Bring This, Not That: Duffel Bags versus Rolling Suitcases

January 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Are rolling suitcases the better choice for business travel? Or can a case be made for duffel bags? Is one a business-only choice, while the other is only for weekends and trips to the gym? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each bag.

30 inch Tpro Bold Drop Bottom Rolling Duffel

30 inch Tpro Bold Drop Bottom Rolling Duffel

Duffel bags can be a handy alternative for the casual traveler who doesn’t want to lug around all the infrastructure associated with a rolling suitcase. They tend to be lighter and are sometimes easier to maneuver than their upright counterparts in the luggage world.

Better yet, some even come with wheels. A big duffel bag on wheels is narrower than a medium or large suitcase and it could even be a little easier to roll around a crowded airport.

Despite the general lack of structure with a duffel bag, you might have more organizational options in terms of little pockets throughout: on the exterior, the top, the bottom, and the sides. Some duffels even offer the benefit of a divider panel to separate the bag into two main compartments.

TravelPro offers a drop bottom duffel. There’s a large upper compartment where you put the vast majority of your stuff and then down below there’s another compartment that’s not quite as large. It’s a great area to store things like shoes or oddly-shaped items. If you don’t want to use that bottom compartment, you can also zip out the interior separator and just have one big packing space.

Travelpro 21 inch Blue Marquis Spinner

Travelpro 21 inch Blue Marquis Spinner

That said, a traditional suitcase usually offers small garment sleeves where you can pack your dress clothes. These sleeves can prevent your clothing from getting wrinkled and protect it from shoes.

Also, rolling suitcases often offer an expansion feature that duffels don’t always have. TravelPro does offer a duffel with expansion, but your average duffels do not. Some of our rolling suitcase models also have expansion features, if you need to pack some additional items.

Bottom line: Duffels can help give a feeling of freedom to your travel experience. A duffel is great for a totally casual trip, especially if you have a lot of shoes or a lot of power cords or odd shaped items. Duffels are great for when traveling with gifts.

If you’re doing a more formal trip, or you want to wheel your bag instead of carry it around, you’ll probably want to stick with traditional luggage, and use the rolling suitcase.

Which do you prefer? Are you a casual duffel-er or do you prefer the tradition of the suitcase? Leave us a comment and let us hear from you.

4 Health Travel Apps We’d Like to See

January 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article in Forbes Magazine by Robert Szczerba pointed out some rather gaping holes in the travel and health app world. They all relate to dealing with medical emergencies while traveling abroad. This is one aspect of travel many people overlook; they don’t think that a sudden ailment or accident will come up as they daydream about their glorious trip to Italy they’re taking next summer.

Unfortunately, accidents do happen. Being struck down by a car or strep throat is no fun at any time, but especially if you’re in a foreign country where you don’t understand the customs or language.

Here are four useful apps Szczerba suggested and we’d like to see.

English: High View Chinese Medical Clinic

High View Chinese Medical Clinic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Find-A-Clinic could help you find the closest clinic or medical care facility that could help you with whatever medical situation you’re dealing with. It would even have a way to notify the facility you were on the way.

InsuranceAssure would interface with your insurance and let you know what is covered and what isn’t in real time instead of waiting several days. (This may take longer than the others, given that it isn’t always possible to get a straight answer from someone on the phone, but it would at least be a start.)

MedBox would guide you to find the nearest pharmacy that carries the over the counter or prescription drugs you need for the situation you find yourself in. We’re fairly close on this one, since you can use a barcode scanner to read the UPC code of the needed product. You can do that right now in the United States and a few other parts of the world, but you need to have the UPC code on hand.

HealthyFoodAnywhere can help you find the healthiest places to eat. This is useful for healthy eaters, of course, but it could also help those with health problems, such as diabetes or heart disease. The app could also be invaluable for people with food allergies or even people who choose to eat a specific type of diet, such as vegetarian.

Even if these apps are never developed, it’s a good idea to carry a list of your prescriptions, health problems, and any other key information a health care worker would need if you do become sick while traveling.

What health travel apps have you been using? What would you like to see someone create? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page or in the comments below.

New T-Pro Bold 2.0 Collection by Travelpro Represents Next Generation of Action Luggage

January 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Perfect for Travelers with a Sense of Adventure

The T-Pro Bold 2.0 Collection by Travelpro is ready to go anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice, over rough terrain or down city streets. Amazingly durable, lightweight and versatile, this 9-piece collection is perfect for individuals and families with a sense of adventure. Loaded with extras, creature comforts and flexible packing options, Bold 2.0 embodies Travelpro’s next generation of action luggage.

