The writer Dorie Clark wrote a great piece in the Harvard Business Review about that elusive “four-hour work week” and how the one thing many overworked, exhausted and burned-out American workers want these days is to get away.
Timothy Ferriss’s book about his escape from working 14-hour days and his entire workaholic lifestyle has inspired legions of cubicle dwellers and corporate types to attempt the same.
When we see headlines like “More Vacation is the Secret Sauce,” proclaiming that the key to success and happiness in the workplace is taking more time off, we can’t help but be utterly tantalized.
We know a lot of people who have tried the 4-hour work week, and they lament the fact that it simply didn’t pan out for them. What they don’t realize is that it takes a lot of 70- and 80-hour work weeks to get to that point successfully.
But there are catches to this idea of taking more vacation to invite more success. For example, you need to have built your expertise and credibility already — something you can’t do by doing 35- to 40-hour work weeks for a few years and hoping for the best.
You also have to see your entire life as an opportunity for professional advancement and enrichment. Clark spends her weekends reading books relevant to her career and spends time, even on vacation, meeting with people who will help her learn and move forward as a businesswoman.
If you look at your work as work — something to be dreaded and avoided — then you’re never going to get to that four-hour work week. But if you love your job and don’t think of it so much as work, you can position that four hours doing the “business” you don’t like and spend the rest of the time doing things you do like and just happen to get paid for it.
In the end, this four-hour work week — and all this escapist literature climbing the bestseller lists these days — may be more about an attitude adjustment than a lifestyle adjustment.
We recently ran across an article in Forbes magazine about Virtuoso Travel Week, which took place in mid-August at The Bellagio in Las Vegas. It’s the hotel’s largest event, and it draws more than 4,000 luxury travel advisers, tour operators and other travel professionals as they gather to talk about the upcoming year in the industry.
The piece, written by a hotel-focused writer named Annie Fitzsimmons highlighted six trends that emerged during discussions at the meeting. Here’s a look at them.
I subscribe to a lot of travel magazines — partly because of my line of work, but mostly because I love to travel — and I’m seeing a lot of features lately about river cruises. You fly somewhere and get on a luxury cruise ship, but instead of going out on the ocean, you go up and down the Danube, the Rhine, the Nile or others. This is definitely something people are embracing and the cruise lines are putting more energy into.
Younger, More Affluent Travelers
The Virtuoso group has seen an increase both in the 40-55 age group, which continues to use travel advisers to book their trips, plus much younger, wealthy individuals as well as families planning travel with their young kids and babies. There’s a big “carpe diem” factor in this trend, with families not wanting their kids to miss out on experiences from a very young age, and also not wanting to lose their freedom to travel.
Traveling Off the Beaten Path
It’s not so much about checking items off a bucket list, or seeing the same places everyone else has. Sometimes it’s about going places usually only found in Lonely Planet Travel Guides. People who have the money often take these over-the-top trips where they stay in five-star hotels and have a dedicated guide.
Yes, it’s really happening.
More than 500 people are already signed up for Virgin Galactic’s space flights as they enter into the advanced stages of flight testing. In its first 10 years, according to Reuters, “space tourism” will generate anywhere from $600 million to $1.6 billion for the travel industry.
In an industry where more and more travelers feel nickel-and-dimed by fees and other surprise charges at the ends of their trips, more luxury brands are looking for ways to create all-inclusive experiences that challenge the traditional notion of the all-expense-paid trip.
Fitzsimmons mentioned The BodyHoliday LeSport in St. Lucia, a Caribbean spa that thinks of (and includes) everything, from its wellness center to a variety of activities and high-quality food and drink.
Luxury meets value
Even the affluent are struggling these days — and those who aren’t still want to squeeze as much value as possible out of their money spent. Abercrombie & Kent, a leader in the luxury travel space, has announced a new line called Connections, which debuted in September and features trips that cost 30 percent less than their average trips. Hotels featured include Fairmont, Hyatt Regency, Marriott and Intercontinental, in destinations such as India, Peru and Croatia.
There were so many great tips in there that we had to write a second post! Here are five more little-known secrets about hotel stays — straight from the minds and mouths of the front desk employees who cut your keys and control the switchboard.
When you book your room online with one of the discount services, it may be a bit easier, but hotels often pay up to 30 percent commission for your convenience. You and the hotel can both save a little if you negotiate your rate with the front desk. One interviewee recommends offering 20 percent less than the online price when you book in person. You might just get yourself a deal.
