How to Avoid Having Your Passport Stolen

March 26, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Stolen passports present problems for the individual who lost it, but can have bigger issues surrounding national security. They are the biggest target of identity theft and have been linked to major crimes including drugs, illegal travel, and even terrorism. In fact, it’s such a major concern that U.S. State Department officials won’t say how many passports are stolen annually due to national security concerns.

Photo of a U.S. passport. Do you know your passport expiration date?The Travel Channel tells us how we can keep our passports safe and secure when we travel.

First, before you even leave town, make a copy of your passport and leave it with a trusted person who appreciates the need for its security. They can always fax the copy to the U.S. embassy in your destination country, should the need arise. Additionally, a scanned copy in your phone is a good idea, provided your phone is password protected and secure.

Keep your hands on it. While it’s tempting to put it down “for just a second,” it’s easy to forget or someone could walk away with it. As soon as you’re finished with it, put it away.

You can put it into your bag. Our Platinum® Elite and Crew™ bags have RFID protected pockets that will store your passport to protect against loss and identity theft by rogue RFID scanners.

Wherever you do put it, make sure it has a zipper or something that ensures it closes tightly. Another idea is to conceal it in a special passport cover that doesn’t identify what’s inside. You’ll want to avoid using open pockets, like jacket pockets, which offer sticky fingers easy access.

Alternatively, you can protect your passport by keeping it in a flat wallet that hangs from your neck or over your shoulder. Just be sure it has a securing cable which would prevent snatching. Another option is a money wallet that’s hidden under your clothes. You loop it onto your belt and tuck it into your pants.

The downside? Retrieving it means going to a place for privacy, like a bathroom. If you stash your passport in a money belt or wallet, don’t let anyone see it when you’re handling the cash. These options do reduce your chances of it being grabbed.

A standard scheme for pickpockets is to jostle you or accidentally spill a drink on you, take advantage of the moment, and snatch your wallet or passport. If you do get bumped, refuse help, move away quickly, and clean up later.

Another “safe’ idea is to use the room safe in your hotel to store your passport. If there isn’t one, a TSA-approved travel lock can secure your valuable in your suitcase. While it may not be ideal, it is better than nothing, and it reduces the possibility of the impulse grab.

If you are asked to produce your passport, make sure you’re dealing with proper authorities and not someone posing as an official. Not sure if they’re legit? Look for official identification, such as a badge or photo id. If you’re not sure, say you’ll go to the nearest police station and show your passport there. Should you ultimately turn it over, keep your eyes on it at all times.

Despite all precautions, you and your passport could be separated. If this happens, immediately notify the U.S. Department of State or the local U.S. embassy in the country you’re visiting. Once it’s reported lost or stolen, the passport becomes invalid. Should you locate it, it can’t be used for future international travel. A form is needed for a replacement which can be obtained on the State Department’s website. And this is where your trusted friend can also fax or email the photocopy you left with them before you left. (Aren’t you glad you listened to us?)

How do you keep your passport safe? Do you have any special tips or suggestions? Was your passport stolen? How did you recover? Share your stories and experiences on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Tony Webster (Wikimedia Commons/Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Eight Packable Items that Could Save Your Life

March 12, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

No one typically thinks to pack emergency preparedness items when planning a business trip or vacation. But making a few basic plans can help you be prepared for the worst that your destination can throw at you. So there’s one simple step that can help you be prepared: know the risks associated with your destination.

For starters, check out the FEMA app which provides tips on how to deal with disasters like earthquakes severe weather, wildfires, volcanoes, and terrorism.

Additionally, emergency experts suggest that when you’re at your destination, keep a pair of shoes and socks by your bed in case you need to leave the room in an emergency, such as a fire, so you can protect your feet from broken glass.

A recent article in Smarter Travel got us to thinking about taking precautions when we travel, and they shared eight items that could save your life while on the road.

A whistle may be loud and obnoxious, but that means it can provide personal safety if you’re walking alone or at night. It can also help rescuers find you. A “pealess” whistle is best—and provides maximum durability. Its high-pitched sound can be easier to detect than a human voice and it will work if anything impairs your ability to yell, like dehydration or crushing.

A keychain flashlight is one of the packable items that can help you out when you're in a tight spot.In the event of a power failure — natural disaster or not — a flashlight can provide a much-need light source. Choose a small, keychain-sized LED light with a long battery life. It’s ideal if you’re stuck in a subway, navigating poorly lit paths, camping, or even reading in bed while sharing a room. Plus it saves your cell phone battery in those non-emergency uses.

Speaking of a loss of electricity, bring along a battery backup charger. If the electricity fails, you can you can use it to keep your phone operable. You may not be able to make calls, but you’ll be able to have a spare flashlight, and access to emergency apps. On a brighter note, if there isn’t a power failure, bringing an extra charger means helping you stay connected (via apps, maps, social media, email, and phone) whenever your phone battery runs low.

Take a first-aid kit that includes the basics (bandages, alcohol pads, antibiotic ointment). No matter where you’re headed, you’ll be prepared for blisters, scrapes, bug bites and other minor injuries.

A space blanket will not only provide warmth if the heating system fails, it can be resourceful if you need a place to rest during an overnight airport layover. On a brighter, shinier note, it can be a great makeshift picnic blanket.

A small, simple dust mask, like a surgical mask, is another “must have.” Not only do these small, stackable masks protect you from airborne particles, they can also prevent you from spreading your germs, too. (Or getting sick if you’re around a lot of sick people or have a weakened immune system.)

Take a bottle of water. Clean water is one of the most important things you can have with you. Having clean, accessible water can prevent dehydration and it can save you money by not buying a bottle for $4 when you’ve got no other options. Better yet, bring a reusable water bottle, and fill it each morning.

Finally, pack a few high protein snacks for energy or a quick snack if your blood sugar is low. Protein bars like Clif bars are heavy and dense, and can give you a quick boost. Tuck a couple into your briefcase, purse, or backpack and pull one out when you need it.

What are some of the must-have emergency items you take on trips? Did we miss anything? Or do you have a favorite make, model, or energy bar you don’t leave home without? Tell us about it on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Wtshymanski (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)

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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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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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.
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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.)
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