Victorinox in Vail: Lightning Round with Fabienne Suter of the Swiss Ski Team

Photo: Fabienne Suter and her beautiful dog admiring their Spectra 2.0 32″!

We’re officially in Vail!

We took some time away from our busy schedules at the Victorinox Vail Pop-up to catch up with Fabienne Suter of the Swiss Ski Team and ask her some questions about her stay in Vail; her favorite things to do while in town; and her experience thus far at the 2015 FIS Alpine Ski World Championship.

Read below to find out what Fabienne enjoys doing on her spare time in Vail!

1. Is this your first visit to Vail?

– No, we often have training sessions here in Vail during November and I also did several races here already.

2. What are some of your favorite things to do while in Vail – and what are you most looking forward to doing during your stay in Vail?

– While here I’m mostly up the hills for training sessions. The conditions here are excellent and I am always very excited to do pre-season preparations here in Colorado. I also like the nice ambience, the hotels and the heart of Beaver Creek with its ice skating field in the center. There are as well cute little restaurants and shops. The race track in Beaver Creek is just breath taking. It is kind of a challenge for us women, I therefore think that the races are going to be great!

3. What do you enjoy most about competitive skiing? What has been your favorite career moment?

– I was always fascinated by the snow, nature and the winter atmosphere. These points mixed with the feeling of a perfect curve in the snow creates a brilliant feeling. Favorite career moments were my 4 world cup wins in Sestriere, Bormio, Bansko and Bad Kleinkirchheim.

4. What are some of the biggest differences between skiing in Vail and the top ski towns in Switzerland?

– The available space in Switzerland is quite small compared to Vail. The tracks are well prepared here in Vail and you have so much space for your own.

5. What is your favorite thing about Switzerland most people would not know about?

– I do appreciate the tidiness in Switzerland and the good food. You get almost everything you are looking for! Delicious chocolate, cheese, sausages and meat in the best quality.

Congratulations to Fabienne for her amazing performance during the trial runs at the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championship. Of her performance, she stated to the Vail Daily:

“You have to be on the line and you have to attack. You have to find a good mix between these two things…It’s not an easy course. To win here or get a medal you have to be … how do you say in English? Fearless.”
Fearless is right!

If you’re in Vail, don’t forget to stop by 30 East Meadow Drive next to the Sonnenalp Hotel, and join in on the fun at the #VxVailPopup.

Designer’s Corner: Inside the Hybri-Lite™ Collection

Vx_HybLiteLnch_400x159_Blog

Victorinox is excited to introduce the new Hybri-Lite Collection to travelers in the U.S. The collection was first introduced internationally due to the overwhelming need for ultra-lightweight luggage in these markets. But you know Victorinox. We are never willing to sacrifice quality or durability so the result – an innovative new take on lightweight luggage. Hybri-Lite has become a staple for today’s global traveler. To give you an inside look, we sat down with the designer to learn more about this unique, one-of-the-kind Hybri-Lite collection.

What was the inspiration behind the Hybri-Lite Collection?   

We were inspired by the trends in the automotive industry. In the past, vehicles were very neatly separated into groups: cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, etc. Today many models are more difficult to classify. There are “hybrids”, and I don’t mean that in terms of the engine. This made us think about what hybrid luggage would entail – luggage that could also meet multiple needs and preferences.

So what is hybrid luggage?

We focused on combining the strongest aspects from hardside and softside luggage into one case. We used a polycarbonate chassis covered in durable nylon fabric. This unique construction allows you to enjoy the best of both. With Hybri-Lite™, your items are protected with polycarbonate just like in a hardside case, but you can enjoy packing flexibility like in a softside case. No one else in the market has anything like Hybri-Lite™.

The Hybri-Lite Global Carry-On weighs only 5.45 lbs. It is the lightest Victorinox bag yet. How were you able to achieve this?

We focused on making every aspect of the case as light as possible while still maintaining our standards of durability. By combining a flexible nylon exterior with a highly resilient 100% polycarbonate frame, we were able to reduce the weight of the bag without sacrificing its durability. The polycarbonate plays a large role in this. It offers a high level of protection and ruggedness while being very lightweight.

There are many lightweight bags on the market, what makes Hybri-Lite so special?  

Most lightweight bags on the market do not have framing, the structure that protects your packed items. Hybri-Lite includes a polycarbonate frame made of the same material used to construct some of the best hardside luggage cases on the market. We also kept all of the amenities like pockets and expansion. Hybri-Lite has all the features travelers expect in a fully framed bag. Additionally, Hybri-Lite was held to the same rigorous testing standards as the rest of our Victorinox luggage. There really were no compromises with this collection.

What are other features make this collection stand out from other luggage in its class?

With Hybri-Lite, you can truly expect more from your lightweight bag. The collection features premium Hinomoto wheels. The Hinomoto brand is known for high quality casters that minimize resistance for smooth roll. In addition, Hybri-Lite features an air-craft grade aluminum dual-trolley handle system that locks into three different positions so you can choose the one that is most comfortable for you. And did I mention that this bag has more packing capacity than any bag in its class?

What type of traveler will appreciate this collection the most?

This is a great option for the global traveler whose biggest concern is weight. International airline carry-on regulations are stricter than those in the U.S. putting more pressure on people to travel light. The Hybri-Lite Global Carry-On was developed to meet this need and make traveling abroad a little easier.