Ask and Ye Shall Receive
You’d be surprised at the sweet deals you can score if you just ask. If there’s a breakfast buffet at your hotel but your room only comes with the continental breakfast…it never hurts to request the pancakes and sausage. You might just get a fuller belly! You can always negotiate.
If you have a special request, be discreet about it — or speak in code! Don’t ask for a room upgrade if there’s a line of people behind you; instead, ask for a handicapped room or one on the corner of the building — those accommodations are more spacious, without being conspicuous.
“We Love to Help”
Front-desk employees hear some pretty crazy requests, and they’re mostly happy to comply if it make their guests’ stays simpler or more pleasant. (But, one interviewee says, you can rest assured the folks behind the desk are all abuzz trying to figure out exactly why you’re making those requests.)
It should be no surprise that one of the many “secrets” front-desk employees cited was the value of a sweet demeanor and a smile.
Walking in to a hotel lobby and acting like you own the place won’t get you treated like you own the place. Actually, it’s a surefire way to find your every request, no matter how simple, much more difficult to be fulfilled.
Marcy Massura, a southern California businesswoman and mom, has created a website all about the Glamorous Life, which she is obviously living. I really loved Mary’s writing, because she’s hilarious, and she’s got a great attitude about travel, with all its pains and annoyances, because she does it all the time for her job.
If you follow her tips and are vigilant about your packing, you won’t need to pay baggage fees, because your luggage will be so light, densely packed and well-organized, you’ll be dying to carry it yourself.
Marcy’s first tip: Make lists for each day you’ll be traveling based on your itinerary, and think of everything you might need. And then lay everything out, then organize it all by day wherever you decide to stage it.
She makes notes about which pieces go with what day’s outfits, then seals everything up in packing cubes. (Marcy mentioned eBags’ packing cubes, but I’m rather partial to Austin House’s packing cubes. They come in a set of three that includes three different sizes. Another great product is Austin House’s Shoe-Ins, simple drawstring bags that help protect your clothes and valuables from dirt on your shoes without adding much bulk to your bag.)
Her always-in-the-suitcase must-haves: make-up, a curling iron, brush, other hair stuff and a snack for when she gets in late and misses dinner. (Here’s where her experience as a mom really comes in.)
When you actually get to packing your suitcase, she says, pack the densest, heaviest items at the bottom of the suitcase, near the wheels. The lightest stuff, such as socks and underwear, can go in the zipper compartment of the lid. If you do it right, things won’t shift inside your bag, and everything will be happy once you arrive at the hotel.
One final recommendation from the Glamorous One: You’re not going to be out in the wilderness during your travels, so if you run out of something, all is not lost. In 99 percent of your travel situations, you’re going to be in a place that has stores. So don’t flip out if you forget something; there’s a good chance you can pop out and replace it with no trouble.
We’ve talked about traveling with little kids before, and Fodor’s recently came out with an article about the best gadgets for kids on the go. These are great for keeping your little ones distracted on a long flight or car trip. Here are a few of our favorites:
These kid-friendly headphones serve a dual purpose: First, they’re customizable with special markers, stickers and paper inserts. Second, when they’re done decorating, they can listen to their tunes on the headphones they created — comfortably, and at a safe volume.
Kurio Kids Tablet
It’s kid-friendly, but it’s a real Android tablet with games, e-books, Internet capability and more! You can create eight different profiles for the whole family to use this gadget, and with parental controls on app downloads and more, you can let your kids of all ages surf independently and maintain your peace of mind.
Kids Cooler Backpack
Give your children a little independence with a backpack they can carry themselves, with compartments for everything they could need during your journey. The best part: The front pocket is insulated and protects snack foods from getting crushed among the other items you’ve packed.
4moms Breeze Playard
Many pack-and-plays for babies don’t live up to their name…the packing is simple enough, but when it’s time to play, you’ve got a real challenge on your hands. The Breeze is a portable crib with a removable bassinet, changing pad and travel case — all in one easy-to-open package.
Our Two Cents
On the practical end of things, one of the best gadgets you can get for your kids doesn’t involve keeping them entertained; it’s more about keeping them comfortable.
We can think of two special tools for keeping kids comfy and feeling great during your travels, especially if they’re new to long trips.
