Episode: Taking the Stress Out of Business Travel
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Megan Hyatt Miller: Marco Polo.
Michael Hyatt: Ferdinand Magellan.
Megan: Lewis and Clark.
Michael: Ernest Shackleton.
Megan: Neil Armstrong.
Michael: Some of the most recognizable names in history were great adventurers. From Marco Polo’s 15,000-mile journey through Asia to Neil Armstrong’s nearly half-a-million-mile round trip to the moon, high achievers have often been great travelers.
Today, successful leaders still leave home to seek their fortune. Every day, some 1.3 million people go on a business trip. That adds up to more than 488 million business travelers each year, and one-third of them travel by air. A major airport is one of the busiest places on earth. Hub cities like Chicago, Atlanta, and Dallas may handle over 24,000 flights a day.
Megan: All that travel takes time and money. The average traveler spends between 48 and 74 nights a year on the road, and together we spend nearly 320 billion on business travel. We fly to conferences, drive to sales meetings, and take the train to meet with clients. We travel for professional training to pitch new ideas and to meet with colleagues, and the pace is increasing. Of business travelers, 38 percent say they expect to travel more in the days ahead.
Long-distance travel is difficult. There are delays, security hassles, jetlag, traffic, and missed connections. The combination can be stressful and exhausting. Every business traveler has at least one disaster story from life on the road.
Michael: Meriwether Lewis studied astronomy, medicine, surveying, mathematics, and anatomy before leading the Corps of Discovery on its two-year expedition. Neil Armstrong trained for over a decade before blasting off on Apollo 11. That spacecraft took five years to build and was tested daily for eight months prior to liftoff. We, on the other hand, snag the cheapest flight we can, race out the door at a moment’s notice, then forage for food along the way, and we wonder why we arrive stressed out, exhausted, and unable to concentrate.
Megan: If business travel has become something you dread, is there anything that can make it less stressful? What would it take to rekindle your sense of adventure about hitting the road?
Michael: Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt.
Megan: And I’m Megan Hyatt Miller.
Michael: And this is Lead to Win, our weekly podcast to help you win at work, succeed at life, and lead with confidence. In this episode, we’ll share three simple tips that will take the stress out of business travel.
Megan: Travel requires a lot of preparation and time and it can be incredibly stressful. For years, we’ve been honing our travel routines to perfection, and today we’ll show you exactly how to hit the road without losing time or arriving tired. Also this week we’ll have a bonus episode featuring an interview with Jim Kelly. He’s my dad’s executive assistant and is a travel arrangement ninja. He’ll share his favorite travel apps that make travel planning a breeze. Watch for that on Thursday.
Michael: Before we dive into these travel tips, I’d like to ask a small favor. If you’re enjoying the podcast, would you be willing to help others find it? The simplest way is to leave a brief review. It’s really easy to do. Go to mh.fullfocus.co/reviewit and follow the simple steps. Thanks so much. We really do appreciate it.
Megan: Also, I’d like to let our listeners know my dad and I will be on sabbatical during the month of July. Don’t worry, though. We’ll be re-releasing five of our most popular episodes next month, so you’ll still have fresh inspiration each week. So, Dad, we all know travel can be stressful. Right?
Michael: Yes, it can be. Absolutely.
Megan: You and I have a host of horror stories we could tell.
Michael: Well, I just had one.
Megan: Did you really? Okay, tell me what it is.
Michael: I just came back from vacation. The first night, we were flying from Nashville through Detroit through Salt Lake City to get to Jackson, Wyoming. When we got to Salt Lake City, for whatever reason they canceled our flight to Jackson, Wyoming, but we couldn’t get our luggage off the plane. They put us up in a hotel, which was very nice of Delta, but we didn’t have any of our stuff, so we had to sleep in our clothes. They gave us a little goody bag with toothpaste and a comb and some of that stuff, but it was just another reminder that travel is difficult. We got to bed way late, and we had to get up the next morning at 4:30 to make a 6:00 flight into Jackson.
Megan: Oh my gosh.
Michael: It was a stressful start to a vacation. Fortunately, we recovered, but travel is not my favorite thing, and the things we’re going to share today make it a whole lot easier.
Megan: They really do. I have to tell you a little secret. For that very reason, because I’ve had that experience myself, I always put a few essentials in my bag I carry on the plane. Not my carry-on that gets put underneath the plane but in the bag I carry on. We’ll maybe talk about this more later, but just in case…
Michael: I know. The other thing is 90 percent of the time I carry on unless I’m going on a vacation or extended thing where I can’t do a carry-on, and this was just one of those situations where I couldn’t.
Megan: Oh, the horrors. The reality is things are going to go wrong when you travel. There are things outside of your control, delays, cancellations, etcetera, but there are some things you can do to mitigate the damage you know is going to come your way when you travel. Right?
Michael: Yeah, absolutely.
Megan: Tell us the three reasons, from your perspective, to iron out the kinks in your travel routine and, really, to have a routine at all.
Michael: Well, traveling is like anything else you do repeatedly. If you pay attention to it you can improve it, just like any other process. You can engineer it so it takes a lot of the uncertainty and risk out of it. One of the reasons to do that is so you don’t waste time reinventing your travel process every time. You don’t have to figure out, “What do I take on an overnight trip?” or “What do I take on a two-day trip?” You get this nailed down once and for all.