Have you traveled with this bag and where did you take it?

Recently I took the Hybri-Lite 20 Global Carry-On to New York for a three-day trip. We stayed in the Meatpacking District where we did quite a bit of walking. We visited the High Line as well as local galleries and restaurants. The bag coped with the cobblestones very well. I was able to pack everything I needed for the trip in just one carry-on and still had room for the clothes I purchased there.

From your personal experience, what is your best advice when choosing luggage?

Because you asked for my personal opinion, first, choose Victorinox luggage because it is going to outlast the competition. There is a reason why the Victorinox brand has built a reputation for unsurpassed quality and reliability. Second, if you are looking for ultra-light luggage, choose Hybri-Lite. It looks good and you will not have to worry when you throw it on the scale at the airport. Depending on how you pack, of course. I can’t help you if you insist on bring six pairs of boots on a five-day trip.

TRG_31317001_17201_1730

 

Innovation Opens Doors And Wins Awards

IMG_1110_2We are thrilled to announce that the Spectra™ 2.0 Dual-Access Extra-Capacity Carry-On has been selected as Best Luggage in the 2014 Travel + Leisure Design Awards! Victorinox Travel Gear Vice President of Product Strategy & Design, Dan Tarala and Travel Gear Senior Designer, Jacob Lusson accepted the award in New York during the tenth annual Travel + Leisure Design Awards gala last night. 

31318102__000_F

A distinguished jury chose the best of the year based on the idea that “innovative design makes travel better.”  We couldn’t agree more. “It’s very exciting that Spectra™ 2.0 has received this award for best luggage design. We really wanted to design a case that is stylish and practical—something that makes travel and packing more convenient. This acknowledgement from Travel + Leisure confirms that we were able to achieve this,” said Senior Travel Gear Designer, Jacob Lusson.

 

The Spectra™ 2.0 Collection pushes hardside luggage design to new heights, offering travelers a convergence of style, protection and convenience. Specifically, the Spectra™ 2.0 Dual-Access Extra-Capacity Carry-On is equipped with an integrated front zippered quick-access door and organizational panel to give the traveler on-the-go accessibility to the things they need most while traveling like a laptop, tablet, tickets, passport and more. This dual-access construction also allows you to pack two ways – through the front quick-access door or through the main compartment opening.  Additionally, the entire collection, including this award-winning style, is designed to be ultra-light without sacrificing durability.  These 100% pure Bayer polycarbonate cases feature a stylish, scratch-resistant matte finish along with protective corner guards.  And to ensure a smooth, stable roll, eight wheels and a dual-trolley handle system round out Spectra™ 2.0 to deliver a performance-focused design at every turn.

 

To learn more about this collection and its innovative design, check out the exclusive interview with the collection’s designer and visit spectra.victorinox.com.

Victorinox and T+L Design Awards
Nancy Novogrod Senior Vice President/Editorial Director, American Express Publishing, Editor in Chief, Travel + Leisure presenting the award to Victorinox Travel Gear Senior Designer, Jacob Lusson. Photo: Diane Bondareff / Travel + Leisure.

IMG_3270     image004

image001

           IMG_3279

Christmas Came Early To Oprah’s House!

Oprah_Luggage_Gift_2013Oprah Winfrey is funding the college educations of 17 girls who graduated from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.  Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Oprah hosted the young women at her home.  She wanted to surprise them with new luggage to take to college and decided the Victorinox Werks Traveler™ 4.0 Collection would be the perfect fit!

Each student received a 3-piece set: The WT Wheeled Large Capacity Duffel, WT 27 Dual-Caster Upright and the WT 20 Dual-Caster Expandable Carry-On, all in various colors.  The bags were also monogrammed to give the gift a personal touch.

Oprah shared the special moment on Instagram saying “Christmas came early to our house. College girls need luggage that looks good and lasts. Thanks @victorinoxswissarmy!”  She also included a photo of all of the girls with their new travel companions.

Jetsetter Series: Five Countries in Two Weeks with Forbes Travel Writer, Laurie Werner

VX_LaurieWerner_Blog_Image_2

For this edition of the Victorinox Travel Gear Jetsetter Series, we sat down with Forbes travel writer Laurie Werner, who has visited more than 50 countries over the course of her career.  Her vast travel experience has made for some unbelievable memories and a wealth of knowledge. Read on for Laurie’s anecdotes on a recent five country trip that you won’t find anywhere else.

VTG: How many countries have you visited and can you list them all?

LW: I’ve been to 58 countries, but had to refer to a list to remember them all. The countries I’ve been to multiple times came to me pretty quickly – France, Australia, Greece, China, India, Morocco and the U.K., to name a few.

VTG: Your most recent travels brought you to eight locations – tell us where you visited.

LW: I flew through London to Budapest, got on a river cruise on the Danube for a few days to Vienna, through the Wachau Valley and Linz where I got off and transferred to Salzburg. From Salzburg, I flew to Berlin for a few days, then to London, then up to Copenhagen and back through London to New York.

VX_LaurieWerner_Blog_Image_1VTG: Your luggage must take a beating from all of that rugged travel. What style of luggage do you typically take with you for long trips like this?

