Tips for an Enjoyable Hotel Stay

When staying at a hotel, knowing you got a good rate and great location are just two aspects of an enjoyable stay. The other, of course, is whether you enjoy the hotel, in particular, and your room.

Here are some inside tips to help ensure you have a safe, healthy, and happy hotel visit.

Be nice to the staff.

It goes without saying, but basic manners go a long way in hotels and restaurants. Be kind and appreciative to the staff, especially the front desk agent who checks you in. He or she, more than anyone else, can make your stay either a pleasure or a disaster.

Keep an eye on CO.

You’re probably aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO), and may even have a CO detector in your home. CO is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste, or smell the toxic fumes, CO — often called “the silent killer”” — can kill before a person is aware of it. The effects of CO vary from person to person, but symptoms generally include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue.

When booking a room in a hotel, ask if they have CO alarms installed in the rooms. If not, don’t book or accept a room equipped with a fuel-burning device, such as a wood-burning stove or gas fireplace. If you stay there anyway, definitely do not let the unit run through the night.

Also, do not book a room that opens onto an enclosed parking area, or next to an indoor garage. There could be CO gas in the air. You may also want to invest in a portable carbon monoxide detector. If symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, weakness, and/or confusion occur, get to fresh air quickly.

Think twice about valet parking.

Remember that scene in the movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when the garage parking attendants took Cameron’s father’s prized 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California convertible for a joyride? “Borrowing” parked cars goes on more than you may realize. Granted, it usually happens with really nice cars, so if you’re just tooling around in a rental, you probably don’t have to worry.

Beware of bedbugs.

It’s not pleasant to think about, but bedbugs are a problem in many hotels across the nation. If you’re worried about bedbugs in a hotel, you can check for them yourself in the bed, sofa, and chairs. Here’s what you need and some telltale signs to look for:

Pack a few useful items for identifying bedbug infestations, including a flashlight and a magnifying glass. You can also use an old credit card to scrape and dig for signs of bedbugs.

Adult bedbugs are flat, brown, oval, and wingless, and measure about 1/4 to 3/8 inches long. They change from brown to purplish-red after they eat, becoming larger and more cigar-shaped. Young bedbugs look like adults, but smaller.

Check the bed’s mattress, box spring, and sheets for any signs, such as rusty or reddish stains on the bed linens, pillows and mattresses.

Look at carpeting or flooring around and under beds. Bedbug excrement leaves dark spots, about the size of a period on a printed page. Bedbug waste “bleeds” on fabrics like a pen or marker would.

Inspect the furniture for bedbug eggs and eggshells, which are white and about 1 mm in size. Open and inspect zippered coverings on furniture and pillows, and at frames and feet of sofas and chairs.

Check walls, wall hangings, paintings, clocks, baseboards, floorboards, and electrical outlets. Use an old playing card or credit card to probe and scrape out any live bedbugs, remains, or waste.

BYOG: Bring your own glass.

It’s a little known fact, but hotel housekeepers sometimes use furniture polish to ensure the hotel room glasses sparkle, and don’t have any spots. So, it’s probably a wise idea to pack your own drinking glass, or ask the hotel bartender if you can borrow a clean glass during your stay.

Ditch the duvet cover.

Most hotels wash the sheets and blankets on a regular basis, but few, if any, ever wash the duvet covers. So, do yourself a favor and strip that bad boy right off the bed when you get there. If you think you might get cold at night, call the front desk and (nicely) request a clean extra blanket.

Don’t be cheap — tip well.

Tip well, especially a bellman if he brings your luggage up or down from your room in a timely manner. Don’t forget the housekeeper who has to clean your room after you leave, and again, the all-powerful front desk agent — give this person a $10 bill when you check in, and it will help ensure you’re stay is a pleasant one.

Double check incidentals and mini bar bill.

If you’re billed for incidentals and/or the mini bar, be sure to review the bill and make sure charges are legitimate. Hotel staff has been known to steal from a room’s minibar, sticking the guest with an unwarranted bill. If the charges aren’t yours, dispute them. To avoid room extras, bring your own supplies.

How to Protect Your Stuff at the Airport

When you’re flying, your personal belongings can be lost between point A and point B—but air travelers should also be aware that their property can go missing while passing through airport security.

