Archive for the ‘ Travel Tips ’ Category

Tip-Top Laptop

Business travelers have laptops. Business travelers rely on those laptops to keep them connected with their lives. The whole idea of the laptop becoming dysfunctional during a trip can strike fear into the most fearless of flyers. So, here are some tips on keeping your laptop in tip-top shape.

  1. happy-laptopDon’t put it on your lap. I know, weird right? It is called a “lap” top for goodness sake. However, your laptop will be better off on a smooth surface, allowing for that ever-important airflow.
  2. Don’t leave it plugged in at all times. Let’s say you have a stint of non-travel, but you are so accustomed to plugging in while not traveling that suddenly your laptop is never unplugged. Not ideal. Unplug it a few times each week. Think of it as exercise for your battery.
  3. Power down a few times a week. Though it is tempting to keep your laptop on, it is a good idea to shut it down.  Just like you, your laptop needs some downtime.
  4. While traveling, keep your laptop with you at all times. I know you know this, but we have all been in situations where we are just going to “leave it there for a second to go get a latte.” Don’t. Take it with you.
  5. If you have sensitive data on your laptop, encrypt it. For an on-the-go solution, check out TrueCrypt.
  6. Back up your data. You know this too, but do you do it? Buy an external hard drive and back it up once a week.
  7. No updating or installing while traveling. Sometimes those updates and installations do not go as predicted. Save such activities for when you have time to deal with any bugs that may come your way.

If you have any other awesome happy laptop hints, please do share them with me on my Facebook Page!!!

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When Meeting Meets Disaster

Disasters are rare, but they can be so big and devastating. having a bit of upfront knowledge can go a long way when you are called to act quickly. Here are some things for you to keep in mind should disaster befall your meeting.

  • Keep the Lines of Communication Open: Your attendees are privy to the same information you are when a disaster is about to hit, but they still need to know that you are aware of the situation. Make sure to send out updates via email, on your website, and on all your social media channels. Let them know that if the meeting will need to be cancelled or re-scheduled that you will let them know immediately, or even if you are in a holding pattern until additional information comes in.  In any case, let them know.
  • Put Yourself in Their Shoes: There is great comfort in knowing that your organization is on it and watching. They will look to you for information. Recognize that some people have a very difficult time with last minute change; your meeting was in their plans and now those plans are changing. Though they realize you did not actively seek to plan a meeting at the same time as impending disaster is about to hit – how you handle your communications can help to put many a mind as ease. You will also gain their trust.
  • Be in Constant Contact with your Host Property: Make sure you are working with them on a “Just in Case” Plan.  What is their flexibility on dates? Can they help you to find another property for the meeting? Explore your many options. If you were lucky enough to have a site selection manager help you find the property, their expertise will definitely come in handy at this time!
  • Learn about Insurance Now: Depending upon the size and scope of your meeting, it would behoove you to take some time to look into insurance before booking your event. This can save a lot of money down the road and help you avoid a disaster of the financial kind.
  • But We’re Already Here! If the disaster strikes while you are there, be prepared ahead of time. Make sure you have all important contacts easily accessible in both digital and written form; this will be contact information for speakers, your webmaster, your social media manager, senior people within your organization and more. Just like a good Boy Scout, make sure you carry a flashlight, bottled water, battery operated radio, charged back up batteries for electronics, etc. The most basic of items can make all the difference. Also, have copies of your insurance policies and contracts on hand.

You do not have control over disaster, but you do have control over your being ready, to the best of your abilities, if you end up in disaster’s wake. Let Hurricane Sandy serve as a reminder to all of us the importance of being prepared.

*Thank you to PetHub for the image!

Business Travel Minus the Hassle

Hear ye, hear ye! Seasoned or newbie business travelers alike! Here are some hints and tips for achieving a trek with less hassle:

Know the charges: Each airline has put forth its own twist on fees for luggage, meals, extra legroom and the like. Check out this page to find out how much you may be adding on to your fare.

Avoid luggage charges: Say goodbye to your trusty huge roller bag and divide that baggage bounty up between two smaller bags. One carry-on that will fit all your essentials and fit under the airline seat, along with a more flexible bag that will fit in the overhead bin.

