Five Ways to Go Paperless for Your Business Travel

December 6, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Business travel is usually an exercise in packing light so you can move fast. It means not carrying a big suitcase — road warriors definitely do not check their bags — and it means not carrying a heavy briefcase.

One way to lighten your load is to stop carrying papers. Many offices are trying to cut back on paper usage, especially since a lot of it gets thrown away or recycled, and the rest gets stored away, likely to never be seen again.

Consider this from Entrepreneur magazine: One four-drawer filing cabinet holds as much as 20,000 pages, costs $25,000 to fill, and $2,000 to maintain each year.

A desktop free of paper, except for a couple of notebooks. This is a great way to go paperless.Eliminating paper from your office saves money; eliminating it from your briefcase saves you from a backache.

It’s possible to avoid nearly all paper in your life if you go digital, keeping everything stored in the cloud and on your laptop and phone. You’ll never have to haul paper around again, and you’ll have easy access to everything you thought you’d need.

Here are five ways to eliminate paper from your business travel, and your life overall.

1. Use a business card scanner.

You can cut down on the number of business cards given to you by scanning them as soon as you receive them. Use an app like Evernote or FullContact to scan the cards. It takes a few seconds for each card, and then you can pitch the card or give it back to the person who gave it to you.

Then with an automation service like If This, Then That or Zapier, you can sync those scanned cards up with your phone’s contacts, Google Contacts, or LinkedIn profile.

2. Use an app to scan in all documents you receive.

Just like you can scan business cards into your phone, you can use a similar app like Evernote or Evernote’s Scannable app to scan new documents.

If you’re given a contract or even a meeting agenda, you can scan it quickly with Scannable and send it to yourself or upload it to your favorite cloud storage service. Tag it with a few keywords to remind you what the document is about, and you can always find it later on. Then just give the original back to the other person, or recycle it immediately.

3. Ask people to email PDFs and Docs to you.

If someone hands you a printed piece of paper, there’s a better than 99% chance they created it on a computer. And if they did that, they can email a copy to you instead. Which means there’s no reason to carry the paper around in the first place.

Most office people use Microsoft Word, which creates small documents that can be easily emailed. Even Apple users can open a Word document in Apple’s Pages word processor, which means both Windows and Macintosh users can open them.

Ask for all meeting agendas, notes, and other documents to be emailed to you instead of being printed out, and be sure to do the same thing for them.

If you don’t want people to be able to change or edit your document, export it to a PDF. It’s under the File –> Export menu in both Pages and Word. Then just send the new copy onto whoever needs it, and store your version in the cloud or on your hard drive.

4. Use Docu-Sign to sign contracts.

If you’ve ever had a contract emailed to you, you’ve probably been told you need to print it, sign it, scan it, and send it back.

You don’t. At all. With an app like Docu-Sign, Adobe Reader, or even Preview for Mac, you can open the emailed contract, sign it electronically, and email it back to the sender. You haven’t created any paper, and the signature is just as legally binding as if you wasted part of a tree to do it. Plus, if you use something like Docu-Sign, the document is time stamped with your signature as well. You can even import a real signature as a jpeg and drop it in, so it looks like you actually did print and scan it.

Docu-Sign works on your phone, tablet, or laptop, and you can save your signed contracts to your favorite cloud storage service, rather than stuffing it in a filing cabinet for later referral.

5. Store and share your documents via the cloud.

If you’ve got important documents you need to save, whether you’ve scanned them in via Scannable, or someone sent you a PDF or Word document, you can save them to a cloud-based service like Dropbox or Google Drive, which are easily accessible as long as you’ve got a wifi connection. Save all your documents to the cloud service and then just access them as you need them.

But just because the documents are in the cloud doesn’t mean you’re cut off if you don’t have wifi. Dropbox creates a folder on your laptop and stores a version of your documents there; it stores the original if you’re the one who created the document. And it’s possible to use Google Drive offline with a simple change.

Share documents with colleagues electronically, keep documents you might need later, and make changes and upload the updates at your convenience. Additionally, several people can work on a single document at once on Google Drive (Microsoft 365 does this as well), letting you make changes and updates together.

Finally, Google Drive can open Microsoft Word documents, so you can ask your colleagues to share documents with you in Google Drive and you can open them there.

You can adopt a paperless practice for your business travel if you just follow these steps. Ask people to email documents to you, but scan them in when someone hands paper to you. Sign contracts electronically so you don’t have to keep a real copy, and store everything in the cloud so you don’t have to lug it all around in case you need it.