LW: I kill luggage. For trips like this in which I need nice day/night clothes, clothes for the country and for the city, clothes for hot weather (Budapest and Vienna) and freezing (Copenhagen and London), I’ll take a rolling soft sided case of about 26 inches, which I’ll check and a rolling carry-on for my computer, tablet, plugs, cords, makeup, skin care and other essentials.

Victorinox Travel Tip:  Keep carry-on essentials organized and accessible with the new Spectra™ Dual-Access Global Carry-On. The front loading door features a removable panel with padded laptop and tablet pockets.  

VTG: Tell us a little more about this trip across Europe. How did your luggage hold up throughout the process?

LW: When I checked in at JFK, I made them promise that my bag would make the connection at Heathrow and end up in Budapest, which is a notoriously precarious transfer. At the time, Heathrow was on high alert and I barely made the transfer because the security checkers went through every single item in my carry-on. In the end, the bag and I were reunited at Budapest airport where I rolled it to the van (four wheels are so great) that was transporting passengers to the cruiser on the Danube. Fortunately, a crew member took over and carried it up the plank, but whoever made my reservation neglected to tell the crew on board that I was coming, so the bags and I waited in the lounge for an hour while we all contacted the company’s offices around the world to see who was awake and would confirm that I was, indeed, supposed to be on board. Ultimately, the bags and I were transported to the Royal Suite, which wasn’t all that Royal, but was at least big enough to place the open bag on the floor – and there it remained until I departed five days later.

Victorinox Travel Tip:  Travel with a clear conscience with the Swiss Tracker™ Bag Tracking Program featured in a selection of Victorinox Travel Gear items. Once the finder calls-in the ID number, Victorinox will ship your bag to you anywhere in the world, for free.

I caught a ride in the passenger tour van to Salzburg where I said goodbye to the other passengers (a jovial group of mostly Australians), stashed my bags at the Sacher Hotel, had an apple strudel and ran around the city with a guide. My bags and I then took a taxi to the tiny airport, which the group’s tour guide described as one of the most dangerous in the world (yikes!) and we flew to Berlin. My flight demonstrated the wonders of code shares. I was ticketed on Finnair but it was an Air Berlin flight that was actually operated by FlyNiki (Niki Lauda is the former racing star now immortalized in the new film “Rush”). The FlyNiki flight attendants gave us chocolate hearts as we were leaving—nice touch.

I picked up another taxi at Tegel (the tiny airport that is still functioning as Berlin’s airport as the projected new airport suffers massive construction delay). I love Tegel because your bags come right out where you deplane and it’s just a short walk to the taxis. My driver had a hard time finding my hotel (Das Stue, a new, very chic spot right next to the Berlin Zoo). I spent two days there, running around the city, trying various new restaurants and switching hotels. The next day I moved to the Adlon next to the Brandenburg Gate, which is always impressive no matter how many times you see it. I didn’t do much sightseeing because I’ve been to Berlin a lot, but as always, I enjoyed my time there.

Vx_LaurieWerner_Blog_Image_3Victorinox Travel Tip: Organizational packing essentials like the Lifestyle Accessories 3.0 Packing Cube Set and Medium Packmaster help keep your belongings in check so you can spend more time seeing the sights. 

Two days later, I flew back to Heathrow where I planned to rent a car. I couldn’t find the car rental agency because it had moved away from the lots. Since I was dragging the bags around a lot looking for it, those four wheels really helped. Ultimately, I found it and headed out to Elstree, as I was staying at the Manor by Laura Ashley, a hotel owned and recently renovated by the design company. The property is beautiful but how weird it was to be in the suburbs of London. You can even see London from the garden.

The next day I took the car back to Heathrow. Because of the various gifts I had purchased and information packs I’d picked up along the way, my bag picked up the dreaded “Heavy” tag. Other than that, it and I made it through the airport rather well.

Victorinox Travel Tip: For trips where a carry-on just won’t cut it, bring along the Werks Traveler 4.0 WT 24 Dual-Caster Expandable Upright, expanding 2.5 inches for extra packing capacity. Laurie did!

I then flew to Copenhagen where the baggage carousels list how many minutes it will be until your bags arrive. Why doesn’t every airport do that? Denmark is so organized, so friendly, so nice. My bags came out first (very rare) and I took a very expensive taxi (the only bad thing about Denmark—everything is unbelievably expensive, even to a New Yorker) to the D’Angleterre Hotel, a gorgeous 18th Century building in the center of town. I stayed in the Karen Blixen Suite (a beautiful suite, designed in African motif), but was unfortunately only there for one night.

Two days later, after eating my way around Copenhagen and experiencing the somewhat bizarre food now featured there (if I never see a veal or lamb heart again, I’ll be thrilled) I rented a car in town, hauled the bags into it and drove north about an hour to North Sealand, aka the Danish Riviera. I went to the Louisiana Art Museum (currently showing a Yoko Ono exhibit), Frederiksborg Castle and Kronborg Castle (the setting for Hamlet,) and stayed in Kokkedal Castle (a former castle being transformed into a hotel). The next day, I drove back to Copenhagen to fly home. My GPS, of course, died while en route but the Danes, being the Danes, sweetly directed me to the highway and straight to the airport.