Secondly, so you have the energy to perform well. I want to use my mental capacity, my emotional energy on something other than the travel hassle and packing and all that. Then thirdly, you want to enjoy it. If you spend that much time on the road, you have to make it something you look forward to and not something you dread.
Megan: You don’t want to be uncomfortable or exhausted when you don’t have to be.
Megan: Dad, to that end, you have two simple travel tips to share today. What is the first tip?
Michael: The first one is to trade money for margin. Here’s what I mean by that. We say all the time your energy is more important than time, and your energy is more important than money too, within reason. You can buy margin with money, spending money on the things that boost your margin, therefore your energy.
This is really important when it comes to travel, and it can be game changing when it comes to travel. If you don’t spend money on margin, you’re going to sacrifice margin to save money. By trying to travel on the cheap, you can seriously undercut your effectiveness. I see people doing this all the time. They stay in cheap, uncomfortable hotels.
Megan: Or they leave too early, because that’s the cheapest flight, where they get very little sleep or they come home at midnight and are exhausted for work the next day. It’s just terrible.
Michael: Totally. I used to be in a job where people encouraged us to travel after business hours so we could put in a full day at the office and then travel on our time in the evening.
Megan: Yeah, thanks.
Michael: I know. Exactly. You get there late. You’re tired. You’re worn out. You’re not your most effective the next day, so it doesn’t make sense. Penny wise, pound foolish.
Megan: Absolutely. Give us a list of the perks you think are worth it.
Michael: Well, I like to consolidate all travel into one airline, and personally I like Delta. I used to be an American guy, but honestly, I think Delta has the best equipment today. (This is debatable.) I like their service the best. I find them consistently better than anybody else. Their Wi-Fi is better. They also have comfort seating, which is not first class, but it has extra legroom. It’s almost like first class but at less price.
Megan: By consolidating travel into one airline, you’re not running between concourses. You’re not having gates changed that are wildly far apart, just things like that. There’s not so much friction, like we were talking about, in the process.
Michael: Plus you’re consolidating your airline miles so you can get perks there.
Megan: That’s true. Board earlier, for example.
Michael: You get status so you can board earlier and get your stuff squared away before everybody else gets on and it becomes a zoo. So yeah, I consolidate them. Another one is get TSA Precheck or Global Entry for international travel for quicker check-in. You and I both have this, and it makes it so much easier. Now I almost never not get Precheck.
Megan: I can’t think of the last time it happened. You and I travel for business almost all the time together. It’s rare, unless you’re going to one of your seminary board meetings, that you’re traveling for business on your own. That’s something we just do together that makes it so much faster to get through.
Michael: It makes it so much better. This one is going to be a little bit controversial, and not everybody is going to be able to do it, but flying first class or paying for seat upgrades. Again, I think this is a case where some companies are penny wise and pound foolish. The comfort level in first class is dramatically better. I can actually get work done. One of the most productive work environments for me is inside of an airplane.
Megan: Oh my gosh. Totally. We joke all the time, just put us on a flight to California and we’ll come back with millions of dollars worth of ideas.
Michael: I know. There’s just something about the white noise and something about the focus. It’s like working in a coffee shop, only better for me. I get so much done.
Megan: You have a seat belt and you can’t get up and be distracted.
Michael: That’s exactly it. First class is obviously going to cost more, but you can handle it with upgrades. For me, it’s totally worth it. I just feel like I arrive in better shape. I have much more energy, and I’ve gotten a lot of work done in the process.
Megan: At minimum, don’t sit in the middle seat. If you’re not going to fly first class, try to not sit in the worst seat on the plane, where you’re going to be crowded and uncomfortable and you can’t move and you can’t work.
Michael: I have this vision that hell is going to be all middle seats.
Megan: Sounds pretty bad.
Michael: Here’s another one: use Uber rather than renting a car. The vacation we just took, we rented a car because we were driving all the way through the West.
Megan: Oh my gosh. You forgot how horrible it is.
Michael: I forgot how terrible it is. It wasn’t horrible, but you have to pay attention to where you’re going. I mean, it sounds like total first-world problems, but directions are something I’m not naturally good at.
Megan: Especially if you’re in a busy metropolitan city. That’s rough. You can get lost, and by the time you’re lost and you’re in rush-hour traffic and all of that, that is really stressful. If you combine that with flight delays, maybe you woke up early in the morning for a flight… It’s a lot of things added up together that are exhausting.
Michael: A lot of things have to go right, and it’s just a hassle to get out of the rental car place and all that stuff. Uber? Oh my gosh. I would never in the past consider taking a taxi unless I went to New York City or something where you’re not going to rent a car and drive into the city, but oh my gosh! That was terrible. Getting a taxi… You have to figure out, “Okay, is the guy really taking me on the most efficient route? Am I getting overcharged here? How much am I going to tip him? Is the guy going to get out and help me with my luggage?” No.
Uber? Totally different experience. You don’t have to hassle with the payment stuff. All that is taken care of. You can tip after the fact when you’re not under pressure if you want to. You know what kind of driver is going to show up. The car is usually clean. This sounds like an advertisement for Uber. I don’t intend it to be, but I love Uber. I’ve never had a negative experience on Uber. I know they’re controversial, especially among taxi drivers, but for the rest of us, I think it makes so much sense.
