The holidays are here, and tis the season for non-stop travel for many families, students, and working professionals alike. Just one problem: Rumor has it that it’s flu and cold season as well – if you’re like us, you’re probably busy doing your darnedest to keep from catching anything before having to make a lengthy drive or train ride back home after New Year’s. Happily for everyone busy bounding over the river and through the woods (OK, sprinting between cross-country connecting flights to catch up with grandma or a client) tis year, there’s at least one easy way to keep germs at bay. If you haven’t checked it out, we recently stumbled across Contigo’s new Metra travel mug – an innovative new kind of beverage container – which features special technology (known as AUTOSEAL, or so rumor holds) that’s specially designed to prevent spills, and help keep out dirt and germs with a rotating lid.
Sound counterintuitive? You may be surprised. After doing a little research, our team stumbled across an interesting fact. Apparently, after studying travelers at busy commuter hubs – e.g. subways and airports – it seems that the Metra’s designers discovered that travelers were frequently wiping off their travel mugs’ mouthpieces with their sleeves or napkins. Two key takeaways from this research were: 1. Ewww, gross, that’s a good way to spread germs and 2. Apparently many of us have a problem we didn’t even realize. Being the new travel tech and gear-hounds we are, we were naturally amused to learn this, and a bit concerned, as it always pays to be health-conscious, especially when it comes to tagalongs. The good news: AUTOSEAL Metra’s rotating CleanGuard can help resolve the problem, but in addition, here are some recommendations to be more health-conscious when traveling. In the interest in keeping everyone from having to be quarantined at some point this season (we’re thinking it’s best not to make being bedridden a holiday tradition), you’ll find a few tips that we hope will help keep the sniffles away, and help keep holiday downtime to a minimum.
- Make a point to carry hand sanitizer – now available from most major retailers and drugstores in pocket-sized bottles – and use it to keep your hands clean, or wipe down surfaces you’ll be in contact with, e.g. seat trays on major airlines.
- Don’t wipe your mouth with a coat, sleeve, handkerchief or other item that’s been exposed to the elements, or picked up dirt and debris, as you’ve hopped between cabs or subway cars if it can be avoided. If necessary, keep a pack of tissues handy, or swing by a local fast food vendor to grab a clean napkin or wet paper towel.
- Keep the items your hands come in contact with most during the day – e.g. smartphones, tablet PCs, notebooks, etc. - – sanitized and germ-free. Pro tip: You can do this by regularly wiping them down with an antimicrobial wipe or (depending on compatibility — be sure to check your owner’s manual) wet wipe instead.
- When using the restroom, always use a paper towel to turn on/off the faucet, opening/closing stall doors, and when using the exit door.
- When handling items that may have come into frequent contact with others — e.g. restaurant menus, cash, door handles, light switches, subway passes, etc — be sure to wash your hands afterward.
- If you have to cough or sneeze, be sure to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your upper sleeve so you do not spread germs.
As is the case for many families and working professionals this year, the holiday season seems to be a gift that keeps on giving: Our team is constantly bouncing between events, get-togethers, and parties at a pace that would make a hummingbird’s head spin. (Not to mention planes, trains, and automobiles – but that’s another story.) Luckily, we’ve been steadily cruising through the last few months without hiccups thanks to a steady drip of caffeine and seasonal cheer. Credit our recent decision to upgrade our office’s travel mugs to a more innovative solution courtesy of Contigo. According to our inside sources, not all models are specially-engineered to be used with one hand, or prevent spills, but all are pretty awesome. And many are also (hallelujah!) engineered to keep drinks steaming hot or ice cold for hours.
Being someone who’s obsessed with the latest new gadgets and innovations, I decided to take a closer look at why many of our associates seemed to be suddenly cutting visits to the office coffee maker and break room by half. And if you haven’t researched it already (don’t worry if not, being trends experts, we tend to stay seven steps ahead of everything – even travel and home accessories), you might want to check out the special Thermalock vacuum insulation built into these suckers. But from what we can tell, not only can models like the AUTOSEAL West Loop or Metra or the Snap Seal Byron keep drinks hotter and cooler way longer than average mugs and bottles. The (no joke) double wall vacuum insulation actually extends the drinking experience for ridiculous amounts of time because beverages can stay hot up to 5 hours, or cold for up to 12 hours.
A bit fascinated, I decided to ask folks around the building for their thoughts on how to keep drinks hotter or colder for longer – especially for long journeys, on which many of us often find ourselves. Here’s what our associates had to say:
- Before you pour your drink into a travel mug, try warming up the mug first – e.g. by pouring boiling water into the mug to warm the stainless steel. Afterward, dispose of the boiling water, and add your preferred beverage. That way, you can start at a nice toasty temperature to begin with and help you maintain warmth throughout the day.
- Keep a portable container with extra reserves or backups of coffee, cider, or other hot beverages at a comfortable temperature before transferring them into the mug to use as needed.
- Don’t be afraid to reheat: If you get the chance, stop off and give your hot beverage a warm-up in a nearby microwave, e.g. at a friend’s house or client’s office, and transfer it back into your travel mug, so it can achieve a higher temperature again. (Which can then be maintained again.)
- With regard to chilled beverages, don’t forget to put ice in it to cool it down when you place it in a travel or mug or water bottle, start at lower temperatures to begin with, and maintain a nice chilled temperature over an extended period.
- Pack a small cooler – not only can you pull ice from it as needed, but if you pre-freeze or chill a drink (e.g. a small bottle of water), you’ll have a frosty back-up that 1. can help chill other contents itself and 2. offers a ready supply of cold beverages to pull from when you need to top up again.
How can you stay more productive while on the road this holiday season, even if you don’t consider yourself a technology expert? It’s a great question, and one we’re proud to have teamed up with our friends at Hyatt Place to answer as part of its Seamless Travel Series. If you’re a road warrior hoping to stay up to speed, take a look at the following video from an appearance on The Daily Buzz TV show in which we provide some handy hints, tips and expert advice, as well as suggestions about the latest and greatest new gadgets and apps, that can help high-tech travelers stay ahead of the curve.
Also, a few simple ideas to keep in mind right from the get-go:
- Get connected to cloud computing services so you can share your desktop and files online virtually anytime, anywhere you travel from nearly any device
- Pack extra batteries, recharging energy cases, and long-lasting laptops along on your travels so you don’t have to worry about your plans short-circuiting last-minute
- Grab apps that can help you manage your flight schedules, reservations, and appointments on the fly
- Book a hotel that with lots of amenities – for example, Hyatt Place doesn’t just offer WiFi… it offers free, dependable, high-speed WiFi throughout the hotel, as well as in-room USB ports and lots of comfortable workspaces if you need them. If you forget your phone charger, you can also grab a loaner unit from its Odds & Ends program.
- Pack multi-purpose gizmos like eReaders that let you run apps that let you perform all sorts of functions for work and play, so you only have to cram one gadget into your carry-on – that way, you can stay productive or access music, movies and games to unwind with right from the same screen.
As you can see, technology can make life much simpler and more seamless for today’s traveler. All it takes to get synced up these days? A few minutes of your time, which high-tech solutions can help you get back 10X over with little effort – call them the holiday gift that keeps on giving.