“So, You Travel a Lot?”

Yes, I travel a lot. Almost as often as I answer that question.

I just counted 210 days of travel this year (that’s almost 60% of my time). When you travel so much, you tend to take up a few habits to make traveling easier. Below are some of the things I do, and carry around, to keep things enjoyable for me. If you have any additional tips, I am very eager to learn about them!


I find all my simple flights (for one destination) with Hipmunk. It has a fantastic graphical interface that neatly shows airlines, duration, pricing, and everything else I need to know. I delegate the itineraries of complicated flights (multiple destinations) to an expert travel agent. That’s just too much work for me to figure out myself.


I import all the itineraries into TripIt, which keeps me updated about departure terminals and gates, flight changes, cancellations, and everything else. I also use it to store ticket numbers, confirmation codes, and hotel addresses, which are neatly synced to the TripIt app on my smartphone, so that I always have all essential information with me. It also keeps track of the points I accumulate across all airline alliances.


I have two passports. I travel so much that I cannot be without a passport while a Chinese embassy, Russian consulate, or other bureaucratic government body is doing its magic hand waving with visa stamps and visitor admission forms. I travel with both passports whenever possible, in different pieces of luggage, which means I should have less of a problem when one of them gets stolen.


I always travel with some paper magazines or a book. Painful experience has taught me there are always times when wi-fi doesn’t work, 3G doesn’t work, the tablet ran out of power or cannot be used (during take off and landing), and everything else involving electronics is either dead or illegal. Better to have some good old-fashioned sheets of trees around, just in case.


The “manbag” is one of the best inventions ever. I can walk around all day with it, carrying my tablet, sometimes a small netbook, pens, travel documents, magazines, etc. I have a fetish for the Tumi brand. It’s expensive, but worth every euro I spend on it. Tumi bags have more pockets than there are lawyers in US congress. Which means I have lost items more than once, simply because they were in a pocket of which I simply didn’t remember its existence.


I nowadays try to travel with a netbook and ultrabook and smartphone and tablet. (Though I lost the charger cable of my netbook, which is therefore sadly missing on my current trip.) Yes, I know it is overkill. But for me work is my life, and therefore the digital world is part of my well-being. If one device fails, I simply utter a curse, switch to another, and move on.


Speaking of cables… One thing that always annoyed me tremendously is when the cables of my many devices got entangled in my suitcase. Which was like, always. Until I discovered the merits of little zipper bags. Voila, problem solved! They are also perfect for keeping foreign currencies, and things that smell. Which is sometimes the same thing.


And then there’s of course a myriad of apps that I use on all devices. I can live (for a few days) without most of them, except Gmail+Contacts+Calendar, Dropbox, Evernote, Remember The Milk, and HootSuite. And Amazon Kindle. Oh, and Spotify of course, which has completely replaced my need for carrying around my own MP3’s, since I discovered its Download List feature.


Finally, needless to say, I have some stuff that I always carry around for my physical self. This includes thick socks, extra shoes, a pair of glasses, a laundry bag, etc. And of course my wonderful Bowers & Wilkins headphones with sheep skin ear muffs. Hmmmm….

What about you?

What are your travel needs and habits?


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  • http://www.starsmedia.com Guntram Bechtold

    Really a nice and personal post!
    Thank you!
    Best regards

  • http://profile.typepad.com/claire16 Claire

    We’ve been blogging travel tips every Friday on our blog: http://www.global-integration.com/blog.
    We’d love you to add your thoughts. Today’s is on tips for getting through specific airports more quickly/less stressfully, but other weeks we’ve covered things like travelling light, boarding first or last etc.
    I hope you’ll come and share your experience – our training team works with people who, like you, travel a lot for their jobs (and indeed travel a lot ourselves) so the more we share with each other, the better.
    (Claire, Global Integration)

  • http://www.jbrains.ca J. B. Rainsberger

    Some tips from my two years of extensive travel.
    Electronics Survival Bag. Pack the bare minimum of electronics you need to work with your client in a single bag, then pack all the rest however you like. For me, this includes my laptop, European and North American power cords, USB/ethernet adapter, display adapter, 2 little USB drives or SD cards. I carry this bag with me at all times. If I lose everything else, then at least I don’t have to go shopping before I meet with my client the first day.
    Two Backup Drives. Yes, two. I have two bootable backups at all times. One stays with me, usually in my manbag, and the other stays in the hotel safe or with my wife. This would have helped me when I left my laptop bag on a train from Stockholm to Linköping, as I would have been able to commandeer my wife’s laptop and use my data. Good news: Sarah was willing to travel to Linköping to pick up the bag for me and had it back to the hotel before I finished work for the day.
    iPad + movies or TV shows. The iPad makes for a great entertainment on the flights from Paris to Bangalore or Frankfurt to Hong Kong, as I can watch 10-14 hours of movies and TV without running out of battery power.
    Another Human. Pair travel works great. Aside from the obvious companionship benefits: someone to talk to while on the road and to come “home” to at the end of the day, there is someone to figure out where to eat, where to shop for groceries, and, of course, to fetch the laptop that I stupidly left on a train.
    TripAdvisor. Find hotels and restaurants that don’t suck.
    Also, a vote for Kayak in addition to Hipmunk for finding flights.
    Finally, a big YES to at least one piece of printed reading material that you will enjoy. The rest can be electronics.

