Bring This, Not That: Three Unnecessary Travel Items

September 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Sometimes, knowing what to bring on a trip can get confusing, especially if you love your gadgets and want to bring them on the road. A video article by Matt Granite from USA Today had some good advice on what not to bring on your next flight.

Travel Adapters

Granite: Travel adapters are unnecessary. Most hotels accommodate you and your electrical needs. They take up a lot of space as well.

Single travel adapter for Europe and Asia

Single travel adapter for Europe and Asia

Travelpro: We disagree. Yes, you shouldn’t buy the adapter kit with 20 pieces, because you’ll most likely only need one style. However, imagine getting to your hotel and not being able to charge your phone. Do some research to find out what kind of adapter you will need, and just bring that, not all the adapters for every country.

It’s important to weigh the costs for this too. If you frequently travel around the world, the 20 piece kit is probably the best route for you. But if you’re taking that once-in-a-lifetime trip to Paris, go for the single adapter only.

GPS

Granite: Why bring an extra device when you can just use a mobile GPS app? Your GPS is the most likely item to get stolen.

Travelpro: Agreed. Another device is unnecessary. However there are some factors to think about when opting for the app. It drains your battery, can go into roaming, which will hike up your data usage, and is a lot smaller than a GPS. Better yet, consider a map as your primary wayfinder, and use your phone GPS for fine tuning or when you get lost.

Bluetooth Shower Speakers

Granite: Pointless, poor audio quality, and overpriced. Skip the shower speakers, and get a regular speaker instead.

Travelpro: We sort of agree on the speakers. Why not just endure your 10 minute shower without music at all? You want to save as much space and weight as possible, and a bluetooth speaker of any kind is just going to take up both.

But if you simply must sing in the shower, we recommend Nude Audio’s Super M as an all-in-one speaker. It’s bluetooth, water- and sand-proof, offers a 360-degree sound experience, is compact and durable, and costs $99.

Tech gear is one of those optional things. Other than some kind of power adapter, you don’t need a GPS (travelers have survived forever without them), and you certainly don’t need a speaker for your mobile device. Go as light as possible, leave the unnecessary gear at home, and experience what your destination has to offer, including the music.

Three Airlines That Will Still Fly You On a Competitive Airline

September 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

United Airlines Boeing 767-300 at Zürich Airpo...

United Airlines Boeing 767-300 at Zürich Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s lost to the annals of history, but up until 1978, there was a code that said if an airplane was delayed, the airline had to book you on a competitor’s flight. Unfortunately this code, Code 240, was dismissed in 1978 when the Civil Aeronautics Board was eliminated. However, three airlines still uphold this level of courtesy.

According to a recent USA Today article, Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and United Airlines will still fly you on a competitor, in the spirit of Code 240.

Granted they do have some stipulations, such as if the delay was weather-related or an act of God, then they won’t. But that’s still better than nothing. Even in the 1990s, many airlines would honor the Code. But after September 11th, security became stricter, and fewer airlines honored it.

If you’re ever caught in a flight delay, you can still ask for Code 240 to see if the airline will grant it. After all, the worst they can do is say no. However, there is an alternative.

Some airlines have ongoing working relationships called a codeshare, where they work together and will sell tickets on each other’s behalf, and even fly their passengers. For example, the SkyTeam codeshare has 20 airlines, including Delta, Alitalia, and Air France. Star Alliance networks 27 airlines including United, Lufthansa, and Air Canada.

So if you booked a Delta flight to Rome, and have a Delta ticket, you may end up on an Alitalia flight because of the codeshare. If you want to fly Lufthansa to Germany, you may be on a United flight, and so on. This codeshare, in a way, works like Code 240. If your Delta flight to Paris is delayed, you may be able to get a codeshare seat on an Air France flight a couple hours later.

You can also use these alliances to get cheaper tickets. If you want to fly overseas, check the different ticket prices on each airline’s website. You may be able to get a cheaper ticket on one than the other, even though you’d be on the exact same plane.