The first is EarPlanes, which are ear plugs that control pressure in your ears during takeoff and landing. They make special sizes just for kids! The second is Austin House’s Motion-Less wristband, which helps control motion sickness during long car rides, cruises or flights.
Traveling with kids can be tricky, and it requires a lot of extra preparation, but making memories with your family when your kids are still young can be well worth it.
If you’re a frequent family traveler, what toys, games, tools and tips do you have for folks who are new to traveling with young kids? Share them in the comments.
We ran across a post on CNN’s fantastic Travelers Psycho blog that really gets to the heart of our mentality when we travel these days. It really is the little things.
The author, Kat Kinsman, was somehow overlooked during beverage and snack service on a Christmas-season flight during a long stretch of travel with no time spent at home. She had a free drink ticket and really wanted the cookie that was due her — it was one of the few pleasures she knew she could count on during her travels. And during especially busy travel times, sometimes these times are rare.
But, for whatever silly reason, she didn’t get the cookie. And she lost it. She didn’t get enraged, but she broke down and cried. And of course, the cookie wasn’t really the point. It’s the little things that count on flights; we have to take what we can get these days.
We give up a lot of control when we travel today. We aren’t in charge of anything along our journey, and with only a couple of joys to look forward to, it’s completely understandable when one of those things doesn’t materialize. It makes all the difference in the world when we’re used to being treated like children — or cattle.
We’ve noticed, for a couple of airlines, that the secret to success is making people feel like they do have a little more control. Whether it’s liberally distributed drink coupons, open seating, the ability to pay a little extra to get priority seat selection, those tiny measures of freedom can make us feel a bit more relaxed and less prone to being upset by the travel experience.
But we would stress that we’re all responsible for each other, and can affect each other’s travel. It’s the little things, like a smile or a kind word to each other, that can make all the difference in how you travel goes. Whether it’s in how a flight attendant reacts to a simple request or how you’re treated when your flight is delayed or even canceled, you’ll be surprised how much the tables can turn in your favor if you remember the little things.
A recent post on the CNN Travelers Psyche blog follows one traveler, Leza Dabit, who had been invited to seven — SEVEN — weddings between June and December this year. She gets only 10 days’ vacation every year, and she’s spending all her extra money traveling to the events, which she feels she can’t say no to. (And, of course, that doesn’t even include the showers and bachelorette weekends attached to each event.)
The post highlights that 41 percent of adults in America now use their vacation time on “obligation trips” such as weddings, reunions, graduations and the like.
It’s true: We often have to pay to celebrate our friend’s accomplishments. And while weddings, for example, were once an affair that lasted only a couple of hours, now they can stretch out for two or three days in an exotic locale that can really break the bank.
It would be great to think you could plan and budget for travel like this when you’re at certain stages of your life, but with people getting married later and later these days, and with celebrations cropping up for all types of occasions, it’s tough to do that.
A sociologist from Yale, Jeffrey Alexander, who was quoted in the post, says it’s important to balance prudence and attention to budget with honoring these obligations and valuing your relationships.
According to Alexander, especially between the ages of 18 and 30, folks are more inclined to ignore physical distance as a barrier; they’re used to daily communication through social media.
But you may have to say no. Sometimes the effort, vacation time and sheer cost of these events just isn’t realistic at the time.
Above all things: Remember that you’re the one who has to reconcile your budget at the end of the day. It may be tempting to join your friends and family for every fête they’re putting on, but if you can’t afford it, don’t be afraid to sit it out.
You don’t want your celebration to destroy your finances for months to come — or longer.
If you’re going to decline an invitation, you shouldn’t feel obligated to share your reasoning; after all, a lot of people were invited, and many will be attending, so your “no” may barely be a blip on the radar. But if you do give a reason, just be honest.
TSA screeners at the airport are as recognizable and universal today as the planes sitting on the runways. But where the planes symbolize what little excitement and joy remain in the travel process, the agents often represent everything that makes travel un-fun nowadays. Especially from a distance.
But how well have you really gotten to know the people who scan your baggage, instruct you to take off your shoes and remove all liquids from your carry-ons, and take you through the scanning process?
They’re humans with jobs — really important jobs. The steps they take are to keep us safe. When they do make mistakes, the problems are often so overblown in the media that we’re led to believe they’re portrayed as having no regard for public safety. But when they have to crack down, they’re whip crackers.
