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Telecommuting is on the rise. We see this with people working remotely full-time, part-time telecommuters, and with people who travel for work. While working remotely can have advantages (i.e. new restaurants to try), there can be new challenges (i.e. finding good Wi-Fi).

We’ve gathered up some must-have apps and equipment that will make it easier to work from the road.

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By the Numbers

At the last count, 2.8% of the U.S. workforce, or 3.7 million employees, works remotely at least 50% of the time.

Plus, it’s on the rise. In 2005, 1.8 million workers telecommute. This grew to 3.9 million in 2015. By 2020, it’s expected that 40% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers, temps or contractors, which is indicative of how the rates of telecommuting may also increase.

Essential Travel Hardware

These are the basic essentials for doing business on the road.

Laptop: First and foremost, preparing for business on the road means that you’ll need a lightweight and reliable laptop with a good battery life. When choosing what to buy, pick one that’s optimized for how you will be using it. For those who like to travel light, there are sleek ultraportable laptops which cost $800 on average. For those who are not that careful with their gear, there are rugged laptops which start at $300 but can cost $1,800+ for ones that are 1P65 certified against dust and liquids. And for those who just need the basics, there are tablets with removable keyboards which cost about $220 in total.

Backup Power Supply: When you’re on the road, the worst thing that can happen is when your laptop battery dies before you can send your presentation or your phone battery dies in the middle of a client call. In your laptop bag, keep a combo laptop/phone charger so that you can always power up. And make sure that you’re ready for anything by having backups of both your phone battery and laptop battery.

Connectivity: Your connections to Wi-Fi and cellular are too important to not be prepared for when you encounter dead zones. Be sure that you travel on a Wi-Fi and cell signal booster for your car.

Add-Ons: If you find those laptop trackpads to be annoying, it can be helpful to travel with a portable Bluetooth mouse.

Must-Have Phone Apps

To maintain peak productivity while you are on the road, download these must-have apps:

Concur (iOS, Android): Tracks expenses and car mileage to help you figure out where your money goes when you’re on the road. – Free

Google Trips (iOS, Android): Stores travel itinerary, has built-in travel guides. Combines organization with exploration. – Free

Google Translate (iOS, Android): Travelling internationally? This app translates text, audible speech, and even images. – Free

TripIt (iOS, Android): Takes your travel info (flight, hotel, cars, restaurant reservations, etc) and creates a master itinerary for you. – Free

BestParking (iOS, Android): Finds the cheapest parking near you. – Free

iExit (iOS, Android): Tells you everything that’s off an exit including amenities, Wi-Fi, fuel. – Free

Yelp (iOS, Android): Find reviews about local places. Helpful to find a coffee shop to work in or a place to get fast, good food. – Free

Waze (iOS, Android): Excellent navigation app that has real-time information about traffic jams, road closures, accidents. – Free

Skype (iOS, Android): Great for video conferences on-the-go, sending messages and making free calls. Works abroad. – Free

Evernote (iOS, Android): Sync your work notes and to-do’s on the go. Great for brainstorming work ideas and keeping track wherever you are. – Free

Apps to Help Your Wi-Fi and Phone Signal

The road may lead you to places with bad Wi-Fi and phone reception. Use these apps to stay connected.

Wi-Fi Cheetah (iOS only): Blocks ads and trackers. Provides faster browsing, less bandwidth use and better battery life. – Free

Wifi Signal Booster + Extender (iOS, Android): Boosts Wi-Fi connection by shutting down Wi-Fi-draining apps that you aren’t using. – Free

Emban Turbo (iOS only): VPN app that speeds up your connection. – Free

OpenSignal Maps (iOS, Android): Shows a map of where your phone will get the best service/Wi-Fi. – Free

WiFi Overview 360 (Android only): Shows nearby Wi-Fi connections and how fast and overloaded they are. Lets you choose which to connect to. – Free

WiFi Booster Easy Connect (Android only): Shows nearby Wi-Fi connections and how fast and overloaded they are. Connects automatically to best choice. – Free

Tools/Plugs/MiFi

Don’t forget about the little things.

MiFi Device: Don’t rely on finding public Wi-Fi. Have the Internet wherever you are.

IRISCan: This small, portable scanner lets you keep your docs secure and in digital format when traveling.

Spare Cords: Bring one spare of each cord you need.

Universal Plug Adapters: If you travel internationally, these are a must to stay powered.

Grid-it Organization System: A handy and stylish way to keep all these things organized while on the go.

Finding Shared Workspaces

Coffee Shops: They’re a classic place to get work done. Find the nearest cafe with these apps.

CoffeeFind (iOS only): Finds coffee shops nearby – $0.99

Beanhunter (iOS, Android): Think Yelp! exclusively for coffee shops – Free

Coworking Spaces: Designed for remote workers and travelers, coworking spaces help you to stay productive alongside others. Look for coworking chains like WeWork, NextSpace, Regus, and Workfrom. The stats below give you a sense of how much coworking can impact your work.

68% say they’re able to focus better in a coworking space.
64% are better able to complete tasks on time.
70% report feeling healthier than in a traditional office setting.
60% feel more relaxed at home since coworking.
90% report feeling more confident when coworking.

Open Wi-Fi: In a pinch, you can make do without either the coffee shop or coworking space by just finding a good Wi-Fi connection. Use these apps to locate a connection.

WiFi Map (iOS, Android): Find crowdsourced free Wi-Fi spots in your area – Free (Pro version $4.99)

Wi-Fi Anywhere (iOS only): Hotspot analyzer with click and connect functionality – Free

Want even more app suggestions to streamline your business travel? Here are 12 more transportation-related apps to try on your next business trip.

About :

ForRent.com's own Director of Search Strategies -- search marketing, user experience, analytics -- improving the experience and accessibility for all. @TheBeardOfSEO on Twitter

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