When Todd and I arrived in Panama the second time, we couldn't find a decent apartment to rent. Prices had gone up by 50% since the last time we visited, and it was Carnaval Season, which crushed availability. So we stayed in a hostel. The location was great, our room was decent enough, but to call the internet sporadic would be too kind of a compliment. We couldn't find any coffee shops that had wifi, so we ended up paying by the minute in an overly air conditioned "cybercafe" which boasted amenities like plastic patio chairs and a guy next to us browsing hardcore gay pornography all day.
If I knew then what I know now, and what I'm about to share with you, I wouldn't have had that problem. It turns out that there's a company which caters to businesses by offering office space all over the world. And I mean everywhere. I first found out about this in Toronto, searched for the closest location, and it was half a block away from where I was staying. In San Francisco you can stand at one location and see another one a block away.
The company is called Regus. I'd heard about them before, because I know that they contract with American Express for the Platinum Business card, but I assumed their services were so expensive that I wouldn't consider a membership. And that's kind of true-if you want your own office, it's definitely expense-account priced. But they also have a "Business Lounge" program, which gives you access to a common area with comfortable seating, wifi, snacks, tea, and coffee, in any of their 1100 locations. The price for a worldwide membership is only $49 per month, which is cheap enough that I would consider buying it, and would definitely buy it if I was traveling constantly.
But, it turns out that there's a way to get it cheaper. Much cheaper.
I recently signed up for a service called TripIt. You forward your itineraries for flights, car rentals, and hotels to them, and they parse the email and put the information all in one place. With a teensy bit of work you can get the information on your Google calendar, and can then sync it with your Android phone, which is pretty amazing.
TripIt is one of those services that's so great that I wanted to upgrade to the paid version, just to support them. Their premium features were barely an improvement over the already-excellent free version, though. I was about to abandon the idea, when I saw "free one year subscription to Regus", listed almost as an afterthought. If you pay $49 per year for Tripit, you get free access to Regus. I signed up without a second thought.
(hold on a sec while I skate down to one of these places to check them out)
So now I'm sitting in a Regus at 425 Market Street in San Francisco. I'll be honest-the business lounge isn't nearly as grand as I imagined. In fact, it's not grand at all. It's an office at the end of a long hallway with no window, four chairs, and some power plugs. Here's a picture, taken with my laptop webcam because I didn't think to bring my camera and the memory card on my phone somehow got corrupted.
Despite the fact that I'm currently working in an office, this office makes me remember how much I don't like working in offices. Then again, the point of this isn't for me to have an office every day, it's for me to have access to a good workplace anywhere in the world at any time-and it's definitely way more than sufficient for that.
Plus, there's the internet access. The internet access they have here is the fastest I've ever been privy to. I'm downloading 2.5 Megabytes (not bits) per second. Uploads are fast too, which means that this is my new go-to spot for uploading HD videos that I make. And for backing up my computer. And for restoring those backups when I screw up my computer.
And let's also remember that I'm paying a solid four dollars a month for this. It could be a Brazilian favela-style shanty shack with a cable modem from 1999 and I'd still fork over the cash. So overall I'm pretty psyched about the service.
Sorry about posting this so late today.
I didn't want to go too much into detail about TripIt here, but it's an awesome service. I use it all the time now.
Gear post coming VERY soon (within the next two posts, probably). I finally got a backpack that I'm totally happy with, and that's all I was waiting for. Might put off the RV post because I have a pretty insane idea for another upgrade... looking into it Friday.
I type at you from a Regus location INSIDE the chrysler building in NYC. Looking at locations it seems like there are a lot in historic buildings that you can otherwise not get access to, at least here in NYC, so this is actually a good architecture dork tip as well.
I was looking at where they had Regus locations in my hometown (Chicago) and a lot of them there have gyms and showers INCLUDED. That's a REAL deal. I might check out the gyms and make Regus my gym!
thanks for that tip, I signed up for tripit and just used the lounge in Hong Kong (the ICC building in Kowloon) - nice environment! Up on the 12th floor with great views across the harbour, nespresso machine, imac (in case you don't have your laptop), a variety of casual and work related seating and really friendly staff. Bit nicer than that space in San Francisco, but I don't think the internet speed was as good.
In New Zealand now, so I am going to check out the Auckland office in a few days...
@jeremiah -- It appears to be a year. "Complimentary 1-year memberships to Hertz #1 Club Gold and Regus Gold."
Where do you see only one month and limited hours? You're looking at Regus' site, not TripIt Pro, maybe?
i dont understand you'll. The Tripit is only for regus gold for 1 month. You can use it during normal business hours which means its from 9-5 and after it its not even worth it. The cubicle unlimited plan is 999.00 a month i think the cheapest is like 500 for 5-10 times or something like that
Been using the Regus Business Lounges for over a year now. You already get *free access* with your Amex Business Platinum. :) (You do have to register to get the Regus card though.)
Tynan, thanks again for the great tip. Anyway, I was quite disappointed with my first Regus experience. I wanted to visit the Business Lounge at a Regus prime destination in Hong Kong and on Saturday 9:00am everything was locked and closed. Their website states "24 hours access" for that office and no other mention of any business hours. It turned out they do not open on Satuday and Sunday at all!
Could the price of this be $0?
If you signup for TripItPro, you get a 30 day trial. You could then register the Regus Pro membership and cancel your 30 day trial a few weeks later.
I am not advocating this; I just signed up and feel an obligation to TripItPro and Tynan for hooking me up -- but it looks like it is an option..
I've done some work in Regus' over the years...yes, they are nice spaces - a bit 'corporate' for me, but readily available in most cities.
I've been meaning to write about the Platinum Card for a while, but somehow haven't gotten around to it. That stops today! The Black Card gets all the press, but the truth is that the Platinum Card has most of the benefits and costs far less.
But it does cost, so let's get that out of the way. The annual fee for carrying a Platinum Card is $450, which means that you shouldn't get it unless you're actually going to take advantage of the benefits. On the other hand, it's not just a gimmick; it has real benefits that can save you money and time.
Product Replacement Guarantee
Day Twenty-Six turned out to be incredible.
Lately, I've been working a practical process to get into "High Creative Mode" -- I think has a high hit-rate for getting into that Mode, but I'm not able to consistently execute it. D26, I did --
Strange opening to the day. Didn't sleep on the 15th to force-normalize my sleep schedule.
Woke up at 12:30AM after roughly 8 hours -- earlier than I expected, but I felt awake and refreshed.
First 90 minutes of day I spent reading, answered a couple emails, surfed the net, had water and coffee, was a little groggy. I'm waking up now.