travel

Become a Pilot. (or maybe just visit an airplane factory)

So many things in this piece about being a Pilot, from where one might get a job (in case coal mining doesn't make a comeback) to reminding ourselves of why we should travel (especially now, against the frenzy over travel bans and nationalism). If nothing else, just a beautiful essay on the life of a Pilot. Worth reading.

Also: time to plan a trip to an airplane factory.

Photo by iamzereus/iStock / Getty Images

It Might Be Time For A Burner

I blame my parents for my (slightly obsessive) love of travel. They sent me to France on my own when I was 14, to stay with a French family for a month. The journey from NY to Marseille was so fraught with mishaps that I learned how to navigate across borders without any assistance (and only one year of French behind me). The rest of the trip didn't go well, but when I returned to NY I felt like a grown up.

I travel a lot for work and pleasure, and I am not even close to done yet.

The current state of things has me concerned for real, for the first time in my life. Travel bans that seem to change daily, airport interrogations, increased privacy risk, a ban on devices... as much as I hate to admit it, I am starting to think differently about my approach - what I bring, where I go, how I go (thankfully, I haven't gotten to "if" I should go).

It's likely that I won't encounter any real trouble. I was born in NYC to American parents from NY and the midwest, whose families emigrated here from Scandinavia, Ireland, and Germany. But my friends might. And what happens if I travel to the Middle East or certain parts of Asia? Because those places are still on my list, despite the troubles in the world.

Today, I read this piece in the NY Times about safeguarding your information during security searches. There are good tips in this story and I recommend reading it. Like, get a burner device to travel with - a phone and/or computer that doesn't have all of your most important information on it. A device that you can delete everything from once you no longer need it (which isn't a bad idea, anyway). Following this protocol adds another layer of complication to our lives and that's annoying. But if doing so makes it easier to move around the world, then I'll do it. I wish it was that simple for everyone.

 

 

 

 

City Brilliance: Detroit

This year, Detroit, Michigan landed on Travel & Leisure’s “Best Places to Travel” list at #27. Since 2011, I’ve been traveling to Detroit regularly and was surprised, though pleased, to find it on the list. Ask anyone who lives and works in Detroit how they’re feeling about things and you’ll get spirited optimism mixed with pragmatic caution. There’s still a lot to do.

I began taking clients to Detroit to get them away from the saturated markets of New York and San Francisco, for meetings, retreats, “expeditions” and other [insert business jargon here]. It’s not easy to convince overworked executives that they should take their teams offsite to ruminate on innovation in a place that’s not a resort, doesn’t have a beach, or beds with 400-count Frette linens. But, that’s the point. Because it’s nearly impossible to understand markets, customers, or employees while sitting in a temperature-controlled ballroom with endless “refreshment breaks” and Powerpoint presentations, everyone dreaming of when they can hit the golf course. You need to hit the streets.

As a practice, we visit places we consider to be gritty and complex when working on a project - Oakland, Brooklyn, Houston, New Orleans, the underbelly of Los Angeles, to name a few - because we’re searching for the drivers of innovation, change, and creative thinking. We walk through neighborhoods, talk to locals and industry experts, dine in backroom kitchens, visit cultural institutions, and often wander off track. But we always know where we’re going (even the off-track is on track) and more importantly, where we want to end up when we wrap. The trick is finding the people and places who, somehow, show you the way to the future.

I've written about Detroit before, and though cities change all the time, the contrasts in the motor city continue to be striking.

Here's what I found on my recent trip.

Trumbull & Porter , a new boutique hotel in Corktown. It has a very colorful past, as a Holiday Inn where drug dealers and prostitutes used to gather...

Trumbull & Porter, a new boutique hotel in Corktown. It has a very colorful past, as a Holiday Inn where drug dealers and prostitutes used to gather...

Lobby lounge at Trumbull &Porter. The building re-design, furniture, materials, food & drink are all local to Detroit and the state of Michigan.

