Best Travel Briefcases in 2018

Whether you’re traveling for business or would just like to keep your laptop and other important items close and organized, a well-made briefcase is a useful item to have. Options range from classic hard-sided cases to backpack-briefcase hybrids, rolling bags that double as an overnighter and stylish vintage messenger bags. Here are the eight best briefcases in various price ranges.

Best Overall: CoolBell 17.3-Inch Laptop Briefcase



With a wallet-friendly price tag, plenty of pockets and enough space for all the modern gadgets, the “CoolBell Laptop Briefcase” is an excellent choice. Made of water-resistant nylon, the bag comes in black, grey or purple and features strengthened shockproof foam padding to protect a 17-inch laptop or other electronics. Measuring 17.9 x 13.4 x 5.7 inches, the CoolBell has two large compartments, plus small exterior pouches that zip closed. It can easily connect to a wheeled carry-on for easy transport or it can be carried over the shoulder.

Best Hybrid: Solo Laptop Hybrid Briefcase



The “Solo Laptop Hybrid Briefcase” is easy to tote around because it can quickly convert into a stylish backpack that’s ideal for young working professionals. Made of gray polyester fabric, the bag features sturdy zippers, three exterior pockets that zip closed, as well as a padded main compartment for 15-inch laptops, notebooks and important files. In addition, when it’s time for the important meeting, the backpack straps tuck away inside a rear compartment and can be easily clipped onto the back to create a more traditional briefcase. The backpack laptop bag measures 12 x 4 x 17 inches and weighs 2.2 pounds.

Best Rolling: Amazon Basics Rolling Laptop



To take the weight of a briefcase off the shoulders, the “AmazonBasics Rolling Laptop Case” is an ideal choice for comfort and convenience. The bag can be rolled using a retractable handle that tucks away for use as a briefcase. An organizational pocket in the front provides easy access to small items and a padded interior pocket can hold a laptop securely. The briefcase can fit under airplane seats and measures 17 x 14.5 x 7.5 inches. It is important to note that although the briefcase is advertised as a 17-inch laptop bag, it’s best used for laptops 15 inches or smaller.

Best Vintage: Texbo Cowhide Leather Shoulder Briefcase



Made of genuine thick cowhide imported from Italy, the Texbo brown leather shoulder briefcase has a rugged, yet sophisticated look with high-quality craftsmanship. The heavy duty leather can hold a 17-inch laptop and has interior pouches for smaller items such as wallets or phones (that fold flat when not in use). It measures 16.5 x 12 x 9 inches. A sturdy shoulder strap makes it easy to carry and a top grip handle is perfect for quick access. Some Amazon users reported that the coloration of the bag can come off – so be cautious when using with light clothing items.

Best for Securing Items: Alpine Swiss Expandable Briefcase



To safely secure important items, the “Alpine Swiss Expandable” black leather briefcase comes with dual locking mechanisms and durable, high quality materials. The 20 x 19 x 4.8-inch briefcase has a classic design, genuine leather and is sturdy enough to secure belongings. Perfect for important meetings, the interior features pen holders and pockets for a wallet or cell phone, files, as well as laptops. The briefcase is extremely affordable, yet still maintains premium construction and useful functionality. Many Amazon buyers claim it was the best briefcase they have purchased – and for a fraction of the cost of competitors.

Best for Style: Wowbox Messenger Satchel



Constructed from cowhide and canvas, the “Wowbox Messenger Satchel” has a trendy look that works for everyday use or important business meetings. The brown leather-trimmed bag comes in a variety of canvas color options, including coffee, gray and green. The bag is a bit smaller than some others and measures 13 x 10.5 x 1 inches and has a comfortable (adjustable) shoulder strap and carry handle. Vintage buckles have magnetic clasps and the interior has four slip pockets for pens, credit cards or gadgets, as well as a large compartment for files.

Best Design: Meffort Messenger Briefcase



For a funky, fun briefcase design, the Meffort 13-inch shoulder bag and briefcase comes in 14 different colorful patterns ranging from geometric shapes and flowers to the Eiffel Tower or Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” All sides of the bag are well-padded to secure laptops or other electronics and side pockets help keep things organized. The briefcase measures 14.5 x 3.3 x 12 inches, however, larger sizes are available that can fit a 17-inch laptop. Padded carry handles make it easy to transport and it can also comfortably fit on the handle of a carry-on bag.

