6 must-have tech items for the four-wheeled road warrior

business travel technology

The so-called “digital nomads” may be the glamor children of the mobile workforce, but the traditional – and somewhat iconic – road warrior is the no-nonsense-worker against which real productivity must be measured.

Many small business owners and startup founders spend a lot of time on the road, much of which is behind the wheel of their trusty vehicle and a recent survey conducted by Ford and Manta found that many of these vehicles do double duty. Only 42 percent of small business owners said they use their vehicles solely for business purposes.

When you’re flip-flopping back and forth between shuttling the family around town and hitting the road to drive small business growth you need to be able to adapt your vehicle for maximum productivity. Here is some gear to check out:

  1. Mileage apps. Since many mix business with family use, a smartphone app for tracking mileage is essential. For iOS devices, try MileBug if you just need an app to automatically keep track of your business mileage. But if you want to toss in other travel expenses. BizXpenseTracker or XpenseTracker are highly rated. Prices range from free to about $7. On the Android side Fuel Buddy and MileIQ, earn high ratings and both are free. For a more comprehensive Android app that includes other travel expenses, check out TripLog.
  2. Smartphone holder. There are all kinds of smartphone holders that attach to the vents in your car’s air conditioning system. They are far superior to the old holders we used to stick on our dashboards or windshields. Try the Kenu Airframe or the Belkin Car Vent Mount.
  3. Drop Stop. This nifty invention (featured on Shark Tank) is great for business car travel and family shuttling. It jams down between your seat and the middle console to prevent dropping keys, phones, change, receipts, French fries, etc. down into no-man’s land.
  4. Desks and file cabinets. There is a range of accessories that will really turn your car into an office-away-from-the-office. These include simple boards that attach to your steering wheel and give you a work surface. to multi-use boxes that hold files and other items and also give you a flat surface to write on or hold your lap top. The boxes are great when your car serves your family because you can just grab the whole thing and put it in your house or leave it at your brick-and-mortar office.
  5. Printers and scanners. Sometimes there’s no way around a real signed contract. If you need to print things from your four-wheeled office, the HP OJ 150 Mobile Wireless Color Printer with Copier comes highly rated, although it takes a 90 to 132 volt AC connection (see next item on our list). Visioneer offers a number of mobile scanners designed specifically for the road warrior.
  6. Power inverter. Auto cellphone chargers are a rip off. I like having an inverter that will give me 110 volts DC and a couple of USB charging ports, like the BESTEK 300W Dual 110V AC Inverter. This virtually eliminates the need to deal with special cables and other devices that plug into your dashboard. The same cables you use to charge devices from your laptop and plug in your laptop are all you need. By the way, if your mobile office is also your family car, a good inverter will come in handy quite often.

These are some of my must-have items to turn my vehicle into a full-service office environment. How about you? Let me know what you have found to be indispensible when you’re headed down the highway…