Megan: It’s a great solution. All right. Let’s talk about hotels.
Michael: I would suggest standardizing on a hotel you like. For me, I like Marriott properties. I could stay in a Hampton Inn. I could stay in some economy hotel, but I like the comfort. I like having a gym that’s good. I like having a 24-hour restaurant if possible.
Megan: That’s really important, actually, because you don’t necessarily know what time you’re going to get in. You don’t know what your options are going to be after meetings you’ve gone to. Again, there’s just added friction in your travel if you have to go search for a restaurant near your hotel. You have to get back in an Uber or back in a car you’ve rented and try to find somewhere to eat. It’s so much easier if it’s all in one place and consolidated.
Michael: The thing that’s good about consolidating is you eliminate surprises. I like surprises, but not in hotels.
Megan: Surprises and travel are rarely a good thing.
Michael: You rarely walk into a hotel room and go, “Oh my gosh. This is much better than I thought it was going to be.” When it’s Marriott I know what I’m going to get, for the most part. They’re pretty even from place to place, and it’s what it is.
Megan: You and I disagree a little on this, I will say, because when we go to a big city I always like to find a neat boutique hotel to stay at. So sometimes we compromise a little. Sometimes we do that, sometimes we stay at a chain, but they’re always nice, so we know it’s going to be nice. I always like the fun of that.
Michael: I think you’re looking for the experience. I’m looking for the utility. I’m just looking for a place to park my body overnight and get a good night’s sleep. I’m not going to spend that much time in the hotel, but I know you like the food and all that stuff.
Megan: The aesthetics and all the things. Yeah, absolutely.
Michael: That’s fine.
Megan: Well, thank you for conceding from time to time.
Michael: Another key thing to do is to plan a down day on the back side of a trip.
Megan: Oh my gosh. This is so important.
Michael: For short trips it’s not that important. Again, I came home after this vacation. Yesterday was my first day back at the office, and unfortunately, because of our workload right now, I didn’t have a down day. I got about half done what I needed to get done because I was trying to catch up. It’s just another reminder… In fact, I journaled about this today, the one lesson I wanted to learn from yesterday, and it was “Never, ever come back without a free day to be able to catch up.” It’s just not worth it.
Megan: What that really means is a day with no meetings where you can be in the office, catch up on email, correspondence, updating projects, updating your team, all those kinds of things.
Michael: To kind of get reoriented to the work. I had lunch with you, which was great. I found out how the business is doing and all that. I need that. Then I can hit the ground running on the second day, not the first day.
Megan: Okay, so this is not all about looking good at the airport; it’s about setting yourself up for a win. You get what you pay for, and if you want to have the margin to be refreshed and ready it’s worth the cost. I think that’s the takeaway here.
Michael: Exactly. That’s how I think about it. I think about “How is this going to affect my energy level?” If I’m spending all that money to get someplace else, I darn sure better be at my most productive, most focused, most effective state. That means I have to rest. I can’t be worn out, and I want to take care of myself. So I’m evaluating everything in terms of whether it’s sucking my energy away or if it’s going to be something that’s going to keep me in good shape so I can perform at my best.
Megan: Chances are whatever you’re going on a trip for is some kind of performance that really matters. You’re going to give a speech. You’re going to try to make a deal. You’re going to try to acquire a client. You really need to be at the top of your game. You can’t afford to ignore this stuff and go in at less than your best and expect to get the results you want.
Michael: That’s where I don’t get the logic of going cheap. You’re probably doing one of the most important things you do in your job, like you just said, and to not equip yourself so you have the energy and focus to really make that count just doesn’t make sense.
Megan: You kind of want to think of yourself like an athlete before a game day. What would you do? All right. The first tip is to trade money for margin. Let’s move on to the second tip.
Michael: The second tip is to invest in the right gear. I have to admit I get a little geeky about this. I love my travel gear. I buy a lot of bags, a lot of travel gear. I’m testing it, and it’s like I’m on this quest, this search for the Holy Grail of travel gear.
Megan: Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you think about it), I think you must have passed this along to me. I’m not sure if it’s genetic or what, but I too have the quest for the perfect bag and I too buy many bags.
Michael: I know, and I feel the need to apologize to your husband Joel who’s in the room. Joel, I’m sorry. Evidently that was passed on.
Megan: I just consider it R&D, so it’s fine.
Michael: Yeah, exactly. That’s how I look at it: R&D. But Larry, who’s sitting in the room with us, has a bag he bought like in 1998, and it’s the bag he still uses. I want to see this bag, because I’m convinced it probably has duct tape and chicken wire and all this stuff holding it together. You see those people going through the airport. Right? They have this gear that’s barely held together, and they’re proud of it.
Megan: Hey, whatever works for you.
Michael: So, having the right gear can be a little bit expensive, but again, I think having the right gear is going to save you time and energy. I want to know where my stuff is. I want to have the right stuff with me. I don’t want to have to think about it. I don’t want to be frustrated because I’m trying to find something I forgot and left at home.