Best Splurge: Polare Overnight Business Briefcase



For a classic, long-lasting briefcase made of soft, genuine leather, the “Polare Overnight Business Briefcase” is a worthwhile splurge. It’s larger than many other briefcases (17.5 x 5.5 x 12 inches), but isn’t bulky. The well-constructed Polare can stand up to wear and tear and includes a one-year warranty. The briefcase has a back belt that attaches it to a carry-on luggage, a long detachable shoulder strap, silver and bronze hardware, multiple compartments for organizing, as well as padding to protect electronics.

Learning to Read

Simple Steps to Teach Kids How to Read

Although reading itself is a complex process, involving a number of different literacy skills, the steps taken in order to introduce those skills are relatively simple. In order to teach kids how to read, and how to enjoy the reading that they do, here are some simple and time-tested strategies that that are good to use.

Have books on hand

It’s helpful to have a range of good books available at home for your child to read. If you don’t have them at home, make sure you take regular trips to the library to ensure your child reads different kinds of books. One of the benefits of reading a variety of books is that your child will be exposed to a wider range of words, thereby building their vocabulary. They will also learn about different genres, fiction and non-fiction books, story structures and many other features of books that only variety can impart.

Read to your child

Not only is reading to your child enjoyable for all concerned, it also provides your child with a vocal model of the fluent reading of text. Having a vocal model is important for young children who are still learning how to pronounce certain letter sounds and words.

Ask questions

Asking your child questions about a story they have read allows them to think critically and reflect on its structure, themes, characters and plot. It also turns them from passive readers into a reader that actively engages and derives meaning from the story. Reading for meaning should be the ultimate goal and by asking your child questions you can help develop the critical thinking skills so valuable in later school life.

Know what is effective

The best reading programs teach kids how to read by instructing in five literacy skill areas: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and text comprehension. The process of learning to read is a complex one, involving the use of a number of different literacy skills. Awareness of these areas is helpful when teaching your child how to read, as each area has an important part to play in reading:

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is the first step in learning how to read. It is the understanding that words are made up of individual sounds, called phonemes. Phonemic awareness enables readers to hear the individual units of sound in words, identify them, and use them both in speech, and later, writing.


Phonics is the understanding that written spellings represent the sounds of spoken words.


Fluency is the bridge between recognising words and understanding what is read. Fluent readers are able to spend less time on decoding words and more time on the deeper meaning within a text.


A vocabulary is the repository of known words, first the speaking and listening vocabulary, and following this, the reading and writing vocabulary. The more words that readers have in their speaking and listening vocabulary, the easier time they will have in building their reading and writing vocabulary.


Comprehension skills are critical to a child’s reading ability, providing them with the means to derive meaning from a text. Reading for meaning is the end goal of learning to read and developing comprehension skills early on can help your child immensely in their future education.

ABC Reading Eggs incorporates all five literacy areas in its lessons, combining scientifically based reading activities with highly motivational elements. Featuring highly engaging animations, playful sound effects and catchy music, early ABC Reading Eggs lessons introduce children to a range of interactive activities that reinforce letter sound and shape, building phonemic awareness and phonics skills, as well as vocabulary and comprehension. The reading of an ebook forms the end of the lesson, allowing children to apply skills they have learnt.

Most Successful Self-Made Women In America

Forbes’ third annual tally of America’s 60 most successful self-made women has a new number one, two new billionaires, a transgender woman who climbed back into the ranks after a one year absence and five newcomers. It’s a diverse group of entrepreneurs, executives and entertainers who made their fortunes in everything from makeup and music to fashion, food and finance and range in age from 27 to 90. Many of these women started out trying to come up with better products to use themselves – including Spanx, Vera Bradley and IT Cosmetics, to name a few — and ended up building successful companies.  All of them, who together are worth a record $61.5 billion, share a passion for their products and how they can help their customers.

Leading the way at no. 1 is the cofounder of Little Caesars Pizza, Marian Ilitch. Known as Mrs. I, Ilitch’s fortune grew by $3 billion since last year and she moves up five spots. That’s largely because her husband Mike, with whom she started and ran the business for decades, passed away in February. Forbes now credits her with his portion of Little Caesars, plus her own holdings in the Detroit Red Wings hockey team and MotorCity Casino Hotel. Not included in her fortune: the value of Mike’s Detroit Tigers, which is now in a family trust.

Alex and Ani founder Carolyn Rafaelian has become a billionaire thanks to her trendy jewelry.

Among the list’s record 18 billionaires are two newly appointed ones including No. 18 Carolyn Rafaelian, the founder of popular bangle brand Alex and Ani, now America’s richest jeweler, and No. 16 Eren Ozmen, cofounder of aerospace and defense contractor Sierra Nevada, whose sales rose 15% in 2016; its Dream Chaser spacecraft now has a partnership with the United Nations and a contract with NASA.

