I got back from San Francisco just in time to be snowed in here in New Jersey. It was the quickest trip to the West Coast that I have ever taken but it was actually the easiest.
I don’t tend to do a tremendous amount of traveling. In an average year I’ll be on a plane four or six times maximum. I am, however, currently in the midst of an unusual period that has me flying quite a bit more than usual. In the last 3 1/2 weeks I have been on six different flights and I have another trip coming up in about two weeks. It has given me an opportunity to “refine” my approach to air travel while, at the same time, giving me a greater appreciation for some of the technologies and services that can make travel just a bit easier. And with air travel being as obnoxious as it is, anything that makes traveling a bit easier is a welcome addition.
First up — prior to leaving I wrote about the booq Taipan lift checkpoint friendly laptop bag. As I noted in my preview of the bag, it is well designed and constructed and has a host of friendly features that make it a great bag for travel. I used it for my quick trip to San Francisco the other day and was “wowed” by three of its main features. First, I love the fact that you can open the bag just enough to reach inside and get what you need without having to open the bag entirely. Second, The design of the bag lets it slip securely over the handle of a rolling bag. Since I was not checking any bags, having the laptop bag secured to the larger one made walking through the airport far far easier.
Perhaps more significantly, however, I love the fact that with two simple motions you can un-snap the internal straps that keep it from opening completely so that it lies flat on the conveyor belt when going through security. The checkpoint friendly feature of this bag is fantastic. On both legs of my trip I was able to open the bag up and have it go through security without having to hassle with pulling my MacBook Pro out, putting it into a bin, sending it through the scanner, taking it out of the bin, and putting it back in the bag. In this case it was “snap, scan, go”. The ease and smoothness with which I was able to get through security in both directions thanks to the Taipan lift added just enough ease to my trip to make the journey a bit more relaxing.
Second –I just can’t say enough about Scottevest’s products. I wear one of my SEV jackets pretty much everyday but appreciate them more than ever when I’m traveling. Because the jackets have so many pockets it’s easy to “lose” something and have to spend a few minutes trying to find out which pocket you put it in but, fortunately, I’ve developed a “system” when I travel. I know which pocket gets which item so that my wallet is always in one specific pocket, my boarding pass is in another, and my iPhone and cash in others. Where the jacket comes in especially handy is that when I come to the checkpoint I never have to empty my pockets because there’s nothing in my pockets. Everything is in my Scottevest. Preparing to go through security was as simple as taking off my jacket.
Third — Tripit!!!!! Judie turned me on to Tripit a few months back, and boy am I glad she did.
She explained the service this way…
The way Tripit works is that I just forward my flight and hotel confirmation emails to a special email address, and the program creates a web-based itinerary which tracks my flights, hotels, meetings, etc.. Tripit creates an .ics file that I can import into my Google Calendar, and there is also an iPhone application. There is a free version of Tripit available for people who don’t need the flight delay alerts or alternate flight info, but after this trip, I can say that I definitely think the differences between the Free and Pro versions are worth the price.
There were two times when my subscription to Tripit more than paid for itself. First, when I got to the airport on Sunday and had just cleared security I got pinged that my flight’s gate had changed. It saved me from walking in the wrong direction… nice! In addition, on Monday morning the service pinged me that I would be able to do online checking in about 15 minutes. That reminder let me jump on the Continental site as soon as the flight was “live” and move my seat from a middle “standard seat” to a window in the exit row. At 6′ 1″ the added legroom makes a huge difference.
These three travel aids each made a small difference and, together, made the trip far nicer than normal. Do you have any travel tips to share? I would love to hear them!