Bonus: Never print out your tickets; always use your airline’s app

Rather than printing out your boarding pass at home, or printing it at the check-in kiosk at the airport, just download your airline’s app, and check in 24 hours before your flight. When you get to the airport you can use the special code on your phone to scan your way through security and onto the plane.

How do you go paperless for your business travel? Do you just carry big notebooks around and hope you might need the paper, or have you embraced the 21st century and gone on a paper fast? Share your ideas and techniques with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

5 Tips to Travel Light for the Holidays

December 4, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re traveling for the holidays, whether you’re flying or driving, remember you’re working with a limited amount of space in the car or your suitcase. You’re taking enough clothes for several days, probably heavy enough to keep warm in the winter. (Although we barely have to wear coats down here in Florida. Just pointing that out.)

And many people try to pack their gifts so they can save money. They end up spending more money instead and creating more of a hassle for themselves. There are several ways you can lighten your load and still get everything you need to where it needs to be.

1. Don’t check your bags.

A crowded baggage claim area at Las Vegas airport. If you travel light this holiday, you can avoid scenes like this.If you’re traveling for more than a week to stay with relatives, the big mistake many travelers make is to pack one or two big suitcases and check them through to their destination. Everything goes into the bags, including kids’ clothes, gifts, and one outfit for each day they’re going to be gone.

And then, because literally millions of people are traveling for the holidays, your luggage could get lost or delayed, which means you’re without your clothes, gifts, toiletries and so on, at someone else’s house. If you’re going to check your bags, then be sure to pack at least one change of underwear, your toiletries, and your medication into your carry-on bag. (Be sure to stick your laptop and electronics into your carry-on as well.)

You’re better off streamlining your packing and fitting everything into a carry-on and taking that onto the plane. If your kids are five or older, they’re allowed to carry on their own bags. So you can pack their clothes into their carry-on, and let them be responsible for their own stuff.

The next four tips will help you pack light, so you can avoid checking your bags.

2. Pre-plan your schedule and plan your clothes around it.

Look at your schedule and plan out your days. Many people will pack a nice outfit, “just in case” they go somewhere fancy for dinner. Don’t do that. Either plan for the dinner out, or just don’t go to that level of restaurant.

Similarly, don’t take other “just in case” outfits, like whether you might go skiing or might go paint balling or might go to a museum. If you plan your schedule, you can be sure whether you need to take those clothes or not.

3. Remember you can double up and wear your clothes more than once.

Don’t pack one outfit per day. If you’re going to be gone for seven days, you don’t need seven pairs of pants and seven shirts. You can wear your pants at least twice or even three times, and the same could even be possible for some shirts.

Sure, you’ll need enough undergarments, like underwear, t-shirts, and socks but you can even cut down on those items if you can do laundry at least once while you’re there. Just make sure you have some laundry facilities available to you; double-check before you leave. In a pinch, you can always wash your underwear and socks in a hotel sink. Just get a very small bottle of detergent when you arrive, although some hotels may sell them in their lobby shop.

4. Ship your gifts early.

Don’t pack your gifts in your bags to try to save money. Most airlines charge $25 for your first bag, and $50 for a second, and you’ll probably end up carrying enough gifts to require a bag. If you shipped most of your gifts ahead a few days early, you’d spend as much as you would on a couple of checked bags.

You could also order gifts online at Amazon or other ecommerce stores, and pay to have them shipped. If you have Amazon Prime, which is $119 per year, you could get free shipping throughout the year. But if you had planned on spending $150 in checked bag fees, you could save yourself quite a bit of money by spending it on Amazon Prime instead, and doing all your holiday shopping a few days before you leave. Follow all these other tips, and you can use carry-ons and save all your checked bag fees, which will more than pay for your Amazon Prime membership.

5. Wear your heavier items.

If you’re going somewhere cold for the holidays, don’t pack your heaviest items, wear and carry them. Wear your boots and pack your normal shoes. Your boots will take up an awful lot of room, plus they’re likelier to be dirty and get grime on your clothes. Just remember to pack your shoes in shoe bags so you don’t transfer dirt then too.

You should also dress in layers for warmth, instead of wearing a giant parka. Thin layers are easier to pack and take up less room than a single coat. But even if you take a heavy coat, carry it through the airport and then wear it as you’re boarding the plane. It’s not officially a carry-on item then, and you can always take it off and stow it once you’re on the plane.

