10 Smart Business Travel Carry-Ons for the Modern CIO by EM360 board member and Global CIO Ryan Fay

Global CIO of ACI Specialty Benefits Ryan Fay discusses the essentials all CIOs should keep in mind for a busy life on the go

While some people think IT executives spend long nights working in dark rooms with lots of wires, the reality is today’s enterprise-level IT execs are constantly on the go. More and more CIOs are interacting with global clients, partners and business leaders, and traveling for work more often than before. In fact, a CEO.com survey found that out of 256 respondents, “86 percent spend between 1-10 days of the month on the road. A small percentage (6 percent) travel more than half the month.

From attending conventions to scheduling meetings, performing demos and orchestrating international engagements, the modern CIO is inevitably traveling with a variety of technology tools, hardware, and power sources for a multiple uses. Learning to travel smart, pack well, and plan for all technology needs is an absolute must.

As a bigtime business traveler and CIO with years of experience on the road and in the air, I am constantly asked about my gear from fellow travelers and business partners. For anyone who needs the best-of-the-best to get from the office to the air to meetings and back again, here are my top 10 tried-and-tested recommendations for executive travelers.

#1 The Gramercy Blazer by Bluffworks, $295

Keeping track of all your valuables when traveling is not a nicety—but a necessity. Oftentimes, the trick to keeping your most important items close by is using your pockets. Now, I have tried just about every travel blazer out there to mitigate this necessity. Some that I’ve tried have been a bit too “sporty,” with pockets all over the place but mostly focused on the exterior, which doesn’t bode well for the executives who’d like to keep their passport out of harm’s way. Enter Bluffworks! This company has hit the nail on the head with this blazer. As cliche as it may sound: The Gramercy Blazer perfectly combines form and function, with a soft, breathable fabric and no worries about dry cleaning or ironing. It can store a passport, iPad, phones, pens, business journal, sun glasses, and anything else needed—without looking like a bulky buffoon.

Tech Specs:

  • 100% lightweight, breathable, wrinkle-free polyester with the look and feel of wool
  • Machine Washable
  • Perforated back lining; unlined sleeves
  • 10 total pockets, including zippered storage for security plus a hidden cash or credit card pocket

#2 LIFEPOWR A2 L – 27,000 mAh Portable Outlet with USB & AC Plug Outlet | $279-$249

The last thing that any traveling CIO wants to encounter while traveling is no power source. This dilemma turns what would have been a productive airplane ride or layover into a power struggle (pun intended). Say hello to your new powerful BFF: the Lifepowr portable outlet will save the day with their A2L model product. The best feature, is that it can charge a full Apple Macbook Pro using a standard charging cable.

Tech Specs:

  • King of Powerpacks, the same innovative lithium ion battery technology as Tesla.
  • The Lifepowr A2 L packs a massive 99Wh (27000 mAh at single cell V level) of energy.
  • AC Outlet: built-in outlet with a maximum peak of 120W (100W continuous) allows you to use practically any device, anywhere in the world.
  • USB output DC 5V / 3000mA (15W) – ULTRA FAST charging via USB
  • Ultra fast recharge time with the included charger—charge input 19V / 2.1A
  • Premium quality, top-notch design, finished with a brushed aluminum casing

#3 Mountie by Ten One Design | $24.95

My I love using my laptop when traveling but sometimes I need to multitask which can be difficult on such a small, 13-inch screen. To make the workaround a breeze, I always carry two Mounties with me to attach an iPad or two to the screen to optimize my screen real-estate. The Mountie is a must-have for any globetrotting executive.

#4 Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless (Noise-Cancelling) Headphones | $349

One of the most important travel necessities for executives on the go, is a reliable set of noise-cancelling headphones. Oftentimes, I have to make important phone calls in bustling lobbies, airport lounges or loud restaurants, and I need to truly be able to hear what the person on the other line needs from me. After trying almost every pair available, and finding most clunky or junky or just plain ol’ uncomfortable, I tried the Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones fit my preferences best. These headphones allow me to focus on the work that I need to get done no matter how noisy the atmosphere. Bose’s Acoustic Noise Cancelling technology is truly amazing. Bose explains that the technology “continuously measures, compares and reacts to outside noise—then cancels them with the opposite signal.” Best of all, because they’re wireless, you don’t have to deal with messy cords, they offer up to two hours of use-time, and only take about 15 minutes of charging time to give 2 ½ more hours of usability.

What’s included:

  • USB charging cable
  • Audio cable for wired connection
  • Airline adapter
  • Carrying case

#5 Sterling Jacket by SCOTTeVEST | $175

Much like my blazer conundrum, I find that when I travel to areas with climates that vary throughout the day, a “normal” jacket just doesn’t do it. Without carry multiple layers, I’m back to struggling to decide if I need a “man purse” to lug my necessities around. But then I discovered SCOTTeVEST. I love the ingenuity of this company, and I have found their Sterling Jacket is perfect for stashing important items. Plus, this jacket features hidden zippers to easily convert it into a vest, or back to a jacket as the temperature changes. The Sterling Jacket has 25 pockets, yes that’s right: 25! With maximum storage and a versatile design, this jacket can carry absolutely anything and everything needed when traveling in varying climates.

