Americans wasted 658 million vacation days in 2015.
That’s nearly 2.2 vacation days for every person in the United States. According to Project Time Off, this is the highest number of vacation days they have ever seen.
More than half of American workers (55%) left vacation time unused in 2015. This adds up to 658 million unused vacation days. It is the highest number Project: Time Off has ever reported, far exceeding the previous 429 million count.
That’s unacceptable. Our bosses may love our commitment to the job, but it’s not good for us, and it’s not good for our country.
We understand the importance of vacations and taking breaks and what it does for our bodies and minds. But did you realize that by taking time off, you could be boosting the economy?
If every American used their vacation days, a whopping $160 billion would be added to the national economy, and another $21 billion generated in taxes. Plus, 1.6 million jobs would be created.
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
If you’ve ever suffered a missed flight or hours-long delay because of weather, mechanical problems, or even a computer system failure, you understand why travel insurance has become a popular must-have item among business travelers.
Passengers may miss flights due to airline delays, spending a night either in the airport or a nearby hotel. They have to make new travel arrangements, cut trips short, or switch airlines to get to their final destination.
Travel insurance won’t prevent this from happening, but there are certain situations that travel insurance would cover for you, such as reimbursement for meals and hotels, or new tickets, or even the purchase price of the plane ticket and hotel reservations.
Travel can be cut short for any number of reasons — airline problems, sickness, death in the family, political unrest, strikes — so it makes sense to consider your options before you travel.
Some credit cards offer insurance when you use it to buy your ticket, but travel insurance is not equal in their remuneration. So it pays to examine your options carefully before you buy insurance.
If you’re wondering where to start, we suggest Squaremouth. The online site provides one-stop comparison shopping for all major travel insurance providers in the United States. It’s crucial that you read the language carefully before purchasing coverage so that you know exactly what is and isn’t covered.
In certain situations, some passengers will have coverage for missed flights due to airline delays, but won’t have coverage if a flight is canceled. Some policies also offer reimbursement for delay-related expenses, such as meals and hotel rooms, but all receipts must be saved and submitted with your claim. (Be sure to take photos of all your receipts on your mobile phone.)
If you bought your ticket through a travel agency, many agents play a key role when an unexpected interruption in their clients’ travel plans causes headaches. In these types of situations, one of the perks of using an agent is that they will act as your liaisons with the insurance broker. Some travel insurance companies offer concierge service, which will handle procuring a ticket on another flight and making a hotel reservation while you are stranded, waiting to see what will happen next.
Travel insurance policies can offer multiple, cumulative payouts for mishaps that occur during a single itinerary. For example, if your flight was delayed, and you were stranded on the tarmac for several hours, and your bags didn’t reach your final destination, all three of those incidents may entitle you to remuneration. That scenario netted one customer of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection Air Care $1550.
If you didn’t purchase separate travel insurance, you might still be able to collect for an unanticipated inconvenience by enlisting the services of AirHelp. This automated service works with a team of lawyers to determine if your claim is worthy of compensation, and there’s no fee unless a claim is paid.
Life happens. The unexpected can’t be avoided. But before you travel again, consider purchasing a little peace of mind to make the unexpected a lot easier to handle.
Photo credit: Bart Van Poll (Flickr, Creative Commons)
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?
If you haven’t traveled outside the country before, or if it’s been a few years, you’ll be happy to know it’s possible to avoid ATM fees for cash withdrawals or transaction fees while conducting business abroad.
A May 2016 article on Smarter Travel pointed out that most American credit card issuers have cards specifically for frequent international travelers. But don’t assume that you’ve got the right kind of card just because you have a company credit card.
American Express, Capital One, Chase, BankAmericard, MasterCard, and Barclay all offer programs that waive international transaction fees on certain types of cards. But if you use your standard issue card, here’s what percentage of fees NerdWallet says you should expect to pay.
- American Express: 2.7%
- Bank of America: 3%
- Barclaycard: 3%
- Capital One: 0% Read more
Just like every skill you’ve learned, it takes practice to do it well. Hard work, lessons painfully learned, and watching experts so you can learn from their mistakes.
So it goes with business travel. When you first start out traveling, you learn where your most comfortable seat is (hint: it’s not the middle one). You learn how long it takes to get to the airport. And which hotels offer the best beds.
U.S. News & World Report‘s recent article on frequent flyer secrets helped take some of the stress out of travel planning and booking. Here are a few of our favorites.
Use flight price predicting apps to determine the best time to buy your ticket. Sites such as Hopper, Google Flights, Kayak, and Flyr will provide you with very reliable information so that you don’t pay more than you need to to get where you want to go.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could know the regular prices for items, so you can easily tell if something advertised as “on sale” really is a good deal? While we may not have that for grocery stores yet, that service is available for air travel. If price is your biggest travel determiner, you can subscribe to sites like Million Mile Secrets and Skiplagged to know the regular prices of certain tickets, so you know when a better deal actually is a better deal.
