John Hancock

You’re away from home, but urgently need to sign some paperwork and fax it back. Not only that, but you have to scan and return an electronic copy.  That can be very frustrating if you don’t have access to a printer and/or scanner.


I recommend doing the following next time you’re close to a scanner (at home or at work):
  1. Write your signature a few times (with slight variations) on a piece of paper
  2. Scan the piece of paper
  3. Save the individual signatures as JPEG or GIF files.






You’re set!  Next time you need to submit a signed expense report or fax a letter or sign a PDF document, you can do all this from the comfort of your laptop.


Open the expense report (or whatever digital paperwork you need to sign), be it in MS Excel or Word or even PDF format, and add one of your JPEG/GIF signatures into it, size the signature appropriately and save the document as a PDF file. For Excel or Word, just import the signature file. For PDFs do the following:
  1. Open the PDF file to be signed.
  2. Under Tools click on “Fill and Sign”
  3. Select “Place Signature”
  4. (If doing this for the first time, you will need to update/change the saved signature)
  5. Place the signature
  6. Save the PDF file


Next, email the PDF file.


Next, marvel at the wonders of technology.
On a side note, the signature of John Hancock on the Declaration of Independence arguably is the most flamboyant and easily recognizable of all.  John Hancock died 222 years ago and was an American shipping magnate who became famous for his role in the American Revolution. He served as President of the Second Continental Congress, and later became the first post colonial governor of Massachusetts. (Source:

Bath slippers / flip-flops

Two words: Athlete’s Foot (AF). Other words or phrases AF might conjure up: “Yuk”, “Itchy”, “Burrrn”, “Annoying”, “Gross”, “Ewwwwww”, “I hate my life”, “I. Can’t. Stop. Rubbing. My. Toes. Through. My. Socks”, “Luck! Luck! Luck!!!” (or some other word that sounds similar). It’s not as fun as it sounds – at all.

Bathrooms are supposed to get cleaned every day, but usually hotels have too many rooms, too few staff, and hence not enough dedicated scrub power or time. If you are lucky enough to be in a hotel that offers complimentary slippers, then that is great and solves potential issues of itchy foot syndrome.

That said, those hotel slippers only help you outside of the shower, in the shower/bath tub your toes are still fully exposed to those fungal gremlins.

The easy way to avoid itchy toes and feet is to bring your own shower slippers / flip-flops. Pack them in a plastic bag, so when you are done and checking out of the room, you can put them back in your luggage. Make sure to pat them dry with towels, to avoid unnecessary wetness creating a damper on your other packed belongings.

Do you stay at the same hotel week in week out? Consider leaving the slippers with the concierge / front desk staff when checking out, and pick them up the following week when checking back in again.

If you’re lucky enough to never have experienced Athlete’s Foot and want to find out more (or you just want another reminder), here’s an informative write-up by the Mayo Clinic.


That 3-2-1 TSA rule can be a real drag, especially when you fly a lot. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have that 3-ounce liquid restriction and have a full-sized shaving foam bottle (replace with any other full-sized bottle of liquid of your liking – shampoo, conditioner, sun block, body lotion, etc).

If you know you will be returning to the same location the following week or weeks, do yourself a favor and don’t pack that 3-ounce ziploc bag. Instead find a convenience store in your destination town and buy all the toiletries you need. Then you have a few options:

  • If you have a desk or locker at work, you can leave your toiletries there at the end of your work week. Assuming you go to the office first the following week and then check into your hotel that afternoon or evening, you can pick up your toiletries from your desk drawer.
  • Alternatively, check with your hotel, to see if you can leave your toiletries with the hotel on your check-out day, and pick them up the next time you check in.
First hit from Google search

Next Tuesday: Bath slippers / flip-flops

The Weekend

The weekend is a funny thing.  After traveling all week, spending days and nights away from home, eating restaurant and/or fast-food day in, day out, sleeping in a big bed that is not your own, by yourself – how do you feel about the weekend?


Perhaps you just want to veg out, not go anywhere, sit around in your pyjamas all day.  Or you want to meditate about jet lag and the way it seems to be getting harder and harder to achieve any kind of airline premier status.

That is your version of the truth.


Are you attached? Unless your spouse or partner travels as well, his or her version of the truth will look different.  You get to fly around, drive all sorts of new rental cars, eat at all sorts of fancy restaurants (on the company dime!), sleep in hotels, have room service clean up your room and most importantly are free of the household chores (shopping for food, cleaning, vacuuming, putting dishes away, putting dishes in the dishwasher, taking care of kids and/or pets, doing laundry, dealing with mail, taking care of the yard, taking out the trash)….


Same travel – different view / interpretation.  Which one is correct though?




Your spouse or partner will want you to participate in household chores over the weekend, since you were out gallivanting and/or enjoying yourself.  Who are you to prove anybody wrong at this point?


