Top Five Strategies for Business Travel Efficiency

August 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Business travel is hard — hard on the body, hard on the mind — but making a few intelligent choices can make all the difference in terms of efficiency. To paraphrase the old saying about charity, “Good health starts at home.” You can’t be your best if you don’t take care of yourself first. Here are five strategies to help you be the most efficient traveler possible.

Travelpro Crew Executive Choice 2 Business Backpack - ideal for business travel

This checkpoint friendly backpack can get you through airport security with a minimum of fuss.

1. Pack wisely. Choosing the best luggage to meet your needs is the first way to set yourself up for success and streamline your travel experience. Our Crew™ 11 20″ Business Plus Carry-on is not only lightweight and durable, it features a complete business organizer with RFID protection for easy accessibility to your essentials and protection from identity theft. The Crew™ Executive Choice™ 2 checkpoint-friendly backpack is designed to maximize functional efficiency while on the road. Its exterior USB port and dedicated Power Bank battery pocket ensure you always have access to power on the move (battery not included), and the built-in business organizer has unique storage amenities, including padded and quilted sleeves for both a standard size laptop and tablet. Ensure all your essentials get where you’re going to and maximize efficiency while you’re doing it with a single bag.

2. Speaking of getting where you’re going, consider different modes of transportation. There are different, sometimes hidden advantages and disadvantages to various forms of travel, such as productivity en route. Weigh flying versus driving versus train travel to see which one gives you the best combination of productivity, less time wasted, and value for the dollar.

3. Be equally selective about your accommodations. Yes, the hotel further away from the customer is less expensive, but if you have to pay an Uber driver the difference to get there and back, the savings is a wash. Take the time to shop your options after you’ve thought through your needs for the location.

4. Fly once, visit many. It’s inefficient to spend the time and money to travel to a city where you have multiple existing or potential clients and not make time to see all of them. Take advantage of your proximity to schedule face to face meetings. Even if it costs you an extra night or two in a hotel, the lodging is usually cheaper than additional airfare.

5. Finally, create a detailed agenda. Those who fail to plan plan to fail, and that’s not you! Planning an itinerary not only allows you to schedule yourself effectively, it helps you articulate your thoughts and prioritize your goals. And, it even helps you figure out what clothes you need to pack, which results in wiser packing.

How do you travel efficiently? Do you do anything special to get the most out of your trip and stretch your time and money? Share your ideas in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

TSA May Require Additional Screening for Additional Items at Airport

July 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

As if we weren’t already in the throes of the busiest season for traveling, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that it might require more items to be removed from your carry-on luggage during screening. For the past 18 months, TSA has been testing how to make it easier for its officers to consistently view what’s in the bags they screen daily.

According to Wall Street Journal “Middle Seat” columnist Scott McCartney, the X-ray machine color codes the items inside the bag based on the density, and the more tightly packed the bag is, the harder it is for all its contents to be identified. That makes it difficult for screeners to identify the items within the bag.
TSA Bag Check
TSA officials have been considering having all electronics, food, and paper added to the list of items that must come out of every carry-on during screening. Why food? Certain items, such as chocolate, are dense and mimic the shape of explosives, often creating the necessity of a second look, just to be sure. Paper, including books and notepads, obscures other things, forcing the screener to tag a bag for a manual check that slows the line.

If you haven’t heard us sing its praises before, all these measures give us another reason to urge frequent travelers to invest in TSA’s Precheck. According to the TSA, the removal of these additional items would only apply in regular screening lines.

What should you do if you can’t afford Precheck and want to make sure your bag doesn’t get tagged for a manual search? Think through your packing strategy and be organized.

Store items that you already know need to be removed in the easy-to-access exterior pockets of your luggage. Consider electing to pull out that special chocolate bar you purchased at a gourmet shop as a souvenir so that it can be screened in plain sight in a separate bin with your jacket or shoes. Have a specific place you always store that favorite book or notepad you plan to use to help you pass the time onboard.

While these additional items haven’t been added to the official list, thoughtful packing before you arrive at the airport will help you develop a few habits that could save you some time and avoid unwanted hassle if the list is expanded.

