I've been very fortunate enough to have travelled a lot in the past 6 years in my roles as a Consultant at both Red Hat, Canonical and now Eucalyptus, but also for holidays. Those countries have included: Philippines, India, Australia, USA (San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Florida), Canada (Montreal), South Africa, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, Poland... to name a few!
Suffice to say, when you spend a bit of time "on the road", you learn a few tricks to help make life a bit easier. This blog post is a break from my technical posts to impart a few of those tricks on you, the public.
do you have any tips? I'd love to hear them, stick them in the comment box below!
If you buy the cheapest case you find, you will need a new one within a few trips.
I tend to go through one suitcase every 1-2 years if I'm lucky or perhaps sooner. That being said, do not go out and buy the most expensive one like a Samsonite. Avoid airport shops, they tend to be very overpriced. Samsonite cases are great cases but the prices aren't representative of the quality and they will not necessarily last you any longer and of course they are a great target for thieves.
My recommendation is to search around buying something in the mid-range prices. I like Delsey cases or Swiss gear as you can get a very good quality one for around $100 and it will last. Also, make sure you get one that fits in the overhead cabin - even if you check your bags in, you want to have the option to carry it onto the plane if you are running late.
Lastly, Avoid anything with huge zips (they will break off!) or any dangling bits - think about what could get trapped in machinery.
Love them or hate them, they will become somewhere you spend a lot of time!
I prefer to get there early and check baggage (it's generally free in Europe unless you fly with a low budge airline) some prefer to come late and take carry on baggage only. I hate the fight for cabin space, so if I just take my laptop bag on-board I know I can get it under the seat and that my clothes are checked in. Generally, it depends on how long you are going away for. For me consulting engagements are around 5 days or longer so I need a bigger bag.
If you live in London, then you can avoid Heathrow by travelling via Gatwick or London City, both of which I find to be quicker to get to and have a lot less people around and consequently this makes them much less hassle. However, Gatwick does have a lot of holiday makers - beware of the school holidays! London City airport tends to be my favourite due to the majority of people there travelling for business, no families to avoid or screaming babies! :-)
If you haven't see Up in the Air then rent/buy/stream it - it has some great tips for airport queues.
Priority Pass is a lounge access card to get you into the 3rd party (non-airline) lounges. I highly recommend it if you are travelling a lot. It'll help to stop you spending money in the shops and it gives you a quiet, clean, comfortable place to sit and work in and includes free wifi access & alcohol - need I say more?
The UK lounges tend to be operated by "ServisAir", which tends to mean they are a bit dated, however at Heathrow Terminal 3 and Gatwick you can enter the "No 1. Travellers Lounge" which in my opinion is much better. Heathrow Terminal 5 does not have a Priority Pass lounge though, so if you travel British Airways, you are stuffed. In airports outside of the UK it's a bit hit and miss, but generally I find you get more access into airline specific lounges and that the overall quality is very good.
Coffee & Tea
"Life is too short for bad coffee" - Hasbean.co.uk
I love coffee, I love tea and I hate the fact that every hotel has poor coffee and only fruit teas (with some exceptions!)
The best way to ensure you get good coffee and tea is to bring it yourself!
I bring a bag of PG Tips everywhere I go, it gives me a taste of what I have at home and is 100x better than the Lipton tea which seems to be present in every European hotel (and which British people never drink, ever!) although finding fresh milk can sometimes be a challenge.
For Coffee, I highly recommend buying an Aerobie Aeropress - a fantastic coffee brewing gadget that is very compact and will fit nicely in your suitcase. Coupled with a Porlex ceramic grinder to grind your beans in the morning, it is the best solution I've come across and makes wonderful coffee. The bonus is that the grinder and Aeropress fit perfectly together, to take up even less space in your suitcase!
I buy my beans from HasBean and can't recommend them enough. All beans are roasted the day before they send them to you and they have a large selection direct from the coffee plantations with lots of videos and tasting notes.
Most high-end hotels have a pristine gym, mainly because nobody ever uses them! Take advantage of them when you can.
If I'm going somewhere for a few weeks I like to find a quieter hotel - they tend to have better Internet connections! This can mean the hotel does not have a gym, which is how I started running.
I like to run barefoot or minimalist and instead of taking up precious suitcase space with some trainers, I use these great minimalist running sandals or huaraches from XeroShoes, they are very light-weight, compact and the do-it-yourself kits are very cheap.
Most hotels, airlines and other organisations offer Loyalty cards to collect points. My advise is to sign up for every single one of them. Why? Well, you are travelling on company dime... it costs you nothing to collect them. I've had free flights, free hotel rooms and upgrades from them without spending a penny of my own money!
I don't have a preference on which airline to travel on, however Star Alliance will cover a wider range of airlines and it's much easier to move up the membership levels than the British Airways / One World club.
My top tip is for hotels.com if you book your own hotel rooms, as you get a free nights stay for every 10 nights and can spend it in any of the hotels.com hotels and that tends to be thousands.
That long airport wait...
What's your favourite TV series? Load them up onto your tablet or laptop in case you get stuck in an airport or load up a set of books onto your Kindle.
I find that TV episodes coupled with the Priority Pass card, help me wind away those hours of delays.
Last but not least, are you having trouble finding your travel plug and swapping it between your gadgets? Worry no more and just take a 4-way socket extension lead, which you can use one travel adapter for and then plug in all your gadgets using your native socket type, simple!