Work Smart: Must-Have Mobile Apps for the Road Warrior

If you've got a smartphone that can run apps like the iPhone, BlackBerry or an Android phone, you've got a pocket computer—and when you're on the road, you want to load up on the apps that can help you get where you need to go and stay organized on the way. Here are some of the best mobile apps for business travelers.

TripIt is a fantastic itinerary organizer that requires zero data entry. Here's how it works. Register for a free account at TripIt.com. Then, when you book your flight, hotel, or rental car online and you receive a reservation confirmation email, forward that email to plans@tripit.com. TripIt automatically parses out the important information from the email—dates, flight #'s, addresses, and phone numbers—and it creates a trip itinerary for you and includes directions from the airport to the hotel, and the weather forecast of your destination city on the dates you'll be there. You can share your TripIt itineraries with your spouse or with your assistant, and discuss trip details with co-travelers in the itinerary's comments area. When you're on the road, TripIt mobile app for the iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android phones, makes all your travel information available in a single view. It's indispensable when you're in an unfamiliar city and need to quickly look up your hotel's address.

Speaking of unfamiliar places, several mobile apps provide directions and business recommendations when you need a restaurant or taxi cab. Google Maps offers walking, driving, and public transit directions plus traffic and street view features on the iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Nokia, and Android phones. Review site Yelp can help you find the best reviewed restaurants, salons and bars in major cities, and is available as a mobile app on all the major smartphone platforms. Similarly, Where is a mobile app for smartphones like the Palm, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android which helps you find businesses, and track and share favorites.

When you're on the go, you need a good way to capture bits and pieces of information easily. Evernote is a note-taking mobile application that lets you record voice notes, and scan in business cards and expense receipts by snapping a phone with your cameraphone. For more detailed expense tracking, try Xpenser, a mobile application that records information about expenses, mileage, and IOUs on a per client basis for easy reimbursements and tax records. If you don't have a smart phone, you can still use Xpenser via SMS. For example, you could text the words "Taxi 36 office to San Jose airport" to Xpenser to record that $36 travel expense.

Finally, turn your smartphone into a modem using a tethering application like PdaNet for the Palm, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, or Android. With your phone's data plan and PdaNet, you don't have to pay for Wi-Fi access at the hotel or airport to get your laptop online. Just connect your phone to your computer and Pdanet will get you on the internet using your mobile plan.

Before your next business trip, load up your smartphone with some of these great apps to make your trip easier and more productive.

Gina Trapani is the author of Upgrade Your Life and founding editor of Lifehacker.com. Work Smart appears every week on FastCompany.com.

Last week: Work Smart: How to Power Through a Mountain of Email

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3 Comments

  • Brian Gatmaitan

    First Step, Do not install Facebook on your iPhone and don't crazy downloading mobile applications. You just need that will help you remember things and help you be more productive offline.

  • Steph

    If you have a Symbian or Windows Mobile phone, you can also take some great applications on the road with you by downloading HipLogic's free social user interface, HipLogic Live( http://www.hiplogic.com/learnm... ). It runs on most Symbian and Windows Mobile phones and comes with integrated social apps like Twitter & Facebook, plus allows you to access News, Sports & Entertainment content updates in real time.

    And for Android users, HipLogic has a new Android version of its social user interface coming soon. You can follow HipLogic at http://www.twitter.com/hiplogi...

  • Mark Messinger

    It's always good to find services such as Evernote and Xpenser who, despite creating apps for specific phones, also provide access to their services via other means. Personally, I think we're getting a little "app-happy." iPhone apps, Android apps, Blackberry apps. . . And, almost nobody is developing for Symbian, any longer. The result is an unnecessary balkanization where apps are tied to phones, which are often tied to specific carriers.

    Kudos, as usual, to Gina Trapani, for bringing these worthy services to our attention. And kudos to those services who, if not remaining completely platform agnostic, are at least smart enough to offer a variety of means of access.