Take Your Shower in the Bathtub…and other travel fun

December 21, 2010  

2010 was one of the busiest travel years for me. In just the last 4 months I was in an airport 30 times. Some of my trips included two weeks on the road, traveling from Boston to San Diego to Miami to Niagara Falls to San Antonio, TX to Boston. If you map it out, it makes nearly a perfect star. Another two-week trip was from Boston to Paris to Venice, Italy to Chicago to Dayton, OH back to Boston. International business travel in the last two months also included Dublin, Ireland and Oslo, Norway. As I write this I am on a trip back from Amsterdam, my last plane ride for the year.

During these travels I have observed a quite a few interesting things.  In this article I have an innovation idea, a question, and an observation.

European Bathrooms

So let’s start with something humorous.  Or at least I found it to be funny…

The picture above is a sign that  in my shower in Amsterdam. The sign says, “we kindly request you take your shower in the bathtub.” I felt cheated, because that morning I had planned to shower in the bedroom. Oh well.

But seriously, showers in Europe share something in common: doors that cover less than half of the shower.  People in Europe must be more talented than I am, because I have yet to leave a bathroom unflooded.

There is something very innovative in most bathrooms in Europe: dual flush toilets. These are now just coming to the United States. The concept is simple. There are two flush buttons: one button is for for liquid waste that uses very little water while flushing, and a second button uses the usual amount of water for solid waste . This is a great water saving technology.

Speaking of innovation…

Air Travel & Security

The week of Thanksgiving, there was a concern that a group of individuals would disrupt the security lines by refusing to go through the scanners, opting for me more time consuming hand pat down.

There is a simple solution to this problem. It is a concept I wrote about in my first book, “24/7 Innovation,” called “process pipelining.”

In a nutshell, process pipelining involves segmenting tasks based on complexity. This wildly simple and efficient concept reduced average queuing times by 90% at an insurance company. The same could be done at airports. If you want to be patted down, you go into a separate line. This way you don’t hold up the masses that are happy to go the more efficient route.

I always say, “Design to handle the exception, not or for the exception.”

A Question

And now for the question…

To save my clients money, I always fly economy. When no one is sitting in the next seat, it can be quite comfortable.

But when you have someone next to you, what is the armrest protocol?

Maybe I am too nice, but I find that 90% of the time, the person next to me hogs the entire armrest, often spilling into my space, bumping me throughout the flight.

I often thought it would be cool for there to be a thin “wall” that could be pulled up from the armrest that would clearly delineate boundaries. But if you want to see a solution that someone designed, check out the picture to the left and read the WSJ article.

But given that new airplane armrest don’t yet exist, Wired magazine had a funny solution to this problem, which involves a strategy for claiming the armrest.

What is your armrest strategy? What are some of the innovative, humorous or frustrating things you have observed during your travels?

Happy Holidays and happy travels.

P.S. A while back I wrote an article on how to save big on hotel costs.  Since then some more sophisticated ways of using Priceline have emerged, including the “better bidding” site.

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