As promised in my last post, another post about travel gear! This week, shoes and wallets.
- Given that we seem doomed to walk through the metal detector at the airport in stocking feet for the forseeable future, slip-on shoes are a must to make the process as painless as possible. Slip-ons mean no struggling to pull the shoes off my feet as the rest of the security line makes impatient noises, no fiddling with tiny dress-shoe laces as the agent at my gate on the other side of the terminal announces last call for boarding, no running with shoelaces flapping trying to make my flight — a just plain more pleasant travel experience. For business travel, nice slip-on shoes are a must, so I can go straight from the plane to a meeting if I have to. I ordered a pair of Bostonian Bolton shoes in brown and wore them to Iceland, and they’re quickly becoming my everyday shoes. (I in fact liked them so much that I bought another pair in black — I think of the as latter as “going to dance clubs in foreign countries” shoes.) They’re light, they look great, they fit well, and they’re comfortable to walk long distances in, as I did in Reykjavik — in fact they’re possibly the most comfortable shoes I own. I’m extremely happy with them. (If you expect to walk a lot with them and you like the fit out of the box, do treat them with some kind of waterproofing compound, wax, shine, whatever. I got caught in an unexpected rainstorm and my brown pair got soaked, and they relaxed more than I wanted.)
- I happened upon BigSkinny, who are Boston-local, at about the same time as my old black leather trifold wallet, a gift my senior year of high school, had started to seriously lose its structural integrity, so I jumped at the chance to replace it. My friends had mentioned struggling to fit (larger) foreign currency in wallets designed for (smaller) US currency, so I bought BigSkinny’s World Bifold Wallet in black leather. The currency wasn’t much of a problem in Iceland, where the bills are about the same size as US bills, but hopefully it will be useful for other travel in the future. It’s big enough for the stuff I need to carry but still encourages me to keep that set to a minimum, it’s solidly made, and it is in fact pretty damn skinny (about a half inch thick, closed).
- Speaking of wallets, I’ve been appreciating AwardWallet as a service for managing frequent flyer accounts, gift cards, hotel chain points, credit card points, and other loyalty programs. It’s very nice to have a complete list of programs I’m in all in one place, with the balances and expiration dates visible at a glance (especially since, given where I work, I seem doomed to collect the complete set of frequent flyer programs :-). It also acts as a password wallet for the award program web sites, letting me log into any of them with a single click. It’s also under active development, unlike some of the similar sites I looked at. I found and reported a bug, and the developer fixed it in a week or so, though they never said anything to me about it — I had to check back. (But it got fixed! That’s more than I can say for a lot of the bugs I report.) I like their pay-what-you-will Pro account model — basically donating any amount gets you an upgraded account which checks when your points or miles expire — so after the bug I mentioned got fixed, I upgraded to a pro account in thanks. It will also pull your travel plans in from airlines which expose this information and let you associate hotel information with flights and so on, creating a nice itinerary that you can then print or access on the go. As a friend of mine said, it’s way better than a spreadsheet for tracking these things.
Up next week, computers and cell phones!