How will these new rules, if they go through, affect you? Are you an electronics-only traveler, or do you carry a lot of paper and food as well? Let us hear from you in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Bradley Gordon (Flickr, Creative Commons)

How to Prioritize Working Out While on a Business Trip

July 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Traveling can suck the life out of you. While it may seem crazy to think about adding something else to your seemingly already-too-full schedule while you’re on a business trip, choosing to pound the pavement or hit the gym or find your zen really can help. Exercise can restore focus, alleviate stress, boost your endorphins, and improve your sleep. Motivated now? Okay, here are a few ways to incorporate working out into those days away from home.

Plan ahead. If you’re already in the habit of working out and want to maintain your routine, the solution is simple: adjust your schedule and make the time. It may mean getting up 30 minutes earlier and making space in your luggage for your running shoes, but putting it on the calendar will give you a better shot at actually following through than if you just think you’ll fit it in “at some point.”

People jogging in Frankfurt am Mein. Could be on a business trip, or they could just live there. We don't know.

Jogging is a great way to work out on a business trip. All you need are your running shoes and workout clothes.

If you aren’t a regular exerciser, there’s no time like the present to seize the opportunities that present themselves. Let’s start at the airport. Walking between security and your gate instead of taking the train will help you stretch your legs and increase your heart rate without sweating. Those moving sidewalks can be walked on too, but don’t look at your phone while doing so. Better yet, skip the moving sidewalk and count the extra steps. (Make sure you have a good step counter on your mobile phone to keep track.)

Once you arrive at your hotel, take the stairs to and from your room, and consider checking with the front desk for dining establishments within walking distance. You might even go one step further (pun intended) and choose the location of your hotel so that you can walk to your appointments.

If you belong to a gym at home, check its website to see if there’s a location in the city you’re visiting. You know those workout rooms you’ve seen signs for or walked past on your way somewhere in the hotel? Those places actually exist and would allow you to walk or run on a treadmill or pump your legs on a stationary bike.

Swimming is also great exercise, and a swimsuit and goggles don’t take up much room in your suitcase, and your workout is only limited by the pool’s hours of operation. Investigate options for joining a class at a local yoga studio or find a mobile website or app that will provide a stretching routine you can do on the floor in your hotel room. You can also take a travel-sized yoga mat, and some higher-end hotels even provide them for guests. Do this before bed to encourage your mind to let go and wind down for the day.

Working out requires intentionality and perseverance. To help you work toward the achievement of a health goal, think about signing up for a race or setting a few goals using a fitness tracker like Fitbit, Leaf, or Misfit Shine. As Nike has been urging for nearly 30 years now, just do it. Your trip will be healthier, feel more productive, and you won’t be upset you missed those days when you get back into your routine at home.

How do you prioritize working out on your business trip? Do you maintain your same discipline on the road that you do at home, or are those a few much-needed rest days? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Robert Strauss (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0)

Five Tips for Surviving Your Next Business Trip

June 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Sure, a business trip is all about getting work done, and you may have built-in companions for your down time, but that doesn’t mean your next trip has to be all work and no play.

You know what they say about that, and nobody wants to be “dull.” We recently wrote about how John Greathouse, the creator of GoToMeeting, became a fan of spending a least half a day of each business trip finding something enjoyable to do. It changed his whole outlook on his business travel, and he began to see some sights and landmarks while he was traveling around the world.

There are a few other things you should do to make sure you and your traveling companions are getting everything out of your next trip.

  1. Plan carefully. When traveling with a group of colleagues, avoiding hurdles hinges on everyone knowing what to expect: what hotel you’ll be staying at, what the agenda is, how you’ll get from point A to point B once you arrive, and whether everyone should carry on or check their bags. Plan those details, and then share them with everyone in advance.
  2. Pack smart. Earplugs might help you sleep with a snoring roommate, and headphones on a flight are an international sign for “I don’t want to talk right now.” If you know you’ll have a layover, pack a paperback or a deck of cards to help pass the time.
  3. Dress for Success. This should go without saying, but if everyone isn’t aware of the travel itinerary, someone might show up dressed casually instead of being prepared to meet clients directly after deplaning. Don’t let that someone be you or anyone on your team. And if you’re going to be sharing a room, don’t rely on the hotel supplying a robe. Pack your own or pajamas so that your roommate isn’t subjected to you being unprepared for the situation. Nobody signed up for that on a business trip.
  4. Schedule Fun. We know a professional speaker who makes a point to visit a restaurant suggested by the locals.This looks like a nice place to eat on a business trip. Better than most hotel restaurants. She calls this her “Tour de Tastebuds.” She will take her assistant and someone from the event planning team to the recommended place, rating it for atmosphere, taste, and how it made them feel. Every city has something it’s known for. Give your teammates a taste of the locale by planning a small excursion of this type in your downtime.
  5. Choose Your Attitude. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Whatever can go wrong, will,” but don’t be overly nervous. You can’t anticipate everything even in a well-planned trip, so remember to pack your best attitude and be flexible. Control what you can and adapt as needed. Don’t be that one member of the group who whines and complains. That only makes the trip less fun, and you don’t want to be labeled as The Spoiler.

