After two vacations to Europe and some full-contact business travel in-between, I found my way back into the TravelCommons studios. I talk about these recent trips — the awful timeliness of an American Airlines‘ regional jet partner, an incredible string of lost luggage, a meaningless baggage strip tease with Wow Air, and being surprised to still find some quirks when using ATMs and credit cards in Europe. And it wouldn’t be a travel podcast if I didn’t weigh in on the TSA’s “line-mageddon” — their meltdown at O’Hare. All this and more at the direct link to the podcast file or listening to it right here by clicking on the arrow below.
Where do guidebooks fit in the world of apps, review websites, social media, and podcasts? Planning for a trip to Iceland got me thinking about how to make sense of the explosion of travel tips. And then, after giving my thoughts about my new Bluesmart “smart connected suitcase”, I talk about how idiosyncratic frequent travelers are about packing strategies and their choice of suitcases. There’s also follow-up about foreign exchange apps, and listener comments about digital travel security and Spirit Airlines’ growth. All this and more at the direct link to the podcast file or listening to it right here by clicking on the arrow below.
Here’s a little something to keep you entertained while you navigate the holiday airport lines. We talk about digital security on the road — what’s the right balance between hassle and hack? We also dig into JD Power’s latest airport satisfaction survey. They report a tick up in traveler experience and, for the most part, I think they have it right. We also cover Spirit Airlines’ growth and the planned expansion of US immigration pre-clearance. All this and more at the direct link to the podcast file or listening to it right here by clicking on the arrow below.
A bit less of a random walk than the last episode, we talk about safety, physical safety, when traveling. While we sometimes put ourselves in the midst of dodgy surroundings, we usually feel safe when we retreat back into the “travel bubble” What about when the bubble is no longer safe? Smartphones are the frequent traveler’s most important tool. So when an upgrade to my HTC One killed its usefulness, I found myself heading back to Apple. All this and more at the direct link to the podcast file or listening to it right here by clicking on the arrow below.
Apologies in advance because this is pretty much a stream-of-consciousness episode, with semi-strung together thoughts about eggs, car rentals, seeing the Pope, travel food, and stuff from my September trip to Scotland. I talk about how handy I found the new Revolut service for spending and sending money in Europe; recent good and bad experiences with Hertz and other car rentals; most bad experience with British Airways; and how true-to-life the Doritos Super Bowl commercial portrays the Southwest boarding experience. All this and more at the direct link to the podcast file or listening to it right here by clicking on the arrow below.
Back behind the microphone after an extended summer break highlighted by a two-week family vacation in Japan. We talk about traveling in Japan. It was a fantastic time, though we were lost without translation at times. But with the US dollar buying 124 yen, it was the right time to go. We also talk about frustration in using frequent flier miles, trends toward prettier and higher tech luggage, and a connoisseur of scrambled eggs. All this and more at the direct link to the podcast file or listening to it right here by clicking on the arrow below.
Hard to believe that I’ve been prattling along for 10 years. Looking back, I see that I’ve become less of a TSA-hater, but am still pretty clear-eyed about the tediousness of the frequent travel experience. It’s tough to pack 10 years into a 30-min episode, but I think I’ve cherry-picked some good snippets. Before that, I talk about spending Semana Santa (Holy Week) in southern Spain and “smart luggage.” The listener mailbag continues the conversation about mass transit to airports. All this and more at the direct link to the podcast file or listening to it right here by clicking on the arrow below.
It’s spring cleaning time, which for me means it’s time to wade through my briefcase. Within every frequent traveler is the desire to carry everything you could possibly need on the road — to make your briefcase into the road warrior version of Batman’s utility belt, letting you amaze your travel companions by pulling out just the right thing to solve any travel problem. Great for the ego; tough on the back. You’re always prepared, but you’re always dragging up the rear because you’re schlepping the heaviest bag or TSA is pulling you for secondary screening because all your wires make them suspicious.
You need to hit the right balance between weight and need — what do I need all the time vs. what can I buy or borrow for the couple of times I may need it?
Technology makes up most of the weight. Looking back over my briefcase dissections in 2006 and 2011, there’s always a laptop — going from a 3.6 lb 12-in ThinkPad in 2006, to a 2.4 lb 11-in MacBook Air in 2011, to a 2.8 lb 12.5-in ThinkPad today. An iPad appeared in the 2011 walkthrough. It replaced books, magazines, and printed out documents, but it couldn’t replace the laptop. In 2015, the full-sized iPad has been bumped by a smaller Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro — an inch smaller and half the weight. I use it to read and watch videos, though when I force myself to leave my laptop home on vacation, the Microsoft Office for Android tablet apps let me sneak in some document reviews while the family sleeps. A Verizon WiFi hot spot pays for itself when I’m trying to pump out that one last e-mail in the airport or sidestepping overloaded hotel WiFi.
And there’s always been a phone, but here we can see a bit more evolutionary progress — from a Motorola V551 flip-phone to a iPhone 4 to an HTC One. The iPhone let me ditch the U2-themed iPod that was in the 2006 briefcase while the front-facing speakers on the HTC One made a Jawbone Jambox redundant.
Nothing has replaced my Bose noise cancelling headphones, though. No self-respecting frequent traveler is seen on a plane without them — even if they’re not plugged into anything. After I wore out the original QC-2’s, I upgraded to the QC-15’s. The old DJ in me prefers the over-the-ear models.
What’s stayed the same? Mostly the non-technology things — the Moleskine notebook, a random selection of pens, the semi-transparent folder for the few expense receipts that don’t get e-mailed to me, a bottle of ibuprofen and Zyrtec tablets and, perhaps most importantly, a tin of wintergreen Altoids to counter dry mouth when I fall asleep in a plane — a very common occurrence.
The newest addition to my briefcase? A bottle opener. I just don’t understand why have hotels taken bottle openers out of the rooms right when the craft beer revolution made them a critical necessity.
Recorded at the JW Marriott in New Orleans together with a GoPro video capturing all the unedited bits. We go deep in a comparison of public transit and drive times to US airports, shed a tear for SkyMall magazine, and marvel at the stack of lost Android tablets at American Airlines’ ORD lost-and-found. We talk about what has been an awful start to the travel year in the US east of the Rocky Mountains, and wrap up with some observations about how hotel perks have become more important than points. All this and more at the direct link to the podcast file or listening to it right here by clicking on the arrow below.