Traveler Experience
Tips for Getting Work Done on a Plane

Tips for Getting Work Done on a Plane

The Navan Team

9 Jun 2023
7 minute read
How to Get Work Done on a Plane - Man on Laptop

Let’s face it: When you’re on a business trip, focusing on work while in flight can be challenging. 

So buckle up for some expert tips on how to get work done on a plane. From choosing the perfect seat to powering up with portable chargers, these travel hacks can take your productivity to new heights.

Pack the Right Equipment

To unlock your productivity potential, you must have the right equipment on board. Before heading to the airport, double-check the rules and ensure you’ve packed your carry-on bag with everything you’ll need to conquer tasks and deliver top-notch work.

Here are five tips for bringing the right equipment on your flight.

1. Check Security and Airline Rules

To understand what you can and cannot bring on flights, check the security screening rules for any countries you’ll be flying to. 

In the U.S., thoserules are defined by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which of course allows laptops, tablets, chargers, earbuds, and other small electronics on board. (Did you know that a lithium battery can only be in your carry-on?) 

Airlines also have their own rules, particularly regarding the size of your carry-on. Check the size requirements to avoid getting charged a fee for an oversized bag.

2. Inventory Your Equipment

Think through everything you’ll need to get work done on the plane. Sometimes the simple things are easiest to forget, like a pen and notebook. A laptop is obvious, but may beuseless if you forget your charger. Also consider if you need special equipment, like a zip drive, mouse, or stylus.

Lay out everything you plan on bringing and figure out if anything is missing. If you don’t normally work on the go, consider a test run at a coffee shop.

3. Double-Check Your Apps and Files

Before you depart, download any necessary files, documents, or offline resources to your device. This helps ensure you have what you need at your fingertips in case the in-flight Wi-Fi connection is unstable or you need offline access.

Inventory your apps and files, too, especially if you’re not working on your usual desktop computer. Otherwise, you might get caught without the necessary software or spreadsheets to get the job done.

4. Protect Your Equipment

It’s worth the extra effort and investment to protect your valuable electronics. You’ll be traveling far from home and anything can happen. You could drop your laptop or it could get exposed to the elements. Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor beverage cart should damage your equipment!

To protect your electronics before, during, and after your flight, ensure you have all the necessary screen protectors and cases. You can find plastic laptop cases or a laptop bag made of fabric or leather. 

5. Think About Privacy and Security

A plane is a public space. If you’re dealing with sensitive data — client details, financial information, passwords, etc. — you should proceed with caution. Use a privacy screen to safeguard information, and remember, a Wi-Fi network on a plane isn’t any more private than other public networks. You never know who may be nearby and don’t want company or personal information to fall into the wrong hands.

Noise-canceling headphones can help you concentrate on work in-flight

Consider Special Technology

Frequent business travelers have certain gadgets they consider essential for getting work done on a plane. Here are a few items you may consider packing to enhance productivity during the flight.

  • Noise-Canceling Headphones: Noise-canceling headphones can help you concentrate on your work during the flight and help minimize the stress of constant noise exposure. Otherwise, you might be distracted by the conversations of other passengers, a crying infant, or the noise levels of the plane.
  • Power Adaptor: Many airplanes provide power outlets or USB ports for passengers to charge their electronic devices during the flight. However, the types of outlets and voltage standards may vary between airlines and aircraft, especially if you’re on an international flight.
  • Portable Charger: Airplane cabins may not always have easily accessible power outlets or USB ports, especially on shorter flights or older aircraft. Having a portable charger (aka a power adaptor) ensures that you have a reliable backup power source to keep your devices charged throughout the flight.
  • Tablet: Some business travelers consider a tablet more helpful than a laptop for on-the-go task completion. Tablets aren’t as bulky as laptops and can fit nicely on a tray table or be easily slipped into a bag or briefcase. They’re also handy if you find yourself in the middle seat, where the elbow room needed to type may be hard to come by.

