Dear Yanni...Best Business Travel Gadgets?
In this week's column, Yanni discusses business travel gadgets and how to deal with medications while on the road.
I want to up my business travel game in the New Year, but I’m not sure where to start. I see gadgets and services that sound too good to be true advertised all over the place. How do I know what’s worth the cost? Any suggestions?
- Gadget Giddy in Green Bay
Ah, yes, the tricks of advertising can often lead you down the wrong path. Here are some of my recommendations for products and services ideal for business travelers.
Dufl – Imagine a world where you don’t have to pack again. Dufl is taking one of the major pain points and time/fun/energy sucks out of business travel by offering a service with a virtual closet that you ship your clothes to, then you get to pick and choose what you need for a trip from the app and find it waiting at your destination. This is brilliant if you are a frequent business traveler with set schedules for travel in advance. This eliminates jamming your life into a carryon bag and picking up your unmentionables off the ground after a random search at LaGuardia in front of your boss. Anyone else? Just me? Okay then. The drawback is it’s not cut out for the last minute travelers who hop on planes at a moment’s notice. If you also happen to be sentimental about your clothing, you may only be able to see your power suit on the app rather than bust it out for that job interview pick me up on a sick day (it was definitely a sick day).
Portable essential oil diffuser – “I’m not tired- you’re tired.” Sleep and comfort are critical to your everyday, even more important when on the road. Portable essential oil diffusers are a great remedy for sleepless nights away from home (see also – lavender everything). Part of restful sleep is building consistency, and even when shifting from place to place, keeping a recurring calming scent throughout can help your body acclimate and create all the cozy feels. It’s like travel hygge.
Fuse Chicken – It’s safe to assume if you travel that your technology comes with you. Do yourself a favor, have one set of extra chargers for all the things. Leave them in your carry on for every trip. Running around the airport because you forgot a charger or trying to bum a charge off a stranger, while perhaps a nice conversation starter, is also amateurish. For an all-in-one solution, try Fuse Chicken. Ok, I’m not crazy about the name either, but who cares because it can charge most devices, includes plugs for international use and is a power bank with wireless charging built in. A little pricey, but a legitimate business expense, no matter what the accounting team says.
Away Luggage – Department store suitcases eat your heart out, Away luggage captures the spirit of modern business travel. The suitcases are backed with a 100 day try/vibe/sage/do an energy reading guarantee so that you find your true roll-mate. The carry on with pocket and ejectable battery is a great option for having a lockable, rockable travel companion that can charge your devices on-the-go. As with most suitcases, personalize it to stand out in case you need to gate-check. I fancy a mustache sticker or 7, but something more subtle works too.
CLEAR – Skip the lines at select airports by signing up for CLEAR, which uses your biometrics to verify your identity. Iris and finger scan and you’re in. At many U.S. airports and growing, CLEAR will get you to the head of the security lines after checking in at their branded kiosks. The service works for certain car rental locales and even at select events stadiums. CLEAR also has their eye on being able to pay with, well, your eyes. Worried about your biometrics being on file? CLEAR assures deep encryption of your data. But let’s be honest, the overlords already know what fast food you binge-ordered at 2 a.m. well enough to send you subliminal messages on your social feeds, so why not take advantage of futuristic technology to escape the throngs of the hoi polloi? Worth it.
I struggle with a bit of travel anxiety, especially about getting sick and running out of medication while on the road. Or, not being able to find medicine I need in a different country. Help! How can I assuage my concerns?
- Anxious in Austin
For anyone requiring medication on a regular basis, always, always take more than you need with you when you travel in case of delays or disruptions. I’d recommend at least a week extra and if the medication is critical, at least a month extra. An easy way to achieve this is to ask for a longer prescription period. Also, ask your doctor(s) to identify the name of the drug in the country or countries where you are headed and give you a printed prescription referencing that name. Most drugs in the US are called something totally different abroad and this varies by market.
Make sure you pack the original bottle with label with the prescription in it. Pro-tip: your medication is likely cheaper abroad (much cheaper), so it may be in your favor to refill if the local pharmacy allows it, but never rely on being able to score cheaper meds as a foreigner without a local doctor.
Do not put your important prescriptions into a pill organizer. Many international customs agents will want to review any and all controlled substances, so, if the prescription is important don’t put it in a collectible tin you found at a thrift shop. If you wish to keep your items discreet from travel companions, consider a small zipper pouch for this purpose. Keep all bottles for when you leave and re-enter the US as well. Do not discard them.
Any medication which requires refrigeration is generally allowable at most airports. Bring a small cooler bag and fully frozen gel ice packs. There may be extra screening, but you should be able to bring the ice packs on board your flight. I’ve never had these taken away anywhere in the world. Just in case, always pack extra zip lock bags and should your gel ice packs be taken away you can get ice from a concession stand after security and again on the plane. Do not pack in checked luggage.
Pack common sense items in case you get sick. Activated charcoal and a Lugol’s Iodine tincture are great for traveling in the developing world. I personally bring them everywhere. If you’ve had something questionable --perhaps a few sips of a drink after realizing local ice was in it-- you can easily pop a couple activated charcoal pills and drink bottled water (but only do so at least 2 hours away from prescriptions as activated charcoal will undo the good and the bad as it is highly adsorptive). Iodine is also great for adding to beverages or to take in case of food poisoning. Most tinctures are small enough to bring on board. Pain relievers are good to have, but always keep them in the original bottle to avoid any figurative ache from having them taken away at customs.
Stay informed. State Department keeps country information fairly up-to-date and discusses conditions of travel. Always keep the number of the local embassy or consulate handy for wherever you’ll be. If you become very ill while traveling, they are a resource to advise on a hospital that can provide a better standard of care. Most embassies have a dedicated American Citizen Services on-call person 24/7 for emergencies. It’s often the case that private hospitals are best while abroad, but much of the developed world has excellent public institutions as is the case in much of Europe. There’s nothing wrong with researching medical facilities before you go somewhere and pinning them on a map.
In short, just like one may plan a travel itinerary or keep a list of sites and places to eat, one ought do the same in case things aren't going according to plan. Have at least one champion of this information and keep it accessible to everyone in case you need it. Getting sick while abroad isn't the best, but you can take measures to either prevent or appropriately address it.