There’s a great deal of emphasis these days being placed on personal security while traveling. But have you thought about ways you might be “leaving the door unlocked” for thieves while you’re away from home? By instituting a few simple routines, you can keep your house secure while you’re traveling for business or leisure.
This first one may seem a bit obvious, but in our oversharing culture it’s worth noting: Do not post on social media when you’re going out of town. Disable the “check in to favorites” and “check in to recent places” on your Swarm/Foursquare app or Facebook, so those apps do not automatically display that you’re in another state.
Also, avoid posting vacation pictures until you return from your trip so those who search the Internet for this kind of information can’t easily target your home. One good use of technology: a simple text sent to neighbors you trust, telling them you’re leaving town and asking them to keep an eye on your place, may raise someone’s suspicion if they see unusual activity around your home.
Home automation is another technology method, but we’re long past the days of the automatic timers that shut off all the lights at exactly the same time every day. A free web service called IFTTT (which used to be If This, Then That) allows you to use its partnerships with various manufacturers’ products to control your house’s lighting, heating and cooling, and alarm system remotely.
There are several categories of traveling business professionals: the occasional business traveler, the frequent flyer, and the road warrior. Road warriors spend significant portions of the work week traveling between clients, and have a few tricks up their collective sleeves that save them and their employers money.
The occasional traveler might still be learning the ropes, and don’t yet know all the tricks of the trade. But Insperity.com had a list of their most important ones, which we agree every business traveler should know.
First, fiscally responsible road warriors don’t incur expenses that aren’t reimbursable. They research their company’s travel and entertainment policies — the amount of their daily per diem, for example — and stick to them. This means they aren’t surprised by rejected submissions that leave them stuck with the bill.
Fiscally responsible road warriors know their corporation’s budgets for flights, hotels, meals, and entertaining clients. They seek pre-approval if they need to spend more than is typically allotted, and then proceed to execute their plan with confidence.
Fiscally responsible road warriors live by this simple axiom: time is money. They know they can’t afford to waste time standing in long security lines, so they apply for TSA’s Pre Check. Even if they only travel a few times each year, the $85 security preauthorization is good for five years, and more than pays for itself during that time. (If you’ve ever stood for two hours in a single security line, you’d be ecstatic to escape it for $85 just once!)
We’ve come to rely on technology so much, we’ve sometimes made things more difficult when the technology is supposed to make our lives easier. And one little tech mistake on your travels can throw off your whole trip, or add some unexpected expenses. USA Today shared several tech travel mistakes we can avoid to ensure our next trip is pleasant and glitch-free, and we picked a few of our favorites.
- Don’t forget the power sources for your mobile devices! Nothing can stop you in your tracks faster than a dead battery, so consider purchasing an extra wall charger that stays in your luggage at all times. Some battery packs take up less space than a wallet, and can boost your device for a day if they’re fully charged. Take along a separate charging cable that will allow you to charge your phone using your laptop’s power, and if you’re going to be driving, pack your car charger. Better yet, purchase our new Crew™ 11 21″ Spinner with a built-in USB port for on-the-go charging! Be sure to label the cords and wrap them so that they don’t become a tangled mess, and check your rental car and hotel room thoroughly so you don’t accidentally leave one behind.
- Airline earbuds are complimentary for a reason. They get the job done, but often they don’t fit your ears well. That means those around you are forced to eavesdrop on your conversations or “enjoy” your music selections. You may live in a state that doesn’t mandate Bluetooth use when driving and talking on a cell phone, but you may go to one that does. Buying a set of Bluetooth-enabled earbuds will do double duty for you. One heads-up, though: this type of earbud system runs on batteries, so re-read #1. Read more
If you’re an avid cell phone user, preserving battery life can be an all-consuming obsession. You limit your data usage, you only operate certain mobile apps on wifi, and you may even avoid some of the data hogs your colleagues all swear by.
One thing we’ve always thought about battery extension was that we should close our dormant apps instead of leaving them open.
Turns out, that’s just not true.
According to an Apple support page, “apps that are in a suspended state aren’t actively in use, open, or taking up system resources.”
Android users can also rejoice. According to an ABC News story, David Burke, the vice president of engineering at Android, agrees. “It’s simply not true.”
He says just the opposite occurs when you go to close those apps to conserve power. Closing them actually activates them momentarily which may drain more power than just leaving them in their suspended state.
So, if closing apps is unhelpful, what can you do?