What kind of group travel stories do you have to share? Good ones, or some travel horror stories?Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Inkflo (Pixabay, Creative Commons)

Travel Top Five: Traveling in Comfort

February 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Over the years, we’ve talked about traveling light, being efficient, and not taking things you can live without. But that doesn’t mean living a spartan, uncomfortable existence, where you can’t wait for your trip to be over. We still want you to be comfortable.

Everyone has personal standards for comfort. For some, it’s their pillow from home, or wearing their favorite jeans. Often, business travelers have certain standards and efficiencies they should maintain, so curling up on the plane in sweatpants with a pillow is probably not a good idea.

Here are five ways you can be more comfortable when you travel, without looking too out of place or sacrificing packing space and efficiency.

Let’s start with shoes. You’ll be on your feet — through security, through the terminal, through the parking lot, and through the lobby to your client — a good bit of the day. The best way to stay comfortable is to invest in comfort that will carry you, literally, through your trip: get a pair of walking shoes. There are plenty of stylish options that look just as professional, and your feet will thank you.
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Travel Top Five: Tips for Traveling Light

February 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The ability to travel light seems to be the golden ring every business traveler is reaching for. Some have the knack for it, while others struggle. Here are a few tips to help you choose what to bring with you on your next trip. For the purposes of this article, we’re assuming you want to avoid baggage fees, skip the luggage carousel, and be in control of your experience from start to finish.

Number one, truly, is plan what you’re going to wear and stick to it. You may think you need an extra outfit for a special occasion, but unless you’re attending a formal event that requires certain attire, you can pretty much wear anything else you’ve planned and it’s going to be sufficient. If you want to be successful at traveling light, take a hard look at what you must have versus what would be nice to have. Then keep the former and leave the latter.

Platinum Magna 2 - International Carry-on Spinner - Ideal for traveling light

Platinum Magna 2 International Carry-on Spinner

Next, learn the art of packing by color family or using neutrals interchangeably. For example, if you know you need to dress warmly where you’re going, choose your favorite sweater that’s appropriate for all the engagements you have. If said sweater is navy, then everything else you pack should coordinate with navy. Creating an entire week’s worth of outfits using black, white, and khaki is another option that lets you mix and match without looking like you’re wearing the same clothes over and over again. Trust us, no one will notice.
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Road Warrior Tips for Trade Show Stamina

December 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Conducting business at a trade show, expo, or conference requires a different level of energy than a routine road warrior business trip. You’ll spend two, three, even four days on your feet, talking to dozens of people, constantly walking back and forth, usually while trying to keep up with work at home.

If you’re not careful, even the strongest road warrior reserves can be tapped, leaving you ineffective and unproductive. Here are some tips I’ve collected from colleagues, as well as lessons learned from my own experiences. Following these can help you feel and perform at your best.

A trade show floor can be the size of several football fields, which will wear out even the fittest road warrior.

A trade show floor can be the size of several football fields, which will wear out even the fittest road warrior.

  • Find the most comfortable shoes your company’s dress code will allow. You’re going to be standing and walking eight to fourteen hours each day, and you won’t be able to go the distance if you don’t have good shoes. If you can’t wear a well-cushioned shoe, invest in insoles to help your feet bear up under the pressure.
  • You won’t make the best impression if the first question you ask a vendor or a client when you meet up is, “Do you have an outlet where I could plug in my phone?” Be sure to invest in a portable battery so you aren’t distracted from your purpose by your search for power. Make sure you recharge the battery each night, even if you only use it for a little while. Read more

What To Do when Your Luggage is Lost

November 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s the last thing you want to have happen when you’re traveling: your bag doesn’t show up at the baggage carousel. It has an immediate impact on your psyche, not to mention your itinerary.

