As a true road warrior, I’ve logged miles (and kilometers!) all over the globe, and my treks to places as diverse as Thailand, Morocco, Spain, Egypt, Germany, the Caribbean, Croatia, and so on have taught me many tricks for thriving on the road.  I’ve learned to survive for weeks at a time out of a single 20” suitcase – or no suitcase at all, as happened on a month-long trip to Iceland back in 1995 (buy me a drink at Sapphire and I’ll tell you THAT story).


However, it was on one very local trip that I had a revelation.  I was visiting an attraction in my home state with a friend, and he opened the trunk of his car to reveal all manner of survival equipment.  He had everything from a gas mask to a medical encyclopedia to medications and a three-day supply of food in there – you know, just in case of nuclear war, natural disaster, or the Apocalypse.  As we reviewed the contents of his bunker of a car trunk, one item that flummoxed me was the clothespins.  Well, they were for clipping together the curtains in the hotel room so the light would not peek in and wake him up in the morning. I looked at him completely baffled – why didn’t he just use the clips on the clothes hangers in the hotel closet? He was stricken.  For years he had been carrying unnecessary clothespins, and he realized that my method would have saved him precious space for extra iodine pills.

It was then that I realized that I knew lots of little tips like that, that could help my friends and colleagues survive the trials and tribulations of travel.  Nuclear disaster?  Sorry, for that you’re on your own.  Like many of you, I’ve read dozens of articles on travel tips – how best to pack your suitcase, how to get the best seat on a plane, how to sweet-talk your way into an upgrade, how to manage when you’re put on the do-not-fly list (oh, wait…..that is actually another blog post.  Because that happened to me.)  With Sapphire NOW rapidly approaching, the time has come to unveil a handful of my super-secret travel tips, which I have not yet seen published elsewhere.  For this blog, I’ll focus on some “steamy” ones:

  • “Tea Breathing”.  Airplanes are notoriously dry, and if you’re on a multi-hour flight across the Pacific, your sinuses will feel as parched as the Sahara. You could buy one of those little spray bottles of saline, thus sacrificing a precious half inch in your 20” carryon as well as a precious few ounces of your “liquid allowance” for security.  Or, you could ask for a cup of hot water from the flight attendant, claiming you’ll use your own tea bag.  Inhale the steam from the hot water until it disappears.  Then use the remainder of the warm water to wash up a bit in the lavatory.  You’ll smell better, and you’ll know it because your sinuses are so very very happy.
  • “The Steam Closet”.  You know the drill:  You arrive at your destination, and despite your best packing efforts, your clothes look like you just pulled them out of the bottom of a Dumpster. You can of course pay a fortune to have them pressed, or spend precious time fighting with the travel iron in your room that is guaranteed to “splurt” rust stains on your brand-new favorite shirt. Or, you can create your own “steam closet”.  Hang your clothes on hangers, bring them into the bathroom – usually you can hang them from the shower curtain hooks – plug the tub, and turn the shower on as hot as possible.  Take the liner out of the ice bucket in your room, and place it over the vent in the bathroom.   Once the tub is about half full, turn off the water, close the door, and go do something enjoyable.  Have a wonderful dinner.  Meet with a friend.  Watch a movie.  And then go to sleep.  The next morning, your clothes will appear freshly pressed.  Just remember to remove the ice bucket liner from the vent, or housekeeping will be wise to your tricks.
  • “Hot Hands, Warm Hearts”.  Everyone has been in THAT meeting room – the one that is either uncomfortably hot, or so cold you can feel the hairs in your nostrils turning to icicles.  You can haul along some long underwear, or you can use my super-portable hot water bottle method.  Almost all meeting rooms are equipped with both bottles – perhaps for water or soda – and coffee, or hot water for tea.  Fill one of the bottles halfway with room temperature water, and the other half with coffee or tea.  Hold in your hands until it cools down, then repeat.  You’ll find that your warm hands make you feel more warm-hearted toward your colleagues as well.  Warning: Do NOT fill the bottle with hot water first.  It will melt, and then you’ll just be hot tempered.

By following tips like these, you’ll learn how to maintain yourself while traveling.  And if you’d like to move on to the “advanced class”, perhaps you should attend session 14127, “Achieve Excellence in Maintenance Operations”, at Sapphire NOW.  In that session you’ll learn how airlines are increasing operational efficiency in aircraft repair and overhaul.   That discussion will cover how Delta Air Lines and Aeroméxico use SAP solutions for maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) to improve the traveler experience as part of a joint venture.

Or perhaps you’re interested in how to get the right transportation equipment at the right place and time (clearly, I did NOT have the right equipment at the right place and time during the aforementioned weeks-in-Iceland-without-a-suitcase adventure). In session 14118, you’ll find out how companies are using the SAP Transportation Resource Planning application and booking management software to integrate advanced analytics with forecasting capabilities and drive cost-effective allocation and repositioning of equipment throughout the network. Both of the sessions above take place on the Industries Campus.

Have travel tips of your own?  Please share them below, or better yet, find me on the Sapphire NOW show floor and we can talk about them over a cup of tea!

You can find me on Twitter @MWEnergy.  The bit.ly for this post is bit.ly/1kxdey1.

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14 Comments

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  1. Susan Keohan

    Well done Marcia! Although I have never lugged clothespins around with me, I do lug sundry other items, particularly when I am in for the long haul of ASUG/SapphireNOW. 

    And I refuse to spend one minute wrangling with the dang iron (because as you so rightly pointed out, they all come with mandatory rust-stain ‘enhancements’).

    I need to revisit my ASUG tips to see if I have any gems to share with the conference attendees.