How do you travel for the holidays? Do you pack everything and pay the charges, or do you try to travel as light as possible to keep things easy. Share your thoughts on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Josh Hallett (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

How MSNBC Road Warriors Survive Life on the Road

November 13, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

In 2016, MSNBC introduced the world to Road Warriors, a group of young correspondents who cross the country covering political campaigns for MSNBC, NBC News, and NBC News Digital.

For the 2018 midterm elections, MSNBC brought back the road warriors for more coverage. In a recent USA TODAY article, four of them — Kasie Hunt, NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent; Jacob Soboroff, MSNBC News correspondent; Gadi Schwartz, NBC News correspondent and co-host of “Stay Tuned;” and Gadi Schwartz, MSNBC road warrior — shared their insights for traveling under some unusual circumstances, which can be helpful whichever side of the aisle you lean.

In order to learn about a new area, Hunt said she seeks out local coffee shops right off the bat. Chatting up locals is a great way to find out more about the area. Politicians know how crucial these places are and often stop by for a meal.

As the face of the news, Hunt must be able to go live at a moment’s notice. So how does she stay camera-ready virtually anywhere? She makes sure her clothes, makeup, and a hairbrush are always within an arm’s reach by keeping them all in her carry-on bag. She said scarves serve many purposes, from a fresh look on camera to a layer of warmth on a plane. With earplugs, a travel pillow, and a scarf, Hunt is able to sleep just about anywhere. Irregular sleeping can be offset with a Tylenol PM or a phone app for relieving stress and enabling the listener to relax and ultimately fall asleep.

MSNBC road warriors carry battery packs to help them stay connected on the road.Hunt is also adamant about bringing along external batteries to keep her phone fully charged. Eating healthy can be tough while she’s on the go, so she tries to balance the healthy with the unhealthy. Finally, she makes sure she uses TSA’s PreCheck and other travel rewards programs.

Like Hunt, MSNBC correspondent Soboroff must be able to hit the road at a moment’s notice. Such urgency can wreak havoc on a person physically and emotionally, notwithstanding the ability to be camera-ready. Soboroff offers a unique suggestion: drink coffee, shower, drink more coffee and throw in an occasional shave. Another travel secret? He only uses carry-on bags, and never checks his luggage. He also said puffy jackets are a great alternative for pillows while trying to catch some sleep on a flight. Locations don’t always offer fitness facilities, so he improvises with Pilates and push-ups in his room. Other days he runs and stretches whenever possible.

NBC News correspondent Gadi Schwartz relies on YouTube to motivate him to work out on the road. Not a huge fan of fitness, Schwartz appreciates the music to keep him moving. Eating Acai bowls when he can is another healthy choice and juices are a go-to when he feels under the weather.

A bigger challenge is appearance, from the need for a haircut (which often results in taking matters into his own hands) to keeping his wardrobe neat. The secret to his success though is something everyone has: pockets. Headphones, cash, keys, charging packs, glasses, all have a home and become easily accessible. He always keeps them in the same pockets so he knows where everything is.

Technology comes into play with three time zones on a watch, which allows him the ability to stay aware of deadlines. Drowning out noise helps him sleep, and something as simple as a cooler room and avoiding technology before bedtime also helps him fall asleep.

Finally, NBC News correspondent Morgan Radford has found a sleep mask is her essential key to sleeping anywhere. In fact, it’s always in her purse. Like Hunt, Radford carries a scarf for making an ordinary outfit look a bit more polished. Her makeup musts include concealer and light lip gloss. She packs only versatile luggage: her four-wheeled, two-handled suitcase and stackable backpack that doubles as a briefcase and foldable purse with essentials.

Radford also focuses on healthier living: some weeks, it’s a strict diet and less exercise; others, it’s more exercise and a less strict diet. Either way, vegetables are her go-to for keeping energy up.

Road warriors, how do you survive spending so much time on the road? Do you have any special suggestions for those of us who are getting into the road warrior arena? Please share any suggestions with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Ilya Plekhanov (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)

More Travel Tips and Tricks For Everyone On the Road

November 6, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Whether you want to upgrade your seat or avoid fees on your rental car, there are plenty of travel tips to help make a good trip better. Regardless of your mode of transportation, many travel tips can offer savings, peace of mind, and ways to avoid frustration. We like to occasionally post new business travel tips as we find them, and a new batch of tips came to us from a USA Today article.

Traveling by car? You’re going to want to take a break and stretch your legs from time to time. Sitting for extended periods such as long road trips isn’t the healthiest idea. When you do stop, stop at better quality rest stops. How do you determine the good ones? For starters, a little online research can make all the difference.

