But even in today’s mobile work environment, we must get in our cars and drive sometimes.  And with the holiday season quickly approaching…road trips to visit family and increased car time are around the corner.   There are few things less productive than a road trip.  Just you, the open road, and your thoughts to keep you company.

I worked as an outside salesperson for several years in large territories where it was common to drive several hours between customers and appointments.  So what can you do to stay productive while in the car or on a road trip?  Here are some tools that might help.

5 Tools for Staying Productive On The Road

– Podcasts: Rather than listen to the Black Eyed Peas on the radio, again…why did not listen to something that will stimulate your business brain.  Podcasts are the perfect solution.

I’m not an audiobook person.  I know many people love the format, but for me…it’s too hard to pay attention to someone talk for 8 hours and get through 350 pages of text.

Podcasts are a fantastic way to ABL (Always Be Learning) and the amount and quality out there is stunning.  Best of all…they’re almost always free.

Available on iTunes, there are thousands of podcasts waiting to be listened to.  And the great thing about them…is that they are hyper-niched.  Just type in an area of content you want to learn about and most likely several options will come up.  Unlike an audiobook (which cost money) they are usually under an hour and easy to listen to.

– Jott (Or any Voice To Text Software): Ever been driving and an awesome idea for a blog post (like this one) pops into your head?  Well, maybe it’s just me…but audio transcription software is a fantastic way to get things done in the car.

Jott is the perfect solution.  You can update, Twitter, Facebook, Outlook, Google apps, and Blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger.

So rather than crash your car sending text messages while driving, you can record some thoughts, and even post or publish them…all in the comfort of your car.  Subscriptions run about $10 per month. (this tool was also suggested by @tdhurst )

– Bluetooth Headset: With more and more states outlawing talking on the cell phone while driving…a Bluetooth headset is a basic necessity.  @thetristan recommended the Voyager 520 to me for this post.  Jott has an iPhone and Blackberry app, as well

– YouMail: Not everyone or every client has your cell number, so many will still be calling your office number to get a hold of you.  YouMail is a free service that works with most mobile phones and carriers.

The handy service converts all of your voice mails to audio files, then sends them to you via e-mail.  Now you can stay on top of all of those fires that are brewing at your office.

– Internet Access (Starbucks Card): Sometimes you just need Internet access, and being on the road can make that difficult.  The Sprint MiFi solves this problem, but it does cost money.

A Starbucks Card solves this issue.  Unless you’re on the moon…chances are, there’s a Starbucks nearby.  If you buy a stored-value Starbucks Card, register it online, and use it at least once every 30 days, you can get the wifi in any Starbucks for free.  Besides, I’m guessing you could probably use the caffeine break anyway.