Each month I like to publish a guest post from a Blogger or writer whose a reader of the site and is willing to share their top travel tips, favorite luggage, best apps and must have gadgets for stress free travel!

This month I’m delighted to welcome Frank Strona to {Tech} for Travel.  I first started talking to Frank in a Blogger Facebook Community and have since had a great discussion on making the jump from Notebook to tablet full-time!  More to come on that one in the next few weeks!  You can connect with Frank at his site MentorSF and read more about him on his blog.

 

Bio

Mr. Strona has been working in health outcomes, community organizing, and substance use concerns for almost 20 years and has established himself as a nationally recognized frontline specialist in harm reduction techniques, sexual health, Internet interventions, and prevention education.

P1010243 Mr. Strona has received numerous awards and recognitions for his work as a technical assistance and consulting specialist. During 2015/16 Mr. Strona expanded his reach to include emergency operations and assisted as a health communications lead for Ebola affected countries. Most recently, he brought his diverse background in social and digital media, communications and training to a new level and served as the Senior Communication Analyst on the President Commission for Bioethical Issues (PCBI) under President Obama, until its sunset in December 2016. Mr. Strona, now back in his home of San Francisco, is once again modeling the engaged learning experience and has been working with those looking to have a stronger voice on the ever-expanding social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

As owner and lead strategic coach for MentorSF.com, he is providing agile and flexible training nationwide on adapting curricula for online learning, blogging, social media and helps answer the question of “How do I tell my story?” with his Storytelling Technology Bootcamps.

 

Franks Travel Tips

Having spent the last 18 months commuting between San Francisco, Atlanta and Washington DC – I knew in order to streamline my life and keep myself less stressed, having a “system” that I could rely on would be a great sense of security.

Towards that end, I began to keep track of my favorite travel related tips to share with others in the mobile workforce. Here are some of my latest to share with you.

 

Tripit Pro

Sometimes, something new comes along and becomes the “star” of the moment. But I have to say, my one must-have app, that I recommend for any traveler, and I personally use on every trip is Tripit ( {Tech} Review).

tripitAvailable on both device formats, what shines about it, is its ability to create a basic portable travel agenda without a lot of clutter.

Since it is a product of Concur, it has a strong enterprise integration relationship with several travel programs which comes in handy as well.

But for me, the best feature and reason I go back to it, remains being able to forward all the confirmations and reservations I get by email to my Tripit account. TripIt then auto imports into them into my profile, saving me lots of time and hassle.

Tripit also does allow you to manually add trip/event details as well as mileage and point system  award accounts and other profile features. This is one of those apps for me that is well worth the “pro” upgrade each year.

You can sign up to Tripit for free and get a 30-day trial of Pro.

Anker PowerPort – Portable Charging Dock System

When I travel, I generally have a laptop, Kindle Oasis, iPad Pro & pencil and a mobile phone (sometimes two). That list doesn’t in include all my “extra” tech equipment like camera batteries and chargers, Bluetooth headphones, Amazon Echo, and my personal wifi router. Essentially for years, it was a tangle of chargers and cables I was constantly fighting with.

Anker_powerportSeveral years ago, I found this little gem; The Anker PowerPort 6 60W Wall Charger, 6 USB Ports, High-Speed Charger and it is a god send.

It allows me to charge up to 6 devices and it’s plug only takes one spot on a wall plate.

When you order one – be sure to look at the power strength – that is the key to getting one that can charge all the devices quickly.

I happen to get mine on Amazon, but I also know other brands exist for them and these days you can get them between $25 – $40.

The Anker PowerPort 60w 6-Port Charger is £23 from Amazon.

TSA-Pre & CLEAR

I am hoping that this one will be a no-brainer for many of you. Both of these memberships offer the frequent traveler the chance to manage time more efficiently during the checking and TSA security circus at most airports.

tsa_pre_logoTSA-Pre (aka TSA PreCheck – https://www.tsa.gov/precheck) has a 5-year membership for $85. Both it and it’s partner Global Entry are government based processes so require several steps and a visit to the office at an airport for a new one.

The complete processing can be a few weeks to a month long. How it works is pretty straightforward forward;  Apply Online and submit an online application. Schedule an appointment at any enrollment center. (This can take a few weeks). Once that process is confirmed, you move on to the Background Check. These short 10 minute, in person appointments, include a background check and fingerprinting. Make sure you read all the information, and they will ask you to bring the required documents. Once you have your new number and ID card, log on to your airline accounts and update them with your number.

While ClearMe (https://www.clearme.com)  is a quicker process – the cost for it on an annual fee is higher.

clear_logo

The membership for this is generally around $179, but they offer discounts for family and friends memberships and you can often find a promotion for 2 -3 months free.

ClearMe is not at every airport, but they add new ones pretty regularly. The sign up for this is basically done at the kiosk at your local airport (you can fast track it a bit, by starting the process online). This system also uses your fingerprints – so be prepared to have them scanned several times.

found that especially at the holidays and over the summer travel months, ClearMe was often quicker than TSA-Pre!

 

Bags, bags and more bags

Yes that’s right. I am a huge bag fiend. I look for unusual size and shaped bags everywhere I go. From second-hand stores to street markets. The reason? The more modular I can make packing, the easier it is for me to pack quickly and efficiently.

bag_selection

Now – yes, I know the travel industry has a bunch of “travel themed” packing bundles. But honestly, I don’t get why I need to pay such high prices.

A quick trip to Loews or Home Depot gets me flexible, durable and clean-able zipper bags for much cheaper.

Partner that with what you can find at your local secondhand store or even the better quality resealable bags from the grocery store and you are set to go for a 1/3 the cost.

I suggest the following rule of 4;

  1. Clear or Not; some bags I want to be able to see what’s in them. This is especially good for those items you need to refill often such as shower/gym amenities, grooming products.
  2. Durability; the thickness will add protection in two directions, outside in and inside out. So I lean towards these nylon zippered bags for my cables, minor gear, plugs etc that need a little more density so they don’t break.
  3. Color; many of these come in all sorts of shares and colors. Some I want to stand out. This makes it both easier to see if I have them in my backpack, but also makes them harder to blend-in when packing and not leave them in the hotel.
  4. Cleaning. I also always want to make sure they can be tossed into the washing machine and dryer over them having to be hand-washed and air-dried. The is also related to the fluid-proof nature of a bag. Any bag that I know will carry liquids, I want to know it won’t leak in my suitcase, but also that it is easy to clean the inside if it does.

birchbox_manAnd while on the subject of travel amenities – another of my other travel tricks is to use the Birchbox app grooming products.

This monthly subscription based service, supplies me with a diversity of options to sample and also allows for the member to customize what I am looking for.

They will often send in a few surprises each month that are worth a second look at.

 

If you’d like to be a Guest Blogger/Writer please contact me.

 

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