Furthermore, if you’re a member of a frequent flyer program with one airline, but you fly with a codeshare airline, you’ll still get your miles.

If you ever find yourself stranded because of a delay, ask the airline about their codeshare alliances and see if any of them are available to get you to your destination faster. At the worst, you’re going to be late anyway. But if you’re lucky, you can get there sooner than everyone else waiting for the next regular flight, and you can do it without any extra fees.

Airline Industry Putting $Millions Into New Terminals

September 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

An airline terminal can be a relaxing place to sit for a moment, after rushing and scrambling with last minute packing. Or it can be stressful with the chaos of other travelers anxious to get home. Airlines are hoping it will be the former, making it a place where more people are willing to spend time, relax, shop, and eat. Many airports are pouring in millions, if not billions, of dollars into renovation projects.

SFO Open House - Thom WatsonWe’ve talked about some of the ways airports are trying to enhance travelers’ experience such as the efficiency of baggage screening and the use of wearable technology. Airports are also revamping the themselves, according to a recent USA Today article.

Examples of the grandiose projects

  • San Francisco International Airport completed a $138 million project that features free wifi and even a yoga room.
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport’s renovation features kiosks that print boarding passes and luggage tags.
  • The Los Angeles International Airport remade the Tom Bradley International Terminal to let in a lot of natural light through massive windows. It also has an aluminum roof resembling ocean waves.

Enjoyment and productivity for flier

These renovations will enhance both the enjoyment and productivity for the fliers in these areas. Not only is there free wifi for everyone, but there are even work stations and additional power outlets to get work done while you’re waiting. (If your airport doesn’t have additional outlets, here are a few backup battery options.)

Airports are also putting more of their region’s personality into their terminals, adding architectural flair, since it’s the last or first place a flier will see of their city. And they’re adding more and more dining options, including several local restaurants for more of that local “flavor.”

Of course, some people may not appreciate the renovations, because it either means fewer flights during renovation, or more likely, you have to navigate all the construction chaos to get to your gate. Renovations also cost a lot of money, which may mean an increase in ticket prices. And finally, some fliers just don’t want all the extra gadgets or bonuses, so they may not see what all the fuss is about.

But for those of us who travel a lot and sometimes feel like the airport is our second home, these improvements are much needed, much welcomed, and much appreciated. They may be inconvenient at times, but they’re being done to make your flying experience more convenient and stress free.

Photo credit: Thom Watson (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Virgin Atlantic Launches Wearable Tech Trial at Heathrow

September 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Wearable technology — fitness bands, health monitoring devices, Google Glass, and even garments that light up when your phone rings — is beginning to appear in business settings like airports. Instead of wearable technology being solely used as a consumer device, staffers are in the early testing stages of using it to help them do their jobs better. Airports have talked about using wearable technology in the past, but it finally took off (pardon the pun) when the airline, Virgin Atlantic, tested out Google Glass and the Sony Smartwatch at London-Heathrow Airport in the Upper Class Wing.

Virgin Airline's MollyThe technology was used to create a more customized customer service for passengers. Google Glass was used to identify passengers through facial recognition, while Sony Smartwatches were used to increase efficiency of passing along information instead of referring to paperwork.

Virgin Atlantic’s findings were presented at FTE Europe 2014. Although the trial lasted only six weeks, preliminary results were positive. The goal was to simplify the airport experience and reduce the amount of paperwork for the staff and passengers.

The only problem they discovered involved the reliability of connectivity, which they decided could be resolved by increasing wifi signals and using Bluetooth (something most travelers would love to see as well).

Right now, using wearable technology in airports is only in the testing phase, but as more airlines like Virgin Atlantic take the plunge and embrace the future, we may see wearable technology in the airport world quickly, and hopefully seamlessly.