Megan: I would also say it may be more expensive on the front end, but the chances are it’s not more expensive over the lifetime of the bag. If you buy something inexpensive, if you buy a $150 suitcase instead of a $350 suitcase, chances are you’re going to be replacing that every couple of years at minimum, and you’re probably going to end up ahead on a better investment.
Michael: Well, I buy the theory of that, but if you’re travel geeks like us you’re replacing the gear anyway.
Megan: That’s true.
Michael: So in theory that would hold unless you have an addiction.
Megan: Listen. These are the things I tell myself late at night. Okay?
Michael: Exactly. This is how you justify pushing the “click” button on Amazon.
Michael: So Megan and I are going to describe our travel gear as we unfold it, unfurl it, and get into it. This is not a video program. Last time we did something like this people were asking, “Where was the video?” There’s no video. You’re just going to have to imagine this. Imagine this is NPR and we’re describing sort of a “man on the street,” in-store kind of experience. You’ll just have to imagine it.
Megan: We’re also going to include the links to these items in the show notes, so if you want to purchase them or check them out and get more information you can do that online. So don’t worry. You’re not completely in the dark here.
Michael: We have all of the affiliate links to Amazon, so you can get all the stuff.
Megan: Full disclosure.
Michael: Speaking of travel gear, I want to share with you a resource I can’t travel without. It’s our Full Focus Planner, and for this week only we’re doing a flash sale. Until Friday, June 29, you can get the Full Focus Planner for 20 percent off a single planner and 25 percent off an annual subscription. This is the perfect time for you to recommit to your goals now that the year is more than halfway over.
If you don’t know anything about the planner, the Full Focus Planner is a physical planner to help you distill your big annual goals into daily actions. We have over 100,000 customers around the world who are enjoying greater productivity and success using this planner. With our 90-day planner, you can carefully craft every day to bring you one step closer to your annual goals.
Also, with our annual subscription of our planner we deliver a new planner to your doorstep every 90 days so you don’t have to worry about breaking your progress. Again, this is your opportunity to recommit. By upgrading to the annual subscription or just saving on a single planner, you’re making a decision to make the rest of this year count. To take advantage of this limited-time deal, go to fullfocusplanner.com.
Okay, the first bag I want to talk about is our travel bag. You have a slightly different one than I do, but we both have Eagle Creek bags. I’ve tried the Genius bags. I’ve tried all kinds of Kickstarter things because I’m a sucker for that when it’s in my Facebook feed. If a new bag comes up, it’s like, “Oh, maybe this is the one.” But I keep coming back to the Eagle Creek Tarmac 22-inch.
Megan: I feel like we should have entitled this segment “Let the Geekery Begin,” because it’s happening.
Michael: By the way, we should have gotten a sponsorship from Eagle Creek.
Megan: I know. Send us your bags, Eagle Creek. We love them.
Michael: Here’s why I like this bag. This bag I can carry on. In fact, even in those Delta regional jets you can carry this on. I did not know that until recently, but the new ones…
Megan: Wait, wait, wait. Seriously?
Michael: Yes. Not all of them, but the new ones, yes.
Megan: You can’t see this on the podcast, but my head is exploding right now.
Michael: Here’s the thing I hate doing. I hate having to either check my overnight bag or, even worse, to gate check it.
Megan: Which I feel like is such a rip-off, because you think you’re getting to carry it on, but it’s like a fake-out. You’re not getting to carry it on.
Michael: Then you have to wait in that cattle line for your bags to come up. That is so broken.
Megan: There are always the people who don’t understand you can only be on one side so people can get by. Anyway, that’s a whole other podcast.
Michael: Elon Musk needs to reengineer that process. This is his new assignment.
Megan: Okay, back to the bag.
Michael: Here’s the thing I like about this bag. First of all, it’s super durable. It has this ballistic nylon stuff.
Megan: Ballistic nylon. That sounds so great.
Michael: Yeah, you can kind of hear what that sounds like.
Megan: It kind of gives me the chills.
Michael: The thing I like about this and why I gave up on the Genius bag is this has a great handle on it. It’s sturdy, and I can flip my other bag, which I’m going to talk about in a minute, on top of this and carry two bags through the airport. The thing I like about this is that if I want to take one bag with me I can. I got this idea from a website called onebag.com. You know, one bag to rule them all.
I can’t remember who first started talking about this idea of just having one bag. Oh, I know what it was. It was George Clooney in the movie Up in the Air. He has one bag, and he’s just wheeling through the airport with one bag, and I thought, “That is so cool, so minimalist.” Well, I can do that with this one, because on the outside of it I have this nice pocket my laptop will fit into perfectly.
Megan: It’s kind of like a little envelope pocket.
Michael: Yeah, it’s like a little envelope, but not only that. Look at how big that is.
Megan: Oh my gosh. You could put a binder in there. If you came for a meeting you could put books in there.
Michael: I could put my tablet.
Megan: It’s probably about 2-1/2 inches deep and 12 or 13 inches.
Michael: Yeah, probably 15 inches. I could literally put a 15-inch laptop in there if I wanted to. Plus it has all this space up here on the top. There’s another little compartment above that.
Megan: That’s where I like to put power cords and things so they’re easily accessible.