Revolve your wardrobe around one color: For men, pack one color pants and jacket, then bring along different colored shirts and ties. For women, think mix and match pant, skirt, and jacket/sweater. Bring along easy-to-pack camisole tops in different colors and interesting, if not bold, jewelry to achieve varied looks. If you need to pack exercise gear, get a pair of the new lightweight workout shoes. Exercise in your undies (stay in your room for this one) with this 20 minute routine.

In your carry-on, make sure you have designated areas for your electronics, cords, notebooks, reading materials, pens, etc. This will help you to know exactly where to reach for what you need while in flight. Also, invest in smaller pouches for protecting anything that may get lost at the bottom of your bag:  vitamins, makeup, glasses, etc.

International travelers, check out Countryplug and know ahead of time the type of adapter you will need for wherever your travels take you. Make sure to have exactly what you need to recharge your electronics! Not taking this important step ahead of time is sure to create many a headache for you.

Security lines have become the bane of travel! Before you step up to the closest line, check out the other lines. Look for lines filled with mainly business travelers and less with families. Steer clear of anyone with strangely shaped baggage (think musicians, snowboarders, golfers).

Stay aware! Being aware of your surroundings is a must. When traveling you may not be as aware, you are focused on just getting there. But being aware of where you are at any given point during your travels can make a world of difference when it comes to leaving things behind or being a victim of crime. Make it a point to check in with yourself here and there.

Seasoned business travelers do not party hardy, sleep little, and stray so far from their routine that they return exhausted. Stick to a schedule, eat and drink healthy, sleep, keep up on your emails, stay connected, come back just as sane as you left.

Have safe travels. Be sure to share with me your savvy travel advice on my Facebook page!

App-y Days

I love Apps! My iPhone and iPad are busting at the seams with apps for everything. I sometimes wonder how I was able to function in life before apps came into being. I now find myself relying on them for so many things! Those small square wonders bring such h-APP-iness! Here are a list of some of my favorites:

  • When I come across a QR Code, I turn to QuickMark for scanning I can count on every time!
  • I am addicted to the Ebay app, but be careful, this one can get expensive.
  • HopStop is great for subway and walking directions in many major cities (always know where to go!)
  • FindMyCar is perfect for people like me; I tend to forget where I park.
  • Want to find deals no matter where you are? Get Groupon. They are in all the major cities and more.
  • When I am away from my Kindle, I like to know I can still catch up on my reading. This app satisfies that need.
  • Like music, you will love Pandora!
  • Do you hear songs and wish you knew the name of the artist, use Soundhound.
  • Make prescription filling easy with the Walgreens app (plus find coupons and their weekly ad).
  • Whenever I need to learn how to do anything, I turn to YouTube. FYI – a friend of mine was able to fix his dryer by watching a helpful YouTube video on his phone!
  • Finally, of course, I adore shoes, so I had to have the Shoes.com app. Now I can purchase shoes on the run . . .

Your turn! Share with me the apps you cannot live without. Did you download any of the apps I mention in this blog? Which ones? Do you find them useful. Let’s talk. Come over to Facebook and we will have a chat.
*Thank you to Mobile Choices for the image!

Airplane Armrest Etiquette

First, let’s just put it out there – there is an innate flaw in the airplane armrest system; three seats and two armrests, it just doesn’t add up. When I sit down in a restaurant I am well aware that the glass to my right is my glass and the fork to my left is my fork. When I sit down in an airplane the armrest is a toss-up. Is there such a thing as Armrest Etiquette?

We know to say excuse me when we are trying to crawl into our window seat space, or we need to temporarily use the airplane tray of another as we yoga pose our way into grabbing something from our carry on. But what are the rules when it comes to the armrest?

A friend of mine was sharing with me how during her days of travel, she noticed that a high percentage of men simply assumed that a small gal such as herself must surely have no need for the armrest. She shares, “They would lay claim to it as soon as they sat down. These same men will be courteous in every other manner, but there is an unspoken rule that the armrests are for boys.” She mentioned this to her husband and when he later began to travel with his job he told her that he was always very mindful of the armrest; he made it a point to not lay claim, but to share or to even offer it to the person who sat next to him on the plane (good guy).