It’s true. The Daily Mail reported that thieves are targeting tourists and other travelers at Gatwick Airport just outside London, England—they’re brazenly stealing personal items from the security checkpoint conveyor belt, such as laptops, cosmetics, jewelry and even a loved one’s ashes have all gone missing, the Mail reports.

But fear not, travelers, here are five ways to protect your stuff at security, courtesy of Clark.com and writer, Craig Johnson.

Keep an eye on those laptops

As far back as 2008, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported that more than 10,000 laptops were stolen every day, according to PCWorld. And a 2017 study conducted by Stratos Jet Charters, an air charter service, showed that it’s extremely difficult to get reimbursed by the TSA once an item is reported as missing or stolen. Nearly 70 percent of the claims were denied, while fully-approved claims tallied less than 32 percent, according to the Stratos study.

While there are many studies and statistics on a wide array of aviation-related topics, there is surprisingly little tracked regarding in-airport theft. In fact, officials frequently count missing belongings, reported thefts and related claims in the same category.

Stay aware at the security line

A hot spot for in-airport theft is the TSA security line. Think about it: thousands of air travelers trustingly place and leave their belongings behind on the conveyor belt as they pass through the TSA security checkpoint. As owners are distracted, thieves can help themselves to valuable laptops and other items.

For example, one traveler reported that her bags made it through security quicker than she did, and that’s when she noticed her laptop went missing. After three days of emails, she finally was put in contact with the terminal manager, who told her there was nothing he could do.

What makes it even more difficult is when a traveler doesn’t realize their item is missing until after the flight and they are at their destination. Where did it go missing? Was it at the airport, during the flight, or on the ride home? Then there’s the matter of whom do you call — the police, the airline or one of several agencies in the mix?

To help protect your belongings, here are some good security tips to remember:

  • Keep a list of your belongings. To help you stay focused en route, write down a list of your belongings on a piece of paper, and keep it in your pocket when traveling. You can keep it in your hand along with your boarding pass and ID while being processed through security or even in your phone. Then when you pass through security, refer to the list and make sure you have everything then and there.
  • Take pictures of your stuff. Another quick and easy way to keep track of your belongings is to take photos of them with your phone. Before leaving for the airport, shoot quick pics of all your bags and the contents within. If you have to prove something went missing, you have proof.
  • Slow down and pay attention. It’s easy to rush when you’re traveling, but that’s when mistakes happen. Stay aware of what’s in your hands, pockets and bags, as well as your surroundings. Don’t leave your luggage unattended and do your best to keep your eyes on your stuff as it passes through the security checkpoint.
  • Use the buddy system. If you’re traveling with a friend, talk ahead of time about keeping your eyes on each other’s bags, as well as your own. Four eyes are better than two. This will be especially helpful as you pass through the security checkpoint.
  • Don’t draw attention with fancy bags. You may want to leave the Louis Vuitton luggage at home—it will attract the wrong kind of attention. Instead, opt for small, unassuming luggage that you can identify easily. When it goes through security, be quick to locate it along with the rest of your stuff.

Source: Clark.com

10 Tips to Fight Gas Prices and Save on Fuel

American motorists can expect to pay more on their summer road trips, Forbes.com reports.

The average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded is expected to reach $2.74, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). That’s a 14 percent boost over last year’s seasonal average of $2.41 a gallon and would be the highest pump price recorded since summer 2015, when gas hit $2.81 a gallon.

And GasBuddy, an app that connects drivers to the most cost-effective gas stations, released their 2018 Fuel Price Outlook.

The report claims:

  • Most of the country will see prices peak under $3 per gallon, but unexpected disruptions could push the national average close to $3.
  • Metro areas including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C. will likely see prices eclipse $3 per gallon.
  • Cities such as Cleveland, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, Orlando, St. Louis and Tampa may get within arm’s reach of such prices.

Before you head out on that road trip, here’s some fuel-saving advice according to Telegraph.com.

1. Combine errands and make fewer trips

Did you know that when you drive a car that has been parked for a few hours, the engine is cold and it uses much more fuel for the first five miles or so? So, try to combine all your daily errands into one big trip.

2. Avoid rush hour and traffic jams

There are few worse places to spend your time than stuck in a traffic jam, but it’s also a very expensive way of travelling. Every time that you stop and start in traffic, your car needs first gear and a huge amount of fuel to get moving again. Second gear is not much better. The best solution is to not travel during the rush hour.