Michael: I do too. Or stuff like I put my sunglasses in there, things I’m going to need while I’m on the road, my boarding pass. By the way, I have specific places I put all this stuff so I don’t lose it. Now just a little secret. When I’m traveling with your mom, she puts her boarding pass who knows where, wherever is convenient at the moment, and then she can never find it when we’re trying to check on. I have one place I always put it where I can always look. Okay, here’s the main compartment. Honestly, this isn’t that special. It’s just big enough…
Megan: It just works.
Michael: I can travel probably three days with this carry-on bag. It does have a compartment over here on the lid side of it that has some mesh.
Megan: So you can see through it, put your dirty stuff over there.
Michael: Well, actually I don’t do that. I put my underwear and stuff over there. It’s my own system. Then I have shirts and pants and shoes and everything on the left side.
Megan: It’s really the next level. Okay.
Michael: One other little feature, and then I’ll let you talk about your bag. I like that the back of this has a place for your luggage ID to go, so you can put a business card in there or something.
Megan: I like that too. It’s a little mesh window.
Michael: It’s a kind of window on the very back so you can put your ID there. So that’s it. There’s nothing special about it except that it just works. I’ve taken hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of miles with this thing, and it works.
Megan: I have that very bag you have, and I love it, but we were on a trip to Chicago last year where our flight got delayed by hours and hours. I don’t know how many miles we walked in the airport.
Michael: We got our steps in. Let’s put it that way.
Megan: We got our steps in. What I found was that my forearm was really tired by having to hold the bag at an angle with my other bag that was very full on top of it, so I went ahead and bought the spinner version of the Eagle Creek Tarmac 22. So I have four wheels. It has kind of a hard case on the back to hold the wheel system. The downside is you lose a little bit of space, so this is probably not my go-to for winter when I need that extra space if we’re going somewhere cold, but I really love it.
The other thing that you didn’t mention that I love about these bags is there are handles everywhere. There’s a handle on the bottom. There’s a handle on the top. There’s a handle on the side. When I go to lift this in an overhead bin, it’s really easy to do it in a way that’s not awkward. You know how you’re sitting down below one of those overhead bins and somebody tries to lift their bag up awkwardly and they almost take you out in the process? That’s not going to happen with this bag. Another thing is it’s a little bit shorter in the front. This pocket we talked about, the laptop envelope, is a little bit shorter. I can still pretty much fit my laptop in there. It might stick out a little bit.
Michael: Okay, let me hand you my laptop.
Megan: All right. I’m testing it. I’m borrowing your laptop to do this. See? It sticks out just a little bit.
Michael: What about if you put it the other way?
Megan: Oh! It totally works.
Michael: You know, I make it look easy, but…
Megan: Right here on Lead to Win I got my life solved. So you can, in fact, fit the 13-inch MacBook Pro here in the front pocket. All of the other features are pretty much the same as your bag. Great strong handle in the back, which is really important.
Michael: I’m having a little bag envy.
Megan: I think you really need both, I’m just going to say.
Michael: I like the spinners because, again, it’s less effort to move it through the airport.
Megan: Especially if the airport is crowded. You just take up less of a footprint. I have the other one, and I find that I hit people by accident.
Michael: I think there may be a purchase in my future this afternoon.
Megan: Now, in the perfect world of one bag that would be it, but sometimes you need more than one bag. So let’s talk about our laptop bags. Usually the truth is we travel with two bags most often.
Michael: I want to talk about that. When I really want to be minimalistic and go all George Clooney I’ll do the one bag thing, but honestly, I like having my laptop accessible at my feet, and I like all of my cords and all my geekery with me. So I have a bag I want to talk about. This may be the best bag ever invented.
Megan: Until next year.
Michael: This is the closest I’ve come to bag nirvana, and I’ve had this bag or a version of this bag for about two years. This is the eBags Professional Slim Laptop Bag. It’s basically a backpack, but you’re going to freak out. You’re going to want one of these.
Megan: It looks kind of techy. Like, if you were some kind of tech guru in Silicon Valley you would probably walk around with that.
Michael: Well, kind of, but it’s black. It’s a business thing.
Megan: Yeah, it’s sleek and minimalist. I feel like this would be consistent with the Apple brand aesthetic.
Michael: And it’s small. Look at it. It’s called a “slim” because it’s not very thick.
Megan: It’s probably about 20 inches long and maybe 4-1/2 inches wide.
Michael: I don’t think it’s 20 inches. I think maybe more like 18, but anyway, let me tell you about some of the features. The very first thing on the front of it is you have a zipper pouch right here.
Megan: What do you do with that?
Michael: They call that a Napoleon pocket, because, as you can see, if you were Napoleon… Basically, you can slip a boarding pass or a passport in there.
Michael: I love that, because, again, I never forget where my boarding pass is. When I’m traveling with this bag it always goes there. Now when you open that up, there’s a little bit of flap on the outside, and you open this up. Look at that.
Megan: Oh my gosh.
Michael: It’s orange on the inside.
Megan: I am the aesthetics geek around here, and I just love it when something looks kind of nondescript on the outside but then has a “wow” on the inside. That burnt orange, which looks kind of like UT Austin orange, is really beautiful.
Michael: Isn’t that cool? It allows you to see what you’re doing. If it was just black you’d miss it.
Megan: This is my big complaint with women’s purses. They’re all lined in black, and you put stuff in there and can’t find anything.