I was officially on my way back, by way of Heathrow once again. The bag transferred too, and two weeks and five countries later, we landed safely at JFK and headed home.

Jetsetter Series: Confessions of a Heavy Packer

Photo: Kevin McGrath Studios
Photo: Kevin McGrath Studios

By Adam H. Graham

Travel media glorifies the light packer, that illusory golden boy of modern travel who packs his carry-on with nothing but a toothbrush, pair of wrinkle-free khakis, versatile shoes, and a blazer yet adapts equally at Brooklyn dinner-parties, Rajasthan weddings, and fondue stublis in Gstaad. Travel magazines tell us over and over again how to pack like this khaki-clad nether-man, usually with products that grace the pages of their ads—ultra-thin jackets and lightweight titanium alarm clocks. You know the sort.

But as a self-proclaimed heavy packer, I’ve never bought into the myth that traveling lighter is traveling better. Am I such an empty vessel that I’m expected to seamlessly meld into my new surroundings without any trace of who I was before?  Or more important, who I’ll become at my next destination? I don’t need my things to define me, but arriving empty-handed seems pretty insipid to me.

I’m a food and travel writer and in my career, I find it impossible to travel light. There are too many variables. Weather alone can be reason to pack sweaters, coats, rain-gear, an umbrella. Going hiking? Add 10 lbs of boots to your bag. If there’s a formal event, which in my case there often is, a suit and dress shoes are needed too. I don’t do versatile shoes. Because I’m a birder, I always lug around a pair of Nikon binoculars and a bird book. I’m also an avid swimmer, and never leave home without goggles, trunks, and a lightweight towel. Tech-wise I almost always travel with an iPad, iPod, MacBook Pro, and Blackberry but also bring a good old-fashioned paperback for take-offs, landings and when batteries drain.

If all that sounds materialistic and superfluous, the return load is heavier! My bags are always stuffed to the seams with endemic edibles that can’t be found at the local grocery. Bottles of homemade smoked olive oil, Raiatean vanilla beans, cherry blossom salt, Amphora-aged Malvesias, Japanese oaked whisky, Glaswegian tablet, Spruce soda from Quebec, the list goes on. These make great gifts but they usually remain in my own cupboard. The non-edible mementos are just as memorable and more likely to fall into the gift department. I do most of my Christmas shopping while abroad. I buy a foreign children’s book in its native country from every country I visit for my niece Sloane. And then there are my own personal mementos. On my desk sits a smooth black rock I found on the edge of the Black Sea during my first trip abroad in 1988 to the U.S.S.R. I was a high-school student then but still find the rock somehow inspiring. On my bookshelf is a delicate ostrich egg shell from Namibia, an oversized bell-jar from San Miguel de Allende and a netted glass buoy from Ålesund, Norway. These pieces of my trips are the relics of my life and I cherish each one. I could never have squeezed them into a carry-on.

I know traveling heavy isn’t very eco-friendly. But I’m really not much of a consumer in my non-travel life. I don’t own a car, I don’t own gold or other precious metals, nor do I have kids or pets. I recycle, reduce and reuse. So I figure my carbon footprint balances out here.

To many, traveling heavy is a drag. Literally. To me, traveling light sucks the drama out of the journey. So I say, let the pilots and crew wear the khakis. I vote for souvenirs.

Victorinox Travel Tip: Are you a heavy packer like Adam? Find the right bag to stuff the essentials and the extras. If you prefer structure, try the new Spectra32 Extra-Large Travel Case, Avolve 30 Expandable Wheeled Upright or the Werks Traveler 4.0 WT 30 Dual-Caster Expandable Upright. The 360 degree maneuverability of these styles takes the “lug” out of luggage.

Duffel lovers will appreciate the seemingly endless capacity of the Werks Traveler 4.0 WT Wheeled Large Capacity Duffel  and CH-97 2.0 Explorer Maximum Capacity Duffel.

As small items can be lost within large cases, use packing essentials such as the Lifestyle Accessories 3.0 Packing Cube Set to organize outfits and the Lifestyle Accessories 3.0 Slimline Toiletry Kit for overnight necessities.

Designer’s Corner: Inside the Spectra™ 2.0 Collection

spectrasketches“Innovation is in our blood here in Switzerland – since the beginning, we’ve always tried to make things better” says Mr. Elsener, chief executive officer of Victorinox, in an interview from 2010.  This statement still rings true today.  The all-new, Spectra™ 2.0 hardside luggage design has taken the Spectra™ Collection to new heights, with endless packing possibilities and unique travel solutions. We sat down with Senior Travel Gear Product Designer, Jacob Lusson, for an exclusive sneak-peek of this collection, which is set to launch this fall.

1.    What was your inspiration behind the redesign of the collection?

To be honest, the success of Spectra™ was the inspiration. We listened to feedback from customers and retailers and tried to build upon all of the positive aspects and remedy any negative ones.  Automotive, sport and consumer electronic trends also influenced the design.  The new matte finish was a product of that.

 2.    What is your favorite feature of this collection?

My favorite feature is probably the one that will go least noticed by most users: the new casters.  We went through several iterations where we tweaked the durometer of the outer tread material to get it to roll perfectly regardless of what surface the case is on. Little, obsessive stuff like that is what I’m most happy with.

