Travel bag of the week: McKlein Willowbrook Rolling Leather Briefcase

July 31, 2014 - Leave a Response

Each week Road Warriorette features a travel bag that hits all of the high notes for ladies on the road: pockets, construction, and (of7-31-14-3 course!) style.

It shocked me when I realized I hadn’t featured a McKlein bag on the Bag of the Week yet. Shocked me because I love almost every single bag I’ve seen from them. They are all constructed well, come in beautiful colors, with functional pockets. The Willowbrook is one of my favorites, with the lovely vintage lines. Bonus: it comes as a rolling briefcase but is detachable! I especially love the beautiful powder blue color, but it’s also available in black, orange, red, green, and pink. From $150-$258.

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This is why I make packing lists

July 31, 2014 - 3 Responses

This week I am on a very busy but short overnight trip. Last night as I was starting to pack I started to make a list. Then thought, 7-30-14-1I’m only gone for one night! What could I possibly need to remember that I can’t keep in my head? To be fair, I did really well. I remembered my clothes, computer, and Kindle; charged all of my devices; and refilled some toiletry items that were running low. This morning when my alarm went off at 3am I groaned, but got up knowing that everything was ready and all I had to do was dress.

It wasn’t until I was about ten minutes from home when I thought, do I have my computer? I remembered putting it in my bag but wanted to confirm, so I started digging around my purse while driving down the empty highway. I felt my computer, but you know what I didn’t feel? My wallet. I pulled a few things out, sure that I would find it and everything would be fine. But no, my wallet was not in there. Efffffff.

I immediately swung off the highway, frantically calling the Home Warrior. When his sleepy voice answered I almost cried in relief. “Babe! I need you to check the table for my wallet!!” I barreled down the interstate, hoping it was there. It was. I made it home in record time, where he ran it out to me (in his PJs. My hero.). (Pictured: the offending wallet.)

At this point the airport was twenty minutes away, and my flight left in an hour. I knew the only way I would make it was to valet park—which I wouldn’t have done if I were planning to be gone more than 36 hours. Praying I was early enough to beat the rush, I ran inside, made it through security (thank you TSA Pre-check!) and walked onto my plane in the middle of boarding. Phew! The slightly ironic thing is that we then sat on the plane for a good twenty minutes before taking off, and was the last person to board my connection. You know it’s bad when the gate agents say, “Oh there she is!” as you dash to the gate.

The moral of the story is that in the middle of crazy travel seasons like I’ve been in for the last few months I just get complacent. I think, there is no way I will forget XYZ. But then I do, and it is so incredibly stressful. It is definitely time for me to get back in the habit of making specific lists of each item I need for a trip so that this doesn’t happen again!

Readers, have you ever missed a flight because you forgot something at home? 

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Preparing for your First International Business Trip: Credit Cards, Currency Exchange, Points, and Cell Phone, Data, and Text Plans

July 30, 2014 - 7 Responses

Getting ready for your first business trip abroad can be very stressful! I’ve put together a comprehensive list of items that can 7-28-14-5help you prepare, hopefully cutting down on your anxiety. Click here to read the first installment, which covered passports, travel advisories, and vaccinations.  Click here to read the second installment, which covered food, transportation, and language.

Credit Cards. Be sure you let your credit card company know when you travel internationally.  If you don’t they may decline your card because they’ll think it’s stolen (which has happened–so embarrassing!).  Also check out what the foreign transaction fees are, which vary from card to card.   Some credit cards have no foreign transaction fees, but if your card does check with your company to see if they are reimbursable. Finally, be sure to leave any unnecessary credit cards at home.  If your wallet is stolen you want to be able to quickly cancel cards, and if you have a bunch of unnecessary cards in your wallet it makes canceling them much more difficult.  This hasn’t happened to me internationally but I have had my wallet stolen once before, and it’s a nightmare if you have a bunch of cards you don’t need in there.

While you’re on the phone with your credit card customer service, find out if your card is available as a chip-and-PIN card. If you are traveling to Europe you definitely need one–many places don’t accept magnetic stripe cards at all anymore. If you’re unable to get good information from the phone line, try the Twitter customer service reps. They are often more responsive and knowledgeable than phone reps.

Currency exchange. In Manila I always exchange my money at the hotel because it’s the most convenient place.  I use the local country’s currency for shopping and tips.  You probably won’t have any pushback giving American dollars for tips in a foreign country but I just feel like it’s easier to deal in the local currency.  Try to avoid doing exchanges at the airport because your exchange rate is usually not as good.  For more information on this subject check out this USA Today story.