If you are stuck in traffic, try to keep a safe distance from the car in front of you, and travel steadily at a slow speed, rather than accelerating and braking. If you have to travel in rush hour, then you could consider buying a hybrid car, which uses much less fuel in town than a normal gas or diesel.

3. Stick to the speed limit

Sure, if you travel a bit faster than the speed limit, you could shave a bit of time off your journey, particularly on long highway trips, but what you save in time you pay for in extra fuel.

4. Learn to accelerate smoothly

The most efficient way to drive is smoothly and at a constant speed. So if you’re a patient driver, you’ll have lower fuel bills. Sometimes you need to speed up to pass another vehicle, but let common sense and manners be your guide. There’s little point accelerating past a car to simply be in front of it at the next set of lights as any instant gratification will appear on your fuel bill the next time you fill up.

5. Don’t push the accelerator down too far

Another factor in driving smoothly and efficiently is not pushing the accelerator down a long way to avoid changing into a lower gear—you’re actually using more fuel, not less. Obviously, if your car has an automatic gearbox, then it will probably do a better job than you of choosing which gear to be in, so it’s not a problem.

6. Turn the air-conditioning off

When it’s not necessary, turn the A/C off. It will save fuel, unless you’re at cruising speed on a highway. In that case, it’s probably more fuel efficient to keep the A/C on and windows rolled up.

7. Close the windows and sunroof on the highway.

It doesn’t matter as much when driving at lower speeds around town, but when you’re on the highway at cruising speed, the shape of your car is very important. Car designers call it aerodynamics and make lots of effort to reduce the ‘drag’ and make the car as sleek as possible. Anything that makes wind noise as your car goes along is actually making your car work harder, and thus more expensive to run. You can’t do much about the design of your car, but you can avoid making it worse by not leaving the windows and sunroof open. It’s better to use the air vents for most of the year, and the air-conditioning when it gets too hot.

8. Check your tire pressures regularly

This is a big one: the lower the tire pressure, the more fuel the car needs to move it down the road. We recommend that you take five minutes every two weeks or so to check the air pressure in your tires. Buy a tire gauge at a gas station or auto parts store, and go to a gas station with an air machine. Check the proper PSI (pounds per square inch) on the sidewall of your tires, and fill the tire with air if needed.

9. Remove the roof rack or ski box

This is just like leaving the windows open, but worse. Even if the roof rack is empty, it increases drag and makes your car use more fuel, while a big ski box is like having another car strapped to your roof. The latest roof racks and ski boxes are quick and easy to fit and remove, so make the effort to stow them away when not using them.

10. Don’t carry unnecessary weight

Just like your body, your car needs more fuel to move around more weight. So, just as you wouldn’t wear a heavy backpack unless you had to, don’t haul heavy stuff around in the trunk of your car unless you need it. Ironically, the heavier the item (the usual culprits are golf clubs and tools), the less likely you are to bother taking it out and the greater the effect it will have on your fuel consumption.

Sources: Forbes.com, GasBuddy, Telegraph.com

Bradley Airport’s Expansion Plans Underway

Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, CT is known as an “easy in and out” airport among business and leisure travelers in the region, but the small and manageable reputation of Bradley may be changing in the coming years, as they recently announced plans to transform the mid-sized airport into a major New England hub.

“It’s so much more convenient to fly out of Bradley than having to go to New York or Boston if you want to go anywhere direct,” say Roberta O’Brien, of Rocky Hill. But Bradley travelers may be in for some temporary bumps, as officials unveiled a $1.4 billion expansion plan that could make Bradley competitive with the Logan’s and the Kennedy’s of the northeast. From the terminals, to the car rental lot, to the parking garage and the roads that lead to the airport, Bradley will be under construction over the next 20 years.

The expansion, in part, is taking place due to population growth in the region. “There are 4.4 million people that live within our market area so if we can keep developing the airline services here, we’ll keep bringing passengers to the airport,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director at Bradley International Airport.

“I do believe this airport could be a 10 million passenger airport so when you start to talk about the activity of that level you really need to take a hard look at the infrastructure,” Dillon said.

Some of the biggest visible changes at the new Bradley will be at the terminals. The plan is to have Terminal B connect with Terminal A. Also, a new rental car lot will be built on the property, eliminating the shuttles.

Construction under way

Locals and air travelers in and out of Bradley will already see Bradley’s plans underway, as construction has begun on the Route 20 connector road.

