker, flight finder, refund notifications, point tracker, and more.
Expensify makes keeping track of your business travel expenses a snap. With this handy mobile app, you can capture receipts from the device camera, scan your receipt, create and edit expenses on the go, manage your time and mileage, sync your bank and credit cards, submit reports (PDF format) via email, and more. Expensify features: Worldwide currency support, company expense policies, offline mode, integrate with cloud storage, QuickBooks, Xero, SAP, NetSuite, and more. You can even forward an itinerary (from the account email) to firstname.lastname@example.org to auto-generate a trip. If you're looking for a business travel expense tool, you'll be hard-pressed to find one more capable than Expensify.
AirBnB is what you want if you're tired of staying in the same cookie-cutter hotels for every business trip. With this service, you can book anything from bed and breakfasts to castles (yes there are over 600 castles you can rent from) for your travel stay. Instead of hooking up with corporate chains, you book with locally owned (and individually owned) locations that offer every possible amenity. With AirBnB you can rent from people in over 34,000 cities and in 192 countries. What's best, you can read reviews of rentals from other travelers, so you know exactly what you're getting into. If you're looking to turn your business trip into a unique travel experience, this is what you want. The service is free, the rentals are not – but you can find incredibly cheap deals all over the world.
If you're a frequent flier, and you're looking to make all those miles a bit easier, give one (or more) of these apps/services a try and see if they don't add a little efficiency and joy to your business trips. No matter what you do, or what service you use, always travel safely.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.