 

Photo credit: Peter Russell (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Travelpro Debuts the Crew Executive Choice Business Case Collection (PRESS RELEASE)

September 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Providing the Most Innovative Luggage and Business Cases for Today’s Frequent Business Travelers

Travelpro, the inventor of Rollaboard luggage and a market leader in innovative, high-quality luggage design is pleased to introduce the Crew Executive Choice Business Case Collection. This premium business case line enhances Travelpro’s flagship Crew luggage collection by integrating some highly functional briefcases, backpacks and overnighters into the overall offering. Genuine leather accents and durable fabrics enable the business traveler to travel in confidence with the latest advances in luggage and business cases, all from one compatible product offering.

“The Crew Executive Choice Collection’s attention to detail, confident style and functional efficiency are a reflection of Travelpro’s commitment to its customers and business travelers worldwide,” said Scott Applebee, Vice President of Marketing for the Travelpro family of brands.

Crew Executive Choice Collection

Crew Executive Choice Collection


The Crew Executive Choice Rolling Business Overnighter is an ideal choice for the executive that demands it all: durability, convenience, versatility and a fashionable look that makes a bold statement. An ideal carry-on size for short trips, the Rolling Business Overnighter is built for maximum efficiency with a patented PowerScope Extension handle, which minimizes wobble when fully extended and stops at 42″ ensuring a comfortable roll for users of varying heights. A built-in corduroy, padded pocket protects laptops up to 15.6″ in size, and the business organizer keeps pens, pencils, business cards and keys in place for easy access.

Crew Executive Choice Checkpoint-Friendly Backpack

Crew Executive Choice Checkpoint-Friendly Backpack

The Checkpoint Friendly Computer Backpack is the perfect complement to Travelpro Crew 10 Carry-on luggage. With its one-of-a-kind Quick Loop system, the Backpack can be attached to all existing Travelpro luggage for convenient transport through airport terminals. The Backpack also provides protection against loss and identity theft with an RFID-blocking pocket that keeps all credit cards and passports safe. The highly featured backpack is Checkpoint Friendly, featuring a padded pocket for 15.6″ laptops, plus a tablet pocket and a removable cord pouch for power cables and accessories. Adjustable, padded shoulder straps provide comfort for users of different heights.

Genuine leather handles combined with sturdy nylon fabric make the Checkpoint Friendly Messenger Brief and Checkpoint Friendly Slim Brief, a stylish and damage resistant option for business travelers on the go. Checkpoint friendly design allows the traveler to keep their laptop inside the bag while going through the security x-ray machine at the airport. Each item is equipped with a RFID-blocking security pocket, Quick Loop system, a padded and quilted corduroy pocket that fits a 15.6″ laptop, a separate, padded tablet pocket and a built-in business organizer for quick access storage of key business essentials.

The Business Tote is the ideal case for the female business traveler who wants to combine style and functionality. The tote features a removable padded sleeve for laptops up to 15.6″ and a separate tablet pocket to protect multiple electronic devices safely. A removable cord pouch, RFID-blocking security pocket and business organizer keeps everything organized and safe. Genuine leather straps and trim add a touch of elegance and style.

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 like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Hotels Adapt Business Centers for Today’s Traveler

September 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

As broadband gets faster, wifi is found in more places, and smartphones can do everything but walk your dog. We’re seeing the world being disrupted, thanks to all this new technology. One place we’re seeing it is in hotel business centers.

While it was an important hub of activity 15 years ago, it’s now that lonely, empty room sitting next to your hotel lobby. There are a few desks with computers and printers. They used to be quite popular, before tablets, laptops, and smartphones sent everyone to their rooms for the night.

Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites - Paso Robles Business Center

Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites – Paso Robles Business Center

Hotels are realizing a change is in order for the business center. USA Today’s Nancy Trejos wrote an article about different hotels are approaching the business center. Some are getting rid of theirs completely while others like having the space available if a guest needs something. Others are making hotel rooms more “business center-like” with desks, USB outlets, and reachable plugs. Hotel rooms are becoming a workplace, not just a place to sleep, and the hotels are having to adjust their business centers.

As long as a hotel accommodates the needs of their business oriented guests, they’re going to earn more business versus another hotel because they recognize the needs of their target customers. When I visit a new hotel, especially on business, I quickly check the business center and my room. Is the room going to be a help or a hindrance? Will I enjoy working there, or will it be uncomfortable?

