Business travel is not always fun or glamorous. Even when it is fun, however, smart business travelers follow a few rules of thumb that may not apply to vacation trips.
Customize Your Business Traveler Profile:
Careful packers can often get away with bringing just one carry-on size suitcase. This is a huge time saver as you don’t have to wait for checked baggage – or worry that it’s been lost! Keep in mind that a carry-on goes into the overhead bins wheels first, and not lengthwise. There are a ton of great bags out now, including the Genius Pack, which comes with a built-in dirty laundry bag and mobile phone charger.
Speaking of technology to bring, we always have our carry-on bag stocked with a phone charger and cord, noise-cancelling headphones or soft earplugs, regular headphones (because the ones the airlines give out are garbage), an e-reader, and, as mentioned below, hand sanitizer. As for really useful apps, we rely heavily on XE.com‘s currency converter, the Dark Sky weather app, and of course Google Maps.
Those little hand sanitizer bottles go right through security and have saved us many times in planes, buses, taxis, and trains, where surfaces have been touched by countless hands. Giving your armrest and tray table a quick wipe down will not only remove the sticky substances left behind by the last person sitting there, but also whatever germs they left behind.
Sleep as much as you can on the plane and then see what your schedule dictates. What NOT to do is get caught up binge-watching some TV show and miss the sleep time you desperately need.
Just as it’s unadvisable to load up on empty entertainment calories, it’s also a good idea to not eat all the free cookies and chips you can find. Packing some healthy snacks – fruit, nuts, etc. – in your carry-on will help you to steer away from unhealthy choices. Also, remember planes can be terribly dry places – be sure to drink plenty of water during and after your flight.
Don’t Embarrass Yourself or Your Company:
Just as we recommend not drinking too much at a company holiday party, keeping sober during business travel will help both your ability to function and your appearance in the eyes of co-workers. We’ve been on business trips where everyone – upper management and subordinates – overindulged, and it never works out well. Know your personal limits and stay well within them. Drinks might be free in business class, but keep classy up there or your business will suffer.
There’s a certain anonymity to business travel. There’s little chance you’ll see the other people on the plane again, and if you do they probably won’t remember you or what you wore. That said, smart professionals are always camera-ready, especially for business travel.
Here’s where making a detailed list helps. Print out your events while you will be away, day by day, hour by hour, if need be. Lay out what you want to wear for each event and determine events where clothing items can overlap. We’re looking to maximize wardrobe options with a minimum of items to pack.
Speaking of shoes, wear bulky shoes (like boots) on the plane. This will save space in your suitcase.
Sharp, Not Wrinkled
The internet is full of useful folding tips to reduce wrinkles. Some people roll, some layer shirts inside jackets like nesting eggs, some just fold and pray. We’ve tried most of these and found limited success. In the end, the first thing we do at a hotel is ask for an iron and make things right. Hanging up your clothes as soon as possible is the best way to keep wrinkles from setting in. Steam is also your friend, so hanging a few choice items in the bathroom during your shower will help get wrinkles out without too much work.
Don’t Be Late!
Do some research in advance to find out how far your hotel is from your destination airport, and how far the office is from the hotel. If you need a car, rent one in advance and research some of the best routes. If you need alternative currency, get it from a bank days in advance. You’ll likely save money on the exchange rate by not using the airport money changers.
Likewise, check out the weather report several days before your travel date, and then again the night before leaving. These things change! Knowing what temperatures to expect will help you not over pack. It’s also a good idea to do a little research on where you are staying to know what to watch out for. Are you staying in a historic district, near some must-see attraction, or in a neighborhood where it is not safe to travel alone at night? Find out.