Tpro Bold 2 Group Photo

Tpro Bold 2 line of bags

“Travelpro has always prided itself on design innovation and durability in crafting the finest luggage for the experienced traveler,” said Scott Applebee, vice president of marketing for the Travelpro family of brands. “The T-Pro Bold 2.0 Collection is a sporty addition to our long tradition of quality luggage.”

Made of rugged, high-density polyester fabric with a water-repellent coating for greater stain and abrasion resistance, this line features a comprehensive offering, including Rollaboard and Spinner models, a backpack, a soft duffel bag and two drop bottom rolling duffel bags. Multiple carry handles make the luggage easy to transport in and out of a car or airplane overhead bin.

Tpro Bold 2 Duffel - Open

Tpro Bold 2 Duffel

The drop bottom rolling duffel models include a zippered divider panel for two separate packing spaces or, if opened, one large main compartment. The backpack, 22″ Rollaboard and 21″ Spinner models provide a padded tablet pocket for protection and easy access during travel. An “intelligent” interior offers packing flexibility with a mesh pocket and wet pocket, ideal for toiletries or wet clothing, built into the lid.

Available in distinctive blue and purple fabric colors with black accents, the T-Pro Bold 2.0 Collection offers dual spinner wheel models that allow an effortless roll in any direction, an aircraft-grade aluminum telescoping handle system strong enough to support a tote or case, and protective wheel housings, skid guards and molded rubber corner guards for crash protection. Compression straps provide extra security, while a hidden back pocket allows quick access to keys, electronic cables, phones and more.

About Travelpro

For over 25 years, Travelpro International has prided itself on design innovation and durability in crafting the highest quality luggage for travelers worldwide. Since transforming the ease of modern day travel with The Original Rollaboard wheeled luggage, Travelpro has been the brand of choice for flight crews and frequent travelers worldwide. Travelpro is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its customers by consistently understanding and exceeding their needs. Travelpro was honored to receive the New Product Innovation Award from the Travel Goods Association (TGA) in March 2013 for the revolutionary Platinum Magna luggage collection.

Please visit the Travelpro website for a full list of the latest products and retail locations. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at @Travelprointl.

Keep Your Devices Charged When You Travel

January 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article in CIO magazine got us thinking about how to make sure your phone stays charged. There are a few new pieces of technology the article discussed, a couple of which we weren’t familiar with.

One option is the Powermat. This is a wireless charging station that doesn’t plug your phone directly into the wall. To use Powermat, you can plug a Powermat ring into your phone, and set the ring on or near the Powermat. If your phone is already Powermat enabled, you simply set the phone on top of the mat, and it will charge wirelessly. You can buy both the Powermat and the charging ring online or at electronic stores.

Duracell PowermatStarbucks has rolled out a Powermat program in the San Francisco area; if it’s successful, expect to be able to walk into a Starbucks and charge your phone wirelessly across the country for free. There’s even an app that tells you where to find Powermat-friendly locations. Or you could rent a ring from Starbucks while you’re enjoying your latte.

Speaking of charging stations, ChargeAll is another charging station widely available throughout the U.S. Rather than scrambling to find that one outlet in a coffee shop or fast food restaurant, many of them are installing ChargeAll stations so travelers can get a quick boost when they stop for a break or a bite to eat. You can find a list of the ChargeAll stations here. They also offer an app to help you locate their stations.

You can also buy an external portable battery. The battery itself is about the size of your phone, and only adds a half pound to your bag weight. You can even plug into it with your USB cord, and charge it overnight with another power cord.

If you’re at the airport, be aware that many now offer a variety of charging stations. Just scout around or ask an airport employee. In some cases, you may have to circle the charging area like a shark in order to secure a newly opened spot. You can also make a pit stop at a coffee shop or airport restaurant, where you’re fairly likely to find a charging station or at least a couple plugs. (This is why you should carry your charging cord with you at all times.)

More planes now offer in-flight charging for passengers. Although it’s mostly a first class or business class perk, some airlines have begun offering USB chargers throughout the plane for all seats in all sections of the plane.

Finally, just make sure you’re fully charged before you leave for your trip. A lot of people end up taking off when they’re not fully charged, so they’re already starting at a disadvantage.