Points.  Traveling internationally can rack up some serious points.  Be sure you sign up for loyalty programs with airlines and hotels so you can take advantage of the rewards.  Not only can signing up for loyalty programs get you free hotel stays and flights, if you rack up enough points and earn status you can get other perks such as first class upgrades, lounge access at hotels and airports, bonus point, and other special offers.  Don’t forget about rental car loyalty programs.  You may not rack up as many points on international travel but it’s still important to sign up for.  I’ve written in detail about points in the past so to learn more and to take full advantage take a look at each of posts: Loyalty programs, Credit Cards, Shopping Portals, Dining and Partner Programs

Cell phone, data, and text plans.  If your company is not in charge of your cell phone please, please call your cell phone company when you travel internationally. Be sure to upgrade your phone, data, and text plans for international coverage.  If you don’t you will be sorry.  I’ve heard of horror stories where people don’t change their plans to reflect international coverage and get hit with several hundred (or thousand) dollar cell phone bills.  Also, when you upgrade your plan make sure you understand the details.  Know how many minutes, texts, and gigabytes of data you’ll have with the upgrade.  If your company does cover your cell phone plan check with them for details on any limitations when traveling internationally.

Another option if your phone is unlocked is to get an international SIM card. The rates you’ll be charged will likely be significantly less, but you won’t have access to your US phone number while using it. I have never done this so don’t have a ton of experience, but this Mobile Office About page has a good overview. (Readers, if you have done this please share your tips in the comments!)

Readers, what have your experiences been with credit cards, currency exchange, points, and cell phone plans? Any additional tips?

Next week’s installment will cover

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Business travel news roundup

July 29, 2014 - Leave a Response

Here are a few of the stories that caught my eye in the last week or so…. news pic bag

I use the FlightAware app all the time. How to Find the Route Your Plane Is Taking. via @wsj

I would love to choose my own room. Hilton lets guests pick rooms, use smartphones as keys. via @usatoday

Will Business Travelers Be Forced To Embrace #Airbnb? via HungryForPoints

Haha.  Hitchhiking Robot Sets Out on Epic Journey Across Canada. via @NBCNews

New York City?!? Would you a plan a trip to one of America’s unhappiest cities?  via @foxnewstravel

Fun article. Sound Like a Seasoned Air Traveler (Even If You’re Not!)  via @milmilesecrets

Interesting. Five myths about flight attendants.  via @usatoday

These are good apps to consider. Best apps to prevent travel mishaps.  via @USATODAY

Readers, anything interesting come across your desk lately?

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TSA offering $15k to help solve security lines

July 29, 2014 - One Response

Apparently TSA has finally noticed that airport security lines are really long, and NBC News is reporting that they’re offering a 7-28-14-7cash reward to help solve the problem. If they choose your idea as the winner, you can get up to $5k in cash. Alas, they want suggestions a little more complicated than someone making sure people are ready to go when they get to the front of the line. From the contest website:

Current queue layouts at TSA Pre™ airports will need to adapt to support the increasing population of TSA Pre™ passengers.  TSA is looking for the Next Generation Checkpoint Queue Design Model to apply a scientific and simulation modeling approach to meet queue design and configuration needs of the dynamic security screening environment with TSA Pre™.

Scientific and simulation modeling? Maybe not my cup of tea. But if someone can solve the airport security problem, they will earn some money and have the undying gratitude of millions of travelers. As Andy’s Travel Blog said last night,

What better way to source hundreds of ideas than by dangling at $15000 carrot at the end of a stick?  Getting McKinsey & Company to examine the process would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, so I applaud them for trying to be cost-conscious about it.

Although does anyone else think it’s interesting that this is happening right after they doubled security fees for flights? Guess they figured they had to spend that money somehow….

Until the magical solution is found, the best thing to do is make sure you (and everyone you know) are as prepared for the security line as possible. Just like the tip from a recent Weekend Express, the best way to speed up the line is to have all of your stuff ready to go—ID, boarding pass, liquids bag, laptop, and slip-on shoes. (Check out my post on more tips for making airport security as stress-free as possible.)

Readers, what do you think? Is the TSA crazy or brilliant for trying to crowd-source a solution?

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Airport Pickup Etiquette (and the law).

