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Smart travel

Smart travel

Although we’ve occasionally indulged in some luxury travel (usually when I was on a YPO-sponsored trip), in general I try to find a balance between being extraordinarily cheap and not being in danger of robbery, vermin or disease. I’m known to stay in a nearby hotel to avoid an inflated conference rate and to spend an extra hour scouring the Interwebs to find a deal.

I don’t think of it as miserly — it just seems to me that any dollar spent above a certain equilibrium point is better spent on entertainments, local food or drink. You know, the reasons one travels.

Thinking about this tonight, I thought I’d share a couple travel tips / observations, one somewhat city-specific and the other more general.

The “best” hotel is not the best hotel: I’m not suggesting a Motel 6 or an old HoJo, but almost any major city has a good discount hotel that delivers the important amenities without the fluff. For instance, in New York (2 locations) and Philly, we love the Club Quarters. For around $110, you get nice comfortable king-sized beds with nice, practical amenities, rather than useless fluff.

What’s a smart amenity? Good, free no-registration WiFi is an obvious one. Less common, but much appreciated are a chilled filtered water station with bottles by the elevator. Ditto the nearby closets filled with extra pillows, towels and irons / ironing boards, all available without calling anyone.

Here’s the one that amazed me: The deskside TV has neatly-tucked-away VGA, RGB and audio cables. As I type, I’m watching a movie on my TV, streaming over the WiFi from my home computer, and then carried over VGA to the TV. I can’t imagine that this isn’t a standard feature in every business class hotel room.

(By the way, the concept of streaming a movie from my home collection without anything but an iPad and a hotel TV is extremely geek-out making.)

The key to happy travel is a great travel jacket: I hate fumbling around with taking stuff in and out of bags, and find my general piece of mind while traveling to be inversely proportional to the amount of crap I have to keep track of, particularly while flying.

The fact that I also have myriad gadgets, gizmos and geegaws that I haul around means that I’m historically a pretty grouchy traveler. But some months ago, I bought a jacket from J Peterman that has made traveling a joy. (Note that pictured and linked jacket is not the exact one I have, but the closest one they currently sell.)

It’s warm enough for cool weather but not too hot for mildly warm weather. It has a gazillion big pockets to hold and organize keys, phone, headphones, tickets, chargers, snacks and just about anything else. It came with a big back flap sewed shut, presumably just there for air circulation. I had it modified at the dry cleaner to replace the stitch points with velcro and use that pocket to carry my iPad and travel pillow with enough room leftover that I could theoretically pack in a change of clothes. I do day trips without carrying anything that doesn’t go in the coat. And on the plane I have easy access to everything I could want.


Note: This is my first post made using Blogsy, the first app I’ve seen that makes blogging in WordPress from an iPad anything less than a complete pain in the ass. It’s very good, and like many good iPad apps makes the experience better than the desktop in many ways. My only complaint is that it doesn’t yet support custom theme fields like featured image, so this post may lack one until I get home. Still, highly recommended.


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