Most states list their welcome centers and rest areas online. If you have a smartphone, search Yelp or TripAdvisor and you may find information to help you choose between several options for gas stations. You can use an app like USA Rest Stop Locator, available for iPhone and Android, to find highway rest stops. The app lets you mark your favorites, check available facilities and hours, and even send the locations to your favorite way-finding GPS app.

Car rentals. There are a few travel tips around finding the best rental cars and avoiding problems.Speaking of cars, renting a car can be a nightmare. It can prove a worthy opponent for even the most patient of people. First and foremost, read the fine print. Often renters are hit with “surprises” only to discover they weren’t a surprise, but fees, penalties, limits, etc. were all spelled out in the fine print. A good place to start reading is the terms and conditions. Ignoring these items can prove costly. Before signing any agreement, ask questions, as many as you need to make an educated decision.

What about car rental insurance? It’s generally unnecessary because car insurance often covers it. But can you be sure? Does your auto insurance actually cover it? How about your credit card? If you’re not actually covered, you may end up with a large bill if something goes wrong.

If a problem does arise with your rental car, solve it immediately. Many problems can be resolved right at the counter, including when they run out of cars. Confirm your reservation ahead of time to avoid any problems, and be sure to have a copy of the reservation, even if it’s on your phone in an email. Finally, arrive on time for your pickup. And don’t forget to have a Plan B in the back of your mind. That may include renting from a competitor, calling a cab, or even using Lyft or Uber.

Did you ever arrive at your hotel only to be told your reservation doesn’t exist? One surefire way to avoid that is to call and confirm before your anticipated arrival. This will let you double-check details like dates, room preferences, room location, and so on. Once you’ve confirmed everything, ask for an email copy of your reservation and notes, which you should bring along in case there’s a problem.

We all want to avoid wrinkles when we travel, whether it’s problems with our car and hotel, or even in our clothes. When you travel, you may not always have an iron or steamer available. That means you can avoid most wrinkles by carefully rolling your clothes instead of folding them.

Another way to avoid wrinkles is to neither over pack nor underpack. Your goal is to have enough items in your suitcase so the clothes don’t move during travel, but also so that you can actually shut the suitcase. So you want to make sure you have luggage that best suits your travel needs. If you need suits, or dress shirts and slacks/skirts, bags with a suiter system can also help you avoid wrinkles and creases. Travelpro has a variety of suiter and garment luggage options for your leisure and business travel needs.

Finally, you can avoid a lot of problems if you just use your manners. Say “please” and “thank you” when you ask for help, instead of railing at some poor desk attendant or check-in clerk, you’re more likely to get you what you need.

What are some of your favorite travel tips? How do you avoid problems or solve them when the pop up? Share yours with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: formulaone (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Five Ways to Boost Productivity While You Travel

September 25, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Traveling for work can be considered a perk — in fact, many people often look for jobs with it — but for some it becomes a drain on productivity which can lose that high momentum normally happening at the office.

Between traveling to the airport, sitting at the gate, and sitting on the tarmac, productivity can plummet when you travel. But just five small changes can make a world of difference.

Work from the bottom up. Consider the way you typically attack the top of your priority list first. When you’re traveling, start at the bottom when you’re at the airport and on the plane. While these items may require attention, they’re probably not intensive and may not require a great deal of attention or focus. You can probably do them on auto-pilot or without straining your brain.

A coffee shop is a great place to be productive while you travel.

Cup Deal Online Business Drinks Coffee Shop


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No Powders Will be Allowed onto Planes, says TSA

August 28, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Starting June 30 it will be more difficult for international travelers to bring powders on their trips, at least in large quantities. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has adopted a stricter policy on baby powder, protein powder, dry spices, coffee, tea, and more through airport security.

Basically, the new regulation states that any passenger on an inbound international flight with 12 ounces or more of powder might be subject to additional screening at security checkpoints. What’s more, if TSA agents can’t identify the powder, then it may be confiscated and thrown away. So while it may not be a problem for coffee and tea drinkers, since that’s easily identifiable, certain spices may pose a potential problem.

The TSA is no longer allowing powders on inbound flights from foreign points of origin.This means even dry baby formula could be subject to a search or even confiscation. Of course, this only affects international flights coming into the US. Flying from North Carolina to visit your sister in Portland, Oregon is still okay.