 3.    The Spectra™ 2.0 carry-on is now offered in two styles, one with a Quick-Access Door and one without.  Which version fits your personal travel and packing style?

I’ve switched to the Quick-Access version. I occasionally use the electronics panel but most of the time I still prefer to carry my laptop in an Altmont™ backpack, so I remove the panel that separates the front pocket from the main compartment and just load everything through the front Quick-Access Door. I can just cram all my clothes in and go.

4.    How do you pack your hardside case?

I pack in the same way the Man Vs. Food guy eats a sandwich. It’s chaos. That’s what’s best for me. I know Dan, the Vice President of Victorinox Travel Gear Product Design, likes to roll his clothes and then separate them by type of clothing using the case’s 50/50 split divider wall.  I would expect that most people would pack this way, too. This way you stay organized and can utilize the compression straps that keep your items from shifting during travel and the zippered pockets for smaller items.  To each their own…

5.    Where have you traveled with this bag and where did you take it?

My Spectra™ 2.0 case has seen three continents so far. And Wisconsin. Is Wisconsin a continent? It should be. Go Pack Go!

6.    What color of Spectra is your favorite?  

It’s so hard to choose; I like all of the variations of Spectra™ 2.0.  I tend to travel with a black Spectra™ Dual-Access Global Carry-On, so I would say that is my favorite.

7.    In the past, the Spectra™ Collection has introduced many limited edition colors. Will this continue to be the case with Spectra™ 2.0?

The red, black and white colors are tried-and-true, but we will do limited editions for more adventurous folks.  That’s all I can say. I’ve said too much as it is.

8.    The Swiss Army Knife heritage of this brand is very engrained in this collection.  When designing this luggage collection, what inspiration comes from the knives? 

The Quick-Access styles are the Swiss Army Knife of luggage, for sure. It’s a bag equipped for any travel situation.  They can be business bags with sleeves for your laptop and tablet; pockets for phones, pens, and chargers; and they hold enough clothes for short trips. You wouldn’t even need a briefcase or backpack.  They are also a great choice for leisure travel.  They are stylish, lightweight, protective for any souvenirs you may acquire and they offer great packing flexibility.

9.    Not only is this bag lightweight, it is very strong and durable. What kind of testing is performed to ensure its durability?

They are thrown through the wringer; abused in more ways and more times than even the most disgruntled baggage handler would have the energy for.  And then we do it again to make sure the results are repeatable.  We have the highest testing standards of anyone in the industry and our testing lab upholds these standards to the fullest.

10. Tell us about the Spectra™ 2.0 material

It is made from two layers of 100% virgin Bayer polycarbonate. Meaning the polycarbonate hasn’t been recycled and remolded. Recycling materials greatly reduces the integrity of the material and weakens it.   A pure polycarbonate on the other hand creates a high-quality, high-impact resistant travel case that can withstand the toughest of travels.  Another benefit of polycarbonate is that it can bend. Through testing, we have determined the ideal thickness of polycarbonate to allow it to flex and absorb impact without breaking or cracking.  What I’m trying to get across, in many words, is that this material is protective, lightweight and durable; that’s why it’s commonly used in football helmets and police riot shields and it’s why we currently use it for our hardside luggage.

11. What obstacles did you face when designing this collection?

Whenever you change something that’s been successful, you run the risk of screwing it up. So we made sure everyone who came in contact with the new cases during development felt they were even better than the first ones.

12. What was your favorite part of designing the collection?

The best part is always the beginning; you have a blank sheet of paper and the possibilities are endless.

13. What’s the future of hardside luggage?

It’s here, with Spectra™ 2.0.

Thank you to Jacob for this exclusive insight into the newest generation of our popular Spectra™ Collection; coming to www.victorinox.com this fall!

Jetsetter Series: Expert Tips for Traveling Abroad

sand_dunes

At Victorinox Travel Gear, we are all passionate about travel and seeing the world.  Jason Hodge, our Director of International Sales based in the United States, has been immersed in the world of travel practically his whole adult life. Prior to working for Victorinox Travel Gear, Jason spent many years backpacking across Europe before landing a job as a Travel Director at a travel agency – giving him the opportunity to travel to 5 continents and about 60 countries thus far.  With all of his travel experience, we went to Jason to soak up some of his vast knowledge on traveling abroad…
Booking Travel:
•    Research Flights:  When finding flights – go to multiple travel sites and look at different ways to fly: going city-to-city direct versus going through airline hub cities.  In some cases you’ll find cheaper fares, in other cases, shorter travel times.
InFlight•    Plan to arrive in the late afternoon or evening: If you don’t sleep well (or at all) on overseas flights, like me, try to arrive in the afternoon or evening, get a good night of sleep in a bed so you can start the journey fresh. There’s nothing worse than arriving in the early morning at your destination and feeling like a coffee-sipping zombie all day.
•    Don’t cram everything in:  If you are going to more than one place on your trip, don’t cram in several overnight flights just to save time. You won’t be able to fully enjoy yourself during daytime hours. It’s better to space these overnight flights out, or wait until your return-home flight to book overnight flights.
•    Choose the correct mode of transportation: Depending on the location and the amount of time allowed, the method of travel can vary. Boat/ferry travel is ideal for short trips from mainland to islands like La Ceiba, Honduras to the Bay Islands, or a very affordable option to get from places like Dover, England to Calais, France.  Trains are the method of choice when traveling between smaller cities within Western Europe, seeing the amazing natural topography of Western Canada, or experiencing the one-of-a-kind bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto. They’re usually very reliable and fast, although ticket prices can be as much as airline tickets sometimes. For those with limited time, air travel is the probable method. You may lose the opportunity to see the smaller cities and towns, but you’ll cover more ground in a shorter amount of time.