To help you sort through this armrest conundrum, I have gathered some information for your consideration:

  • Check out veteran traveler Peter Greenberg’s thoughts on the matter
  • A flight attendant on this Interactive Graphic feels that both armrests should belong to the middle seat passenger as a consolation prize
  • Here is a good list of overall airplane etiquette (might it be bad etiquette to perhaps make a few copies to share with the passengers on your next flight?).

Here’s an idea, some people travel with their own pillows, perhaps we should design personal armrests for travel? Maybe call it the iArmrest or Travel-with-Me Armrest or how about Armrest 4U? (Now with secret travel pockets for your valuables and your own personal set of earphones with activated plug in!) I know what you’re thinking, “Jill, stick to site selection!”

Who do you think the armrest belongs to? Come on over to Facebook and take our one-click survey!

Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite (no, really, don’t)

Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite (no, really, don’t)

Recently Successful Meetings Magazine posted an article about the 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry. Happy to note that Roger Helms was amongst the distinguished line up! But I must admit I was a bit taken aback that one of the 25 was not only NOT a person, but a bed bug – ugh! Apparently these little guys are the “most prolific event crashers in the history of the meetings industry.” 

According to the site Raveable, the number of reported bedbug incidents has risen more than 660 percent between 2011 and 2012. The site provides up-to-the-minute information regarding bed bugs and the hotels that they now call home. May not be a bad idea to check out the page before you book your next hotel. For a listing of the most notorious cities with hotel bed bug issues, check out this page.

There are some signs that the little buggers are about and some places you should definitely check out before checking in. Here is a quick list:

  • As their name reveals, they will be found primarily around the bed. Check the sheets for red or black streaks.
  • They hide out in the nooks and crannies; be sure to do a thorough check all around the various crevices in the bed. A small flashlight would come in handy for this inspection.
  • Make sure to check the box spring, especially around the corners and seams.
  • Other possible places to check are the electrical switch plates, behind baseboards, in any extra bedding left in the room and any furniture drawers.
  • A good trick is to use a hair dryer, point the hot air toward any crevices, this will force them out of hiding (and force you into another room or possibly another hotel)!

The good news is that they are not known to transmit disease, but their bites may itch. Antihistamines or creams with hydrocortisone or diphenhydramine (Benadryl) will be helpful in easing the itchiness.

Either way, let’s face it, none of us are too keen on becoming some bugs’ meal! My wish for you is to have a good night and sleep tight and there not be any bed bugs around to bite you.  Have any bed bug stories?

Please do share on my Facebook page.

Awesome Travel Accessories

The savvy traveler undoubtedly carries a few choice items with them whenever they travel. When we hit the skies, we have a high necessity to bring along items that make us comfy and create an ease in travel. Here are some cool travel gadgets that make your on the go better:

SteriPEN “harnesses the brilliant power of ultraviolet light to make water safe to drink.” Backpacker Magazine, Outdoor Life Magazine and Time Magazine have all sung its praises. If you are traveling overseas and wish to ensure the safety of your drinking water, SteriPEN has been shown to eliminate over 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa in water.

If you juggling several pieces of luggage at one time, here is a handy, inexpensive, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that device called Train Reaction. This nifty device allows you tie several pieces of luggage to each other and create suitcase train to easily pull along with you.

Falling asleep to your favorite iPod lullabies sounds nice, but it will only work if you are a back sleeper. Sleeping on your side with earplugs is definitely not an option. Sleepphones, called “pajamas for your ears,” solve that issue. The earphones are flat and encased in a lightweight, washable headband. Perfect for dealing with noisy hotel neighbors or snoring roomies.

The Walking Bag is a sturdy luggage carrier complete with swivel wheels making for easy navigation in tight spaces. The design includes a fold down chair so you can have seat anywhere, even the most crowded of airports.

When an easy to access keyboard is a must have for your trip, check out the small, portable iTYPE by ION. Compatible with numerous devices including iPad, iPhone and Android, this keyboard will last 80 hours on a single charge and turn virtually any device into a laptop computer.

Now it’s your turn! Please comment and tell us about your favorite must have travel accessories. Remember, each comment is an entry in my Happy New Year Contest!