How else are you keeping your electronic devices charged? Any tricks or devices we didn’t cover? Leave us a comment and let us know what works for you.

Photo credit: Julia Roy (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Bring This, Not That: Travel Items We Can’t Live Without

January 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

We’ve talked frequently about the things you should or shouldn’t take the next time you travel, especially on flights. But what are those things you absolutely can’t live without, the items that, if you forgot them, might ruin the entire trip.

We talked to several Travelpro employees about those little must-have items that make traveling more bearable and comfortable for them, and the things they always pack first, just to make sure they didn’t forget them.

For many people, the answer is electronics. One of the essentials (no surprise) is the smartphone. A smartphone keeps you connected (with talk, text, e-mail and social media), amused (games), and even serves important functions like keeping time and getting you around (maps).

Another key item is a laptop computer. Some folks just can’t be separated from their work even for a short little trip. While it’s nice to unplug once in a while, others don’t have that luxury (or personality).

This vintage hair dryer is from the 1970s.

This vintage hair dryer is from the 1970s.

A tablet is another new favorite. For those that can’t bear to travel without books, a tablet is a much lighter version that allows you to select new titles while you’re sitting at the airport. You can carry an entire library in a single device, and watch TV or movies on it later. Some tablets can replace the need for bringing a laptop.

And many people don’t want to move an inch without a more traditional device, the hairdryer.

With all these devices jockeying for space in your luggage, make sure you not only bring their charging cords, but also that you make sure you have the correct adapter if you’re traveling overseas.

Quite a number of the Travelpro women said they don’t move an inch without their makeup case. Looking your best on vacation or business is important, as is personal comfort. Several people mentioned neck pillows. Some folks want to make sure they have something comfortable to sleep in, or they bring their favorite t-shirts with them. You can bring exercise clothing along for the ride. Whether you make it to the gym or not, the idea that you’re making your health a priority for your trip can be of great psychological benefit.

Finally, when you’re packing for your trip, make sure you have a high quality suitcase! A poor quality bag can ruin your trip or even break open and leak all your favorite items. You need something durable, light, and tough enough to handle the rigors of airline travel.

What are your must-have travel items? What do you always take with you, no matter where you’re going? Leave a comment here on the blog or on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: H is for Home (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Track Ticket Prices and New Airline Fees to Get the Best Deal

January 13, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The best way to keep track of ticket prices and airline fees? Check the travel sites every day, sometimes more than once, keep a spreadsheet of the results, and buy your tickets when you see the price hit its lowest.

Actually, that’s the worst way to do it. It wastes time and you can’t always be sure you’re finding the lowest fees. Plus, it’s difficult to keep track of alternate routes.

English: Photo of a mobile boarding pass (a 2D...

Photo of a mobile boarding pass on top of a paper boarding pass for a KLM flight. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A September blog post on Peter Greenberg’s travel blog discussed two great sites for tracking ticket prices and fees. These are the best ways to track your fees, because you can use it to find the average and lowest ticket prices for your chosen destination, as well as find the cheapest time of year to fly.

Hopper.com will do all of that, plus give you information on alternate places to fly to and from. That feature is pretty standard these days, but Hopper’s detailed breakdown isn’t. It’s the best place to find out if you’re really getting a deal on a ticket and to give you a heads up on what you can reasonably expect to pay. It even lists the lowest recent price, just to make you jealous.

There’s also AirfareWatchdog.com, which has several useful sections, including a large list of airline fees, listed by carrier. For example, you can see how much it costs to bring a pet into the cabin, or reserve tickets by phone instead of online. Watch out for new fees, such as a $5 fee for printing out your boarding pass at the airport. Instead, use your home printer or the airline’s smartphone app instead.

How do you keep track of ticket prices and fees? Do you use any special tools, or do you have the spreadsheet technique down pat? Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Airlines Putting a Stop to Mileage Runs

January 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Airline mileage mavens, take note. The days of making mileage runs to boost your frequent flier membership levels may be coming to an end.

A recent article in the Seattle Times says that United and Delta airlines are cracking down on a practice known as “mileage running”.

Basically, this practice entails purchasing a low-cost, long-distance ticket and just flying in order to make sure you stay eligible for elite flying status on an airline. For example, if you’re 15,000 miles short of keeping your Super Elite Titanium level, you might purchase the lowest-cost ticket to fly from Chicago to London to Frankfurt to Rome, and back again, all in a four day whirlwind trip.