Hotel Accommodations:
•    Location, location, location:  Of course it depends on the purpose of your trip, but location always plays a big role in determining the accommodation. If you’re closer to the sites you want to go to, you save time…time to enjoy a coffee in the Hotelmorning or a drink in the evening. Although metros and taxis can be fun, walking is the preferred method of travel for me. So, I look for accommodation that puts me in the heart of things. Factors such as room size, deluxe amenities and included breakfast play less of a role.
•    Boutiques are hidden gems: Modern boutique hotels always catch my eye, and are often run by a husband/wife. These hotels are hidden value-added hotspots – like having family or best friend and concierge all in one spot.  In the past, I’ve had success finding these types of hotels by looking at reviews on travel blogs and forums.  Once I find a hotel that peaks my interest, I go to their website for pictures and location before making my final decision.

Packing Preparation:
•    Choosing luggage: in the past couple of years I’ve been traveling more with the Spectra™ Extra Capacity Carry-On hardside luggage with four wheels. Hardside cases are stronger, more secure, sleeker and MUCH easier to roll through airports. I like to bring my Deluxe Travel Pillow and all my tech gadgets in my black Altmont™ 3.0 Dual-Compartment Laptop Backpack.
•    Research the location: I do some research on average temperatures and altitudes for each destination. You may not want to pack a coat when going to South Africa in January (their summer).
•    Pack light: I always try to pack light, and bring clothes that I can mix and layer in different ways. Carry-on luggage is the way to go. You save so much time before and after flights, and it prevents a lot of awkward and physically-exhausting moments in/out of taxis and hotels. In a carry-on I can usually pack 7 days of undergarments, 3 days of clothes and shoes/clothes for exercising. There might be one or two key items that need washing on the trip, but it’s worth the hassle of checking bags.

In-Transit:
•    Keep busy: Because I very rarely can sleep on long flights, I need things to help me pass SandDune_Walkingthe time. Essentials are a fiction novel, an iPod, good-quality over-ear headphones (ear buds starts to hurt after awhile), and my laptop (I try to do at least 2-3 hours of work). I like to connect my camera and edit and file photos as well – a great time filler.
•    Stay powered:  I usually bring my normal power cords and my Worldwide Adapter Plug with USB Charger. Some planes will have universal outlets in your seat. For others, I have to use a 12V DC power outlet (cigarette lighter outlet) – which comes in my All-In-One Charger Set.
•    Stay hydrated & well nourished: I always buy two extra bottles of water, a bottle of Gatorade, and a sandwich in the terminal before getting on the plane. I don’t like to rely on when the flight crew decides to distribute food and drinks. Also, the air on planes can be very dry, and drinking lots of water really helps me with jetlag.

Staying Safe:
•    Lock up:  For air travel, TSA locks are essential, and I always bring a few extra. Inspectors in certain countries often don’t understand that a TSA master key can open the locks, so when I pick up my bag upon arrival, the locks are clipped or missing. For trains, and especially long train journeys, a Travel Sentry® Approved Loop Lock is great. You can lock your bag to a pole, and rest a little easier that the bag won’t be taken. This is a good habit, whether traveling through India, Germany or really, any other country. Always keep your money, passport and valuables either on you, or in a backpack next to you.
•    Explore during the day:
A reputable tour company may be a little pricey, but for developing countries it can offer a safe way to see the sites. If you can’t afford a tour company, I’ve noticed that renting a bike or moped can be a great way to safely get around, especially when there are a lot of people interested in stopping you and trying to sell you something.  Overall, explore during the day, dress conservatively and if you need directions, ask professional-looking women; they usually know English and will be kind.
•    Keep your money safe:
Keep most in a safe back at the hotel, some in your wallet and some in your sock. When I backpacked through India, I had a tailor put in a hidden pocket in my shorts. I put my passport and money in there when I would travel from city to city. Most travelers choose to use a Deluxe Concealed Security Belt or Deluxe Concealed Security Pouch, but make sure these are worn properly – underneath your clothing and out of sight – otherwise they are ineffective.

Money:
•    Convert some money before you leave: It’s nice to have some pocket money when you arrive.  If you have an opportunity to convert a little bit of money before you leave, it can be really helpful. You might not get a great conversion rate doing this though, so just convert a little. Upon arrival, exchange kiosks and hotels are very convenient, but the fees are usually way too high and they ask for your passport. The way to go is an ATM. Look for ATM’s when you arrive at your destination airport. You pay a bank fee, but you also get bank rate. It’s quick and easy, but usually only gives out large bills. Caveat: know the approximant exchange rate before you draw money from the ATM. Most will only show the amounts in the local currency. You don’t want to draw $1,000 when you only want $100.
•    Use credit cards for big purchases if you can: Not everywhere will take your credit card, so cash is important to have on-hand. But if you can use a credit card, especially for big purchases such as airline tickets or hotel bills, I suggest doing so because you never want to carry that much cash. It’s also important to notify your bank when you leave the country – let them know what cities you’ll be in as well as your travel dates – this way you’re credit card won’t go on hold for suspicious activity.