I sometimes go to the business center so I can get out of the room and into a place where I can work better. Personally, I’d like it more if a business center was like a coffee shop with a friendly, social atmosphere. I think more people would use it because it’s more of what they are used to.

As hotels look to change their business centers, they need to focus on what their guests are trying to do. If they need access to a printer and fax machine, they may already have that capability, but no longer through a business center. If travelers want a light and enjoyable place to work, the business center should have several small tables and chairs so it can be more of a social setting.

Regardless of what’s happening, business centers are changing as a direct result of new technology that makes traditional business centers obsolete. What are some features you would like to see in your favorite business center? What could you do without? Leave a comment below and share some of your ideas with us.

Photo credit: Holiday Inn Express – Paso Robles, CA (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Learn to Pack Like the Marines

August 28, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

The Marines are known for their dedication, skill, and bravery. What you might not know is how well they can pack. A Marine is only given one sea bag, a military duffel bag, to fit all his or her belongings. Packing efficiently is a must.

They have developed a packing technique called the skivvy roll or grunt roll. It combines a t-shirt, shorts or underwear, and a pair of socks into a single small roll that’s easy to count and manage. If you have a complete roll, you have a complete under-outfit.

  • Place t-shirt flat and unfolded. Stretch and smooth it to remove wrinkles.
  • Fold underwear in half length-wise, and place on top of shirt below shirt collar.
  • Fold the sides of shirt length-wise over the underwear.
  • Lay socks flat over shirt sleeves in a crisscross pattern. Leave the leg of the sock hanging outside of the shirt. Ankle socks will not work. It will look sort of like a letter ‘T.’
  • Roll items from collar down. Leave sock legs outside of roll.
  • Fold one loose sock leg over rolled items.
  • Repeat with other loose sock leg. You will have a completed skivvy roll.

There are many sites with step-by-step instructions and pictures demonstrating each step (we like the one on Huckberry.com). This technique may have Marine origins but that does not mean we civilians can’t use it for our everyday travel needs.

Skivvy roll - Huckberry

Used with permission from Huckberry.com

The skivvy roll is great for going on camping trips or traveling when space is very limited. You don’t want to lug three bags through the airport because of inefficient packing. It also ensures you have plenty of socks and underwear for each day you will be gone, since one roll equals one shirt, one pair of underwear, and one pair of socks. One day, one roll. Five days, five rolls.

What are some packing techniques you use? Leave a comment and let us know.

Seth Godin on Stress-Free Travel for People Who Stress Easily

August 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Some people love to travel and find it very relaxing. It’s another adventure they can’t wait to take. Other people get very stressed, and they’re less interested in the journey than the destination. What if I forget something? Which gate has my flight? Did it change? Where do I get my ticket? What about security?

On of our favorite marketing authors, Seth Godin, came up with a witty list of anecdotes called “Self Assurance Checklist for the Anxious Traveler.”

Author Seth Godin at PDF 2007

Author Seth Godin at PDF 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We wondered if some of his points may be a little far-fetched — ship your favorite pillow to your destination ahead of time — but we all know people for whom this would be a very reassuring and important detail. They want to be sure of a good night’s sleep, and they don’t want a crick in their neck from sleeping on an under-stuffed and overused hotel pillow.

Godin makes points about planning, parking, and packing. Research the area around the takeoff airport, the landing airport, and the hotel in case you forgot to pack something or need to kill time. He also recommends taking a photo of where you parked and emailing it to a friend, in case you forget where you left your car.

The last suggestion may seem to be a bit much since you could just as easily look at the photo once you return to the parking lot, but it doesn’t hurt for that extra step of preparation in case you lost your phone or it died.

When it comes to packing, lay out the clothes you want to take a few days before the flight, and see if they’ll all fit into your luggage. If it doesn’t, eliminate what you can until it does. This way you know everything fits and that it’s all packed and ready to go.

Traveling does not have to be stressful, even for the most anxious of travelers. If you know you’re going to be nervous about your trip, and want to make sure you have all the bases covered, read Seth Godin’s list a few times, and take flight.