They join better known billionaires in the ranks such as Oprah Winfrey (No. 3) and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg (No. 12), who are actively influencing politics and culture. While Oprah returns to her reporting roots this fall as a special contributor to 60 Minutes. Sandberg has been speaking out against gender pay gaps and criticize President Trump’s travel ban and anti-abortion measures. “Every woman deserves to be paid what she’s worth,” Sandberg wrote in a Facebook post in honor of April’s Equal Pay Day, “When women are paid less than men, it doesn’t just hurt women. It hurts our families, our businesses and our communities.”

The richest newcomer is Anne Dinning, whose net worth is an estimated $600 million. Trained as a computer scientist, she has helped run one of the most successful quantitative hedge fund firms on Wall Street, D. E. Shaw, for nearly two decades. She is one of five financiers in the ranks, including another newcomer, Victoria Zoellner, chairman of $1.7 billion (assets) hedge fund Alpine Associates Management.

Another new face is Kendra Scott, founder of her eponymous jewelry brand known for customizable earrings, bracelets and necklaces. She debuts following a private equity investment valuing the company at over $1 billion; she is worth $500 million. Makeup maven Jamie Kern Lima also makes the cut after selling her IT Cosmetics to L’Oreal for $1.2 billion in cash in August; she pocketed an estimated $410 million.

Newcomer Jessica Iclisoy literally grabs the last spot in the ranks, coming in tied with real estate maven Dottie Herman at No. 59 with a net worth of $260 million, the minimum needed to make the 2017 list. (That is $10 million more than the $250 million minimum in 2016). Iclisoy launched California Baby in 1995. Today it sells $80 million worth of 90 nontoxic, organic baby care products at stores like Whole Foods and Target. Iclisoy, who owns 100% of the company, never brought in outside investors, has her own manufacturing facility and grows some ingredients on her own farm.

Founder of Sirius Satellite Radio and biotech firm United Therapeutics, Martine Rothblatt rejoins the ranks after a one year absence, as stock rose and Forbes got new information on some stock sales. Rothblatt, who underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1994 but has remained married to the same woman, Bina, for more than three decades, started United after her daughter Jenesis developed pulmonary arterial hypertension; Rothblatt is the only transgender in the ranks.

The youngest person on the list is once again Taylor Swift, now 27, worth $280 million. The oldest is Alice Schwartz, 90. California is home to 23 self-made women, more than any other state by a wide margin. New York comes in second with nine, but New York City, where all of them live, has bragging rights as the top city.

Six women dropped out of the 2017 ranks including Sophia Amoruso, whose online fashion retailer NastyGal filed for bankruptcy protection in November, and Jessica Alba, whose Honest Co. was valued by 2016 potential suitor Unilever at a discount to its last venture capital fundraising round. The four others who fell off this year’s list are model-turned-merchandiser Kathy Ireland, Vera Bradley’s cofounder Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, biotech Opko Health’s  Jane Hsiao and financier Lynn Tilton.


To compile net worths, we valued individuals’ assets, including the value of stakes in public companies, using April 28, 2017 stock prices. We valued private companies by speaking with an array of outside experts and conservatively comparing the companies with publicly-traded competitors. To be eligible for this list, women had to have substantially made their own fortunes and be U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents. In cases where they started businesses with and still share with their husbands, we’ve assigned them half of that combined wealth. We attempted to vet these numbers with all list entrants. Some cooperated; others didn’t.

Acknowledgments: Euromonitor International; FactSet; LW Hospitality Advisors; Pitchbook; Privco; Simeon A. Siegel, Nomura Instinet; Timothy Landhuis, Staffing Industry Analysts; Lars Topholm, Carnegie Investment Bank.

Summer Steak Kabobs



1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1-1/2 pounds beef top sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 pound whole fresh mushrooms

2 medium onions, cut into wedges

1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch slices

Hot cooked rice



In a large bowl, combine first six ingredients. Add beef; turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

On 12 metal or soaked wooden skewers, alternately thread beef and vegetables; discard marinade. Grill kabobs, covered, over medium heat until beef reaches desired doneness, 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally. Serve with rice.

How Sports Brings the World Together

He also believed that sports are not ideal for family relationships. I disagree with his point. In doing this I am going to argue against his believe by making clear reference to Sport as a unifier.
There are many positive things which sports bring to the world. But my main focus is how sport can bring different people together. Looking back at Joe’s words he only focuses on the negative which sports brings out of people. All the descriptions he mentions is only a hand full of people. People are there to enjoy themselves and support the team they love. What Joe is describing is the hooligans not the supporters. These people bring out the negative image of what supporters are like. “Sport is a universal language that brings people together, no matter what their origin, background, religious beliefs race or economic status.” As shown in image one, sport brings all kinds of people together.
Mandela saw sport as a way to brings South Africans. He knew that people will not automatically change once he was elected president. He knew that it would take time and he believed that through sport the healing will go faster. No one predicted South Africa would make the finals, let alone win the crown jewel of rugby in 1995 a year after Nelson Mandela was elected president.