    Cheers!
    Sue

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  2. Stephen Johannes

    Although I’m not going to SAPPHIRE, I did travel/in out of Orlando last year for pleasure and plan on doing again this year. A few observations from my travels:

    –  If you rent a car keep in mind the following

         – Have change handy if you don’t want to pay for toll transceiver fees from rental car   company.  I declined use and made sure to use the “manual lanes” instead.

    – Do not use the gas stations right next to the airport.  They are at least $2gal more than the local fuel cost.  Use gasbuddy instead to find a local gas station for fill up.

    – Security lines at MCO are long and move slow.  When you leave for home, give yourself plenty of time, because you will need it.

    – Cheap souvenirs can be found along International Drive north of the convention center.  You can also find decent stuff at the airport, but expect to pay full price.

    – Have good walking shoes as you will walk a lot during the conference.  Even the closest hotels will require a good distance walk between the hotel lobby and convention center floor.

    – Be prepared for afternoon thunderstorms if you go outside.  Orlando tends to get afternoon thunderstorms during late spring/early summer. You still will have a generally sunny day, but be prepared for an ocassional downpour.

    – If you do rent a car, well get a convertible if you can 😉 .  Nothing better than driving around Florida in rental car heading to and from the beach 😉 .

    Take care,

    Stephen

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  3. Jelena Perfiljeva

    Good tips, although my tree-hugging side couldn’t help but notice that all of them require wasting water. 🙂 Are you guys aware there are clothes available that don’t require ironing? Just leave the fancy stuff at home. Save space for iodine tablets and what’s not. 🙂

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    1. Marcia Walker Post author

      Jelena:  I completely agree with you regarding the wasted water guilt.  I console myself on the “ironing” side by the knowledge that I’m saving the fuel, chemicals, etc. that would have been used sending the suit out for cleaning.  And sadly it usually is a suit – I have yet to find one that is truly wrinkle free.  I have yet to find sufficient consolation on the “hot hands / warm hearts” side.  When the room is so overly air-conditioned that people have to use hot water bottles, that’s lots of wasted energy!

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  4. Christopher Solomon

    LOVE the writing style….and great tips too! I have had my fair share of travel in my some 18+ years of consulting (oooo wow…it really hits me when put like that! haha)….and have learned to become a minimalist along the way. 😉

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    1. Marilyn Pratt

      RE: Minimalist – I took this to a new level for myself during my own March Madness Month in New Zealand – managed to travel around the globe with only a carry-on bag – a pack that weighed a mere 7 kilos.  Every one of my clothing items and fabrics was ultra light.  I needed during that 1 month of travel to accommodate 4 seasons.  That same principle holds when in a conference hall where thermostats are set to cold blast.  My latest discovery: silk t-shirts and other silk garments.  Silk is light, and can be layered.  I also always bring a jacket (or some warming outerwear) when in air-conditioning.  For that the “now” fabric for me is smart wool (merino) which also can be feather light.

      For ecology I carried a reusable collapsible cup (hot and cold beverages) and a spork (spoon, fork and somewhat knife in one small utensil).

      In New Zealand I learned that folks use hiker wool (a bit like cotton wool wrapped around delicate places on the toes and feet) and though walking many many kms I never got a single blister during my hikes.

      BTW agree with Chris.  Love your writing style Marcia!

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  5. Mandy Lin

    Great tips Marcia!  Years ago I spent 3 years on the road as a consultant and also love to travel.  Along the way, I learned the value of getting enough sleep…especially after a long international flight. Giving my body time to catch up early on has proven essential to staying fit for the rest of a trip. Another thing I learned back then was it’s not just about what you accomplish but also what you experience.  Taking a little time to visit at least one locally significant site or eat one really memorable meal is a great conversation starter and shows any local hosts that you care about their community.

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    1. Marcia Walker Post author

      Mandy:  This is excellent advice.  In my first consulting job – for which they made it clear that I would be traveling almost 100% of the time – my husband bought me a travel journal, which he gifted to me with some instructions.  At each location I visited, I had to have one new experience (whether a meal, a museum visit, a walk in a local park) that I would not have had without the trip, AND, I had to record at least one positive experience per trip.  NO negative experiences!  I could record only the positive things.  This really changed my outlook.  For example, I did a six month project in Connecticut, and I took time each week to seek out something new – I visited an art gallery, stayed in a local bed and breakfast, went to a concert.  Meanwhile, most of my colleagues just went back and forth to the Marriott each day.  Even now, over a decade later, I have fond memories of those Connecticut days.  And one day soon, I’ll write a blog about my adventures during a six month assignment in the Bahamas!  LOTS of experiences (and humidity!) there…..

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    2. Julie Plummer

      HI Mandy, I loved this: “Another thing I learned back then was it’s not just about what you accomplish but also what you experience.  Taking a little time to visit at least one locally significant site or eat one really memorable meal is a great conversation starter and shows any local hosts that you care about their community.”  – something I need to do more of.

      ANd thnks to Marcia, for providing these tips.

      JUlie

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  6. Monica Gassmann

    Marcia, your blogs are a joy to read! I learned how to travel many years ago from my soon to be husband. His rule: You pack it, you schlepp it! He made it clear that this was  where chivalry stopped and refused to carry any of my bags for me. Since we still travel extensively we have passed this rule on to our young children. You want to take 20 stuffed animals? You carry them!

    Hope everyone enjoys Sapphire and above all – safe travels!

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    1. Marcia Walker Post author

      Thank you for your kind words, Monica!  I, too, have the “you pack it, you schlepp it” rule. It’s amazing how quickly you lose your attachment to that extra pair of shoes when you realize you’ll have to carry them up and down the stairs in the London tube system…..

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