According the official Bradley International Airport website, the Connecticut Airport Authority is beginning the reconstruction and realignment of the main airport entrance roadway, Route 20 and Schoephoester Road. The work will involve the realignment of Schoephoester Road along with a portion of the airport’s lower roadway system, as well as the construction of a modern roundabout.

The project will provide a new entrance to the airport from Route 20 and open up a 19-acre site for the future development of Bradley’s ground transportation center.

The construction will not interrupt access to the airport from the Route 20 connector, but there may be slight delays due to the shifting and reduction of lanes. Construction signs and variable message boards will be present along the roadway to alert motorists of any changes in traffic patterns.

The project will consist of six phases of work and is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2018. Regular updates will be provided to the public during this time period.

When completed, this road expansion will improve traffic and make room for a new rental car lot.

International carriers like Aer Lingus have already broadened their flight offerings in and out of Bradley, and the expansion could make Bradley more attractive to other airlines and destinations.

“Any airport has to have the market to be attractive to the airlines and we certainly have that,” Dillon said.

While some travelers are welcoming the changes, others say they’ll miss the ease of navigating the smaller terminals. “I’d like to keep it on a smaller level. I like to fly out of Westchester just for the convenience of how small and how quick and easy it is to get in and out,” said Steve Confortini, of New Milford.

Bradley Airport officials say the goal is to keep the convenience level intact. The Federal Aviation Administration will need to approve this plan, but officials say they are confident it will be approved.

Source: Information courtesy of WFSB.com.

Airline Quality Has Improved, Study Shows

Despite some scary events and bad PR in the past year, U.S. airlines improved in overall quality last year, according to the annual Airline Quality Rating (AQR) report, released in May.

The 2018 AQR report by researchers at Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is a statistical study of major airline performance, objectively comparing airline quality.

The study indicates that as a whole, the 12 largest U.S. airlines improved their performance last year in three of the four categories tracked, making 2017 the best year for overall airline quality in the 28 years of the report. That said, the report’s authors caution the results do not necessarily mean commercial airline travel has dramatically improved in significant ways.

“The industry is improving, but there are still a lot of frustrated travelers out there,” says Brent Bowen, dean of aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and one of the report’s lead authors.

According to the Airline Quality Rating (AQR) website, the report is the most comprehensive study of performance and quality of the largest airlines in the United States. The rating is a multifactor examination of the airlines based on mishandled baggage, consumer complaints, on-time performance and involuntary denied boardings.

Overall airline industry findings

  • The 2017 score is the best AQR score in the 27-year history of the rating.
  • The industry AQR score has improved each year for the past three years (2015, 2016, and 2017).
  • Taking all 12 rated airlines together, the AQR score for the industry improved from a level of -0.95 in 2016 to -0.79 in 2017.
  • Improved performance was seen in three of the four areas tracked.

Specific areas of improvement

  • The industry mishandled baggage rate was better, decreasing from 2.70 per 1,000 passengers in 2016 to 2.46 per 1,000 passengers in 2017.
  • Involuntary denied boardings by the industry improved to 0.34 per 10,000 passengers in 2017 from 0.62 per 10,000 passengers in 2016.
  • The consumer complaint rate across the industry declined to 1.35 per 100,000 passengers in 2017 from 1.52 per 100,000 passengers in 2016.
  • The 10% decrease in the rate of consumer complaints in 2017 suggests that improved performance in important areas to consumers has been noticed.
  • Of the 11,570 complaints registered with the DOT regarding all U.S. domestic carriers, 74% were for flight problems, baggage problems, reservation, ticketing and boarding issues, or customer service problems.

Specific airline results

  • Nine airlines showed improvement in AQR scores in 2017: American, ExpressJet, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, SkyWest, Southwest, Spirit and United.
  • Frontier had the largest improvement in their AQR score in 2017.
  • Three airlines—Alaska, Delta and Virgin America—all declined in their 2017 AQR score from the previous year. Virgin America had the largest decline in AQR score for 2017.

Areas for improvement

As an industry, the AQR criteria show that on-time arrival percentage was down (80.2% in 2017 compared to 81.4% in 2016).

Other areas where airlines could improve, according to author Bowen and other researchers, include a lack of transparency in airfares, annoyances like cramped seats and extra fees for almost everything, as examples of elements of airline travel that are wearing on travelers despite the performance improvements.