Michael: Right. As if you could anyway, but I digress.
Megan: That’s another show.
Michael: So there are all of these mesh pockets. I have USB flash drives in this one. I have my adapter for my MacBook Pro that allows me to put in other plugs. I have a place for my glasses in here, my reading glasses and sunglasses. I have a spot here where I put all my presentation kind of stuff, like my remote clicker and all that. It has a pen holder.
Megan: So things you’re using when you’re speaking, in other words.
Michael: Yeah. I can hold two pens in here. Then it has two other pockets.
Megan: Oh my gosh. Pockets within pockets.
Michael: I keep all my adapters, because when I’m traveling and especially if I’m speaking somewhere I never know what kind of machine I’m going to be hooked up to. So I have all of the adapters.
Megan: Let me ask you a question about that. Do you leave this fully loaded all the time?
Megan: Okay, you do. So you’re not emptying it out every time.
Megan: Why do you do that?
Michael: Because it’s too much hassle. It just was cheaper for me to buy a second set of cords, and I’m ready to go. I never have to think about, “Okay, I have to remember to get that cord, and I have to remember to get that cord,” and try to pull it all back together and put it in here. It’s all ready to go.
Megan: This is a breakthrough for me. I don’t do this. There are three parts of my packing I hate: first, getting the cords; second, packing my medicine, although I think I have a good solution on that; and third, makeup. Just all the little stuff you have to put together. So I think I’m going to have a duplicate set of makeup, I’m going to have a duplicate set of cords, and now my medicine is kind of being arranged.
Michael: I’m going to show you that on the medicine here in a second. Okay, so zip that bad boy back up. This makes this bag cool. Do you know how you’re always hassling with all the cords and they’re all in the way of everything else and it just makes you feel like everything is a mess? This thing has what they call a garage. At the very bottom of the bag you open up this little compartment. Check this out. These are all my power cords.
Megan: This is like a little Easter basket full of every cord you could ever need. That’s amazing, and it’s the size of a kid’s shoebox. It’s tiny.
Michael: Yeah, it’s tiny. I have the brick that runs my MacBook Pro, which I think is a 65-watt. Then I have a 29-watt, two of these, one that powers my iPad Pro and another one that powers my phone. Now get this. A lot of people don’t know this, but those little bitty iPhone rechargers…
Megan: Yeah, they’re terrible.
Michael: First of all, they don’t charge that fast. This is a fast charging option. More wattage means faster charging. This will charge an iPhone and an iPad Pro very quickly. Then I have all of the cords that are in here too, and check this out. This is really cool. This will make you a hero sometimes. This is an extension cord. If I plug this in at an airport, suddenly it gives me three additional AC power outlets and a USB one. You know how somebody is always camping on the AC plugs and you’re trying to find one to recharge? I’ll just go up and say, “Hey, would you mind sharing that with me?” and I’ll just plug this in, and we’ll both have one.
Megan: I learned this from you, and it has made my life better ever since. That’s fantastic. Okay, we haven’t even gotten to the inside of this bag, by the way. We’re still on the front side of it with all of the pockets. So what in the world is on the inside?
Michael: Okay, this has two inside compartments. By the way, it also has a water bottle carrier on the side.
Megan: Incredible. You are not going to be dehydrated.
Michael: No, I’m not going to be dehydrated. I typically use one of these for my sunglasses if I’m taking both bags. I put my sunglasses in here and the water back in the other one. Then inside here is a place for books, like I put my Full Focus Planner in here, and I put this little bag.
Megan: What’s in that little bag?
Michael: I’m going to come back to that little bag. That’s the magic bag. I’m going to come back to that in a second.
Megan: It’s a mesh bag that’s probably like a 6” by 3” bag that’s an Eagle Creek bag. We don’t know what’s in it because it’s black mesh and we can’t see through it.
Michael: But I’m going to show you what’s in it.
Megan: We’re going to find out in a minute.
Michael: When I open the back compartment there is plenty of room for my laptop.
Megan: That’s padded it looks like.
Michael: It’s padded. Beautiful. It also has another flap thing in here so I can put manila folders or a notebook or something else in there. It’s really big for being as slim as it is. One last thing, and then I’ll get to the mesh bag. It also has a little pocket in here that’s lined with this soft fleece kind of stuff for my tablet.
Michael: Isn’t it amazing that it all fits in there?
Megan: I’m very impressed. I personally don’t love backpacks because I find that they rub my clothes when I wear them, and I’ve had pilling on sweaters and things like that. I don’t know if that’s a woman thing. I don’t know what it is.
Michael: Let me make sure I understand that. So when you’re carrying a backpack it messes up your sweaters.
Megan: Yes. Like I’ll have on my hips or anywhere where there’s a strap making contact with a shirt… You’re probably wearing a dress shirt, but I might be wearing something like a softer fabric that the friction causes to pill. So, for me, a backpack is not a great option, but that’s sweet.
Michael: But check this out. You can also carry this as a briefcase. There’s a handle right here, which turns it into a complete briefcase. There’s a handle here so you can hold it vertically or horizontally, and there are backpack straps inside of here, which you can pull and they tuck away.
Megan: And it has padding for your back. That’s pretty amazing.
Michael: Super comfortable.