Teaching Children Good Manners

Modeling behaviors is the best way to teach your child good manners

Every parent dreams of the polite little child who says “please” and “thank you.” After all, your child’s behavior reflects on you. Manners come easily to some children while others struggle.   Understanding the basis of good manners will help you teach your child good manners. Good manners, after all, are necessary for people to live together in this world. Gracious manners reflect a loving and considerate personality.

1. Expect respect

Believe it or not, you begin to teach your child good manners at birth, but you don’t call them that. The root of good manners is respect for another person; and the root of respect is sensitivity. Sensitivity is one of the most valuable qualities you can instill into your child — and it begins in infancy. The sensitive infant will naturally become the respectful child who, because he cares for another’s feelings, will naturally become a well-mannered person. His politeness will be more creative and more heartfelt than anything he could have learned from a book of etiquette. In recent years it has become socially correct to teach children to be “assertive.” Being assertive is healthy as long as it doesn’t override politeness and good manners.

2. Teach polite words early

Even two-year-olds can learn to say “please” and “thank you.” Even though they don’t yet understand the social graciousness of these words, the toddler concludes that “please” is how you get what you want and “thank you” is how you end an interaction. At least you’ve planted these social niceties into your child’s vocabulary; later they will be used with the understanding that they make others feel good about helping you. When you ask your toddler to give you something, open with “please” and close with “thank you.” Even before the child grasps the meaning of these words she learns they are important because mommy and daddy use them a lot and they have such nice expressions on their faces when they say these words. Children parrot these terms and understand their usefulness long before they understand their meaning.

3. Model manners

From age two to four, what Johnny hears, Johnny says. Let your child hear a lot of “please,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” and “excuse me” as you interact with people throughout the day. And address your little person with the same politeness you do an adult. Let your child catch the flavor of polite talk.

4. Teach name-calling

We have always made a point of opening each request by using the name of our child: “Jim, will you do this for me?” Our children picked up on this social nicety and address us by title: “Dad, may I…” or “Mom, would you…” When he was eight, our son Matthew made all of these language tools part of his social self. Matthew concluded that if he timed his approach for the right moment, looked me in the eye or touched my arm, addressed me as “Dad…,” and adds a “please” or “may I,” he could get just about anything he wants. Even when I know I’m being conned, I’m a pushover for politeness. Although Matthew didn’t always get his politely-presented wish, I always acknowledged his use of good manners.

5. Acknowledge the child

The old adage “children should be seen and not heard” was probably coined by a childless person. Include your child in adult goings-on, especially if there are no other children present. When you and your child are in a crowd of mostly adults, tuning out your child is asking for trouble. Even a child who is usually well-behaved will make a nuisance of herself in order to break through to you. Including the child teaches social skills, and acknowledging her presence shows her that she has value.

Stay connected with your child in situations that put her at risk for undesirable behavior. During a visit with other adults, keep your younger child physically close to you (or you stay close to him) and maintain frequent verbal and eye contact. Help your older child feel part of the action so that he is less likely to get bored and wander into trouble.

6. Don’t force manners.

Language is a skill to be enjoyed, not forced. While it’s okay to occasionally dangle a “say please” over a child before you grant the request don’t, like pet training, rigidly adhere to asking for the “magic word” before you give your child what he wants. The child may tire of these polite words even before he understands them. When you remind a child to say “please,” do so as part of good speech, not as a requirement for getting what he wants. And be sure he hears a lot of good speech from you. Overdo politeness while you’re teaching it and he’ll catch the idea faster. “Peas” with a grin shows you the child is feeling competent in her ability to communicate.

7. Correct politely

As a Little League baseball coach, I learned to “chew out a child” — politely. When a child made a dumb play (which is to be expected), I didn’t rant and rave like those overreacting coaches you see on television. Instead, I keep my voice modulated, look the child straight in the eye, and put my hand on his shoulder during my sermon. These gestures reflect that I am correcting the child because I care, not because I am out of control. My politeness showed him that I value him and want him to learn from his mistakes so he becomes a better player, and the child listens. I hope someday that same child will carry on these ball field manners when he becomes a coach.

