For women going places

Hotel Rooms: Location, location, location!


For me, when picking a hotel room, the biggest consideration is location. You may not think it’s such a big deal but after you’ve had one night of interrupted sleep, you’ll quickly reconsider.

Since this is going to be your home away from home, you want to be sure that it’s not only livable – but comfortable and secure.

So here’s what I consider or try to avoid when I get to my room:

Stay off the first floor whenever possible. It can be noisier than other floors. It’s also more of a security risk because people in the lobby can more easily wander the halls unnoticed.

Stay away from rooms near dining rooms, night clubs, bars or any other form of entertainment.  Rooms located above, below or next to these locations tend to be loud. These establishments open early and close late, and have a lot of voice and foot traffic, not to mention food aromas.

Don’t take a room near the hotel spa, gym or pool. While the proximity can be convenient, it can also be noisy. Some health clubs and pools are open 24 hours a day. The last thing you need to hear is the clanging of weights all night long, not to mention the foot traffic and voices in the hall.

Avoid rooms that are next to elevators, ice machines, service elevators and stairwells. These areas have more noisy foot traffic and an intruder can more easily slip in and out unnoticed. You want to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to be able to get to you or your possessions.

If you have allergy problems (like I do), try to avoid staying in a room that’s been sprayed by deodorizer.  I once had an allergic reaction to a room deodorizer at a very fine luxury hotel.

Sometimes even the best hotels have rooms where the water pressure is not as strong as you want. Large hotels have water heaters in several locations and water pressure will be strongest on the floor or floors nearby.

You can exit the hotel more quickly if you are on a lower floor. So a lower floor may be safer in the event of a fire or other crisis. A lower floor however, may have a less attractive view and concierge/club rooms are usually on the higher floors.

After all these warnings, you may be wondering if there are any rooms that are acceptable. The answer is yes: These rooms are typically in the middle of the floor above the first floor and on a part of the floor away from the facilities mentioned above.

See you on the road!

Kathy Ameche

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Guest Blog: Fall 2011 Fashion Week Review


Though most of us have yet to even wear a single piece of Spring clothing, Fall 2011 Fashion Week is already a thing of the past!  And as always, a few note-worthy trends emerged.

The infusion of vibrant colors and patterns, which began in spring 2011, will continue.  Bright red will be the must-have impact color of the season--be it in a stunning, bedazzled, cocktail dress, or in a statement leather handbag, boot or shoe.  Cobalt blue and royal purple will also be featured.  Expect to see color in luxurious velvets or with an element of shine. You are going to see traditional autumnal colors—green, rust, and golden mustard—shown in new ways and new hues.  Bold plaids, muted tribal prints and festive polka dots will keep the fun in fashion this fall.

Suiting and great sportswear will continue to be strong, however, expect to see them with an added element of drama.  Peplums will be featured on shorter jackets.  Maxi-length duster coats and ¾ length topper jackets will be the look teamed with long flowing pants or coordinating maxi dresses.  Ankle and maxi-length skirts will feature thigh-high, up-to-there slits.  Indoor and outdoor coats and jackets will be accented with a touch of leather, a fluff of fur, or a splash of shine—or maybe all three! 

Fall 2011 you will also see homage paid to past eras and decades.  The western feel will be present via blanket coats, rustic ponchos, frontier dresses and boots.  And New York a la the 70’s will return via draped jumpsuits, low v-necklines, clean-lined capes, and shiny fabrics.

As a former business traveler, I know what you are thinking – “Sounds great, but how am I to schlep my training folders, samples, and luggage while wearing my stunning, bright red, bedazzled cocktail dress with my Western boots?”  The fact is the infusion of color via great accessories and handbags will be an easy way to make your more serviceable travel pieces look fresh and current.  Also, a great maxi-length duster or ¾ length topper jacket, with a warm scarf, can often be used in lieu of an additional coat for traveling to and from the airport.  Trendy and practical—got to love it!  

Susan Mowder

Susan Mowder is the owner of The Style Principle, a wardrobe-styling firm based in Chicago, IL. Susan has 16 years of experience in the fashion industry on both the wholesale and retail sides of the business.

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Batter Up!


This week finds me in Scottsdale, AZ. Since pitchers and catchers reported this week, I HAD to walk by the Giants practice field. Who knows maybe Tim Lincecum needs help with his change up! I was delighted to find Field 1 with players working with their trainer. As he had them doing sprints around the outfield, the trainer said "if your going to puke, do it now, otherwise let's go!" Ahhh ... the sounds of spring in the desert.

