Guest Post: Dan Weedin, Business Traveler

Guest Post: Dan Weedin, Business Traveler

Avid business traveler Dan (and spouse of  our very own HR/Office Manager, Barb) recently wrote-up this piece for us, offering some insightful tips for headache-free, enjoyable professional travel. Check out what he has to say about our bags, along with some other tidbits of travel advice, below…

Business travel can be viewed in two ways. It can be considered a necessary evil, or a desired experience. I prefer the latter. While it often might seem tedious and grueling, it’s also a heck of a lot of fun if you know what you’re doing and open yourself up to challenge and big-time return on investment! Even in a highly technological age where we can literally transport ourselves all over the world via our iPad or mobile phone, business travel still is a requirement for many of us. You might as well have fun!

I do a fair amount of travel throughout a given year. As a crisis & risk management consultant, executive, coach, professional speaker, and author, I find myself on a plane and traveling around the country (and sometimes the world) in search of new client relationships and new adventures. Living in Seattle makes most of those trips longer. To add to it, many of the cities I fly into don’t have direct flights, so I go up and down a lot!

I’ve recently started using Tom Bihn bags to travel and to say I’m thrilled is an understatement. Look, business travel is about three things, speed, nimbleness, and experience. Carting around a bunch of luggage and waiting and praying that it comes through the baggage carousel puts a big dent in those three things. My favorite bag (by far) is the Tri-Star. The first time I used it was for a 6-day excursion to New Jersey and Rhode Island for business with a weekend in New York with my daughter for fun thrown in right in the middle. I wasn’t at all sure that packing all I would need in one bag was going to fly. I’m a pretty thrifty packer by nature, but I was skeptical.

Turns out, it was awesome. Not only did I get everything in it, I actually overpacked! I didn’t even use all I brought (unfortunately I’m talking about my workout gear…but I did walk a lot). My wife taught me how to pack efficiently and smartly. I was even able to replicate it myself coming home! Here’s the coolest thing, though. I was able to pull out the backpack straps and carry it that way rather than rolling it. Oh my gosh, what a difference in walking through the airport AND Manhattan! I’ll never go back to the old way. If it has to be rolled, it ain’t going! Note: In the case of my golf clubs, I will just have to send them on ahead. We can’t get silly here…

For my fellow business travelers that need to upgrade to fast, nimble, and fun, allow me to offer a few best practices…

1. Use mobile devices for your boarding pass. Almost every airline has their own app that allows this. It’s simple and you don’t have to worry about keeping paper. If you’re smart and carrying on, it’s a straight shot to the security gate.

2. If you are going to have to wear a sports jacket or suit coat later for business, wear it on the plane. You avoid needing to take up space in your bags, plus you actually get treated better by staff. I kid you not. I usually take my black suit coat as it goes with most everything. Then I only need my black shoes (which I also wear to fly). I put on a pear of comfy jeans and not only am I more nimble; I look pretty good, too!

3. Always charge your phones and iPad in advance. I crank them up to 100% the night before, yet I still will recharge whenever possible. I’ve been in too many situations where the battery starts draining and I have no outlet for the foreseeable future. Mobile phones are too important for more than calling. This is crisis management at it’s finest!

4. Speaking of that, become handy with your maps on your phone. I constantly stick my headphones in and map out my destination. I find myself hoofing it through New York, San Francisco, and other ports of call more than I drive. Make sure the “walk” mode is on, not drive. If you wear your ear buds and kind of bounce around like you’re listening to AC/DC, you won’t look like a tourist.

5. Buy Tom Bihn travel bags. Really. They allow you the ability to pack what you really need in a manner to still be efficient. We all tend to over pack if given the alternative. These bags give you latitude to maximize what you must bring. Getting rid of roller bags allows you to dart in and out of crowds, avoid spilling someone that tripped over your wheels, AND keeps you from hurting your back stuffing them into an upper holding area. You never have to check these bags at the gate like all the other suckers. In and out has its advantages!

BONUS: When you travel for business, include pleasure. I always make time to have fun and experience the food, frivolity, and culture of where I travel. Don’t get stuck in your hotel room. Go make pleasure part of your business.