Source: Airline Quality Rating (AQR) report

Best and Worst Airports in the U.S.

If you fly regularly for business or pleasure, you’re aware of the downside of air travel: the long lines, delayed flights, and security checks, to name a few. Money® Magazine surveyed 80 of the country’s most traveled commercial airports to determine which airports provided a more enjoyable traveling experience. How did the New York area airports rank? Keep reading to find out.

It’s no surprise that getting through the airport is generally the least favorite part of any trip. While every airport experiences delays, cancellations and other inconveniences, some airports are better than others. To find the best airports in the U.S.—those that reduce travel headaches rather than creating them—Money analyzed 80 of the nation’s top airports and ranked them based on customer experience scores from myriad sources, including J.D. Power, reader reviews from Travel + Leisure, on-time arrival rates, security delays, and traveler amenities such as shops and restaurants.

New York’s airports rank last

Below is their list of the top 15 U.S. airports. But first, tri-stare area travelers should be aware that New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Newark International Airport ranked at the absolute bottom of Money® Magazine’s survey.

New York’s airports’ unfortunate ranking:

78. John F. Kennedy International Airport

79. Newark Liberty International Airport

80. LaGuardia Airport

LaGuardia came in last among large airports evaluated by J.D. Power, and its facilities score was the absolute lowest among all airports rated. Newark came in last among the mega airports—and its facilities score was the second-lowest overall. All three airports had some of the lowest customer ratings from Travel + Leisure readers.

Airport facilities a key factor

“The most important factor in airport satisfaction is the terminal facilities themselves—that’s the building, how clean it is, what condition it’s in, the bathrooms,” says Mike Taylor, who leads J.D. Power’s airport research. “If anything is worn, it’s always considered unclean—whether it’s antiseptic or not,” Taylor says. Part of the reason LaGuardia gets such horrible scores may be that the airport is stalling on small maintenance projects while it undergoes a major renovation, Taylor says: “It just isn’t worth re-carpeting or repainting it, because it’s going to be torn down in 18 months.”

Traffic and access also important

Access to the airport is another key factor in airport satisfaction, according to Taylor, and another area where New York falls short. “It’s very hard to get around the New York area; very hard to get to the airport itself,” Taylor says.

Another issue against New York’s airports is the sheer volume of travelers in the greater tri-state area. Last year, New York’s three airports saw more than 132 million passengers, according to data collected by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey—compared to just over 10 million at Money® Magazine’s top airport, John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Calif.

New York airports low for on-time departures

The high volume of travelers means more road traffic, more air traffic congestion, and poorer on-time performance. JFK, LaGuardia and Newark consistently ranked in the bottom half of North American airports for on-time departure performance during 2017, according to data collected from FlightStats.

At LaGuardia, for instance, only about 72 percent of the airport’s arriving flights were on time in 2017, according to data from the Department of Transportation. The average among U.S. airports was over 80 percent.

But there’s at least some good news. Renovations underway at both LaGuardia and Newark’s Terminal A should help improve travelers’ experience, says Taylor—and he’s hopeful that, in the future, New York airports’ performance will be much improved.

15 Best Airports in the U.S.

1. John Wayne Airport (SNA)
Santa Ana, Calif.

  • On-time arrivals (as a percent of total): 84.98%
  • Number of restaurants: 24

2. Portland International Airport (PDX)
Portland, Ore.

  • On-time arrivals: 84.46%
  • Number of restaurants: 32

3. Indianapolis International Airport (IND)
Indianapolis, Ind.

  • On-time arrivals: 81.18%
  • Number of restaurants: 25

4. Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
Sacramento, Calif.

  • On-time arrivals: 81.15%
  • Number of restaurants: 22

5. Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN)
Belgrade, Mont.

  • On-time arrivals: 85.75%
  • Number of restaurants: 2

6. T.F. Green Airport (PVD)
Warwick, R.I.

  • On-time arrivals: 82.35%
  • Number of restaurants: 11

7. Tampa International Airport (TPA)
Tampa, Fla.

  • On-time arrivals: 80.44%
  • Number of restaurants: 40

8. Jacksonville International Airport (JAX)
Jacksonville, Fla.

  • On-time arrivals: 80.59%
  • Number of restaurants: 13

9. Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW)
Fort Myers, Fla.

  • On-time arrivals: 80.49%
  • Number of restaurants: 18

10. Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV)
Savannah, Ga.