See you on the road!

Kathy Ameche

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Going Global: Top 9 Things to Remember when Planning an International Trip


Traveling overseas can be exciting and nerve-wracking. You can’t wait to enjoy the scenery and different cultures. But you also don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of a client or get yourself into a dangerous situation.

The key to avoiding trouble is of course planning. So to acclimate more quickly, conduct business more easily and enjoy yourself more, you need to consider the following:

1.     Time Zones: Keep two master calendars for your trip – one for the time zone you’ll be in and one for the time zone at home. When I’m setting up a schedule for a trip, I’ll use the calendar for the time zone I will be in, whether I’m planning meetings there or calls home. I transfer those dates and times to my home-time calendar and leave it with my assistant to update. I also leave one at home with my family so they can keep track of me.  To check time zones, check out or
2.     Holidays: Every country has different holidays and people there usually think everybody knows what they are. So don’t get caught showing up to do business in the middle of a holiday. Even if your client is willing to work, public transportation and other services may not be available. So check online before you get there – has a list of holidays by country.
3.     Weather: Packing is a pain when you’re just going a few states over. When you’re heading overseas it can be even more daunting. Be sure to check for all your destinations. And remember that most of the world uses Celsius, not Fahrenheit. So be sure to double-check that you are too.
4.     Currency: Most countries use a different currency than you have at home. You need to know what the local currency is where you’re going and how to convert it into your home currency. has a currency converter that will identify the local currency for the country (ies) you’re visiting and convert them into your home currency.  To make it simpler on yourself, use a credit card as much as possible – especially for large ticket items, such as hotels, plane tickets and meals. You can also use your ATM card but be sure to only use it at a bank-based facility. Avoid the free-standing machines because they have been proven less secure.
5.     Language:  It’s not necessary to have much knowledge of the language of the country you’re visiting. But many business travelers find they get better treatment if they at least learn a few phrases to show they are trying. So learn the basics: hello; goodbye; please; thank you; yes and no and the numbers one through ten.
6.     Risks, Warnings, Sanctions: Obviously in some parts of the world, the government is in flux and crime is rampant. Foreigners are easy targets, particularly women – so take extra precautions. Many women who work for global firms hire a local company to advise them on security issues before and during their trip. Often they will have a security team escort them to and from meetings – even dinner – and act as personal bodyguards. If you’re not part of a large organization, there are several resources you can check online for security information: Government travel warnings, U.S. Treasury sanctions and country risk forecasts. Risks, warnings and sanctions should be taken seriously.
7.     Etiquette: Probably the most important subject to study before you travel internationally.  What are the business customs and procedures for your destination? A faux pas could cost you business. Some cultures treat proper etiquette more seriously than we do in the U.S. Do research on gift giving, tipping, meeting protocol, food customs, even hand gestures. Other countries have different views of women in business so it’s good to learn what to do to fit in. A favorite resource for learning proper business etiquette is Culture Connect.

8.     Entertainment:  Another critical subject that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You should know what is expected of you wherever you are going. If you have colleagues in your host country, ask them. Also check with your human resources department. It’s hard to imagine a business trip overseas that doesn’t include some kind of client entertainment. Find out what is expected. And don’t wait until the last minute to make arrangements.
9.     Sports: They may not be at the top of your favorite things list but sports play an important role in the culture of other countries, just like in the U.S. So take a few minutes to learn what sports are big in your destination so that you can show you’re taking an interest in the culture. Again, can be a great source of sports information for around the world.

For more global travel tips, check out my book - The Woman Road Warrior: An Expert’s Guide to Domestic and International Business Travel.

See you on the road!

Kathy Ameche

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Escaping the Chaos: Airline Club 1-Day Passes


Airline club memberships or Priority Passes seem to be at the top of every frequent flier’s wish list (and many occasional travelers who’ve only heard about the fabulous benefits). They want the chance to get away from the chaos of the terminal and relax, freshen up, have a cocktail, read a book or check their email.

In a recent Woman Road Warrior Day survey, many women mentioned airport clubs as their favorite travel perk:

“The Northwest lounge is great – clean, spacious bathrooms, a free glass of wine or Bloody Mary, free wifi and charging, cheese and crackers to go.”

“I love the Continental lounge – it’s quiet, I can wash up, relax and feel a little pampered while waiting for my connecting flight.”

