Bed, breakfast and broadband.
The holy trinity of the business traveller. And if I had to choose between breakfast and broadband, I'd go hungry every time. I'm not sure if this need to stay connected is an addiction - or whether it's an unavoidable symptom of an increasingly wired world.
Our customers or clients expect us to be contactable, it allows us to keep in touch with our staff and our day to day business transactions can go on interrupted even though we might be half a world away.
Last week, I realised my dependence on the internet bordered on that of a junkie needing an intravenous fix when I found myself in Byron Bay, desperately hoping that my laptop would be able to pick up wireless signal.
A quick stop at The Beach Hotel meant I spied other internet junkies - laptops in tow - near the bar, all tapping away at the shiny connections to their cyber-world. I could spot another addict a mile away. Unashamed, I walked straight up to a man engrossed in his MacBook Pro. "Excuse me," I said, indicating t computer. "Is there ... ?"
I didn't even have to finish my question. With an instant look of recognition - as if speaking a language only we could understand - he nodded. I was part of his secret club. He pointed to the air above his head and waved at the invisible force around us. "Yep ... free wireless," he said.
Immediately, I knew life was good. Any anxiety at not being able to be connected while in Byron dissipated, safe in the knowledge that I could reach Nirvana at The Beach Hotel in case my rented apartment wasn't appropriately connected.
However, when I got to the rented apartment, my laptop automatically found the signal for local wireless internet provider World Without Wires - offering wireless hotspot connections in Byron Bay, Lennox Head and Ballina Airport.
I called their hotline immediately and was told that I could buy a day pass for $7.99 or a weekly pass for $19.99. Despite the opportunity to surf for free at the pub, the idea of being connected without even having to leave my bedroom was too good to pass up. I signed up immediately and was emailing within minutes. (I did end up having to continuously carry my laptop around the apartment trying to find a wireless signal that sometimes dropped out).
Now in Singapore, I checked into the hotel and my first question was: "Will I have internet access?" Not that I ever doubted that this would be a problem in this country. It recently launched its Wireless@SG initiative which is designed to provide free wireless internet for everyone until the end of 2009.
If a few hours go by without an opportunity to be on the internet, I start getting twitchy. I confess that I did an Internet Addiction Test - which I undertook online (of course) and the results weren't pretty. But you know what? As a small business entrepreneur, I'm my own boss. So there's no one looking over my shoulder at the time I spend on the internet. I manage to regularly convince myself that it's important for me to stay connected to ensure the smooth running of my two businesses. Not to mention to post this blog.
What about you? Are you spending more time on the internet than you should? Or is it simply a necessary part of running a business today?