There’s a lot you don’t know about what they do, so Good Morning America offered a few little-known facts about the TSA screeners back in July:
- Officers do get compliments: Passengers do sometimes recognize TSA screeners for everything they do. (Why not be one of them?)
- Officers don’t get a pass from security: They go through all the screenings and checkpoints that you do.
- Officers sometimes make the same security mistakes passengers do: When TSA screeners travel, they do go through all the motions an ordinary passenger does, and sometimes they forget to throw out their water bottles too.
- Officers don’t make up the rules they follow: No, really. They’re just doing their jobs and enforcing the rules set forth. If you don’t like the rules, ask to see a supervisor. Or drive to your destination.
- Yes, there are bad officers: There will always be bad apples who make everyone else look bad; they exist in every industry, not just airport security. Remember that bad TSA officers — the overly strict, the overly aggressive in pat-downs, the stony-faced and unsmiling — are the exception and not the rule.
Our take: Give the TSA screeners you come into contact with a little break. They’re just doing their jobs. There’s plenty that could be done to improve the security and screening process all the way around, but little of that actually revolves around the screeners.
Automatically approaching TSA agents with rudeness or misdirecting your rage and annoyance just makes everyone’s already taxing travel experience — yes, including yours — that much more uncomfortable.
Holiday gift ideas designed for the adventure, frequent business or leisure traveler
(Boca Raton, Fla.)—Travelpro, Atlantic Luggage and Austin House are pleased to announce the “2012 Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers.” Make this holiday a memorable one with a gift for the frequent business, leisure or adventure traveler from one of its newly designed and innovative lines of luggage and travel accessories.
“Whether your family member, friend or work colleague is a frequent business traveler or they are planning for an upcoming vacation, the ‘2012 Holiday Gift Guide’ for travelers offers a wide variety of luggage, briefcases and travel accessories that make great gifts for the holidays,” said Scott Applebee, Vice President of Marketing for the Travelpro, Atlantic Luggage, and Austin House brands. “This year, Travelpro is proud to offer the new National Geographic adventure luggage collections in our gift guide.”
This holiday season, Travelpro is offering adventurous travelers a luggage collection that combines the ruggedly stylish retro look of yesteryear with today’s modern travel features. Inspired by explorers, the National Geographic Kontiki Messenger Bag is perfect for the college student or the traveler who wants functionality and capacity without sacrificing style. The bag is made with a khaki fabric from recycled materials and faux leather accents, offering a safari, adventure travel look. It includes four deep pockets, a business organizer and a padded laptop/tablet sleeve. The Kontiki Messenger Bag retails for $129.99.
Another must-have for adventure travelers and explorers this holiday is the National Geographic Northwall 26″ Expandable Drop Bottom Rolling Duffel. With large, oversized wheels for rugged terrain, this duffel includes a spacious main storage area for clothing and personal items. Below the main compartment is a separate drop-bottom area that is ideal for storing shoes and bulky gear. The Northwall 26″ Drop Bottom Rolling Duffel retails for $199.99. National Geographic’s net proceeds support vital exploration, conservation, research and education programs.
For the frequent business traveler on the go, the Travelpro Crew 9 Business Backpack is the perfect holiday gift. This checkpoint-friendly bag has four deep pockets for storing laptop computers, tablets, smart phones, cables, folders and other business accessories. Adjustable straps accommodate users of different heights. An elastic quick loop on the back of the backpack allows you to attach the bag over the handle of your Rollaboard luggage when wheeling through airports. Travelpro backs the Crew 9 collection with a lifetime warranty that covers defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product. The Crew Business Backpack retails for $149.99. The collection is available in black and titanium gray.
Another ideal holiday gift is the Travelpro Crew 9 21″ Expandable Hardside Spinner, designed for the frequent traveler that wants to experience the next level in luxury travel. This 4-wheel Hardside Spinner with patent-pending, strong Powerscope handle is tested to over 15,000 up and down cycles. In addition, you will enjoy the revolutionary Contour grip for more control when pushing through busy airports and the expansion feature that increases storage capacity up to 20 percent. The Crew 21″ Expandable Hardside Spinner retails for $269.99. The collection is available in stylish Titanium Gray and Black colors and includes a scratchresistant finish.