  • On-time arrivals: 81.35%
  • Number of restaurants: 10

11. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
Hebron, Ky.

  • On-time arrivals: 83.25%
  • Number of restaurants: 21

12. Long Beach Airport (LGB)
Long Beach, Calif.

  • On-time arrivals: 80.99%
  • Number of restaurants: 7

13. Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
Pittsburgh, Pa.

  • On-time arrivals: 82.13%
  • Number of restaurants: 33

14. Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT)
Manchester, N.H.

  • On-time arrivals: 82.63%
  • Number of restaurants: 10

15. Portland International Jetport (PWM)
Portland, Maine

  • On-time arrivals: 78.94%
  • Number of restaurants: 5

Source: Time.com/money

Maximizing Your Work from Home Life

More American employees are working remotely, and for longer periods, than ever before. In the spirit of spring, here’s some expert advice on how to clean up your home office, increase your efficiency, and reduce your stress, courtesy of writer NJ Goldston and Forbes.com.

According to a 2017 Gallup survey, approximately 43 percent of employed Americans say they spend at least some time working remotely. While there are many benefits—increased focus, better work/life balance—it can be stressful to stay organized if you are sharing a living and working space.

“Just as our lives change, our needs morph as well,” says Tori Springer Taylor, founder of SimplySimplify in Los Angeles. “Just as our work environments are ever-changing, and there is more of an overlap between our work/home life, you need to evolve your approach to organization.”

Famed closet and office designer of LA Closet Design, Lisa Adams, shares an interesting insight, “As more millennials enter the housing market, spaces will become more flexible and multi-functional, challenging the conventional notion of the closet. We will continue to see closets, along with every other space in the home, adapt to this more informal lifestyle. You no longer need a whole room dedicated to your desk, while your wardrobe suffers in a crowded walk-in; instead, these spaces become one.”

Here are some of Springer Taylor’s and Adams’ top tips on how to increase organization and efficiency when working from home.

Create an office command station. Springer Taylor says, “Traditional office spaces have changed and technology is making way for more ambiguous workspaces, so now people have different needs.

Adams adds, “When you’re limited on space, no square inch can go wasted. Maybe your desk isn’t a desk at all – it might be a console, coffee table, or kitchen island. Any surface where you can spread out and set up shop can be productive. Share/combine this space with another underutilized area of your home — an entryway, a kitchen, or even a closet.”

Organize your closet for home and office. When it comes to your clothing closet, Springer Taylor recommends organizing your clothing by activity, not color, as most of us do. For example, a “work” section of clothes designated for your days in the office and/or meetings, and your at-home work wardrobe for every day, work-at-home wear.

She suggests formal attire live in a completely different closet if this option is available to you. Approaching your wardrobe by activity is more streamlined and is especially helpful with black items (which we all have too many of!) as they tend to blend. This concept can be applied to shoes as well as clothes.

Schedule your life like you’re an executive. Springer Taylor advises mapping everything from social engagements, children’s activities (if you’re a parent), dinner parties, etc., and then working backward. For example, if you need to study a particular topic for a presentation, or bake a cake the day before a birthday party, put that action item on that day.

Add action items to your calendar so you are not up all night worrying about preparatory actions. This will help reduce stress by increasing your ability to manage multiple responsibilities calmly and more efficiently. The bottom line is to “approach your personal schedule as though you are an executive, whether you are or not,” she says.

Plan your days in advance. Never underestimate the value of a daily routine that you plan out the night before. This is especially important when you work from home. Structure your day, or else it’ll get away from you, and keep to the schedule. Springer Taylor recommends that you start on Sunday evening and lay out all weekly events. Then detail your very next day by the hour, starting with the most dreaded items first. That way, if a call runs over or something else pops into your day, hopefully, the most pressing tasks have been completed early on and uncompleted tasks can carry over into the following day.

Keep digital in one area. Adams recommends creating a digital and charging area in your home, so everything is together, and ready to go at a moment’s notice, including laptop, phone, and tablet. She also suggests keeping a mobile digital office kit at the ready. This saves you the time of packing up your operation every time you have to take a meeting. When a set of essentials can go with you, your workspace has no walls.