Share any tips that you use to reduce stress when traveling.

Bring This, Not That: Portable Battery Chargers

August 21, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

In light of the TSA’s new “no dead electronics” policy, not having any charge is more inconvenient than just not being able to check email or play Flappy Bird. If you can’t charge your phone at a TSA checkpoint, you can either have your phone sent to your home or they’ll keep it for you until you return to the airport.

And while people are asking that the TSA bring power outlets to those checkpoints, it may be a good idea to have a portable battery charger in your bag. Even if you’re not traveling on a plane, a batter charger may make your life easier.

Cell phone and battery charger

Cell phone and battery charger

For frequent travelers, a dead phone, laptop, or tablet can be a serious problem. People need more and longer power to be able to work and entertain themselves while on their journey. I have gone on long trips, and even though I power down before takeoff, my phone can still be at 10 or 15 percent when I get to my destination. If I’m not going to be near a wall socket for a few hours, that’s a problem.

Luckily, portable batteries are becoming more prevalent and more affordable for the everyday person. Until they figure out how to reconfigure batteries to last longer, portable batteries are a great option. We’ve found five of the “juiciest portable battery options”, according to an article on Digital Trends.

  • RAVPower Xtreme Portable External Battery Charger
  • Lumsing Harmonica Style Portable Power Bank
  • Anker 2nd Gen Astro3 Portable External Battery
  • Jackery Bar Portable Charger
  • EasyAcc Slim Power Bank Charger

These range from $20 to $100. They also vary in power capacity, how many devices you can hook up and the weight. The EasyAcc only weighs about a quarter pound, which is great for travelers who are limited by weight of baggage. A friend recently bought one from Amazon for $23, and he’s able to charge his Android phone 5 times.

Another option is the Pocket Socket Portable Hand Generator available on ThinkGeek.com. It requires a lot of hand cranking, but it’s very useful if you happen to be in the car, or are stuck in a zombie apocalypse, and far away from a power source.

For as light and inexpensive as these batteries are getting, they may end up being a great alternative to trying to find an outlet in the airport or at a restaurant to extend your battery life.

Bring This, Not That: Charging Cables and Extension Cords

August 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Have you seen the new cell phone commercials that show travelers and their phones hugging the walls while they try to power up their battery hogging devices? Have you ever been one of those wall huggers? It may get worse, thanks to the TSA’s new rules that require devices to be able to power up at checkpoints.

This is going to be a bigger problem, as most airports seem to have only one outlet for the entire terminal, although some airlines, like Delta, are adding more power outlets to their gates. Even so, there are still a limited number of outlets to use. And half the people using them are watching Netflix on their iPads, when you’ve got important work to get finished.

Pivot Power GeniusThis is where a charging cable and extension cord may come in handy. We’re not referring to those bulky beige utility-style surge protector extension cords. There are smaller more compact and flexible options out there, like the Pivot Power Genius available at ThinkGeek.com or other electronics stores.

Imagine pulling one of these out of your bag and asking someone nearby to plug it in. What cranky flight-delayed person would say no? They may not be any happier, but you may brighten a couple other people’s days.

The Pivot Power is just one option out there. There are hand crank generators, portable hydrogen fuel cell generators (no, seriously), and even Tony Stark’s Iron Man Mark V Armor Suitcase Mobile Fuel Cell. And of course, even a 3-in-1 splitter and 1 foot extension cord would let you share a plug with two new friends.

An extension cord is not only convenient in airports but also for hotels. Most hotels have made it so outlets are easily accessible and plentiful. However, if you happen to book a hotel that hasn’t been updated in the last 20 years, the extension cord can save a lot of hassle. You may also run into problems if a hotel’s desk lamp plug doesn’t accommodate your bulky charger block.

Now that we depend on all these electronic devices, it’s just as important to be able to power them up conveniently and quickly. Now that the TSA’s rules are changing, and we’re dependent on our phones and tablets, don’t leave yourself without an option to power up.

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