An Editor’s Journey
Reproduced, for your reading enjoyment, is a portion of associate editor Michael Cornnell’s travel diary, chronicling his trip to Dallas and back.
AT 4 A.M., Feb. 2. I dragged myself out of bed way too early. Three hours’ sleep is not a good way to start a four-day trip that’s bracketed by two five-hour flights. Yet I found myself doing just that. Again.
As I clumsily dressed in the dark, I felt the depression and anxiety sinking into my stomach. I suppose I've become a bit of a travel-phobe, especially since my last business outing to Las Vegas.
The work aspect of the trip went fine, possibly even great, but the actual travel part of the trip was horrible.
Last time, my bags were inordinately heavy, awkward and took forever to get through security. My room was nice, but I didn’t bring any amenities with me, so I had to scramble for a razor, as well as toothpaste and shampoo that didn’t smell like pomegranates and gasoline. I had a ton of work to do, but since my room had no Wi-Fi, I couldn’t access my files and was left doing some quick transcriptions and flicking through the miasma of cable TV.
Understandably, my travel anxiety, already higher than normal because of all the plane crashes in the news, was greatly amplified by memories of my last business outing. However, though I was a little panicked, I’m also an advocate of always trying to learn from mistakes. I had made plans, clever plans, to make my trip substantially easier than the one prior.
6 a.m.—Easy pass
I arrived at the airport, and a new emotion began to creep into my psyche, replacing the fear and nervousness—confidence. Recalling the disaster that was my last trip through security, I’d not only packed much lighter, but also smarter. I chose to invest in some far superior luggage, a sweet rolling duffel and laptop bag (the Continental Rolling Duffel and Ez-Pass Computer Brief, respectively) from Golden Pacific, based out of City of Industry, Calif., in the hopes it would make passing through security less like trying to fight a swarm of bees.
As I walked down the bright, empty airport halls, tired and wondering what would make me think of fighting a swarm of bees, my mind continued its non-sequitur journey and a recent interview I had with Tom Migneault, CEO of Ready 4 Kits, Keene, N.H., came to mind.
We had discussed how much of a pain it is to get toiletries past security at the airport, so much so that I actually don’t bother to do it.
Migneault was sympathetic to my whining, and prior to my trip hooked me up with a TSA-friendly bag Ready 4 Kits had just finished designing, aptly titled the “Travel Kit.” He explained the great lengths the company had gone through to design the toiletry bag to meet the TSA’s standards.
The company spent two years designing it, working with TSA staff from a local airport. While the TSA will not officially bless any luggage, they were more than happy to help in the bag’s design. “We went and met with them … and they kind of gave us feedback and ripped it apart, the first concept of it, and then we kept going back to the drawing board … to try to get it to be compliant.” Once it was successfully designed, Migneault and others from Ready 4 Kits began travel-testing the bag. “We’ve been on 96 one-legged flights,” he said, “[and] we’ve never been rejected with this bag. We’ve never had them detach t either.”
The “detachment” Migneault spoke of related to the clever design of the kit. It’s constructed just like a normal toiletry bag, but it has a clear, flip-out pouch for all liquids to pass through airport security checkpoints. This way, you don’t have to pack your liquids separate from your dry toiletries. Just open the bag, flip out the pouch and send it through security, or detach the pouch from the kit if security is feeling particularly fussy.
I had faith in the kit passing through unscathed, though it was technically unnecessary, since the kit’s detachment feature makes failure impossible. At the security checkpoint, I happily plunked my travel kit down on the conveyor belt, and watched it pass through without a hitch. Trying to contain my giddiness at how easy everything was going, I set my TSA-friendly laptop bag (similar to how the travel kit works) and my sturdy travel duffel on the belt next. They glided through just as easily.
I noticed others gawking at my quick passage through security, and thought of something Howard Berman, vice president of sales for Golden Pacific, told me in a past interview about bags and travel. “Every day somebody’s carrying a bag out there, so you’re getting your name, your brand, out there where everybody can see it,” he said. “That’s the nice thing about a bag.”
11 a.m.—HOTELS, CONVENTIONS AND DISiNFECTaNT
The flight to Dallas was uneventful enough, except for the usual crying babies; too-small seats; and gross, recirculated plane air. After arrival and a surprisingly painless check-in, I headed up to my room to try and get a little work done in the few spare hours I had before the start of the show.
I’m sure first-minutes-in-a-hotel-room rituals vary from person to person, but me, I grab some spray sanitizer from Custom HBC, Waconia, Minn., and go to town. I don’t consider myself germaphobic, but I make an exception for hotel rooms. No matter how well a hotel staff cleans, there’s no way they’re going to get all the random, over-handled items like the TV remote or alarm clock.
As I was neurotically cleaning, I noticed a little gift bag left for me by those running the convention. It was full of personal-care items (imprinted of course), like stain-removal pens and lint brushes, that I would never have thought to bring with me on my trip. It struck me as a great idea, and also one Larry Wilhelm, president and owner of Custom HBC, had mentioned to me as a recommendation for distributors selling health and beauty items to hotels. I thought about all the other toiletries in the room, like shampoo, conditioner and body wash, again all imprinted, and remembered something else he said: “We’ve done some studies that would indicate that the average male uses 10 to 15 health and beauty items every day, and the average female uses 20 to 30, which are fairly staggering numbers when you think about it.”
Moving on from my clean sweep, I settled in to finally do some writing. Digging through my bag, I quickly found my USB drive, a Roller Ball USB Flash Drive-1G from Delk Products, Nashville, Tenn. Some might find the large ball at the end of the drive clunky or silly, but I like adornments on my USBs, like lanyards or big plastic balls, because it makes them much harder to lose. And since there was no guarantee my room would have Wi-Fi, losing the USB would essentially be a death sentence, since it was the only way to get my work files to my laptop. I reminded myself to thank Jessica M. Simmons, sales and marketing territory manager for Delk Products, for the free drive, and thought of something she told me in a prior interview. “These drives have a lot of customization on them, so you can have your company’s logo [on them],” she said. “It’s a great way to have your company look smart [and] tech-savvy.”
I thought it was pretty good advice, much like everything else I had recalled over the day’s trip. Certainly they were facts I would try and remember if I’m ever writing a story on, say, travel promotions.