I was asked recently by a friend who will as soon as lockdown ends be starting a new job and doing a stupid amount of travelling for work about the right gear for stupid amounts of travelling. So based on 1,100 flights and over 3,000 nights in hotel rooms here are my answers in blog form.
Shirts: Tm Lewins are the business and for lots of travel try the thicker ones.
Jumpers. You need a jumper handy, especially if you need to turn a suit into casual in a rough part of town. Gannt Jumpers roll up nicely into cabin luggage!
Footwear – Dr Martens are business here. I prefer the black 9 hole boot as gives more support to the ankle. Perfect for long days on the move.
Jacket/Coat. You need a decent jacket or coat handy whatever the weather and whatever else you are wearing. For the winter Musto Offshore sailing Jackets are the business. These will keep you warm and toasty anywhere. Berghaus for spring and summer and a decent Trespass job for the summer that will fit in the luggage nicely are the top tips.
Luggage. Two answers here based on the fact that I sometimes need different configurations. For a 2 compartment carry on (cabin size) use Eastpak. For a single compartment carry on Samsonite is the only way to go. These are not cheap at around £100 a bag but they are worth it. One of my Samsonites is still going strong 15 years later! You can fit 7 days of clothes including 2 suits in these!
Briefcase/Backpack. Wenger it is baby! My briefcases used to get knocked about more often than a domestic violence victim! You need the laptop and the tools safe and Wenger kit lasts longer than others. I will say here that I have found the main industry leader, Targus to be crap. I would have to change these bags after about six months in the early days at about £50 a pop. I have 3 Wenger bags and carry the one that suits the most. The large backpack for when I need shed loads of kit. A traditional style laptop bag for the large laptop and a padfolio style bag for just me, the lightweight laptop and some paperwork. This bad boy has enough space in the main compartment for my paperwork, my tablet, my 11.6 inch slimline laptop and a few other bits. It has one side compartment that will take some chargers, a spare hard drive, USB sticks and my filofax!. It also has a side flap on the other side that will perfectly fit a copy of the Financial Times!
The trick is to be as light as possible. Try also to keep luggage on the opposite side to the hand you write with as this will make life easier opening doors, signing documents and answering phone calls on the move!
Let’s move on to some tech stuff and keep it brief! I have tons of tech blogs here! If you are going to be doing shed loads of travelling do try and get the lightest laptop you can get away with. I swear by a lightweight Lenovo with an 11.6 inch screen. If checking into Easyjet flights late at night at Prague Airport please be aware that the usual security scanning guy has a fetish for these laptops! No joke! For Android tablets, I go for Samsung. I would use a Samsung mobile phone if they were not stupidly expensive for a high-performance model. Motorola does it better and cheaper. Memory sticks and cards. I swear by Sandisk and my external hard drives are by Western Digital.
I was also asked about the good and bad in airlines and hotels. I have written blogs about this and could easily write a few hundred more. Bad airlines again lots of blogs either written or not! Start with British Airways for a poor airline and go from there. These guys have been kicked off my preferred supplier list twice and would have made it a third time over the recent data breach (which I was affected by) if I had not been banned from flying! I have said this before. Easyjet seems to be getting a lot of the key things that business travellers really want right these days. Bad Hotels? There have been so many. I will however lambast a UK chain for been overtly crap. Travelodge! I simply cannot stand them. The rooms are generally cold, worn and unpleasant. As for the staff, I have my doubts that some of them know the definition of or can spell some of the longer words used in this blog. If I have racked up over 30 nights in a hotel it is generally good and if I have racked up over 100 nights in one hotel it is usually pretty good!
Some other top tips. Keep a load of sachets of instant Nescafe in your bag. The hotels are usually stingy with coffee and if like me you are not awake until your third coffee you will use the hotel allowance up and still be half asleep! The same goes for teabags if you drink that stuff! Also, Cuppa Soup works the same way. Great for a quick snack. Be warned though, customs staff at Geneva airport get very curious about these sachets, so be prepared to explain cuppa soup to them very, very slowly. If you pack right too you can fit catering packs of biscuits into the luggage bags mentioned above without them being broken in transit. Very good if you are stuck in some hell hole where the idea of haute cuisine is a dodgy kebab! I won’t name and shame certain northeast England hell holes that fit this bill in this blog!
Some hotels use restricted wifi, free for a certain time, after which you have to pay. Top tip here. Check the back of the telly! If it has an ethernet cable attached and many do, pull it out of the back of the telly and plug it into the laptop! This often works but speeds can be variable.
So here are some short and simple answers to the question. What are decent tools and tips for stupid amounts of European business travel?