TECH SPECS:

  • Hidden zip off sleeves to easily convert into a vest as needed
  • Professional, collared design so you can wear it traveling, out to happy hour or anywhere in between
  • Engineered with an amazing 25 pockets, you can keep all your gadgets and daily essentials organized and secure during your next business trip.

#6 Plantronics Voyager 5200 – Bluetooth Headset with Charge Case | $98.90

I’ve tried many Bluetooth headsets, and I can confidently say the 5200 by Plantronics are one of my favorites. Using Bose’s built-in Bluetooth feature is not the best user experience and I prefer to keep one ear out as the noise canceling can create odd echoing in some situations. Best of all, this handy gadget has a recharging case that touts up to 14 extra hours of charging time.

#7 BirkSun Mythos Black Solar Backpack

Running out of power during a business trip can be a panicky nightmare. If the Lifepowr Pack (see tip #2!) runs out, additional power is a must-have and that’s when the Mythos Solar-powered Backpack comes in to save the day. Out of all the solar backpacks that I have tried, BirkSun works the best and offers some great outdoor time to enjoy the sun. It also offers the option to charge the pack itself via a wall outlet if I can’t get outside for sun-power or it’s cloudy or rainy. My favorite features: The laptop compartment and solar panel are the largest that I have seen and can stash almost any size laptop safely and charge quickly.

TECH SPECS:

  • Charges all phones as fast as a wall outlet
  • Creates power from the sun two minutes = 1 percent phone charge
  • State-of-the-art solar panel last over 20 years
  • Waterproof solar panel
  • Built-in 3,000 mah battery charges up to two full phone charges
  • Recharge your bag from the wall
  • Premium fabric and stitching; YKK zippers

#8 Chino Original by Bluffworks | $125

When traveling for business, I hate having to iron or send my items out for dry cleaning when I arrive at the hotel. That’s when Bluffworks chinos (or original pants) make their appearance. Made of a technical quick-dry Polyester, these pants are amazingly wrinkle-free all the time while never being hot or uncomfortable to wear. Being able to keep all your valuables in zipper pockets have saved me on multiple occasions. The rear pocket is big enough for a travel-size wallet and the side pockets fit smartphones or a passport. True to their description, these Chinos are “built for life on the go.”

TECH SPECS:

  • 100% technical, breathable, quick-dry Polyester.
  • Nylon pockets.
  • Zippered front hidden internal security pocket.
  • Hidden loop to clip keys or a security badge inside your front pocket.
  • Interior stash pocket
  • Machine washable. Line or tumble dry.

#9 Airport Express by Apple | $99

This is a special kind of nightmare for me when I business travel: not having any access to a WiFi network. This used to be a huge issue until I started carrying my own Airport Express. This amazingly affordable little gadget allows anyone to get a WiFi network up and running in no time, with options to control internet security and speeds. Apple sums up its features nicely, “With AirPort Express, getting your new Wi‑Fi network up and running takes less time — and less effort — than making a cup of coffee. That’s because a setup assistant is built into iOS and into AirPort Utility for OS X. And if you use a Windows PC, you can download AirPort Utility for free.” Bingo. It really is that simple and is such a lifesaver when WiFi is not available.

#10 Avegant Glyph | $499

At first I thought these things were crazy! After trying them, I was crazy for not trying them sooner! But I’ll be honest, it’s pretty cool when you have the ability to turn any situation into your own personal theater. And it’s not uncommon to get on a plane, and then learn that none of the TV sets work and the airplane WiFi makes streaming video a nightmare. Hence, I love using these to watch movies during flights.

TECH SPECS:

  • Watch films, play games, and enjoy endless entertainment in HD audio/video
  • Connect to almost any smartphone, tablet, drone, or gaming console, at home, on the field, or at 40,000 feet (may require an adapter, sold separately).
  • A screenless display—reflects light with over two million micro-mirrors, replicating natural human eyesight.
  • Immerse yourself in your favorite content without being completely cut off from your surroundings.

WHAT’S NEXT?

As technology, such as artificial intelligence and the connected possibilities of the Internet of Things, continues to grow and evolve, I imagine many more awe-inspiring gadgets hitting the market in the coming months. What’s exciting, is how many innovations launching are designed to work to make life easier for frequent flyers. I’m definitely looking forward to watching, waiting and trying out what’s next! Do you have any favorite travel gadgets I missed? Tell me about it in the comments section! I’m always curious to try out new ideas and products.