Lobby lounge at Trumbull &Porter. The building re-design, furniture, materials, food & drink are all local to Detroit and the state of Michigan.

Renovated room at Trumbull & Porter. The first two floors are creepy on first approach because they're not renovated yet - cold, dark empty hallways of a former Holiday Inn. But the (upper floor) renovation is fantastic, the staff is wonderful, and by the time I left, realized how cool it was to experience the hotel transforming before my eyes... like the city itself.

Renovated room at Trumbull & Porter. The first two floors are creepy on first approach because they're not renovated yet - cold, dark empty hallways of a former Holiday Inn. But the (upper floor) renovation is fantastic, the staff is wonderful, and by the time I left, realized how cool it was to experience the hotel transforming before my eyes... like the city itself.

MOCAD, the Museum of Contemporary Art, is a multi-use venue that often has terrific exhibits and performances, plus local food, craft beer and spirits. A good spot to take the pulse of city creatives.

MOCAD, the Museum of Contemporary Art, is a multi-use venue that often has terrific exhibits and performances, plus local food, craft beer and spirits. A good spot to take the pulse of city creatives.

Our Detroit  craft vodka distillery, near Corktown and Trumbull & Porter. Because, local distillery.

Our Detroit craft vodka distillery, near Corktown and Trumbull & Porter. Because, local distillery.

The 1,037-room  Masonic Temple  - it's the world's largest. I have never seen anything like it. Three theaters, ballrooms, a cathedral, a bowling alley, barber shop, swimming pool, gymnasium, pool hall... it goes on forever. Now mostly empty, available for private functions and live performances. I asked my contact if she'd been in all the rooms... she had not. Probably because it's possible to get lost in there forever. I'd take a  Sleep No More  approach to an event here: drop off, get lost, found, discuss.

The 1,037-room Masonic Temple - it's the world's largest. I have never seen anything like it. Three theaters, ballrooms, a cathedral, a bowling alley, barber shop, swimming pool, gymnasium, pool hall... it goes on forever. Now mostly empty, available for private functions and live performances. I asked my contact if she'd been in all the rooms... she had not. Probably because it's possible to get lost in there forever. I'd take a Sleep No More approach to an event here: drop off, get lost, found, discuss.

Finally, a carry on that can charge your phone

I've spent the last few weeks traveling and my suitcase is starting to look a little worse for wear. Aside from the fact that it looks like I've been on the road with Mötley Crüe, my trusty hard case may not be protecting my things as well as it once did. 

Not surprisingly, we've entered an era of smart suitcases. Via PCMag.com, I learned of a tech-friendly carry on bag that has two USB ports as well as proximity sensors so you know where the bag is at all times (within the airport, anyway). The company, Raden, aims to get to the point where they can tell you where your bag is beyond the airport through a mesh network, solving a big pain point for lots of travelers. 

Through the Raden app, you can determine the weight of your bag to make sure it's carry-on ready or if you need to leave that 3rd pair of heels at home. The app also tells you how long it will take to get to the airport, low long the TSA line will be at the airport, and you can call Uber directly from the app when you're ready to be picked up. The bags come in sophisticated hues, like matte black and hunter green, an instant upgrade to grown-up international traveler status.

As a frequent flyer, I'm pretty excited that a few companies are trying to make the travel experience better - it's time to move beyond the gadgets on SkyMall. Perhaps one day, my suitcase will include a stylist feature to help me decide what to pack, and robotic features to actually do the packing and unpacking. That's got to be on someone's list, right?

Booze Traveler

The hotel bar just got an innovative new model: the traveling pop-up. 

Loews Hotels, the luxury brand with properties in the US and Canada, have launched a new concept - a traveling speakeasy that will move between 24 properties. Constructed from an old elevator car and with only four barstools, the bar will be reassembled in every hotel and feature a menu of 32 classic cocktails. The Traveller Bar kicked off in downtown Chicago this month and will be there until May 16, when it moves to Loews Chicago O'Hare (thru June 18).