Megan: I’m feeling very insecure about sharing my options with you next, because that’s pretty impressive.
Michael: I want to get to the little bag, but let’s go to your…
Megan: Well, tell us what’s in the little bag. I feel like the people cannot wait for what’s in the little bag. And by “the people” I mean me.
Michael: The little bag is the accumulation of decades of research.
Megan: Wow. All in 6” by 3”.
Michael: Whenever you’re in a hotel room and you think, “Dang! Why don’t I have X?” and you’re already in your pajamas and you don’t want to run downstairs and buy one, this bag has it, and it’s not that big.
Megan: Okay, I’m dying to know.
Michael: Here we go. First of all, we have some earplugs.
Megan: Oh, can’t live without those. Got it.
Michael: Just in case. Then I have an assortment of pill bags. Some of these need to be reloaded because I just got back from a trip.
Megan: So that’s all your medicine?
Michael: That’s all my medication. I don’t take any medications except that these are over-the-counter stuff, like if I have a headache. It’s like Excedrin, Aleve, Advil, and so forth. Those are nice. Instead of carrying a big pill bottle I have just a few… Because you’re not going to use that much. I have a comb.
Megan: Got to have it.
Michael: I have the blackout shades.
Megan: That’s like an eye mask. Let’s be clear.
Michael: It’s like a mask. Right. I have a toothbrush.
Megan: So this is kind of like a toiletry bag.
Michael: Exactly. And check this out.
Megan: A Tide pen.
Michael: A Tide pen, which I’ve actually used, and some emergency Starbucks VIA in case I get to a room that doesn’t have in-room coffee, which, by the way, should be illegal. Then I’ve also swiped from those same rooms where they do have coffee the condiment packs so that I have the sugar and the cream and all that kind of stuff.
Megan: But do you have a collapsible cup? I’m just wondering how that would work.
Michael: No, but this is crazy. I have a little rag to clean my eyeglasses with. I have a wine opener. Very super slender. I haven’t used this too often, but occasionally you get someplace where you wish you had a wine opener. And fingernail clippers and a spoon.
Megan: Also for the coffee. I’m telling you, you’re really missing the collapsible cup.
Michael: Yeah, they probably have those at REI, and maybe I should invest in one.
Megan: They probably do for camping. No doubt.
Michael: So that’s my little magic bag, and it goes over here.
Megan: Wow. That is a really hard act to follow. If I would have known your level of preparation I would have prepared more myself, like I would have brought my little black bag, but alas, I don’t have one today. I have kind of thought about this from a female perspective, which is a little bit different, because normally you have a purse and a second bag, something to put your laptop in and all of your business materials, and you have your suitcase.
Well, that’s too many pieces to carry on, so you have to find another solution. The solutions I have come to that I really like are two different Tumi bags. I love the Tumi brand. It’s admittedly expensive, so this is going to be an investment. I’ll share another lower cost option.
Michael: They’re heavy materials too, typically. Durable.
Megan: They are really heavy materials. The biggest thing I look for in a bag, and this is rare in women’s bags that have the capacity to be what you need for travel, is it can slip over the handles of your suitcase. Otherwise, you’re carrying a heavy tote bag for what feels like miles in an airport. It doesn’t work. I have two different Tumi bags. This is a new one I’m actually going to be testing tomorrow when you and I go to Chicago. It’s called the Tumi Venus Business Tote. That’s kind of a mouthful. This is a coated canvas material.
Megan: It’s a gray, mottled-looking texture and pattern. It has a little bit of a linen texture to it, but it’s very heavy. Not heavyweight but very durable feeling.
Michael: Let me lift that.
Megan: Yeah, not heavy. Are you going to be my model? Great. It looks like a tote bag on the outside, but it has some cool features. First of all, it has a front pocket where it’s kind of deep. You could put a tablet in here. You could put your phone. You could put a wallet in there. You could strap your key. It has this little key hook in there, which is nice.
That’s one of the things that’s important to me. I have to have a front pocket or a side pocket where I can put the essentials so I’m not digging through a big bag when I’m trying to board a plane or go through security. That’s no fun. Then when you open it up… This bag is probably, I would guess, 22 inches wide by maybe 20 inches tall, something like that.
Michael: That would fit a puppy or a small child.
Megan: Well, you never know. You might need to. This has three big compartments. I could put in here, for example, some notebooks, some books I’m taking on a plane. I could also put my toiletries. Normally what I do is I actually take my toiletries in my bag, because if I lose my suitcase I want my makeup and I want clean underwear and I want my hair products. With that I feel like I could manage with the same outfit for a second day.
Then there is a center compartment for a laptop. Although I don’t normally carry my laptop in there, it’s nice to have. It’s padded. Then there are some other smaller zippered compartments. Oh, that’s nice. That’s kind of minky. Feel that.
Michael: Oh, that is.
Megan: It’s a small pocket on the inside.
Michael: What’s that for?
Megan: I don’t know. Probably sunglasses, something that would scratch. Or glasses, which I’m always taking.
Michael: Do you think it would look weird if I carried that bag?
Megan: Probably. There are several other pockets. I would include in here my laptop, potentially my tablet, my phone, a wallet that has a wristlet so I don’t have to carry a second purse. That’s really important.