Prepare for the Flight

Before you check in or take off, there are a few decisions you can make to set yourself up for a seamless air travel experience. These travel tips and tricks can help you dedicate time to essential tasks.

1. Choose the Right Seat

Select a seat that suits your working style. Consider factors such as proximity to power outlets, a window for natural light, or a seat away from high-traffic areas to minimize distractions. There are pros to different seat locations on the plane:

  • Aisle seat: Business travelers have room to stretch their arms and legs in the aisle and can easily access stowed carry-on bags. 
  • Window seat: A window seat provides a sense of privacy and minimizes disturbances from flight attendants and fellow fliers. 
  • Exit row: Others may purposely choose an exit row so they have lots of legroom to stretch out — but be careful, as this row typically lacks under-seat storage and seats may have smaller tray tables.

If your company’s travel policy allows you to get an upgrade, a business or first class seat may be a more conducive environment for getting work done on a plane. 

2. Find a Flight With Wi-Fi

To ensure you can efficiently work on projects and communicate with your colleagues, verify the Wi-Fi availability and any associated costs before booking. Internet connection availability and cost can vary depending on the airline, the specific aircraft, and the route you’re flying. 

When you book onNavan, the search results display which flights are Wi-Fi-enabled, eliminating the guessing games. With callouts like “Basic web browsing (fee)” and “Streaming capable Wi-Fi (fee),” you’ll also be able to gauge the Wi-Fi speed and understand its cost. If you choose wisely, you may even score some free Wi-Fi!

3. Fully Charge Your Equipment

Make sure your laptop is fully charged before you get on the plane. While some airplanes might have power or USB outlets you can use, you’ll likely want a full battery in case the aircraft doesn’t have a place for you to recharge (or if the outlet isn’t functioning).

4. Eat Before Boarding

Ensure youeat a healthy and balanced meal with lots of proteins and carbs before your flight. Studies have found that it’sharder to concentrate if you haven’t eaten, and you may find it difficult to work on an empty stomach. If your flight leaves in the morning, eat breakfast at home or grab a bite at the airport. 

Get Work Done In Flight

You packed the right equipment, chose the perfect seat, and even remembered your power adapter. Now it’s time to buckle down and get some work done! These travel tips can help you concentrate and achieve your goals on the go.

1. Don’t Turn on the TV

While turning on the in-flight TV during your travels may be tempting, it can distract you from doing good work and completing tasks. Avoid the TV at all costs and instead focus on booting up your laptop and pulling up tasks you wish to complete. And while we’re at it: Stay off social media, too. By avoiding distractions, you’re more likely to complete essential projects.

2. Do Utilize the Dedicated Time

A long flight provides a dedicated block of time free from the usual distractions of daily work life. With limited access to phone calls and meetings, business travelers can focus solely on work tasks. Take advantage of the flight time to accomplish deep work. Complete a project you’ve been meaning to tackle, write a new chapter of your book, or tick off some items on your to-do list. 

3. Don’t Talk With Strangers

Meeting new people can be fun, but you should keep the small talk with your seatmates to a minimum if you plan to complete meaningful work during the flight. Whether this means investing in noise-canceling headphones or keeping your eyes on the laptop, reducing distractions will only improve your work habits.

4. Do Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water during the flight to stay hydrated. Dehydration can affect your energy levels and focus, so have a water bottle handy or take advantage of the plane’s beverage service.

Manage Your Travel With Software From Navan

Manage Your Travel With Software From Navan

Navan is an all-in-one, user-friendly travel and expense super app. You can use the platform to book and manage travel, organize payments and expenses, and review spending in real time. For those who want to work while traveling, you can feel confident that Navan has your back. 

Give Navan a try if you want to organize your traveling and expenses to focus on good work during your business trips.Contact us today to speak to a representative orsign up for Navan online in as little as five minutes.

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