But if the airline loses or mishandles your bag, there are a few steps you can and should take before you ever leave the airport, and a couple steps to take before you ever even get there.

If your luggage is lost at the baggage claim, head immediately to the lost luggage office. But be nice to the staff!

The Palermo (Italy) Airport baggage claim.

We want to say this upfront: above all, don’t vent your frustration on the person at the lost luggage counter

Next, before you ever get to the airport, pack your essentials in your carry-on: your medication, laptop, papers for your presentation, and anything else you can’t afford to be without. I once read a story that involved a woman whose lost bag included her laptop with a sales presentation she was to give the next day. She got her bag back in time, but we couldn’t help wonder, why would you ever relinquish control of the most important part of your trip?
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Geneva Airport Begins Its Luggage Robot Bag Drop Trial

November 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Even with his vivid imagination, Leonardo Da Vinci, recognized for inventing the world’s first robot, could never have envisioned this application for his creation. Or that it would be used in coordination with another of his inventions, the flying machine.

Yet here we are, as Geneva Airport has been trying the world’s first fully autonomous, self-propelling baggage robot to assist travelers with their luggage. Working in collaboration with Swiss telecommunications company SITA and BlueBotics, a robotics company specializing in Autonomous Navigation Technology (ANT), the company has named their robot “Leo,” after the famed Italian inventor and artist.

Leo the luggage robot at the Geneva Airport in Switzerland

Leo the luggage robot at the Geneva Airport in Switzerland

Leo can check in luggage, print baggage tags, and transport the luggage to its designated baggage handling area using information gathered by scanning passengers’ boarding passes. After the bags are loaded into the robot’s compartment, Leo displays the boarding gate and departure time to the travelers. No one other than a baggage handler can reopen the compartment once it departs for its designated destination.

Massimo Gentile, head of IT at the airport, sees great potential for use of robots in the future. He told FutureTravelExperience.com, “The use of a robot such as Leo limits the number of bags in the airport terminal, helping us accommodate a growing number of passengers without compromising the airport experience inside the terminal. Leo also proves the case for increased use of robotics to make passengers’ journey a little more comfortable.”

Dave Bakker, president of the European division of SITA, agreed. “Leo demonstrates that robotics hold the key to more effective, secure and smarter baggage handling and is a major step towards further automating bag handling in airports. Leo also provides some insight into the potential use of robots across the passenger journey in future,” he told FutureTravelExperience.com

While some kinks remain to be worked out, such as scalability of the entire system, the capacity, both in size and weight that the robot can carry, and how it navigates in snowy conditions, this trial at Geneva’s airport makes it clear that ANT robotic assistance is here to stay.

What do you think? Would you trust a luggage-carrying robot with your bag? Or would you prefer to check your bag yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: SITA (Used with permission)

Smart Ways to Carry Money When Traveling

October 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Traveling with money is always a challenge, because there are twice as many ways to lose money as there are forms of payment. Not only can you just misplace it or leave it behind, but you’re also at risk of pickpockets and thieves, especially if you travel outside the United States.

So here are a few tips for managing your money while traveling on business, especially if you travel overseas.

A credit card is an effective way to carry money when you travel, because you can always get a replacement if you lose it.

Get a compatible credit card. The card you already carry may be used internationally with a simple call to the company to alert them of your travels, but a growing number of European and Asian countries now require a card with a built-in chip. If you are traveling on business and your company doesn’t supply you with a credit card for expenses, make sure your personal line of credit can be accessed without penalty. Then, get a personal card to be used only for business expenses, one that lets you rack up airline or hotel points. Additionally, use this card whenever possible, rather than making cash withdrawals overseas. Not only are the fees higher, the exchange rate is less favorable when you exchange it yourself.

Consider on-body storage. You may have been told that money belts are a safe way to carry money, but an experienced thief can recognize them immediately (hint: nobody wears a belt that thick). Instead, money belts and fanny packs broadcast to thieves that you’re not a local, which could increase your odds of being a victim. Consider a money pouch that hangs on your belt inside your pants, or a wallet that hangs around your neck inside your shirt. Just don’t go digging through it when you have to pay for an item; the whole point of on-body storage is for it to be a secret!
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