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Travel Tech Q&A: RSA's Shaun McLagan

RSA General Manager for Australia and New Zealand Shaun McLagan talks about what he likes to bring on his travels, and shares tips on how to deal with kids when on the go.
Written by Spandas Lui, Contributor

Shaun McLagan
(Credit: RSA)

What tech do you travel with and why?

For work travel, it is the Holy Trinity: 13-inch MacBook Air, new Samsung Galaxy S3, and iPad [first generation].

They are all tiny enough to fit into a single carrying case that drops on the seat, while the luggage goes into the overhead compartment, not to be seen again until we land. The MacBook Air is necessary for real work, the Galaxy is a great new phone that does so much more, and the iPad serves a hybrid role, but primarily on planes for movies and TV downloaded from iTunes.

When I travel with the family (wife and two boys, aged 4 and 3), the Air stays behind and the iPad becomes a distracter on longer flights with memory or painting games.

What's your favourite phone app for travelling and why?

Can I choose three? Salesforce.com, Trip Advisor, and Tripit. Salesforce to stay connected to the business, Trip Advisor to help me pick a nice spot to eat if I get a chance, and Tripit to remind me where I am going, when I am leaving and if things are on time.

Most memorable travel story/experience?

We have been very lucky and have lots of great memories. From EMC/RSA Club trips in Cambodia and Vietnam, to family adventures in India and game parks of South Africa, they are all amazing.

Personal travel advice/tip?

Recently, we have enjoyed some more local experiences in Broome and Tasmania. My only advice is to do it, take lots of photos, try something different, and keep travelling once kids come along.

Fiji does become popular with the kids, as they are treated like royalty and the key things in their world — swimming pools, beach games and food — are in abundance.

What, if any, travel websites do you use?

The Qantas Frequent Flyer site. They probably think I am a stalker or hacker, as I am on there so often checking bookings, checking routes, choosing seats, requesting upgrades, checking to see if an upgrade came through, checking seats again, and checking to see if the upgrade is through yet. I do know they text you, but there is sense of accomplishment when you find out before the text arrives.

I also use Trip Advisor as a hotel helper for family trips, and food advisor on business.

What is your ONE must-have piece of tech when travelling?

If forced to choose one, it would have to be the Galaxy S3 — an amazing device. With key apps and Wi-Fi, you can do most work related tasks without incurring huge costs whilst travelling.

If needed, you can use it to keep up to date with news, banking, sports, etc. The camera is very good if you are somewhere interesting. I haven't tried Skype on it, but that would be another selling point.

What was your biggest travel disaster?

I have been very lucky and enjoyed some lucky breaks when faced with potential travel disasters. My wife and I missed a flight when we had just met, and she managed to get us free business class seats on the next flight.

Also, many years ago, my brother and I missed a flight from Detroit to New York to see my uncle play with Rod Stewart, and got to fly on the Trump Shuttle Business class instead, which was quite a big deal at the time.

What is the best airport you've visited and why?

An airport for me is judged on two things: efficiency and the lounge. Being Platinum on Qantas makes Sydney for international travel a treat. Checked in and through customs in less than ten minutes, and having a glass of Bollinger and amazing food in the First Class lounge five minutes later.

My wife has stopped asking "What time is the flight?" and instead asks, "What time are you leaving for the airport?" Singapore, a frequent stop, is high on efficiency, but only a 6 out of 10 on the lounge.

What tech do you expect in hotels when you are travelling?

Free Wi-Fi. "You want me to plug this [phone, iPad, or MacBook Air] into a cable on the desk? Are you serious? And you would like $24.99 for that privilege? Ah, and you blocked Skype, so you would like me to use your 'reasonable' international calling rates from the landline?" An up-to-date gym also wins votes, as does a decent pub or bar.

Name one thing you wish your iPod/phone/laptop could do that it doesn't do now?

I am likely to suggest something that is basic functionality, and be ridiculed by those more" in the know," so I will go with infinite battery life. I'd be happy to leave all those cords at home.

Which airport would you prefer to be stranded at and why?

Leave me in the Qantas First Class Lounge in Sydney for a couple of days, and I would be fine. Amazing wine, food, free Wi-Fi, and they tell me there is a spa, but I struggle to rank that option above the calamari and a glass of pinot.

Once, when travelling with a like-minded colleague, we were told that, unfortunately, our flight was delayed. We were ecstatic as we would get to try a glass of 2006 Basket Press just opened, and the famous burger.

The Qantas staffer was quite bemused by our enthusiasm, and wondered if we wanted to know how long the delay would be. She left still puzzled by our disappointment that it was only a 20 minute delay. First Class Lounge or economy class to LAX [Los Angeles International Airport]? Delay away, I say!

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