  • http://www.rainsberger.ca Sarah Rainsberger

    Contribution from “Another Human” (specifically for extended trips):
    1. Travel cutlery. At some point, you are not going to want to drag yourself to yet another restaurant. Having bare minimum utensils in the hotel room is perfect for leftovers or tackling those grocery store pre-cooked chickens. (We also travel with a couple of very cheap plastic plates.)
    2. An all-purpose natural cleaning liquid that can work as a jack-of-all trades: dish soap, laundry soap, fruit/veggie wash, eyeglass soaking etc. Perfect for both laundry in the sink and washing that travel cutlery. Also convenient if you’re at all concerned about the produce you might buy locally.
    3. Corkscrew. (Since we take extended trips, we do check bags and we can pack sharp items.) Also, a small eyeglass screwdriver has saved us a number of times.
    4. Printed business cards specifically for replacing the generic ID cards that come in the luggage ID slots. Our cards have all our contact information but not home address, since that’s not helpful as we’re wandering around Europe. Instead, I have a spot to be filled in by hand each trip that says, “If this bag is delayed, please deliver to: ______ no later than: _____” The bottom of the card also says, “See reverse for travel itinerary.” For each trip, I list our destination (usually a hotel) and the date before we check out. (I don’t want bags to go to the hotel if they are so “delayed” that they’ve missed the whole trip!) On the back of each card, I list the exact flight numbers for this and the following stop, including the next destination, should the bag be extremely delayed.
    5. A universal power bar that can accept any input. We may need one travel adaptor to plug in the power bar itself, but after that, any item can be used in the power bar. This is important because in some hotel rooms, you may be unplugging their lamp or clock to gain access to the one available outlet in the room. But, you may wish for that lamp or clock to remain functional. We can plug in any of our own electronics or their items into this power bar.
    6. If travelling to the same country frequently, a second power cord for important devices specifically for use in that country. Most hotel rooms (although not all, and I’m looking at you, CDG Airport Sheraton!) can accept bulky travel adaptors. But, places like the train may have recessed or awkwardly-placed power outlets that can’t. We purchased a separate EU power cord for our laptops, and since our phones came from Germany, the USB power charger is also of the EU format. Our laptops and phones (or anything charging via USB) can be natively plugged in anywhere in North America or in the European countries we’re most likely to find ourselves. Strangely, this also came in handy on a trans-Atlantic flight where our North American plugs could not draw power from the universal outlet on the plane, but our EU cords could. (Or the other way around.)

  • http://www.horizonfuelcell.com Justin

    For most of the electrical equipment we drag along, juice is most often the issue. I have found a great high tech solution for at least the USB chargeable equipment:
    Horizon Fuel Cell’s MiniPak!
    With rechargeable HydroStik hydrogen cartridges.
    Simply amazing and you can take the (low pressure) hydrogen cartridges on planes, so not a problem.
    Check it out here:

  • http://lancewicks.com Lance

    thanks for this post. My travel amounts have ramped up quite a bit the past 18 months or so and I’m always looking for real world experience and advice (as opposed to tips articles by people who pretty obviously don’t travel much).
    I love tripit for the reasons you mention, and have slowly been migrating from backpack on wheels hand luggage to something manbag-ish a small laptop/messenger bag. I’d be interested on your thoughts about manbag size vs. larger size bags.
    My best purchase to date has been noise canceling headphones (Bose QC15s in my case), really made me aware of the noise on planes and in airports.
    Also I found changing from a standard hard disk to a SSD was a great move. It seems to have really extended the battery life of my laptop which was not why I bought it, but has been a major bonus that I appreciate now.
    Thanks for the post, going to go looking at manbags tomorow I think.
    If time permits, I would be really interested to learn about what hold luggage you use. I am just about to buy (yet another) bag and am considering what to buy.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jurgenappelo Jurgen Appelo

    Manbag: Tumi Arrivé, McCarren zip top crossbody
    Just the right size to hold a tablet+small netbook plus some business cards, pens and USB sticks.
    Hold: Tumi Arrivé, De Gaulle international carry-on, in combination with Tumi T-Pass

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jurgenappelo Jurgen Appelo

    Great tip, thanks!