A large part of my work involves helping to keep people out of crisis, and mitigating the bad stuff that does happen. Travel is always potentially fraught with risk and crisis as relates to baggage, lost time, and frustration. If you keep a positive outlook on your experience, keep a few tricks up your sleeve, and tote around your Tom Bihn bags, you’re likely to be smiling all the way to your destination and back!

Dan Weedin is a strategist, speaker, author and executive coach. Visit his website at www.danweedin.com. See also: the Tri-Star.

Forum Round-up: Travels Far and Near

We’re lucky to have an active and enthusiastically informative forum, where members help new and long-time customers get answers to their questions about TOM BIHN bags and accessories, travel, and packing for any and all situations.  It’s also a place where people can speculate about new products on the horizon, obsess over Organizer Pouches, and deliberate over what color bag they should order.

Our members, who live all over the world and come from all walks of life, contribute dozens of bag reviews, pictures, questions, and useful suggestions, and are quick and generous with their willingness to help.  There’s no way to distill the wealth of their collective knowledge into a tidy package, but, starting this week, we will provide an occasional round-up of just a few threads from the previous week.  While not exhaustive, the round-up will clue in readers of this blog about some of the goings-on in our online community.

This week’s theme: Travels Far and Near

Spring is usually when travel season starts heating up, but our forum members travel all the time to locales both far and near, for business and pleasure, with others or solo.  We were stoked to receive a mention as one of The Wirecutter’s picks for traveling well (see here for the forum reaction), and forum members have had a lot to say about putting their bags through the paces of their travels.

Recently, dwright17 returned from her two-week trip to Israel flush with knowledge about the Holy Land and some good advice for those hoping to pack light for their next trip abroad (see here to see how her packing list started and then evolved).  New member JoeM logged on to tell us that his new Aeronaut was about to accompany him to sea for a 6-to-8 week period of work in southeast Asia.  Read on for a glimpse into life aboard a ship.  Closer to home, Janine reported that her two-night work trip to D.C. with her Synapse 25 and Pilot was a feat of light packing, and heparker let us know that his Pilot performed admirably as an everyday carry (EDC) bag (he’s also our Pic of the Week!).

People who use our bags put lots of thought into how and what to pack.  Some forum members wanted help finding solutions to traveling with their families: Travelmom4 wondered about the best accessory to carry passports for six people, and Jwalker was looking for the best in-flight bag to use with her children on their long-haul flight from the U.S. to New Zealand.  Forum members saikyo and jannilee asked for and received advice about products TOM BIHN doesn’t make: travel toiletry bottles and lightweight Bluetooth speakers.

Finally, the biggest news of the week: after much wailing and lamentation, the fires of forum members’ fantasies of travels far, near, and within carry-on regulations were fanned when Darcy announced that the new, scaled-down Aeronaut 30 is on the pre-order horizon.

And now for our Pic of the Week!
TOM BIHN | Forum Photo of the Week by herpacker
heparker’s brand new Pilot (Navy/Solar), Horizontal Cache, 3D Fabric Organizer Cube (Wasabi), Dyneema Organizer Pouches (Small Ultraviolet and Mini Iberian), and Ultraviolet Key Strap.

The Wirecutter Guide to Traveling Well

The Wirecutter and Robert King (he’s logged a million miles with United) have named their top gear picks. Best non-roller carry-on? The Tri-Star

“We have a full review forthcoming, but after interviewing frequent flyers and researching customer and professional reviews, we like the $280 Tom Bihn Tri-Star for its 1050 denier ballistic nylon exterior, YKK water-repellent zippers, and design touches like an exterior pocket with webbing to hold a water bottle. One Bag One World and The Next Web love it, too. Our travel expert, Rob King, also uses one. He told us, “Tri-Star is the go-to for up to four days on the road.”

Read the full guide to traveling well (business or pleasure) over at The Wirecutter.

TOM BIHN | The Wirecutter on Traveling Well

(We’re #4) 8 Easy Ways to Become an Expert Traveler

#4 on Gene Marks’ 8 Easy Ways to Become an Expert Traveler? Lose the rollerboard and get a TOM BIHN bag:

“Never, ever check luggage. It takes too long to retrieve and costs extra. Adapt, pack less, and buy a Tom Bihn bag. Why? It will fit anywhere, even under a seat when you’re crammed into one of those little regional jets with smaller overhead space. And you can fit the universe inside.”

