As I write this column, I am traveling in Central America. Because of my varied business interests, I have to pack up my office and stuff it into a backpack. I can't be out of the country for two weeks without being able to contact my clients, employees and partners.
I'm often asked what I bring with me when I travel. My list of must-have items would make James Bond envious. Here is a list of 10 items no global road traveler should be without.
can hold a laptop with up to a 15.4-inch screen -- any bigger than that, and the laptop is too much to carry. The shoulders are heavily padded and there are plenty of pockets to put the rest of the items that are listed below.
: This is a true
that has many uses. It is a regular writing implement that morphs into a USB MP3 player, FM radio and voice recorder. Wow! I'm taking Spanish lessons and I loaded all 10 CDs into this pen. I listen to the lessons while I am driving or just waiting for another appointment. I have put books on there as well. When I get tired of listening to my books and Spanish lessons, I tune into National Public Radio. Incredibly, the 1-gigabyte version of this product sells for only $68.
Swiss Army Pen
: Here is
, a cool and useful piece of equipment that includes a knife, a file with screwdriver, scissors, a detachable Flash drive, a red LED and -- of course -- a pen.
: You can put this
into your pocket, briefcase or backpack. I have used this camera to film trade shows, products and places. I've created video emails for my family when I travel. The video quality is excellent. It also doubles as a Webcam. You can buy one of these for under $150.
: There are many GPS systems, including handheld models and ones you can attach to your windshield. Not only are GPS systems a time saver when you know your destination, but many times I am meeting clients and I don't know the restaurants in the area or I am looking for a gas station or a place to fix my car -- a GPS system can help you find one.
Yes, I am a CrackBerry addict. I think this is one of the greatest inventions of the last 20 years because you can email people on the fly, check your schedule, find contacts, check your notes and call people all at the same time. I was 200 miles from a major city, and a client with a looming crisis reached me by email; I was able to respond, averting the crisis.
tell time and also have up to 2 gigabytes of Flash memory. The model I have has 128 megabytes of memory, which is enough to load a bunch of songs, a couple of books or a couple of National Public Radio podcasts.
Franklin electronic translators
: Franklin has the most diverse line of
out there, and if you are an international road warrior like myself, they are indispensable. I actually have four of their products.
USB thumb drive
: There are lots of makers of thumb or key drives, but
Sony has several
that hold for 4 gigabytes, and they sell for less than $50. Just think -- two years ago you were paying that much for half a gig.
Kensington USB Internet speakerphone
lets you have a hands-free conversation. I also like it because it provides better sound quality and higher volume than any headset I have used.
Finally, I didn't mention this, but I have brought my Internet telephone with me on trips. I use Verizon's VoiceWing, which is good in the U.S., but it's inconsistent in other countries. You really have to have a solid high-speed connection for an Internet telephone to work.
Kramer is the author of five business books on topics related to venture capital, management and consulting. He is a faculty member at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and the veteran of over 20 startups and four turnarounds.