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Hop Over to Last-Minute Easter Gifts, Right at the Airport

Hop Over to Last-Minute Easter Gifts, Right at the Airport

Going home for Easter but not in the mood to pay luggage fees to pack gifts for the family? You don’t have to waste precious luggage space or worry about selecting gifts that will make it through security; these days, you can find fabulous gifts for your loved ones right at the airport, saving you shopping time and energy. Thankfully Easter is a pretty low-maintenance holiday when it comes to giving gifts (looking at you, Christmas and Hannukah), so a simple card and box of chocolates will suffice. Most stores have pre-made Easter baskets and boxes prepared, making your job even easier. If you’re feeling that extra “Spring” in your step, bring home flowers for mom – she deserves it!
Easter

Knowing where to go is half the battle. Plan some extra time at your departure airport or take a little time when you land to find yourself a chocolate shop and a Hudson Booksellers  to purchase cards. Because there are so many quality options at airports these days, you will surely find a gift to bring home for Easter that does not scream “last-minute.” Here is a list of chocolate and gift shops at various airports that will melt your heart (and theirs!):

EasterInsider Tip: While you nibble on that extra chocolate treat you picked up for yourself, use your time on the plane to express how much you care in each of the cards you picked up.  Everyone loves a heartfelt handwritten note!

Gourmet Burgers at Grounded in St. Louis

Gourmet Burgers at Grounded in St. Louis

This is not your mother’s fast food burger! Grounded in St. Louis offers on-the-go diners gourmet burgers, made to order. The menu offers a variety of mouth-watering concoctions made from local beef, like the Sunrise, a burger topped with bacon, cheddar and a sunny-side-up egg. Don’t forget a side of fried pickle chips!

Pro Tip: Burgers for everyone! The kid’s menu includes burger and chicken options to please the smallest foodies.

Image credit: Lara Pasternak

From A to X…that’s ATL to LAX; the Airports Business Travelers Know All Too Well

From A to X…that’s ATL to LAX; the Airports Business Travelers Know All Too Well

My flight is touching down for landing. It has been a smooth flight; thankfully I was able to catch some Z’s since I have been sick as of late and run down. I don’t have much time when I land at MSP; I have a two and a half hour drive to lovely La Crosse, Wisconsin-my final destination. The good news is that when I return to Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport (MSP) tomorrow, I will have an hour or so to relax and visit some of my favorite places in the airport. Think: Minnesota Wild Sports Bar for some amazing Bavarian Pretzel Sticks.  Or Brookstone-who doesn’t love the latest gadget and a free massage by chair?Drink in airport that offers international airport wifi in Dallas Fort Worth

While the fact that I have favorite places at airports is more of a statement about my work/life balance these days, it is imperative to know these places to keep me sane on the road (and tarmac). Any business traveler can tell you that they have a list of their favorite airports, a list of airports that they frequent (which hopefully match the previously mentioned list) and a list of airports they aim to avoid if at all possible. When you fly a lotyou spend an inordinate amount of time in the terminal, waiting. And although staying glued to the mobile phone is and/or laptop is always an option, sometimes I want need to disconnect. If you are like me, this parlays itself into keeping a running tab on where to go during your layover for eating, drinking and shopping. That’s why one of the ten commandments of the business traveler is: Know Thy Airport.

Here is a roster of airports that I transit through most frequently (you will probably start seeing tips from me about these airports, so stay tuned!):

I bet many other frequent business travelers in the United States have a similar list.  It isn’t any surprise that most of these are major airline hubs, consequentlyI am usually connecting through them to my final destination to visit my customers. I know them well given the time I spend in them. The good news is that this frequency creates time for me to be the consumer I always strive to be-trying new foods, seeking out new items to surprise my family with as an offering for my time away.

What is it inside of us that makes us want to know these places so well? There is a story that I always tell that lends itself to the comfortability of business travel. I once had a hiatus from traveling due to company budget cuts. As any business traveler knows, nearing the end of the fiscal year you probably won’t see many airports, as companies aim to improve the bottom line. After this break from the travel lifestyle, on my first trip back throughSt. Louis airport (STL) . I sent my brother a text message, Starbucks in hand, telling him how oddly comfortable I felt sitting at the airport and that I couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or just plain sad.

A man waiting at Atlanta International Airport.

Waiting at the Airport

All joking aside, there is some validity to that feeling – the same reason I stay at Marriott properties almost exclusively when I travel for business – I want to be comfortable somewhere that feels familiar and that I know well, if I can’t be home with my wife and kids.  I remember I used to hear frequent traveling friends referring to airports by code and thinking, “Wow, that is so confusing… can’t they just call it San Fransisco instead of SFO?” Nowadays, I find myself talking of my travels and sounding like I am helping my kids learn the alphabet. I just hope that I don’t teach them the wrong order when I actually do help them with their homework:

Addison: “Daddy, what comes after A?”

Daddy: “T-L honey…”

Like I said, it is human nature to want to be comfortable. Whether it is flying to the same airports and knowing the terminals well, or it is trying your darndest to fly with your favorite airline. OK, so maybe it is the sense of comfortability and the acquisition of frequent flier miles. Hey, a guy has to pay the family back for all of that time away with fun vacations. Am I right? Spring break at MCO(Orlando), here we come!!! Oh wait… we’re driving. No problem, I will use my airline miles for the hotel!