Michael: What’s a wristlet?
Megan: It’s like a wallet with a little leather loop you can just carry. Kind of like a purse, but it’s all inclusive.
Michael: Like your credit cards and cash?
Megan: Yeah. It would have room for your phone. So when we go to dinner I don’t have to carry this big bag with me. Here’s the most important part. The back part has a sleeve that opens up. It’s very nice and compact when it’s not open, but it fits perfectly over the handle of the suitcase, so basically with this little spinner bag I can just have my hand on one piece. I can easily get in and out of this bag with no trouble. Okay, the other bag I have is called the Tumi Voyageur Mansion Carry-All. It’s really a mouthful.
Michael: Mansion carry-all?
Megan: I know. I don’t know what the rationale is. It’s a nylon, soft-sided bag. This is great for an overnight bag.
Michael: It looks kind of similar to the other one.
Megan: It’s very similar, except it’s not rigid at all. It’s a little more spacious. There are no dividing compartments. This is great for taking clothes and shoes. You could probably fit two pairs of shoes, easily an outfit, your toiletries, and then there’s a compartment on the front for your laptop, which is great, and there are also places for water bottles, all kinds of stuff. This is a great multipurpose bag. I don’t love it for business travel quite as much because it’s floppier. This would be great if it was the only bag you were taking, but the reason I upgraded to the other one is because I like the rigidity of it a little better.
Michael: Now when you’re parked in your seat on the plane… You obviously put the overnight bag above. Right?
Megan: Yeah, or day check it.
Michael: What do you do with your other bag, the smaller bag?
Megan: I normally take that with me to the seat. That normally fits no problem, and it’s fine. I normally sit by the window, and I just put it next to my legs. It has everything I need there, which is awesome.
Michael: By the way, this is one of the reasons I don’t like to sit on the bulkhead.
Megan: Because there’s nowhere to put your stuff.
Michael: There’s no place to put your laptop bag.
Megan: If the cost of those Tumi bags, being in the $300 and $400 range, is too much for you, which totally makes sense, there are a couple of other options I really like. There’s a company called Lo & Sons. They have a bag called the Brookline laptop bag, which also has a bunch of neat compartments. It’s about $180, I think. It has the sleeve on the back that will go over your carry-on bag, which, to me, is all I really care about.
They also have a bag that’s called the O.G., which is the smaller version, and the O.M.G., which is the larger version. Again, they’re made out of similar materials. Those are both considered overnight bags, especially the O.M.G. has a little more space so you could put some other things in there. Those are great options that are a little bit less expensive but still have a lot of utility and I think will accomplish some of the similar things we’re talking about that are important.
Michael: Awesome. The point is not our particular equipment, because our needs are different than everybody else’s needs, but the point is you can always improve what you have. With a little intention and a little thought, a little bit of research, and the constant iteration of improving it over time, travel can be so much less hassle, and you can arrive refreshed, energetic, focused, and ready to get on with whatever you’re there for.
Megan: The truth is these small tweaks and intentionality really make a big difference. It seems like small things, and you may be wondering why in the world we’d spend so much money on this kind of stuff, but it’s because it matters. Certainly, you don’t have to spend to the extent that we have. There are many great solutions at all kinds of price points, but it can really improve not only the quality of your travel but the quality of the results you’re able to produce once you get there and certainly the quality of your life when you get home.
Megan: Today we’ve learned you can arrive refreshed, rested, and ready to go by applying these tips. First, spend money for margin, and secondly, to invest in the right gear. As we wrap it up today, I just want to remind you it’s worth spending a little extra on the right things. If you’re willing to get the right equipment and accommodations, you can be highly productive on the road. Dad, do you have any final thoughts for today?
Michael: Yeah, I would just say, as we so often say, start with the end in mind. How do you want to arrive? What do you want to be like in the hotel room? Do you want to have all the stuff you normally need? Do you want to be refreshed? Do you not want it to be a hassle? Travel is a hassle, even under the best of conditions, so to de-hassle it is going to require some thought and some research, and it’s really worth doing.
Megan: Remember to check back on Thursday for a “bonusode.” That’s right, a bonus episode, which is an interview with Jim Kelly, who’s going to tell us all about the best apps to use for organizing your travel. As we close, I want to thank our sponsor LeaderBox. It provides automated personal development in a box. Check it out at leaderbox.com.
Michael: Be sure to check out the show notes for today’s program, including links to the travel gear we talked about today. You can also download a full transcript at leadto.win. If you like the show, please tell your friends and colleagues about it, and also please leave a review. That helps us so much, and we’ve made it really easy to do. Just go to mh.fullfocus.co/reviewit.
Megan: The program is copyrighted by Michael Hyatt & Company. All rights reserved. Our producer is Nick Jaworski.
Michael: Our writers are Joel Miller and Lawrence Wilson.
Megan: Our recording engineer is Mike Burns.
Michael: Our production assistant is Natalie Fockel.
Megan: Our intern is Winston.
Michael: Just a reminder that Megan and I are going on sabbatical for the next five weeks, so we won’t have a show, but don’t go anywhere, because we’re going to be running our best of the best shows over the last year for the next five weeks, and then when we get back we’re going to be talking about the four daily rituals that are guaranteed to make you super productive. Until then, lead to win.