  • http://www.areyouagile.com Pablo

    Hi Jurgen,
    Thanks, I will try tripit.
    For sure I’m travelling less than you, and mainly by train (France, Switzerland, England). Let’s say 1 or 2 times/hotel per week.
    So my tips are (only permitted if you travel by train) :
    The skeletool from Leatherman.
    Very useful in multiple ways. Even to remove my credit card stuck in vending.
    And at least some aspirin. :p

  • Eddy Bruin

    great tips on travelling 🙂 Like Hipmunk, very clear website. The only thing you need left on your journey is a connection to the internet. If only wifi just didn’t stop working all the time 😉

  • http://lancewicks.com Lance

    Hi again,
    thanks for the info on luggage. Might get me a Tumi manbag.
    Sat at Heathrow… they have a Tumi shop. 🙂

  • http://www.runningmyhouse.com Dave

    Hi. My travel is way down, but when I do, I tend to have very long days with plenty of walking and standing for presentations. If I have the space I bring spare shoes. If I don’t have the space, spare insoles. If you change these after lunch it greatly reduces the stress on the legs. When I get back to the room, I air them all out and soak my feet in the hottest water I can stand for ten minutes while reading the magazine brought.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/melvinperezcx MelvinPerezCx

    Good travel tips! (augmented with comments)
    I have found these Shelves-to-Go (http://www.skymall.com/shopping/detail.htm?pid=203375195&c=10930) very convenient.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • rob johnstone

    Thanks Jurgen and everyone else who posted, great ideas one and all. To keep my packing life simple (and fast too) I have standardized my wardrobe thus reducing the thinking and planning necessary. Pants in shades of grey, shirts with little or no pastern in simple colours, predominantly white. Dull perhaps, easy for sure.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/ewokbbq Ewok_BBQ

    Hi Jurgen,
    Thanks for this post. At last count I have traveled about 160+ nights this year so just a novice as compared to you. 😉
    Here are my comments as it relates to your post:
    (a) Of course I am using TripIt. Those who aren’t don’t know what they are missing.
    (b) I agree with the paper reading materials. Often times I will stop in at the airport and just buy a mag or book that seems interesting, primarily because I hate carrying things due to a previous back injury.
    (c) Luggage wise – I am a huge fan of Boyt which was recommended to me by the Portland Travel Store near my hometown. Boyt tends to be low profile but with their quality and lifelong guarantees it will withstand what most road warriors can put it through.
    (d) I am a huge fan of loyalty programs. From my point of view – it doesn’t quite matter which one, but when you are doing 100,000 miles+ a year it’s important for the little perks that make the airport and surrounding experiences less hectic. To me – pick a hotel chain, an airline and a car rental place and just be loyal and reap the rewards. The more you go back – the better the customer experience is – of course – the first year will be the most difficult.
    (e) I don’t take a laundry bag – instead I just steal one from the 1st hotel I get to and put my dirty clothes and smelly stuff in there.
    (f) Since I am on a losing weight kick I pack gym clothes and gym shoes. I usually segregate this stuff into different pockets in my luggage.
    (g) I only have the 1 passport, now with extended pages. I think it’s great to see all those stamps in one place. I can definitely see your point about getting VISAs / permits,etc. It’s a pain and time consuming.
    I split my strategy at 5 hours in the air. If over 5 hours:
    (a) I pack my Bose headset.
    (b) I try to upgrade (using miles + cash) to business class. The SFO to HKG route is hell in coach.
    (c) I always take 2 sets of power – one based on the US standard and one on the greater Europe standard.
    (d) I try my hardest to use the train or bus options versus the taxi options. At first – travel was overwhelming and difficult – but now it’s gotten to the point of being fun and an adventurous – so what’s better than arriving into HND and trying to find your hotel using a subway. 
    (e) I travel in my gym shoes. Yep – it may look silly but on long flights to large airports it’s nice to wear super comfortable gym shoes because you know that there will be a lot of walking.
    (f) I’ve been doing some research and my understanding is that for those of us who travel a lot in the air blood clots are more common. As such – things like compression pants and socks are a good idea. For some fun – check out what your pants say about you as an airline passenger here: http://bit.ly/11qqCK9
    If under 5 hours:
    (a) I will try not to carry my laptop with me in fact now I usually don’t even take a carry on – I check everything instead.  My smartphone is smart enough to tell me if there is an issue so I just trust it to do its job and then I grab a mag from a store and disregard at the end of the flight. EZ – PZ. I’ve never lost my checked luggage – so it has never been an issue. Everyone seems to get confused when you walk through security with nothing but a magazine.
    (b) I use the iphone headset vs. the Bose – less to carry.
    As a US citizen I cant help but stress how great the new Customs and Boarder Protection (CBP) program is for frequent international travelers called Global Entry: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1035/~/global-entry-program The program is essentially a kiosk where you get through the border crossing in minutes rather than hours using a biometric scan. Soon this program will be leveraged by the TSA and hopefully by other governments (eg. Australia)… Best of all it makes for great cocktail talk when you whip out your ‘global entry’ card at a party. 
    It would be great if you did a Top 10 Best / Worst airport post or top 10 best/worst Itin’s.
    Cheers –
    PS – I am working internally around next steps for that other thing we are doing.

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