Whether you’re packing your bags for the sunny beaches of Bora Bora or preparing to backpack across Europe, we hope Jason’s expert tips will help make your travels smooth, safe and fun!

Jetsetter Series: Get Tips From Renowned Travel Writer Ann Abel, As Featured In ForbesLife, Departures, AFAR And More!

 

Abel_Africa1

The Jetsetter Series explores travel tips and tales from the industry’s most seasoned travelers. For this edition, we were lucky enough to speak with freelance travel writer Ann Abel. As a contributor to ForbesLife, Departures, AFAR and many other notable travel publications, Ann has amassed quite an unbelievable travel résumé, and she decided to share some of her top travel tips with us – from what to do on safari, to what’s “worth the splurge.” Here’s what she had to say…

Abel_Africa6VTG: Thanks for joining us, Ann. Everyone in the office is so envious – you have our dream job! What is your favorite part of being a constant traveler?

AA: Getting to meet all sorts of interesting people, from general managers of luxury hotels, to high-end jewelry designers, to surf instructors and trekking guides. I have met people from all backgrounds and walks of life. As a journalist, I’m able to ask them questions that would probably be considered impertinent in another context.

VTG: How much time do you spend traveling – both personally/professionally?  

AA: Two-thirds to three-quarters of the year.

VTG: Wow! When traveling professionally, do you ever have downtime to explore?

AA:  I try to build in some time, whether it’s a couple hours one afternoon or a day or two after my work obligations are done. I’ll also stay up late for an authentic travel experience if that’s my best chance at having one. One of my best recent travel memories was leaving an official dinner in Madrid at 10:30 p.m. to have a second dinner with a Madrileño friend who took me on a crawl through tapas bars. Another time, I headed out at midnight to a dive bar in Seoul for kimchee pancakes and makgeoli with some friends of friends of friends.

VTG: That sounds like a blast. What is your most memorable travel experience?Abel_Africa3

AA:  It’s hard to pick just one. Last year, after years of dodgy “Discover SCUBA” dives, I finally finished my Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) certification course and was officially certified aboard a luxury yacht/dive boat in the Raja Ampat Islands in Indonesia, which is widely considered one of the premier dive destinations in the world. I finished the last of my open-water dives for my test on a day when we also had five-meter-wingspan manta rays swimming overhead, and I was presented with my certification on the night of traditional Balinese feasting and dancing. It was magical.

VTG: With the number trips you take and range of locations you cover, you must be an expert at packing for a last-minute trip. What are your top last-minute packing tips?

AA: Don’t stress. If you forget something, you can probably buy it where you’re going. Shopping for something like socks in a tourist town gets you off the beaten path and leads to interesting interactions with the locals.

VTG: Obvious items such as socks are always the first forgotten. What are your absolute musthaves when traveling?

AA: A scarf or pashmina for cold airplanes (and as an adult version of a security blanket for stressful travel days); my MacBook Air, which weighs nearly nothing; heavy-duty skin care products to counter the effects of flying; and Ziploc bags for dirty shoes or wet bathing suits. My packing list is the same for long or short trips; I just repeat outfits on longer trips. And if it’s cold, I might wear all my clothes at once.

Ann Abel in AfricaVictorinox Travel Tip: Upgrade from plastic bags to the Lifestyle Accessories 3.0 Spill-Resistant Pouch Set to stash everything from carry-on liquids to damp swimwear.

VTG: How would you describe your personal travel style?

AA: Laid-back and open-minded. I don’t stress about forgetting items or not showing up in the perfect outfit. Always traveling with a carry-on is a minor point of pride. My clothes are bohemian but respectful—always covered shoulders and knees, or more in places where that’s expected—and largely acquired abroad. My mind-set is willing. My answer to almost any travel-related question is yes.

VTG travel tip: As a reminder of regional etiquette, print out a few basic tips before you leave and store them in the Lifestyle Accessories 3.0 Travel Organizer for easy access when you’re abroad.

VTG: When it comes to luggage, we know you’re a fan of the Victorinox Spectra Collection – do you typically stick with hard side luggage?

AA: Actually, no. I’ve had squishy carry-ons for the past decade or so, but sometimes things break inside them, and I’ve started to feel envious of the people who roll their hardside cases through the airport—it seems like a more glamorous, more chic way to pack. The next time I walk into the George V in Paris, I want to have a glossy hard case!

VTG travel tip: Get the sleek look Ann covets with the iconic and durable Spectra Collection. Abel_Africa5

VTG: You always know what’s “worth the splurge” – what’s worth the splurge for a typical traveler?

AA:  That really depends on your priorities. I once took a vacation where I spent an absurd amount of money on lunch at a prestigious restaurant after flying economy on frequent flier miles and renting a cheap apartment through Airbnb.com. That lunch was worth it to me, but someone else might want to stay at the best hotel in town, take a day trip with the best local guide, book a fabulous massage or rent a top-of-the-line bike. But while worthy splurges are up to the individual, the idea of value is consistent. There are things that are expensive for the sake of being expensive, and there are things whose high prices reflect the cost of raw materials and the painstaking labor that goes into creating them. It’s the latter that I want to write about.