Business travelers who like to schedule all of the details of their trips now have another arrow in their quiver: Uber is rolling out a new program that lets you schedule Uber rides up to 30 days in advance.
The program, called Schedule a Ride, which rolled out in Seattle this summer, is the latest advancement for the company that pioneered a new category of ride sharing six years ago. Schedule a Ride is now available in 44 US and eight international cities.
“Even though we’re an on-demand company, we totally get it. Sometimes you just want that extra reassurance that your Uber will be there when you want to leave,” Tom Fallows, Uber’s director of global experiences, told Wired.
The service will also send you a reminder notice 24 hours ahead and again 30 minutes ahead, and the standard cancellation policy that allows you to cancel a ride within five minutes of when the car is dispatched without incurring a penalty also applies to this new feature. Rates are the same as standard UberX rides, and surge rates during peak travel times will also apply.
The “Schedule a Ride” offering is in response to business travelers’ request for this level of predictability. As a nod to those users, Uber will offer priority access to those who have business profiles or whose profiles are linked to their company’s Uber for a Business corporate account.
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)
As frequent travelers, and the luggage supplier to business travelers all over the world, we’ve shared a lot of travel advice. And one of the things we know is that while we may not enjoy sitting in an airport, trying to get work done, it’s worse to stand in line and not get any work done at all.
A recent article in Smarter Travel shared several ways to save time and get us out of line, as well as save some money in the process. These can save you anywhere from several minutes to a few hours of time, and let you get more work done, or you can simply have more time to relax.
Download your airline’s app. This free service will let you know if your flight has been delayed, and has up-to-date information about arrival and departure times. You can be in the know about where to find your connecting plane. Plus, the GateGuru app can give you information about security wait times, gate changes, and maps of over 200 airports.
Check in online. This is the easiest way to bypass a line and get on your way to security faster. Online check in also provides you with a virtual boarding pass which you can scan with the TSA officer instead of having to juggle it and your identification. Better yet, just use your airline app. You don’t even have to mess with your laptop and printer.
Protect Your Personal Information. Be very, very wary about using public wifi. Not every free wifi hotspot you see is legitimate; some enterprising thief can set up a fake hotspot called AIRPORT_WIFI and you’ll never know the difference. So, be sure all your computer security and the firewall are up to date, before you leave the office. Next, never do any personal banking or financial transactions online when you’re in public. If you need to work online, use your mobile phone’s personal hotspot.
Bring food with you. You won’t be gouged for overpriced airport food that probably isn’t very healthy, and you’ll know who handled that piece of fruit before you. Consider some pre-packaged energy bars as well, because they’ll keep in your bag for a few days.
Mark your luggage. Even if you don’t check your bag, there are still a lot of black carry-ons out there. Be sure to have a luggage tag with your name and address securely fastened to the bag. Consider adding something to distinguish the bag from everyone else’s, like a decal, or tying a very small tchotchke to the handle.
Photo credit: Melissa Gutierrez (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)
Have you ever had this happen? You’re scheduled to go on a business trip and the client cancels? Or plans change and you have to push your trip out by a couple weeks. You’re outside the cancellation window for your hotel, and you’re left holding the proverbial bag, so you can’t cancel the room without paying the entire cost of the room.
Two companies want you to know there may be a solution by essentially “subletting” your room.
RoomerTravel and Cancelon have both created services that allow you to list the hotel room you can’t use for a reduced price. “The average discount is forty-five percent,” Richie Karaburun, managing director for RoomerTravel, told The New York Times.
Depending on the location of your hotel room, though, you could still recoup its full price. Sellers can ask any price for the room, although neither company guarantees its resale.
Here’s how it works: A seller lists their room on either site. RoomerTravel takes a 15 percent cut for their services, Cancelon takes ten. Services are free to buyers. Potential buyers can see rooms for resale on Kayak and Trivago, RoomerTravel lists theirs on Skyscanner, and Cancelon users can also see what’s available through TripAdvisor.
The downside for consumers using these sites to book a room is that there’s no way to know whether or not the room is being offered as a resale.
Once the sale is finalized, both companies contact the hotel on behalf of the seller to make arrangements for the change to the booking name and credit card guarantee.
Both RoomerTravel and Cancelon are experiencing growing pains and travelers have expressed some concerns when they choose a room and receive confirmation from Cancelon or RoomerTravel instead of the hotel chain they thought they were choosing. But lack of brand awareness should dissipate quickly, especially as more people realize they can offload their rooms, or find rooms at a surprising price.
Right now, the hotel industry is cooperating but remains cautious. Rosanna Maietta, a spokesperson for the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), told The Times, “the AHLA is aware that sites like this exist and is constantly monitoring new entrants like these to the digital marketplace and their impact on customers.”
Would you ever “sublet” a room through RoomerTravel or Cancelon? Or do you prefer a more proven method? What would it take for you to try one of these services? Let us hear from you in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.