For short to medium-haul flights.

Business class for short- to medium-haul flights. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Keeping a higher status can earn you extra miles and other perks such as upgrades to business class or the ability to hang out in the premium lounge. The mileage run often involves a round trip ticket to a destination the traveler has no time to enjoy, connecting through as many stopovers as possible.

It’s not that surprising airlines are cracking down on this. What is surprising is that people are willing to take such drastic steps, such as spending an entire weekend flying to Europe or South America and back just to gain these ticket points. I have to wonder whether it’s all worth the effort and discomfort.

I find that the elite airline mileage programs tend to be problematic anyway. I’ve had trouble booking tickets to the place I want to go and at the time I want them. A lot of blackouts and restrictions apply, not just for the free tickets, but also on what tickets you can use toward getting the free tickets. For me, getting rewards from my credit card has proven to be a lot more worthwhile. I find fewer restrictions in every area of the transaction. There are some credit cards that are specifically geared toward accruing travel points, and I use those whenever possible.

Plus, consider how valuable your time is. Many people don’t have the time to take a long haul trip over a weekend like that. It may be worthwhile to spring for a business class ticket once in a while rather than spending 36 hours traveling just to get upgraded. You have to calculate whether the benefit is greater than the cost, both concrete and abstract.

Travelpro Voted “World’s Best Luggage” by Premier Traveler Magazine for 2nd Consecutive Year

January 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Travelpro, the original inventor of Rollaboard luggage and a market leader in innovative, high-quality luggage design, was honored to receive the prestigious “World’s Best Luggage Award,” from Premier Traveler Magazine’s reader survey for the second consecutive year. Travelpro Vice President of Marketing, Scott Applebee, was on hand to receive the award at Premier Traveler Magazine’s festive gala event, celebrating the upper echelon of the global travel industry, held at the Sofitel Los Angeles Hotel.

Over 14,000 Premier Traveler readers voted for the Best of 2014 Awards in a survey posted on premiertravelerusa.com from June 1st through September 20th, 2014. The survey consisted of open-ended questions only, with no company names given or choices provided. As a result, the luggage Premier Traveler readers favored most was Travelpro, the luggage choice of flight crews and frequent travelers and its comprehensive offering of innovative luggage collections.

“We want to thank Premier Traveler readers, our customers, retail partners and the media for all their complementary comments on our products,” said Applebee, after receiving the award from Premier Traveler. “By listening to customer feedback via social and traditional media, product reviews and observational research, we were able to identify the implicit needs of the customer that led to the development of a series of groundbreaking luggage innovations. One of the most recognized developments has been the MagnaTrac spinner wheel system, which eliminates the drifting and pulling effect that typically occurs when pushing other 4- and 8-wheel Spinner luggage.”

Travelpro 21 inch Blue Marquis Spinner

Travelpro 21 inch Blue Marquis Spinner with contour handle

Another breakthrough innovation is the patented Contour handle grip. It was the first handle grip designed specifically for Spinner luggage. The Contour Grip provides superior comfort and control, relieving fatigue on the shoulder, arm, hand and wrist when pushing Spinner luggage. In addition, the exceptionally strong, patented PowerScope Extension Handle minimizes wobble when fully extended. Strong enough to support a tote or case, PowerScope had been tested over 10,000 up and down cycles.

About Travelpro

For over 25 years, Travelpro International has prided itself on design innovation and durability in crafting the highest quality luggage for travelers worldwide. Since transforming the ease of modern day travel with The Original Rollaboard wheeled luggage, Travelpro has been the brand of choice for flight crews and frequent travelers worldwide. Travelpro is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its customers by consistently understanding and exceeding their needs. Travelpro was honored to receive the New Product Innovation Award from the Travel Goods Association (TGA) in March 2013 for the revolutionary Platinum Magna luggage collection. Please visit the Travelpro website for a full list of the latest products and retail locations. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at @Travelprointl.

About Premier Traveler

Premier Traveler was designed with its readers in mind: frequent travelers who are perpetually on-the go (both domestically and abroad), who have high expectations and a taste for luxury. With a focus on excellence in writing and response to reader requests, Premier Traveler provides valuable and relevant insights in an intelligent, energetic style. The magazine is noted for responding to its readers by providing detailed informational surveys, insider reviews and in-depth answers to issues concerning frequent travelers.

