The only TSA-mandated ritual more annoying than relinquishing your shoes and belt is unpacking your computer. Once you lug the damn thing through security, you wonder why you bothered: Around 12,000 laptops are lost in airports every week, and working on a tray table assaults your already-cramped knees. So maybe it's time to leave the computer at home. Thanks to advances in storage and robust smartphones, road warriors can travel light without sacrificing productivity. Bonus: No need to feel guilty about watching 30 Rock on your seat-back TV.
Make the Most of Your Smartphone
The first step is getting a folding full-size keyboard like the Freedom Universal ($119.99, freedominput.com), to eliminate the need to compose e-mails with your thumbs—though this isn't an option if you have an iPhone, which offers few business-friendly accessories. But even if you're stuck with touch-screen typing, there are measures you can take. Beyond mobile versions of Google Talk, Skype, and Outlook, there are more innovative apps to help you streamline your Accidental Tourist life: YouMail (youmail.com) transcribes your voice messages and sends them to you as texts or e-mails; Remember the Milk (rememberthemilk.com) syncs your to-do list between your computer and your phone; and Evernote (evernote.com) allows you to jot down musings (say, late-night inspirations), record audio (conference calls), snap photos (images of clients' business cards), and then search your entries by keyword, date, or even where you were when you saved them.
Actually Use the Business Center
Hanging out in a hotel's tech room sounds about as appealing as hunting down an Internet café, but what if you could access your own hard drive and actually print stuff? Desktop-virtualization services like MojoPac (mojopac.com) replicate your desktop—programs, files, wallpaper, and all—and store the data on USB flash drives or iPods that you can hook up to any computer. If you need to up the storage—to hold an entire music and video collection, say—go with remote-access home servers, which have up to 9 terabytes of storage and allow you to log in securely, via the Web, and access every last gigantic file. Try the Apple Time Capsule (from $299, apple.com) or HP MediaSmart Server (from $399, hp.com).
Airport-Friendly Laptop Bag
If you're too anxious about your big presentation to travel without a computer, get a laptop case that won't have the TSA goons at your throat: the checkpoint-friendly carrier, which has an unobstructed compartment so you can send it straight down the conveyor belt. Although early styles were very Office Space, design-minded companies are now offering sleeker versions—such as the Alpha Tumi T-Pass Soft Laptop Attache pictured here—so your dorkiness, at least, will be checked. ($175, tumi.com)