The Holiday Travel Guide also provides a number of fashionable and useful gifts for your family from the Atlantic Luggage brand. The lightweight Atlantic Compass 2 21″Expandable Spinner is an ideal carry-on model that helps make traveling easier during the holidays. Carry handles on three sides make it easy to lift into and out of cars and airplane overhead bins. The Compass 2 4-wheel spinner offers extra large rear wheels for increased flexibility, switching effortlessly from rolling upright beside you to being pulled behind. A full lid mesh pocket and two interior side pockets provide packing flexibility. Compass 2 is available in black and cranberry fabric colors with fashionable satin accents. The collection carries a ten-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.
Austin House, a leading brand of travel accessories, features a variety of practical and cost effective items that are ideal for loved ones or business associates who are always on-the-go. The “2012 Holiday Travel Gift Guide for Travelers” includes the Austin House Packing Cubes, a 3-piece, multiple size set which allows you to separate specific items conveniently when packing. Each cube rolls into its own pouch, taking up minimal space. The Packing Cubes from Austin House retail at $35. The Austin House Travel Comfort Kit includes an eye mask, inflatable pillow and fleece blanket. The pillow cover doubles as a convenient storage bag. The kit retails for $20 and will be a certain holiday hit.
About Austin House
Austin House started in 1974 to make travel as safe, comfortable and hassle-free as possible. Today, the strength of Austin House is its vast selection of travel essentials and clever ideas, including safety locks, travel clocks, luggage straps, luggage tags, passport and document holders, personal security, comfort and care items, leather goods, adapters and converters and electronics accessories. A one-stop shop for travel accessories, Austin House is the essential resource for the serious traveler.
Visit the Austin House for a full list of the latest products and retail locations.
About Atlantic Brand Luggage
Since 1919, the Atlantic brand has been synonymous with affordable, value-added and lightweight luggage. As a market leader in the lightweight luggage segment, including neatly designed uprights and spinners to trendy and smart garment bags and totes, all Atlantic branded luggage is of superior quality and durability. Whether for business or pleasure, travel is easier with Atlantic luggage, now part of the Travelpro family of brands.
Please visit Atlantic Luggage for a full list of the latest products and retail locations.
For twenty five 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. The company offers a variety of innovative, high-quality luggage collections and computer briefs; each aimed at a specific user lifestyle and rigorously tested. Travelpro was the winner of the 2009 and 2010 Leading Edge Award from Executive Travel Magazine for “The Best Carry-on Case.” Travelpro is celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the invention of the Rollaboard throughout 2012.
Please visit the Travelpro website for a full list of the latest products and retail locations.
We recently read a blog post that made us again ask the question, “Is packing light a luxury of the young?” Ann Brenoff is an L.A.-based senior writer for the Huffington Post’s Post50 blog, written for Americans as they age, and in her opinion, yes, it is.
As a younger traveler, Brenoff backpacked through Europe, starting with a 40-pound behemoth on her back and returning home with a lean 14-pound pack. Necessity taught her to pack light.
When she wrote her post, “Travel Light? It May Be A Generational Thing,” she was packing for her two-week trip to Asia with her family of four, and she blamed her age for the insane number of items she was packing, knowing that she wouldn’t even use half of them.
She described it as “contingency packing,” the curse of just-in-case. Her husband’s diabetic, so she has to ensure he’ll be as healthy as possible. She recognizes that the actual travel process can be stressful, so she includes as many comforts of home as possible to make it less stressful (but still be exciting and new, as pleasure travel should be).
So, is it a generational thing? To a certain degree, we’ll say yes.
Brenoff argues that packing is actually less about how old you are and more a statement about who you are as a person. If you’re the kind of person who needs a different dinner outfit (with shoes and accessories to match) for every night, you should own that and deal with the consequences. If you’re the type of person who never minds using the little hotel shampoos and can feel comfortable wearing the same shoes with each day’s clothing ensemble, your packing may be a little less stressful.
Packing light, with nothing but a pair of sneakers, some shorts and a few T-shirts — and the bare minimum of everything else — may be generational, says Brenoff, or at the very least, highly situational, but you’re never too old to be smart about what you pack.
And though the author’s not in the habit of packing as lightly as she once did, she did offer a few great tips on traveling light (and smart):
- Make a comprehensive list of what you’re packing to avoid overpacking.
- Pack what you love to wear, not what you feel like you should wear — you know what’s most comfortable.
- If you must buy new clothes for your trip, wash and wear them at least once first.