Still, if you’re trying to bring large amounts of powder through security, you may want to consider shipping it to your final destination anyway. This policy might not be limited only to inbound international flights for very long; it’s possible it could expand to domestic flights in the future.
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Travelers Paid Airlines $4.6 Billion to Check Bags

June 26, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

If you don’t know how to pack light, be prepared to pay for the privilege of checking the luggage you need to accommodate your clothes and other essentials. According to a recent CNBC story, travelers paid $4.6 billion in checked bag fees in 2017 alone.

In other words, if you wanted to take a large suitcase, or even check a smaller carry-on, it could cost you anywhere from $50 or $60 for your first bag, and $100 for a second.

But as travel and luggage professionals, we know that many of these checked bags are only necessary because people don’t know how to pack wisely. They make common rookie mistakes like:

Baggage claim, where people waste time if they check bags.

  • Packing one outfit for every single day. This is especially bulky if you’re going to be gone for more than five days. Solution: wear certain items more than once.
  • Packing things “just in case,” like a dressier outfit in case you go to a nice restaurant. Solution: Confirm your dinner plans before you leave to ensure whether you will or not.
  • Packing individual, complete outfits. Solution: Pack mix-and-match outfits. If you’re traveling for four days, take two pairs of pants that go with each of the four shirts.
  • Packing every comfort of home, like pillows or full bottles of shampoo. Solution: They have pillows at your destination. Also, buy your shampoo or other lotions, etc. when you arrive. I guarantee they don’t cost $100.

One way around the checked bag fee is to upgrade to an Economy Plus ticket, from the basic economy. Or use a credit card that gives you one free checked bag as one of your perks.

But the best way to ensure you never pay a checked bag fee again? Get a 21″ or 22” carry-on bag that will let you pack up to a week’s worth of outfits (as long as you pack correctly.)

When Travelpro’s sourcing and design teams travel to China for two-week trips, none of them check luggage. They can do so because they know that any of Travelpro’s suitcases will accommodate their needs, and they’ve perfected the art of traveling light. Travelpro specializes in making carry-on models that accommodate multiple days of clothing in one bag. The MaxLite® 5, Crew™ 11, and our brand-new Platinum® Elite collections are designed with features to help travelers pack efficiently and effectively,

regardless

the length of the trip.

You may not be headed out on the road for two weeks, but if your travel plans take you away from home for business or leisure this summer, scrutinize your clothing and luggage choices so you don’t waste money on unnecessary baggage fees.

How do you avoid baggage fees when you travel? What are your packing tips? Share them with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Unknown creator (Pxhere.com, Public Domain)

Five Ways to Pare Down Your Briefcase

September 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Some business travelers might as well call themselves pack mules with the amount of weight they lug through airports in their briefcases. I’ve seen people carry briefcases that weigh as much as their carry-ons. The bags are filled with binders, folders, and loose papers. It’s enough to make an organizational expert run screaming from the room.

The problem is that a cluttered workplace clutters your mind. Not only is it hard to find anything, but it creates a sense of stress as well as its own inefficiencies.

But with some simple planning and strategizing, your briefcase doesn’t have to create additional strain on your body. We’ve come up with five ways business travelers can streamline the contents of their briefcase for travel. You may end up with so little in it, you might be able to leave it at home!

Crew Executive Choice 2 Briefcase with phone charger. Ideal for business travelers

Crew Executive Choice 2 Briefcase with phone charger

1. Unload everything from your briefcase and eliminate all non-essential clutter. Extra cables, extra equipment (could get by with a tablet instead of a laptop), and extra paper. How many pens and pencils do you need? If you have more than two, that’s too many. Put your loose cables into a small bag or cord organizer. Rather than treating your briefcase as a repository of “just in case” materials, try to plan ahead better so you’re not carrying a lot of extra stuff.
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Packing Food for Air Travel

August 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Are you trying to stay on track with that new diet you’re on, but you have a business trip, and the thought of running the food court gauntlet without getting tripped up by some tempting food has you considering quitting? Do you have a dietary restriction that makes finding allergen-free food in the airport next to impossible?

Have you considered packing some snacks or meals to eat while you fly? You can take food through the TSA security checkpoints, you just have to know what food falls under its liquid restrictions — the 3-1-1 rule —and pack accordingly.

Although water bottles or other beverages must not exceed 3.4 ounces, don’t automatically assume you can’t bring items such as packets of nut butters or salad dressing. Just be sure the amount you’re bringing through security is less than 3.4 ounces/100ml. The liquid restrictions also apply to ice and gel packs as well, so be sure to time your arrival at the airport so those frozen food products are still frozen solid.
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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.
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