Commit to going digital. This seems so obvious but maybe it’s not. Bulky binders and notebooks are inefficient for an on-the-go professional, and take up valuable space when traveling. Files, notes and calendars can all live online, meaning they don’t weigh a thing, and they’re always at your fingertips during business travel. Just don’t forget your chargers. It’s also more eco-friendly to use and print less paper.

Be prepared for emergencies. Remember that emergencies happen. Have an emergency packing list ready and posted in your home. It should include key items for you and your family, items for your safety and convenience, anything you need for your pets, and all your important documents prepacked in a duffel and ready to go at a moment’s notice. As the Girl Scouts say, “Be Prepared.”

Source: Forbes.com

Making the Best of Bleisure Travel

Have you heard of, or even taken advantage of, “bleisure” travel—when you combine a business trip with some leisure/vacation time? It’s a rising trend in the United States, according to a November 2017 study from Expedia.

Findings of bleisure travelers

The study conducted by Expedia Media Solutions and Luth Research revealed that:

  • 43 percent of business trips in the U.S. today are bleisure, with 70 percent of business travelers adding extra days to their trips at least once every two to three months.
  • Typically, business travelers only book their flights, hotels and transportation once dates are set, which means they book quicker than leisure travelers.
  • The study found that the length of stay for a bleisure traveler when compared to a business traveler increases from two nights to six-plus nights.
  • Business travelers value hotel location above all other criteria due to the need to be close to meetings and conferences.
  • Geographic location is also very important to bleisure travelers, with 66 percent of survey responders saying the location of the business trip is key to whether they add extra leisure days or not.
  • As a result, cities that attract the most bleisure travelers are common vacation destinations.
  • Other factors impacting the decision-making process include flexibility, star ratings, quality and comfort.

Traveldailynews.com offers tips on how to make the most of bleisure trips:

  1. Stay near the sights you want to see. It may seem cheaper to book a hotel away from the tourist district, but those car fares will add up more quickly than you expect. Instead, pay for a more centrally located hotel within walking distance of the places you want to see most. Plus, walking will allow you to truly soak up the culture.
  2. Don’t waste time in touristy gift shops. If you’ve seen one gift shop, you’ve seen them all, and many gift shops sell similar souvenirs in every city. If you want a memento of your trip, look for unique local shops with native items that really capture the flavor of the city you’re visiting.
  3. Avoid long lines if possible. Skip the typical tourist traps for a better overall experience. Do good research beforehand to find out the points of interest, and schedule tours, appointments, or reservations ahead of time to save time and reduce stress.
  4. Let your meals guide you. Think outside the hotel bar, and find a restaurant that offers the most local flavor. It’s your best bet for experiencing the area’s particular culture and cuisine. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask your hotel concierge for a few local recommendations.
  5. Book meetings strategically. If possible, schedule meetings on Mondays and Fridays (and never before 10 a.m.). This way, you have a reason to be in town for the weekend. Better yet, you don’t have to burn vacation days to do so. And when you avoid scheduling meetings before 10 a.m., you free up your mornings for a quick hike, some “me time” at the spa, or a cup of joe at an iconic coffeehouse.

Source: Travelpulse.com, Traveldailynews.com

Business Travelers Weigh In On Safety and Security

Business travel spending worldwide reached approximately $1.3 trillion in 2016 and is expected to rise to $1.6 trillion by 2020, according to Statista.

But while business travel increases annually, business travelers are experiencing more worry about safety and security in an increasingly unpredictable world.

Consider the CWT Connected Traveler Study, which was conducted by Carlson Wagonlit Travel from March 30-April 24, 2017. The survey collected data from more than 1,900 business travelers between the ages of 25-65 from the Americas (Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico and the United States), EMEA (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) and APAC (Australia, China, India, Japan and Singapore). To participate in the study, business travelers were required to have made more than four business trips within the past 12 months.

Main sources of worry

The results found that while more than one-third (37 percent) of European travelers are concerned about safety and security, their counterparts from other regions worry more. Travelers from the Americas said that nearly half (47 percent) of the time they worry about safety and security, while Asia Pacific travelers worry the most (56 percent).

“Despite recent terrorist attacks, business travelers say they’re more worried about other things, and that’s surprising,” said Simon Nowroz, Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s chief marketing officer. “We found that, yes, the world seems scarier at times, but travelers believe they have more tools at their disposal to keep them informed and safe.”

One in five travelers has cancelled a trip due to concerns about their safety and security. And 30 percent say they’re worried about their health and wellbeing when it comes to traveling.