You don’t have to be flying first class or a business traveler to venture into this passenger nirvana. Many airport clubs and lounges sell 1-day passes. And one of the best places to try one out, according to Bob Batz, Jr. of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is The Oasis at JFK Airport in New York.

He writes that anyone wanting to spend $45 can make her way in. You get up to 5 hours of all the food you can eat, all the beverages you can drink, including free beer, wine and liquors. There are clean bathrooms with showers, lots of comfy places to stretch out, computers with internet access and free wi-fi, TVs, magazines, just about anything you could ever want is inside this lounge. It’s owned by KLM and caters to VIP passengers on 10 airlines but independent travelers are definitely welcome.

“Wow - sign me up,” says Woman Road Warrior Traveler-in-Chief, Kathy Ameche. “Free food, drink and wi-fi? When flying first class on international flights, there's a separate airport lounge one can go to and get free food and drink - it's not as diverse as the Oasis. I had been a Red Carpet (UAL) club member for years. Yes, you got free drink (non alcoholic) - you had to pay for the alcohol. As for food – you got chips, peanuts, granola bars and fruit. Hardly the food they were describing at the Oasis."

Kathy says she'd go out of her way to stop there. "At $45 for up to five hours - I'd plan long layovers just to hang out and experience the food/drink etc. I'd say it's about a wash if you and your spouse are traveling through JFK, and have a layover that requires getting food."

United Red Carpet offers 1-day passes for $50 at the airport or $35 online at The passes are only valid for one location. Say you’re traveling from Chicago to Denver – you can only use it in one city. But you can use them at any Red Carpet or Continental Presidents Club worldwide. You can get a 1-day pass for American’s Admiral Club as well – its $50 passes are good for multiple locations.

If you want more than a 1-day pass, here’s a Woman Road Warrior tip - check with your employer. If your organization has a formal travel and entertainment policy, find out if it allows the cost of the club membership to be a reimbursable expense. If not, but you are a senior member of the company, see if an exception can be made. If your company won’t reimburse you, but you are a member anyway, do yourself a favor: If you see your boss or another senior member of your company waiting at the gate, invite her to join you in the lounge. Club rules usually allow a member to bring up to two guests.

See you on the road!

Road Reporter Vicki Zwart

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Banning Babies: Should Flights Be Kid-Free?


Is this your version of the perfect flight? Relaxing quietly in first class, reading a magazine? No disruptive children screaming or kicking your seat? That's the dream of some recently surveyed fliers in the U.K.

The Business Travel and Meetings Show polled 1000 business travelers about what annoyed them most about flying first class. 74-percent said children. This is not a new topic for debate but it continues to rile people up.
Business travel writer David Richardson likes the idea of keeping kids out of first class. “I definitely think introducing an adults-only cabin or service is a good idea and it would work well on high-frequency routes so that families could be accommodated on other services.” He suggested that airlines such as British Airways or Virgin Atlantic add an adults-only cabin.
I have no problems with kids on a plane. My frustration is when the parents expect everyone else to take care of their children instead of themselves. AND new mothers - babies scream on the descent because their ears get clogged due to the pressure. You'd scream as well with that kind of build up. Bring a bottle; give a toddler something to suck on. Help them out.
I also think flying with your children on a business trip can be beneficial to them. In my book, The Woman Road Warrior: An Expert Guide to Domestic and International Business Travel, I talk about how many woman road warriors take their children along on the road. It allows the kids to see Mom balancing family and work demands in a new context and how well it can be done. And they learn travel skills such as how to pack and take responsibility for their belongings. It also is a chance to practice their manners – how to quickly clear the airplane aisles when they get to their assigned row or how to store their items in the overhead bins immediately and take their seats. All good lessons for future road warriors.

See you on the road!

Kathy Ameche



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Be Ready for Snowmaggedon


As we face Snowmaggedon in Chicago, the New York Times has a good article about how to deal with a canceled flight. It suggests using social media to stay in touch with your airline. We agree - many airlines are using Twitter to keep their passengers up-to-date on cancellations and delays. You'll often get a much faster response than trying to get through by phone.

The Times also says to read the fine print - you have the right to demand a refund on a canceled flight - even because of bad weather - from any airline if you decide not to take the trip.

We recommend buying a new ticket if your flight is canceled. You'll have priority over those trying to re-book. The airlines like fresh revenue! You can use the old one at a later date.

In addition, keep the number of your favorite hotel chain on your speed dial and partake in lots of food therapy (comfort food that is).

See you on the road!

Kathy Ameche

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