Read the entire article — 8 Easy Ways to Become an Expert Traveler — over at Inc.

Linked in the article is Jake Luddington’s excellent video review of the Tri-Star:

Leo’s Review of the Ristretto for the 13″ MacBook Pro

“When I connected the strap to the stirrups on the sides of the bag, and placed it over my shoulder, it felt so light, I thought ‘Am I actually carrying my laptop’. Well frankly the answer is yes.”

Check out the rest of the review at the MacXperts website. See also: the Ristretto for the 13″ MacBook Pro or Air.

Leo's Review of the Ristretto for the 13" MacBook Pro

Loaded Pocketz Reviews the Tri-Star

“The build quality was consistent with what I’ve come to expect with Tom Bihn which is to report it was flawless. Tom’s gear is pricey but considering the abuse that most travel gear endures, spending a little extra is well worth the investment if you’re buying kit that will last. And this bag is definitely built to last.”

Read the full review at Loaded Pocketz. See also: the Tri-Star.

Loaded Pocketz| TOM BIHN Tri-Star Review

Loaded Pocketz | TOM BIHN Tri-Star Travel Bag Review

imperator puts the Western Flyer to the test

imperator received his new Western Flyer and he’s already put it to the test, as detailed in the two reviews he’s posted in our forums.

Western Flyer Review, Part I: The First Week
TOM BIHN | Western Flyer put to the test
“While my first impression of the Freudian Slip was comparable to paying for the seat belts and rustcoat on the car, it turned out to be a great way to flex my daily briefcase into a travel bag. It was also unexpectedly handy to use in the office, I can keep the FS, with my documents and tools inside at my desk, while the WF stays out of the way. And when it comes time to take off for vacation, the FS can stay behind and make room for the guayaberas. And a pocket to put my coffee into when I need to free up a hand to carry rolls of blueprints? Genius.”

Western Flyer Review, Part II: The Conference
TOM BIHN | Western Flyer put to the test
“Walking from the train, navigating the airport, being the tourist and walking around the city, all were substantially easier to navigate with the straps. On the last day of the conference, when everyone is inevitably hauling their rollerboards around after checking out, I switched to backpack straps to navigate tight spaces between tables. And sitting aside it was unobtrusive.”

The Brooks Review on the Founder’s Briefcase

The Brooks Review | TOM BIHN Founder's Briefcase

“What I really liked about [the Founder's Briefcase] was the ability to leave it standing (it stands well on its own) and zip just the top open to grab my laptop, or iPad — while reserving the option to lay the bag on its side and open it all the way. It’s a nice compromise in that you can easily use the bag as a top-loader (as I do 90% of the time), but it doesn’t bat an eye lash if you want to open it all the way up and lay it flat. This makes it a solid day-to-day option for the traveling person and excellent for neatly packing away your items for a longer journey.”

Read the full review over at The Brooks Review.

Carryology: Synapse 25 is “Best Carry On”

TOM BIHN | Carryology names Synapse 25 best carry on backpack

“This was the most debated category for us, as carry-on has traditionally been treated as ‘maximum legal’ carry-on. The TOM BIHN [Synapse 25] is more of an overnighter than a week away, but it’s every bit a Carry Awards credentialled winner. Excellent fabrics and zips. Flawless construction. An interesting three-dimensional pattern that grows and shrinks without need for compression. And every organizing pocket you could want. Tom Bihn care about making excellent carry, and it totally shows. Oh, and particularly in this pack, we like the black.”

See the Synapse 25 for yourself. And head over to Carryology for more Carry Awards coverage.

James Martin Reviews the Pilot

TOM BIHN | James Martin Reviews the Pilot

“The diminutive Pilot bag isn’t cheap, but if you travel a lot like we do, it makes a great investment. It’s made well of high-tech materials, designed to last a very long time. I’ve never been able to wear out a Tom Bihn bag, no matter how much abuse I pile upon them.

On the plane, you should be able to get away with calling this a “personal” bag, like a purse, so that you can also carry another carry-on bag into the plane with you, which you can store in the overhead compartment while you keep the Pilot below the seat in front of you.

It works great for what it’s designed to do, and it’s a welcome bag to have by your side on those long flights. If you travel far and frequently, you’ll appreciate this bag.”

Read the full review by James Martin at About.com Europe Travel.