Business travelers often consider the cost of airfare when determining the ROI of their business trips (and if you don’t, you should, especially for entrepreneurs and executives whose travel costs come out of their regular budgets). You can find less expensive flights with just a little planning, but without giving up the comfort and convenience of your usual travel schedule.
Yahoo Travel shared several great ways for saving money on flights, and they apply to business fliers as much as vacation travelers.
Let’s start with the basics: it’s true what the experts say. The cheapest flights will be found when you book eight weeks out for domestic travel and 24 weeks out for international. However, if you’re impulsive and can leave at the drop of a hat, you can also snatch a cheap flight last-minute if you can be somewhat flexible in your schedule.
If you want to be more scientific in your search for a deal, we suggest downloading a fare alert app that lets you know when the cheapest flight becomes available for the destination of your choice. Another way to get the big picture on flight prices is to investigate the “search by month” option on sites such as Skyscanner and Google Flights. This will take the guesswork out of your purchase.
Travel and all that it entails makes for an environment ripe with opportunity for theft and scamming. Why? There’s lots of money involved and lots of personal information offered in the purchasing process.
There are some simple ways to protect yourself, and, according to a CIO.com article, you can and should do everything you can to make sure you’re secure before you ever book your first ticket. That security starts with the travel site you choose to use.
Don’t believe those cyber vacation deals that seem too good to be true. Most of the time they are, and, worse yet, instead of a deal you might be getting a nightmare if you find out later what you thought was reputable turns out to be a scam. Stick with the big players with known reputations, read all the fine print, and watch your credit card statement like a hawk.
Don’t fool yourself by believing your mobile device is less susceptible. Charlie Abrahams, senior vice president of MarkMonitor, says the company spends a good deal of time scanning online app stores because, “there are a lot of apps there that are completely fake.”
It’s not hard to imagine, and it’s every weary traveler’s worst case scenario. Perhaps this has happened to you. You arrive home from your trip only to find your luggage didn’t make the trip with you. You rummage around and find those little baggage claim stickers from the depths of your carry-on to show an airline customer service representative, but other than that you have no way of knowing where your bags are. It’s an awful beginning or end to any trip.
Currently, there are many bag tracking devices and accompanying apps on the market, but those put the onus on the traveler to make the airline aware that, for example, they’re on a flight to Omaha while their luggage is on its way to London.
Delta is turning this model around, as they have recently announced a $50 million update to their baggage tracking technology system. New RFID scanners, RFID bag tag printer, and RFID pier and claim readers have been installed in 344 stations worldwide. Delta’s investment is the largest outlay by a single airline to date, and has resulted in baggage tracking that is 99.9 percent accurate.
Technology is changing all aspects of our lives, from how we communicate to how we work to how we watch TV. Even our travel is benefitting from new technological advances.
In fact, technological and engineering advances top the list of coming travel-related improvements. DestinationTips.com recently published 15 new travel advances we can expect to see, and we picked out a few of our favorites.
If you have a smartphone, you’ll be especially jazzed by what you can do with that ever-expanding, multi-tasking device.
Hilton and Marriott are in the process of updating the mechanisms that lock their guest rooms so travelers can unlock the door using their smartphone. By simply downloading an app when you check in, your phone acts as a key, and you have one less thing to keep track of during your visit.
If you had the choice between being able to maintain adequate hygiene or take a selfie while on vacation, which would you choose? If you said selfie, you have good, albeit stinky, company.
According to a recent study by Expedia of 9,642 travelers, 33 percent said they use their phones more during vacation than while at home. Aman Bhutani, president of Brand Expedia Group, said that participants claimed having their smartphones with them “improved the quality of their vacation.”
How? By providing them with the nagging sense that they’re falling behind on their work every time they gave into the urge to check email or voicemail? The device does offer quite a few helpful applications, but at what cost to truly relaxing?
Here’s a Technology I’d Like To See (TILTS) thought:
Having to make a tight connection is a source of anxiety for many travelers. When our originating flight is delayed, we’ll spend the entire flight rehearsing scenarios, wondering if our connecting flight was also delayed or what gate we’ll have to sprint to. Many of us teeter back and forth between hope and despair, working our stomach into knots.
With the increased automation available within the travel industry, it’s surprising some kind of app hasn’t been invented on behalf of some airline in order to facilitate a better experience for travelers.
For example, a simple email from my airline, informing me of the gate for my connecting flight or letting me know that the flight I’m so desperate to make has also been delayed would alleviate much of my angst and keep me from pressing my call button to pester the flight attendant for information that he or she can’t seem to procure either.