'Tis the season to ask for gadgets and gizmos you don't really need, but want nonetheless. Think about it: How many must-haves did you receive last year that you're still excited about today? I would wager that for most of us, that number is very small. For this reason, I like giving and receiving gifts that are enduring and useful.
I'm an IT consultant, and the life isn't always glamorous: The airport is my second home, I live out of my suitcase, and I log far too many hours in front of the computer. For these reasons, my gift list may be a little different than the average 9-to-5 worker's. I want something that relieves some of my job's challenges and helps me work more efficiently.
Of the countless cool thing-a-ma-jigs I have accumulated over the years, a handful have withstood the test of time. Here are my top gift recommendations for the traveling IT pro. What are your must-haves?
[Naming your price is a skill IT consultants must master. Read more: Consulting Fees: How Much Are You Worth?]
1. TripIt Pro
Our days are long and our memories are short. This handy app for iOS and Android keeps your travel plans organized and in check. You can add and edit flight plans manually, or do it automatically by emailing your plans to TripIt; sync travel details with your calendar; receive real-time flight alerts; and more.
A few things I love about this app: It alerts you when a flight has been canceled, often before the airline does. If your plans have changed, the app makes it easy to find an alternate flight. You can also use the app to find out when a better seat is available. Ahh, extra leg room...
TripIt Pro costs $49 a year and offers a free 30-day trial.
2. Gunnar Advanced Computer Eyewear
Gunnar's line of eyewear is popular among gamers and people in front of electronic displays for hours at a time. (Sound like anyone you know?) It's a bad habit: The glare from digital screens can cause eyestrain, teary eyes, dry eyes, blurry vision, and headaches. No one wants that, right?
This product claims to prevent or alleviate those types of conditions. It also claims to reduce glare and give you sharper vision, which leaves you feeling less fatigued and more productive. Gunnar eyewear can be customized to your eyeglass prescription, and it comes in many variations and styles. I love this product so much, I own two pairs: the "Intercept" and the "Haus." They're stylish and reasonably priced, ranging from about $60 to $150, but adding a prescription to your eyewear costs more. You can try them for 30 days.
When you've been on the road for months, the last things you want to do when you get home are errands, housework, and fix-it projects. But what if there was an affordable way to get someone else to assemble furniture, do your laundry, clean out the garage, do the housekeeping, or even decorate your home for the holidays? TaskRabbit to the rescue!
This service can simplify your life and rid you of all the pesky tasks you've been too busy to tackle. You just tell TaskRabbit the what, when, and where, name your own price, and pay securely when the job is complete.
This on-demand car service app has become one of my best friends when I'm away from home. Open the app, choose the type of car you want, and the ones available in your area show up on the screen. When you hail the taxi, black sedan, SUV, or other vehicle, a photo of the driver appears with his or her phone number. You even know how long you'll have to wait before the car arrives. At any time, you can look at the map to see where your car is. When the car is near, you'll get a text message. Best of all: When you arrive at your destination, there's no need to fumble with cash or a credit card. The card you have on file takes care of that.
5. Tumi Backpack and Women's Business Bag
This is one of the best purchases I've made. Although they're pricy, Tumi bags are good looking, well-made, durable, and functional. I own the Kingsford Backpack, which I purchased more than a year ago. I have used it almost daily and it still looks new.
The warranty policy is also amazing. If your Tumi product is damaged during the first year you own it -- including damage caused by wear and tear, airlines, or other transit damage -- Tumi will cover all repair expenses, including shipping costs. I recommend trying out the bags in person first; I've found that the pockets on some models are hard to get in and out of for larger hands.
Do you have a favorite business product that would make an awesome gift? Share it with us in the comment section below.
Deron Lespoir is the managing director and principal at Ron Les, a training and instructional design firm that specializes in large-scale SAP implementations for public- and private-sector organizations. Lespoir's InformationWeek columns cover effective corporate training strategies for large-scale ERP implementations, project management, dynamic consulting, and small business marketing.
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