Avoid Booking a Bad Hotel

January 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s one of our worst nightmares. The only thing worse than being stranded or lost while traveling is being stuck in a bad hotel. But how can you be sure if the hotel you’re considering is a good one, and not just the result of a few faked reviews and a clever Photoshop job?

Your best bet in finding a good hotel is to do your research before you book a stay.

TripAdvisor — the app or the website — is a great resource for the traveler looking to avoid a night of pure misery at some flea bag motel next to a loud bar. Although TripAdvisor has received some criticism about its review system, it’s still a great resource because it lists so many reviews from different folks.

While it’s normal to see one or two bad reviews in a great hotel, and one or two great reviews at a bad hotel, these anomalies sometimes make people worry that something’s fishy on the review sites. When researching hotels on review sites, look for patterns. You may see one or two people who either have an axe to grind or they’re just jerks and like posting bad reviews. That’s almost normal these days, because people like to do that sort of thing. But if you see a pattern — 12 bad reviews, and one good one, or 12 positive reviews that all misspell the same word (which means they were probably planted by management) — then you can get a better picture of what that hotel is like.

A recent article in USA today mentions some other red flags. Visit the hotel’s website. If it’s outdated or doesn’t have a lot of information or photos, that could be a bad sign. If you can’t get someone on the phone when you call to ask questions, that’s also a bad sign.

An adult bed bug (Cimex lectularius) with the ...

An adult bed bug (Cimex lectularius) with the typical flattened oval shape. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can also check out Google Street view to see what the place really looks like. Another great resource to find out if other, unwelcome guests will be staying in your room is the Bed Bug Registry.

Another way to improve the odds of finding a good hotel is simply to stick to the chain hotels. They have performance standards they have to meet in order to maintain that license. While many of us may prefer the local experiences when we visit new cities, sometimes you have to stay with the thing you know just to make sure you know what you’re getting. (Save the local experiences for the restaurants and sights.)

After you finally check into your nice hotel, you still have to stay on your toes. The desk clerk is probably a very nice person but often has a goal of filling the least desirable rooms first, which means you may be steered toward a room next to the elevator or with a view of the trash cans. Ask questions about placement, noise, and views right off the bat and you’re likely to settle into a more comfortable perch for the night. One trick we like to use is to ask for a room on one of the higher floors. At the very least, it’s a little more secure, and you’re less likely to get a terrible view. You can also ask about rooms at the end of the hall, away from the elevators.

How do you avoid booking a bad hotel? Tell us your tips. Leave a comment here on the blog or on our Facebook page.

How Not to Get Nickel-and-Dimed When Flying Low-Cost Airlines

December 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The sad truth about the budget airlines is that they tend to charge extra for everything. You can get a cheap ticket, sure. But you’ll also have to pay extra for just about everything else. In some cases, you don’t get charged for luggage that fits under the seat in front of you, but you have to pay for luggage that goes into the overhead bins.

Of course, luggage charges are now part of just about every airline’s revenue stream. But a recent article in The New York Post indicates that the three lowest-cost airlines (Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant) have turned luggage upcharging into an art.

The terminal ceiling is suspended in a catenar...

Airport luggage check-in area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When traveling on one of these low-cost airlines, make absolutely sure you don’t have to check a bag at the gate. Doing so can cost you big. For example, Spirit airlines charges under $30 for luggage that’s checked or carried on, but luggage that is checked at the gate comes with a whopping $100 price tag.

Allegiant has a lower starting point for overweight fees since their overages start at 41 pounds, whereas most other airlines start at 51 pounds. Pack light and weigh your luggage before you leave the house, if avoiding these fees is important to you. Carry a luggage scale with you to avoid return trip overages.

Allegiant also may be the only airline that charges a $10 fee to book online. You can avoid the fee by buying a “walk in” ticket at the airport, which seems risky if you’re planning a vacation. You may not get the flight you want, and the TSA will give you a closer look for those “spur of the moment” ticket purchases.

You also need to watch out for fees that are now becoming common in the airline industry at large. Printing out your boarding pass at the airport can be upcharged as can choosing which seat you want to sit in rather than just taking what the airline offers.

The main thing to keep in mind is that you need to be careful and do some research before buying a ticket. If it’s important to you to choose your seat and bring three large bags with you, you may end up paying the same price or more than you would for booking with a more traditional airline. Do your research beforehand, and compare prices before you book your ticket.

How do you avoid airline fees? Any useful tricks you’ve learned over the years? Share them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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