Surviving Travel Challenges

September 27, 2009

Here’s the scenario : You’re traveling to a tropical island for business or pleasure, say Bali (Indonesia). Unfortunately, your suitcase doesn’t arrive, and at the Lost Luggage Desk you have difficulty describing your belongings. What’s more, your wallet, which contained your passport, was stolen, so you can’t even identify yourself. Is there anything you could have done to prepare for this nightmare situation?

Yes, there is! Look at this great SlideShare presentation and find out what to do when you are in trouble when traveling:

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Handle With Care

September 11, 2009

handluggageA lot of people travel these days. More and more people are flying towards a well-deserved vacation or that golden business opportunity abroad. This blogpost is about the first things you could put in your handluggage. Several simple, easy-to-use Genius Shortcuts that will improve the actual trip for you. It’s a practical list that I put together myself. Most items saved my life (ok, I admit, at least a lot of frustration and wasted time 🙂 ) more than once.

What to put in your handluggage?
1. USB Memory stick : it’s easy to put on extra files or exchange them with people you meet. Make sure your commercial info is on it. I also keep some extra free space on my MP3-player (or iPod), just in case.
2. World-travel plug : wherever you go, you can at least plug in any of your devices and recharge them! If you are bringing several electronical tools (Laptop, Camera, Mobile, PDA…), you might bring 2 of those!
3. Multibox or multiplug : an easy, lightweight solution to your multiple devices. Sometimes the number of plugs is limited. If you bring a multibox or multiplug, you can charge multiple at the same time. I personally have 3 plugs in my multiplug (more tend to become too big to handle).
4. A bottle of water (0.5 liter) : with the severe airport security measures nowadays, you might carry an empty one and refill it after the security check or buy a new one. Staying hydrated is so important. Of course, if it’s empty, you can keep it, because you can refill it, not necessarily with water 🙂 Some airlines have a great service and serve you a can of beer or small bottle of wine. In case you don’t drink it all immediately, you can always put some in your empty bottle. Of course, some others (not you of course) would do that and ask another one…I leave that up to you. The thing is, just bring the bottle! And imagine that after arriving you have to wait (sometimes quite some time) at immigration or for your suitcases to arrive, you can still enjoy a drink. You are taking it easy while the rest are getting impatient and sweaty…
5. 2 ballpointpens and a (small) notebook : A moleskine, an atoma notebook or post-it notes are perfect for taking (small) notes or messages. Also exchanging messages becomes a lot easier when you have these at hand…Why 2 pens? Actually, so you can both write at the same time (saves time!) and in case one pen stops writing…
6. Pocket change : I suggest to have a small amount of pocket change available (€ 5, £ 5, $ 5…) and a note of € 10 in the little pocket of your jeans (or other pants). This way, you don’t have to take out your wallet. Potential thieves might see what amount of money you are carrying. With the pocket change, you can pay for whatever small purchase or tip is needed.
7. 2 Paperclips : you wouldn’t believe how handy this little things really are! Especially to tie or fix something. You can even use it as a zippertab or untie something that is stuck (not necessarily combined with that tab 🙂 )
8. powerbar or chocolate : I recommend to bring something to eat like a powerbar or piece of chocolate (yes, I am from the land of chocolate 🙂 ) You never know how long it will take or how long you’ll be standing in that row or be delayed. Even if you didn’t bring any money, you can still keep your energy high. Normally I’d advise you to bring fruit, but in several countries its against the law to take them with you (e.g. New Zealand) when travelling.
9. Something to read : I already wrote about strategies to avoid wasting more time and so, bring a magazine, a local newspaper, a book or even Sudoku puzzles. Time invested well passes more quickly and you might gain some time actually. Of course, a laptop could help too.
10. Shoelaces : you can always use them as a washing line, to tie something (e.g. instead of your belt) and of course as your next pair of shoelaces if the others broke.

Let me know what else you put in your handluggage. I am really curious now…

Oh, before I forget : bring some deo or perfume (in small dose like a tester?). After a couple hours (days?) of traveling you smell. And you probably want to avoid a “Psshht” experience!