July 28, 2014 - 12 Responses

I’m a pretty lucky person.  Because the Home Warrior is a stay at home dad he’s often able to drop me off and pick me up from the 7-28-14-3airport. (Although I don’t know if he feels so lucky!)  Drop offs at the airport always seem to go smoothly. Cars stop, unload, say goodbye, and away they go. Then there are the pickups.  The Home Warrior says one of the most stressful places to drive is in an airport pickup zone.  Pedestrians walk in front of cars without looking and cars cut people off to get to who they are picking up. Not to mention having to time the pickup just perfectly so you don’t have to circle or use a cell phone lot (if your airport is lucky enough to have one).   It’s a recipe for disaster.

Luckily people usually drive pretty slow so potential accidents are averted.  However, there’s one group of people that is not helping the situation.  Not only are they not helping, they’re most likely breaking the law.  I’m talking about the people that choose to park and wait in the pickup area when their person hasn’t come out yet.  I get it if the person you’re there to pick up says they are literally about to walk out the door, but those aren’t the people I’m talking about.  I’m talking about drivers that sit and wait upwards of 15 or 20 minutes.  And to top it off, it’s against the law to wait in the airport pickup area if you’re not mass transportation but I rarely see this law being enforced.  What harm does this cause, you might ask?  Well, besides the terrorism implications it causes unnecessary traffic jams and chaos for the people whose pickups are actually ready.

While every airport is different, nearly all the ones I ever go to have this clogged up chaotic pickup area problem with no one enforcing the “no parking and waiting” policy.  The Home Warrior thinks that pickups should happen in the airports’ long term parking areas.  His idea is to just go park in long term parking and either wait there, or walk to go help the person you are going to pick up with their luggage then take a shuttle back.  This essentially eliminates anything not a mass transportation vehicle in the pickup area.

Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about that.  After traveling all day I don’t want to walk through a huge parking lot to get to my ride (but a shuttle might change my mind).  The way the Home Warrior explained it, we don’t have pickup service after we go grocery shopping, why should we have one at the airport? Makes sense, I guess, but what makes more sense is people not taking advantage of the pickup area when the “no parking and waiting” rule is not being enforced.  Drive in a circle, or wait in a cell phone lot, but otherwise please get out of the way.  You’ll be doing me, the airport, and everyone else who’s actually ready to be picked up a huge favor.

Readers, what do you think? Do people park and wait at your airport?

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Posts from the past

July 27, 2014 - Leave a Response

What was going on this week in years past?Post from Past pic

2013

2012

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Road Warriorette Weekend Express

July 26, 2014 - Leave a Response

Hey readers! Got something on your mind this weekend that you want to ask a question on or discuss?  Here’s the perfect weekend expressopportunity!  Whether you want to share an interesting travel story, a packing tip, an etiquette tip, or anything else going on in the business travel world, comment here and we’ll have a discussion. (Pictured: Airplanes Games Plane Paper app, free.)

Travel tip of the week:  When packing your toiletries, put small amounts of liquids such as face wash, moisturizer, or eye cream into a spare contact lens case.  Click here to read more about my liquids bag.  

Week in review: 

Should I have changed seats in this situation? Join the conversation here. Read more of this article »

One dress, two ways—change your look with accessories

July 25, 2014 - Leave a Response

Packing for a business trip can be overwhelming. Making sure you have everything you need for several days of outfits and beauty can be daunting! Not mention having to fit everything in your carry-on. At least it’s easier in the summer than winter since clothes and shoes are much lighter.

One of the core rules of packing for a business trip is that all of your pieces must do double-duty. People often think that means dresses are out, because how can you change a dress to look like something other than, well, a dress? The truth is, adding accessories or a shirt can completely change your dress’s look. For winter, I actually like sleeveless dresses better because you can then layer over or under. For summer I prefer something with sleeves since you don’t need as many layers.

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Best luggage brands contest winner!

July 25, 2014 - Leave a Response

Earlier this week I asked you to share what your favorite carry-on luggage brand is and why. To encourage participation I offered a suitcase winner$50 Amazon gift card to one person chosen randomly from all of the comments. That winner is……Lucky number 48, DJ!

I like the Fit carry-on from Costco. It has a wet compartment at the bottom for shoes & towels. Soft top material all around, 2 inner compartment and very light.

Congratulations, DJ! Please email me at RoadWarriorette @ gmail.com by Monday, July 28 at noon central time to claim your prize.

If for some reason I don’t hear from DJ by Monday at noon I will choose another winner.

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