Damn! Now What?
When a work trip goes awry, there are ways to assess--and repair--the damage.
By Giselle Velazquez

(Business 2.0) – Pity the poor business traveler. From overturned cups of coffee to airport workers with a penchant for pulverizing PCs, road warriors must survive in the wilds far from home. Fear not. With quick thinking and preplanning, life's little tragedies can often be shrugged off. Here are three common calamities and tips to help you escape them unscathed.

1 I DROPPED MY LAPTOP, AND IT'S MAKING STRANGE NOISES.

What to do: Take out the battery and examine the casing. If there's no obvious damage, boot up and listen closely. "If you hear unusual noises, such as repetitive clicking or grinding, turn it off," advises John Christopher, an engineer at DriveSavers, a data recovery firm. Loud clicks indicate a struggling hard drive, which could permanently damage your data. If your laptop suddenly starts to beep classical music as it boots up, the operating system is trying to tell you that something is wrong. A PC laptop that starts playing "Für Elise" or "It's a Small World" has a fan that is failing. Seriously. (For details, see support.microsoft.com/kb/q261186/.)

2 I LOST MY WALLET, ID, AND CREDIT CARDS.

What to do: Start with the obvious. Report the loss to the police and, if you're abroad, call your consulate. An American in the United States may be able to fly without a picture ID by completing a set of secondary screenings by the Transportation Security Administration. To get new credit cards on the road, sign up for a service like the American Express Travelers Cheque Card program before your trip. With it, American Express will help you replace all your cards--not just your AmEx--if you lose them on the road.

3 MY CELL PHONE FELL IN THE TOILET.

What to do: The trick is to get the battery out quickly "to prevent it from shorting out," explains TechSupportGuy.com expert Michael Cermak. Next, flip the phone on its face and allow it to drip-dry for a few days. If you somehow managed to drop the phone into your soda, flush it with water and then follow the same steps. But you may be out of luck: Soft drink residues can corrode circuitry as they dry. Chester Yeung, a manager at IT firm Central Computer Systems, dropped his phone in the bathtub during a work trip. When he turned it on, it started to malfunction. After he removed the battery and let it dry, however, the phone worked fine a few days later.