VTG: You’re the epitome of “global traveler” – how do you pick your vacation destinations since work brings you to so many exotic locations?

AA: It can be a fine line between work and vacation for me—I try to say “I’m writing about it” instead of “I’m going for work.” When I’m writing about a place, I gravitate toward somewhere I can challenge myself and get messy during the day, but then come back to a hot shower, good food and wine, and a comfortable bed—New Zealand’s luxury “super lodges” are a perfect example. But when I really want to get off the clock, I visit friends in far-off cities or go way off the grid where none of the usual hotel-evaluation criteria apply. Two recent proper vacations were hut-to-hut hiking along the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire, and a backcountry horse-pack trip in Montana’s Beartooth Mountains.

Abel_Africa7VTG: You have been to some unbelievable locales. Where was your last trip?

AA: I’m actually in Kenya right now, at the tail end of a safari trip in the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti in Tanzania. Safari will never get old.

VTG: What are your safari musts?  

AA: Take a balloon ride followed by a champagne breakfast in the bush, or course! Force yourself to wake up at 5:30 a.m. for the early morning game drives; it’s really the best time to see wildlife.

VTG: Where are you off to next?

AA:  Roatan Island in Honduras, to check out a new resort and dive.

VTG: Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us today. We’re so inspired – off to plan our next trip!

Jetsetter Series: Traveling to Puerto Rico with Travel + Leisure Style Director Mimi Lombardo

Vx_MimiLBlog_400X400_0413.v2[2]

At Victorinox Travel Gear  we live and breathe travel. To get a better look at what goes into the production of a travel magazine cover shoot, we went straight to the source – Travel + Leisure Style Director Mimi Lombardo. We recently sat down with Mimi to talk about what it was like shooting the cover of the June issue that hits stands this May.  Here’s what she had to say:

VTG: Mimi, so glad you could join us for our Victorinox Blogger Series.  What have you been up to?

ML: Things are great! I just got back from a Travel + Leisure cover shoot in Puerto Rico. It was a real treat to stay at the newly renovated Dorado Beach Resort (a Ritz Carlton property) and airfare was cheap too – under $300 – so all signs pointed to a great trip even though I would be working.

Victorinox Travel Tip: The only thing better than snagging airfare under $300 is snagging luggage under $300 to go with it. Try the sleek Spectra Prism Extra-Capacity Carry-On in Black for a durable option that won’t break the bank.

VTG: What does a typical day of shooting look like?

ML: We actually shot for three days – our shoot started in the spa which boasts of mineral baths, massages in tree houses, warm bucket showers and 5 acres of tranquil lush gardens. Our model, Shannon was a dream. Beautiful, patient and with an inviting smile – I wish she was on our staff to do every story! Crystal blue skies started the next day and we took advantage by shooting the private house called Su Casa. They call it the Crown Jewel of the property in the style of a Spanish Hacienda – just a little old beach bungalow with a private beach and your own concierge. The third day we shot Chi-Chi Rodriquez, a famous professional golfer from the 70’s, who lives on the resort. He is quite the Dapper Dan and our model Shannon wore pink Gucci that evoked that era. The resort itself is so beautiful too. My room was amazing – there was an outdoor shower, a bathroom bigger then my Brooklyn bedroom and a wonderful view of the ocean.  Super! Then it was off to Positivo Sand Bar for a pomegranate “mocktail’ and some spinach empanadillas.

Victorinox Travel Tip: Get a trendy pink travel look inspired by model Shannon’s ensemble with the Werks Traveler  4.0 WT 27 Dual-Caster in Pink.

VTG: Sounds like quite the production! How many people work with you to pull off such a big shoot?

Surprisingly, the crew is actually pretty small.  It was me, our model Shannon, Design Director Sandra Garcia, Hair and Makeup Artist Elsa Canedo and Photographer Christopher Sturman. Christopher arrived a day early to get shots without the model and so when we arrived to glorious clear skies, 80 degree temperatures and a smiling photographer, I knew we were on the right track.

Victorinox Travel Tip: Choose a backpack with padded compartments such as the Altmont 3.0 Flapover Drawstring Laptop Backpack to ensure tech accessories like cameras, laptops and tablets are properly protected.

VTG:  Did you have any downtime to explore?

ML: The first night of shooting we ventured out of the resort for dinner and ended up at a local dive with a brilliant blue parakeet perched for all to enjoy. We ordered a classic Puerto Rican dish – rice and beans and red snapper with Romesco sauce – delicious!

Victorinox Travel Tip: For off-the-resort day trips, bring along the Altmont 3.0 Dual-Compartment Monosling  for easy access to all your go-to essentials.

VTG: Sounds like it was a really incredible trip – it must be hard to leave it all behind.

ML: Photo crews are like a circus coming to town. We set up our tents, do our job, enter each others’ lives briefly, share secrets and then move on. Over dinner on our last evening in Puerto Rico, we toasted to great photos and then said our goodbyes. The next day we departed for our flights back to the zero degree temps in New York, but we’ll always have Dorado!