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.
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.
- 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
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.
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?
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 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)
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.
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!
Given the increase in travel and baggage fees by some airlines, it’s important to travel as light as possible. It simplifies the check-in process, and helps get you to your destination with a minimum of fuss. These are a few things we do on our business trips to make traveling light as easy as possible.
Use your carry-on as your only piece of luggage. With careful planning of your wardrobe and necessities, you can take all you need with you on the plane. You’ll avoid the time sink of baggage claim, the cost of checking your bag, and the fatigue of lugging what could be extraneous items through security to your final destination. It’s actually possible to carry 10 days worth of outfits in your bag if you pack it right.
Become a digital professional. Most anything you need can be retrieved from online “cloud” storage and printed at a hotel’s business center with a simple USB thumb drive. If you have documents you need to access, consider Google Drive or Dropbox for online storage. If you like to read while traveling, e-books take up no space in your luggage and an e-reader can be loaded on your tablet or phone so that you don’t have to pack a special, single-use device.
Ever wonder what all those pockets and packing spaces have been designed for in your suitcase? While frequent travelers have developed a system for making the most of these spaces, those who don’t hit the road as often may struggle finding “a place for everything and everything in its place.”
Let’s start with the exterior pockets. Travelpro Rollaboards typically have two exterior pockets on the lid of the suitcase. The large one allows the traveler to store a light jacket if you’re traveling to or from the cold, and you’ll only need your jacket for one leg of the trip. It also provides handy access to a sweater, a book, a newspaper or magazine, or a tablet. Storing electronics in this pocket is not recommended for checked baggage, as it affords the least amount of protection from possible damage.
The smaller exterior pocket is designed to provide storage for handheld electronics, power cords, and a boarding pass. This is especially helpful if you are traveling light and don’t have a separate purse or bag for such items.
It seems everyone has a tip for how to make the most of the space you have in your suitcase. No one knows better, though, than flight attendants. Many of them use the Flight Crew Series Rollaboard from Travelpro.
Here are a few of their expert packing tips, as shared with Condé Nast Traveler magazine.
Heavy items such as toiletries and shoes take up a lot of space, but where you put them in your Rollaboard will determine your ease of maneuvering the bag through the airport. If you place your toiletries and shoes in the bottom of the case nearest the wheel base, you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes. By doing this it keeps the center of gravity low and it avoids heavier items falling into your clothing when the bag is being pulled upright. Flip flops and some sandals are by far the most versatile shoe with the smallest packing “footprint.” They go with many casual outfits and can serve as slippers in the hotel.
Don’t use a garment bag. Generally, they don’t fit in the overhead bins well, and closet space on planes is reserved for use by first class passengers first. If you insist, most likely it will be checked and then you’ll have wrinkled clothes when you arrive.
I can almost tell how my trip is going to go by how efficiently I can get set up when I arrive at my hotel. Unpacking begins with thoughtful packing, and by that I mean strategic placement of items in my luggage or garment bag. So, the first thing I do when I get to my hotel room is remove the items I’ve folded, usually shirts, to assess how they weathered the trip.
This isn’t rocket science, but it stands to reason that folded items will only become more wrinkled the longer they remain folded. Because I really try to avoid ironing if I can possibly help it, my strategic packing begins with placing my folded shirts in the mesh pocket in the lid of my suitcase. This way, the weight of the other items in my bag is not creating more wrinkles than already exist from folding them in the first place.
If I have to take dress clothes, I use one of Travelpro’s cases that has a Suiter in it, like the Crew 10 22″ Exp. Rollaboard. This protects my suit coat and pants from excessive wrinkling and creasing. The Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 and Crew 10 50″ Rolling Garment Bag has a foam rollbar to keep pants from creasing in the middle.
Thanks to the miracle of gravity, most wrinkles will hang out with time. That’s why I make hanging my folded items my next priority. Bringing an especially wrinkled item into the bathroom while I shower also helps those folds relax.
In order for travel to be efficient and enjoyable, organization of your stuff is key. This is where travel hacks can help. We’ve read a lot of articles, heard from a lot of travelers, and even spoke with our fellow road warriors. And, of course, we found a great article on Huffington Post about the topic of travel hacks.
Here are a few of our favorites.
- All those lotions, shampoos, conditioners, sunscreen, makeup foundation, and eye creams you use take up a lot of space. Seal off a drinking straw with a heat sealer, fill it with your favorite lotions and creams, and seal off the other end. Label them with tape, and you’ve got some single servings of your different products. It saves space and you won’t run afoul of TSA rules.
- If you’re like me, you’re tired of wrestling with all those different charging cables and earbuds you carry around. Rather than unpacking and unraveling a tangled mess every time you need a cable, put them in an eyeglass case you’re not using. The hard shell ones that spring shut work best.