Be prepared, set time aside and plan ahead.  Enjoy yourself/yourselves.  The weekend is not there to waste away and veg out over the food network or HGTV.


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Coming this Friday: Toiletries!

Iron (Wo)Man Competition

It has been a long day of travel, you have arrived in your hotel room, have thrown everything onto the couch or the bed and are tired, hungry, and slightly stinky.  You think the stinkiness is only slight.  It’s a good thing you’re by yourself.  You need to iron your clothes.  Not to say you need to iron them immediately, but definitely before you go to sleep that first night.


Quick note: Depending on what time of the day I arrived at my hotel, I usually did this as soon as I got back from dinner.  I grabbed my shirts out of my roller bag (or just the one, if I was doing some daily hotel-switching, to accelerate reaching award status), set up the horrible cheap ironing board and went at it like there was no assistant to do it for me.


It usually doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to get 4 shirts ironed, but you will be so happy each morning when you can just grab a shirt out of the closet and not have to rush around.


You might think you should just do it in the morning, but then you get that phone call in the morning, your inbox sucks you in and 6 emails and 30 minutes later you’re yelling expletives and rushing around.  Suddenly the morning routine has morphed into a distraught, panicky shuffle, the shirt or blouse is crumpled, the socks are mismatched and you forget to floss your teeth before careening down the corridor.


It might not be quite that traumatic and awful, but … close, really annoyingly close.  Taking care of the week’s ironing that first night will speed up the actual ironing process and you then have one major pain less to worry about in the morning.


Plus, you can make it more enjoyable by thinking of yourself as Iron(Wo)man and fantasizing about what you would do, if you had access to Tony Stark’s wealth and cool toys.  Are any of your coworkers staying at your or other hotels?  Assuming they’re in the same time zone, you can iron up together via video conference or Skype!


On second thought – don’t do that.  Just get the ironing done.  Seriously.



Expenses, receipts…and getting all your money back

Doing your expenses is a pain and some people will do anything to avoid it and put off the whole process for as long as possible. I had a coworker during my days (and nights) as a Deloitte consultant who did not submit his expenses for 3 months, but then had $12,000 worth of receipts to work through. I wonder how many receipts he lost or couldn’t place and how much money he lost. Anyway, don’t be that coworker!


The problem with waiting so long is, you lose track and/or forget some of the details behind these expenses. Looking at a bunch of receipts weeks or months later could be very confusing, and you might not recall why a certain dinner was so expensive (perhaps you took out your team, but who was part of that team dinner?).
When you check into your hotel the first evening, at the front desk ask for a simple plain envelope. Write on it the current date – this envelope will hold all your receipts for that work week. At the end of each day, transfer all receipts from your pockets, wallet, socks, purse, or hidden Speedo pocket into the envelope.
Before you place them in the envelope, for brownie points, circle the date,  the amount, payment method (e.g. credit card used), location/venue and make any notes*, if necessary.  Ok, it’s not really brownie points, noone’s going to give you a cookie, but your reimbursement life is going to be so much easier.
Similarly to house work/cleaning, it is easier to do a little cleaning on a regular basis rather than waiting for the dust bunnies to turn into dirt velociraptors.
Make it a routine to do your expenses on a regular basis, within 24 hours after getting back from your trip.  Even if you only do them once a month, having 4 – 5 envelopes (1 per week) to go through is much less depressing than going through a stack of crumpled receipts (if you can find them all).
If you are not planning to expense the full amount of the receipt, annotate the receipt with the amount to be expensed and scribble a note as to why you are not expensing the full amount.
*If you are expensing something for not just yourself, but others as well (e.g. a team dinner), annotate the team members’ names (and/or client representatives) on the back of the receipt.
With this simple exercise that should not take more than 2 minutes every evening, you will make the expense reimbursement process at the end of the week that much easier and the money in your bank account that much more.
** App tip: on the iPhone, get the “Scannable” app. It works well with Evernote, so set up a “Receipts” notebook, point to it within Scannable as the default notebook and scan your receipts very easily. **

Hello business traveler world!

I’ve considered myself a traveler for the majority of my life. My first official holiday was when I was 3 months old when my parents brought me along on vacation to the Canary Islands.  I can hardly recall that trip, but since then I’ve taken many trips for work and vacation. So far I have relocated 40 times across 4 countries. . .but then again who’s counting?


I was born in Germany to an English mother and an American father and find it difficult to fully pigeonhole myself into just one nationality.  I spoke English first, German 2nd and dabbled in a handful of other languages such as Hebrew, Latin, Italian, Spanish, and Ancient Greek.


The world seems like a large place until you start traveling.  Then it seems even bigger.  As the travel urge grows, you start to cultivate a list of places you want to visit and experience.  This blog is dedicated to my business travels around the country and my vacation travel around the world.  Sprinkled in are some personal stories and many tips I’ve picked up over the years to make my travels more enjoyable, efficient, and in some cases help me save money.