Tech for Working Abroad (with kids)

A business growing like crazy with lots of new products coming online and customers coming in the door.  Three kids under seven.  Sounds like a perfect time to jump on a plane with the whole family and head to France for a month, right?

I’m pretty sure my wife and I talked about the possibility of travelng abroad during our very first conversation back in 1997.  It took us awhile to get there, but we just returned from an incredible month in France (Paris and Le Paradou in Provence) with our three children (all under 7 at the moment).  As I’ve shared this experience with friends and family, I’ve begun noticing some consistent questions about how we managed the kids, and how I was able to continue working (I didn’t take any time off in the end…next trip perhaps) remotely.  So, here you go:  some essential tools and tips we learned during our stay:

Apple iPad

The iPad is a magical device…for kids.  With its 10 hour battery life and lots of storage space, it ended up being the ultimate San Francisco-to-Paris warrior.  We loaded it up with movies, music, and games for the kids, and it made it all the way over with plenty of battery life to spare for another round of Toy Story or various kids games.  The parents enjoyed it too, as once we set-up wireless in the two places we stayed, it became a great email client and web browser for us to geek on during downtime.

Airport Express

I mentioned how the iPad was great for email and web browsing, but if you are traveling abroad, you don’t want to be using AT&T’s incredibly expensive data plans for the iPad, or your laptop, or your phones.  At the last minute, I grabbed the above AirPort Express and threw it in my bag thinking there could be a possibility of the “high-speed wireless” not working at our rentals.  It was a good call given that neither of the two locations had working wireless set-ups.  With this device plugged in, our iPads and computer were quite happy.

Adobe Connect

If you are going to be attempting to meet with your team, customers, and partners during your stay abroad, you aren’t going to want to hop on a plane nor sit on one end of the telephone for a long time.  I used Connect extensively during my travels as a way to make the discussions more social (webcams), as well as more productive (real-time document sharing, etc…).  Yes, I drink my own champagne.

Skype probably saved me several hundred dollars over the course of the month we were away.  Get the “Skype In” capability, so you can hook it up with the next wonderful service:

I’ve been using this as my primary number in my email-signature for awhile now, and it proved amazing while in France.  Folks call my Google Voice number, and I have it set to ring my mobile phone, my Skype account above, and even my office number.  As calls came in, I could answer them on my Skype account to make it basically free, without asking anyone to dial any new numbers, etc…  Very convenient for your callers, and you!

This one kind of just happened.  I had tried out foursquare awhile back, and it didn’t really click.  Early in the trip, however, I realized that having a log of all the fun places we went to (including little cafes, museums, parks, etc…) would be really nice, and this service is great for that.  I wish they had an easy way to export all of the locations we “checked-in” to, but it served us well and we found some good local places through the service.

ConnectSolutions Team

Last, but not least, I have to give credit to the team back at ConnectSolutions.  Their hard work ensured the business continued to be successful and grow while enabling me to get away with such an incredible trip with my family.  The welcome I received upon my return was the most impressive display of corporate pranks I have ever seen or heard of…and I look forward to returning the favor one day.

I’d love to hear from you all about what else could have made our trip even better!?!