The Flying Salesman

The Business Traveler’s Top 10 Wishes for a Great Trip

The Business Traveler’s Top 10 Wishes for a Great Trip

Growing up I used to LOVE David Letterman’s Top Ten List. Every night I would stay up late (to my parents dismay) with baited breathe, waiting for pearls of wisdom from one of the greatest late night talk show hosts on television (take that CoCo and Leno!!!). When a really good one would come up, I remember trying so hard not to laugh and wake up my parents who would not hesitate to let me know that a 12 year old shouldn’t be up late watching TV. As a parent today I’d like think that I am cool, but quite frankly I’d say the same thing-so I guess my parents did right by me.

Today, I have abandoned my love of the Letterman Top Ten List as I have found a new appreciation for going to bed at 10:30. If you are laughing at this, I am assuming you don’t have a kid who gets up at 5 AM or don’t have the need to wake up early for a flight to make an early meeting (see previous post here for explanation). I do, however,  still enjoy making lists. They are imperative in the world of business… “to do” lists, customer lists, product lists… I could go on and on.

In addition to those less fun, mandatory lists, I have a favorite list to share: my Top 10 Wishes for a Great Trip. When I leave my home or office for the airport, I have a definitive list of wishes that will make that trip a great one should things go right.

Here goes:

10. Everything Fits Inside a Carry-On Bag

I have a bag given to me by my wife for my last birthday. So help me God, I will cram that thing full to the brink of breaking all of the zippers on it for a 7 day trip so that I don’t have to check a bag. I don’t mind paying bag fees; for me, it is my impatience driving my fervor here. I don’t want to wait at baggage claim or risk that the bag handlers have lost my favorite purple shirt. Real men wear purple you know…

9. Slip On Shoes

They may be dress shoes or a casual pair, depending on where you’re going and when, but for me it is imperative (and common courtesy quite frankly) to wear shoes that you can quickly slip on and off at the security checkpoint. The last thing you want to do is to stand there holding up a line of impatient travelers (like this guy right here) while you tie the laces to your brand new Cole Haans. Yes they look sharp, but if you hold up the line, no one will be impressed.

8. Coffee, Stat

When I arrive for a morning flight, my first stop past the security line is Starbucks. I speed over there and order my tall black coffee. I then sit at the gate, drink my coffee and if it is very early, I email my boss so that he can see how early I am up and at ‘em today so he won’t be quite so mad when I cut out at 2 PM on Friday. If I am in a new airport, I may take some time to browse the shops for local interest items for the family.

7. Shoe Shine and Unwind

I don’t like ironing and I detest shining my own shoes. I do, however, think that a shoe shine is for a man is like a pedicure is for a woman. The guy who shines my shoes at my airport is Roy. He does a fantastic job and speaks to you like a barber working one of those shops with the striped poles outside. Don’t know what I am talking about? Google it! Also, I read somewhere once that you should always have your shoes looking polished. Trust me, in the business world people notice stuff like that.

6. Upgrade Wanted

Hey, I fly a lot! Consequently I have good status on Delta airlines. I am not platinum but I am high enough up there to get the bump to the front of the plane about 50% of the time. No, I don’t take advantage of this to get the free drinks. I like the room, snacks and feeling of special service though.

5. Welcome, Socially Awkward Passenger or Empty Seat, Next to Me

I make no secret about it: my time in the air is MY TIME. Sometimes I work, sometimes I sleep, sometimes I read or watch a movie.   All good things. What I don’t like to do is engage in conversation with someone on the plane. OK, I have had good experiences conversing on planes before. But for the most part I like to keep to myself on the plane. No one can get a hold of me up there and I that’s what I like the most about flying.

4. Entertainment (AKA Something to Do)

As I said before, I flight time is for me to do what I want to do. Whether that be work or play. I usually try to lean more towards play during my flight. That being said, I like to read and listen to music the most so I usually with either bring a book or magazine then listen to my iPod… usually with the volume down low enough so the passenger next to me can’t hear that I am listening to show tunes… don’t judge.

3. No Connection or a Connection Through a Solid Airport

I do prefer to take direct flights when I can, but alas, given the current state of travel, the economy and ever fuller planes, this cannot happen 100% of the time (“what do you mean there isn’t a direct flight from St. Louis to Gettysburg, PA,??”). If I do have to connect, I prefer to do it through a great airport that has awesome restaurants and shopping (including a place where I can pick something up for my wife and kids-see above).

2. An Early Meeting Adjourn and Low Price Change Fee

Nothing makes my heart beat faster than to realize that my meeting ended early and now I get to go home to my family sooner than later. Cut to this moment: “What??? It will cost me $250 to change my flight? But there is no one on the plane! OK, I’ll just go have another slice from Sbarro and wait for my flight in 5 hours…” Most airlines do offer $50-$75 for a same day confirmed change which means I get to go home and see my wife and kids earlier than anticipated. Hurray!

1. FlyInStyle App is Locked and Loaded

I know… I know… but it really is a great tool to use. Think about it, one of the occurrences I mentioned previously happens: a cancelled/delayed flight, you get to the airport way too early or you aren’t able to catch that earlier flight due to cost or schedule. It’s so nice to have a tool at your disposal to help you navigate the preponderance of commerce, food and beverage that is right in your hand at the airport.  Have your own airport tip that you think we should publish? Shoot us a note through the website with your tip and we may do just that! It’s all about you, the traveler, so we have to stick together on this.

 

Seriously, download the app. Thank me later.

 

The Flying Salesman

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