Travel Pack

August 30, 2009

Some people love it, others hate it: Packing before going on holiday or travel in general.

I love to travel and gathered several interesting tips for you, also suitable for business traveling.

Travel TipsThere are several things you can do before leaving home. Others are more adequate during travel or on the actual trip and finally some tips are about the first steps upon your arrival. In order to optimize this article, I created 3 parts, one for each phase of traveling.

So this article focuses on 12 useful tips before you are actually leaving.

1. Create a full backup of your portable. Use your corporate backup system or save your data on a spare harddisk, dvds, etc. Probably the best way is to perform an online backup (I personally use Mozy.com).
2. Scan all your important documents (flight tickets, hotel vouchers…) and make pictures of your passport, drivers license, credit cards, etc. Create a compressed file (zip, rar…) and encrypt it (or at least put a password on it!). Email this file to yourself, so that you can access it through your webmail. Very handy in case some of your documents get stolen or lost! Lifesaver! Extra how-to info
3. Bank token : Some time ago, my bank decided to change the online payment policy. Every time I want to book and pay something online and using my credit card for it, I need a special token (Digipass) to approve the transaction. Regardless of the fact that a lot more secure and more efficient measures exist, I now need to take this token with me, everywhere I go. Quite ridiculous, but if I want to re-book or pay something online with my credit card, I can’t get it done without (unless I go for Paypal, but it’s not always accepted yet) that token.
4. Extra plastic bag : pretty handy whenever you need to carry something extra with you. I know that some shops give you one when you buy something. I sometimes take 2 with me. A small, light-version and a more heavy-duty model. You can also use it to put your wet clothes in (I like to swim before going back home) or an extra souvenir or … It can be handy to use these when your hand-luggage is slightly over-weighed or too big, just put it in an extra plastic bag. You’ ll get away with it in most cases!
5. Pocket change. I always advise to take with you some pocket change, both your own currency (flight delayed?) as the one of your destination. If you have a little amount of the local currency with you (like 100 or 200 €, £ or $), you can immediately leave the airport when you arrive. Otherwise you first need to change money there. Always bad rates! And even while you are waiting for your suitcases, you can buy a drink or snack or give a tip to the bellboys, etc. You pay them in their currency, which is cheaper than to do that in your own currency!
6. Bring your business cards : I agree, a classic one, but often forgotten! Even on holidays, you never know who you run into. Can be the deal or prospect you’ve been waiting for!
7. Save weight : think twice before leaving home : take out extra loyalty cards, leave all keys besides your home keys (and carkeys?). You won’t need them at your destination! Also extra papers like bills, drivers licence (if unlikely you’ll rent-a-car), coupons… can be taken out of your wallet. Unnecessary to take them with you! Some people even have 2 wallets : home-version and travel-version.
8. Credit Cards : 2 types of credit card is always handy: Visa, MC, AmEx… If one doesn’t work, the other probably will. Happened to me! By the way, in some countries there is a significant difference between Visa and Mastercard, just that you know…
9. Park your car at airport? Make a picture of where you park your car. When you return just review the picture. Don’t loose time looking for your car…now where did I park it? Right!
10. Inform neighbours, family and friends : Let your neighbours and family know you’ll be traveling (if no one’s home). Also let the Police know. They make extra surveillance rounds in some areas if they know you’re on holiday…You might even ask your neighbours or family to empty your letter box, making it less obvious for thiefs that you are not at home!
11. Visa required : Is there a visa required for the country you travel to? Better check this upfront. You don’t want to arrive at your destination without the proper papers to enter the country. At least a lot of timewasting and in some cases you are not allowed to enter the country.
12 Spare battery : It’s always handy to have a spare battery for your mobile. Whenever there is no plug at hand, you can at least still communicate with the outside world.  Of course, a spare battery for your laptop helps too 🙂

What interesting travel tips do you have ? I invite you to share them here. Thanks!