Surprisingly, terrorism only ranks fifth (35 percent) among safety concerns, despite the high visibility of terrorist attacks. “Forgetting something needed for work” ranked higher (40 percent), as did “losing something important” (38 percent), “being robbed or attacked” (37 percent) – and even “weather conditions” (37 percent).

Differences among travelers

The study revealed some intriguing regional differences between the Americas, Asia Pacific (APAC), and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Only 7 percent of APAC travelers said they were “not concerned” about personal safety while traveling for business. That percentage rose to 12 percent for Americas travelers and 21 percent among EMEA travelers. This is reflected in the fact that APAC travelers appear to be better prepared, as more than half (52 percent) of APAC travelers maintain an up-to-date emergency contact profile compared to 38 percent in the Americas and only 34 percent in EMEA.

Feeling safer with technology

Interestingly, two-thirds (67 percent) of business travelers believe travel is safer today than in the past as they have more technology tools to stay aware of and mitigate safety concerns. Seven out of 10 travelers use at least one of their employer’s security protocols, such as traveler tracking or emergency contact profiles. And more than two-thirds (68 percent) buy travel insurance.

APAC travelers are also more likely to sign up for notifications of real-time risks (41 percent). Only 33 percent do in the Americas, while only 29 percent do from EMEA. APAC travelers were also more likely to know ahead of time about local medical or security services providers. More than a third (35 percent) of APAC travelers planned for these services ahead, versus 25 percent in the Americas and 20 percent in EMEA.

“Today’s travelers are sophisticated,” said Nowroz. “They’re signing up for alerts, they’re paying attention to the news and they use the available tools at their disposal. So while travel may seem risky, they’re taking steps to stay safe.”

Source: Hotelnewsresource.com, Statista

 

Flight Attendants Share Wisdom on Carry-On Bags

If you fly regularly, you know the annoyance of having to check bags, especially if you have to pay extra for them. Even worse is getting to your destination, tired and jet lagged, and realizing your luggage didn’t make it to the baggage claim. There is a better way — it’s called the carry-on bag.

What flight attendants and frequent fliers have known for years is that with the right bag and some smart packing techniques, you can cruise through security, onto the plane and out of the airport with ease.

Get a good carry-on bag.

It’s called a 22″ spinner carry-on bag. It’s the bag you see speedily rolling behind many pilots and flight attendants as they make their way to their next gate. Look for a sturdy, well-designed but lightweight bag with roomy pockets and a wide wheelbase. Spinner carry-ons get their name because of their four wheels. Bags with four wheels are easier to move around than those with just two. Airlines require carry-on bags that are small enough to fit under the seat or in the overhead compartment. Maximum size limits are typically 22″ long x 14″ wide x 9″ tall and 40 pounds. That’s why the 22″ spinner is a popular carry-on size. Most airlines allow you to carry on one small bag plus one personal item, including a laptop, purse or briefcase as long as it doesn’t exceed 36″ total and fits under the seat in front of you.

Understand what you can pack.

While you’re allowed to carry liquids, gels, and aerosols in your carry-on bag, there are restrictions you must be aware of before you pack. According to the Transportation Security Administration website, all liquids, gels, and aerosols must be in 3.4 ounce (100ml) or smaller containers. Larger containers that are half-full or rolled up are not allowed. All liquids, gels, and aerosols must be placed in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. Gallon size bags or bags that are not zip-top such as fold-over sandwich bags are not allowed. For more details about what you can carry on an airplane, visit TSA.gov/311.

Utilize all the space.

The key to maximizing space in a 22″ spinner carry-on is to roll your clothes into “tubes” instead of folding and stacking them like in a store. Rolling saves space and also helps prevent wrinkles. It’s also easier to select what you want to wear from your bag without unpacking the whole thing. Roll several items together to prevent more wrinkles. Don’t pack them in the carry-on bag as soon as you roll them. Once all the clothes are rolled, stand the carry-on up and pack heavier things such as shoes and books first at the wheel-end of the case so they don’t move around and crush the other items. One flight attendant claims she can pack clothes for 10 days by rolling instead of folding them. Another advocates the use of vacuum space saver bags.

Wear your nice, and harder to pack clothes and shoes on the plane. They won’t wrinkle or take up space in your carry-on. Even if you’re able to pack everything you want in the bag, keep in mind the typical 40 pound weight limit.