Have you ever wondered why some children are so polite? The main reason is they are brought up in an environment that expects good manners. One day I noticed an English family entering a hotel. The father looked at his two sons, ages five and seven, and said, “Now chaps, do hold the door for the lady,” which they did. I asked him why his children were so well-mannered. He replied, “We expect it.”

Best Work Accessories for Business Women

We recently brought our Clusterstock readers the “15 Work Accessories That Every Wall Streeter Must Have” for guys.Now we’re out with the women’s edition.

We reached out to our well-dressed female friends who work on Wall Street and asked for their input.

So here’s our list of ideas for accessories for what every Wall Street women should bring to the office and what to never be caught owning.

Theory Suits

For attire, a popular response from the women we asked were Theory suits and separates.

As for the colors, they suggest purchasing them in black, cream, navy blue and muted red.

A Diane Von Furstenberg Dress

We were surprised about this one and excited, too.

One Wall Streeter said its appropriate at some “less conservative” banks to wear a Diane Von Furstenberg dress on Fridays.

That’s perfect for Friday afternoon happy hours.


Keep a cardigan (preferably black) at your desk, says one Wall Street woman.

You never know when the office will be chilly.

Conservative, Comfortable And Stylish Heels

We’re told low-heeled Ferragamo’s or Louboutin’s are popular choices for the well-heeled women of Wall Street.

“Anything over 3 inches will raise eyebrows,” one Wall Street woman told us.

Important: Don’t over-style your boss.

A Pair Of Flats

Flats are essential for women who stand on their feet all day.

The one problem is flats can come off as unprofessional or immature.

A solution is to pick a pair that have nice hardware.

One Wall Streeter suggests owning Tory Burch, Lanvin or Chanel flats, while another recommends Ferragamo flats.

A Nice Watch — but not too nice

A Wall Streeter told us some popular watch makers are Daivd Yurman and Tiffany’s.

She suggests that women on Wall Street avoid the popular boyfriend watches.

“Don’t get something that will make your boss jealous either — it should be feminine without being hot pink.”

Conservative Jewelry

Avoid excessive jewelry, the women said saying it’s better to keep it simple.

Be careful with the neck jewelry one Wall Streeter said.

“Simple chain necklace or of-the-moment statement piece (again, depends on the firm and/or status) but nothing that sparkles too aggressively or makes any noise whatsoever.”

Some key pieces worth owning on Wall Street are pearl studs, silver ball studs, simple bracelet and a nice ring.

Speaking of rings, we hear that there’s competition among women at some Wall Street firms over the size of diamond engagement rings.

Nail Polish

Nails should be short and manicured.

Popular color suggestions were nude or burgundy.

Neutral Makeup

Makeup on Wall Street should look natural.

“Absolutely no glitter,” says one female Wall Streeter.

For example, at Goldman Sachs there’s an unspoken rule that it’s not cool to wear a lot of makeup.

You’ll also want to have a makeup bag with essentials such as concealer after those 4 a.m-ers, says one source.

Speaking of makeup bags, there was believed to be a makeup thief at Morgan Stanleystealing items such as mascara and bronzer from her co-worker’s makeup bags, while leaving behind cash and diamond earrings.

Baby Powder

If you’re working late hours and don’t have time to wash your hair, keep a bottle of baby powder handy.

“It magically makes it look like you just did your hair,” says on Wall Street woman who keeps some at her desk.

Minimal Or No Perfume

One of the women we spoke to said perfume is not appropriate for the office.

“Women smell nice anyway,” she added.

If you absolutely insist on wearing perfume keep it at a minimum.

The UBS dress code manualsays “a scent should at first be perceptible at a distance – an arm’s length – but should be discreet.”

Gal Pal

The “Gal Pal” pink sponge you can purchase at almost any drugstore is useful for removing deodorant stains from your black dresses.

Day Planner

A Wall Street woman says others should consider owning a nice leather-bound day planner to keep organized.

Professional Handbag

A Wall Streeter we spoke to suggested having a nice handbag, but with “no obvious labels.”

That’s because you don’t want your boss, who might be a man, seeing your bag with G’s, LV’s and C’s all over the place. Branded bags like Prada and YSL, for example, are fine after you’ve earned your bonus, but keep them simple, classic, and tasteful.

“Ehhh I wouldn’t do it,” she said.

One popular suggestions is a simple black Longchamp bag, which is also useful for toting gym clothes.


Again, your iPad is the hassle-free way to keep the browser history on your work computer devoid of visits to websites that you might otherwise avoid reading during work hours, for professional reasons.

We suggest using it to “fill your daily Gilt addiction,” says on Wall Street woman.