I’m on the road again and I confess I always envy the person who can travel with one rolling carry-on. That’s not me. I’m more like the British explorers who traveled with teapot, table and tent. Unless you’re flying Southwest Airlines where baggage flies free (free of airline meals and assigned seats too), my preferred style of travel is costly and inefficient. If you wish to avoid fees for checked bags, overweight bags and extra bags, I recommend you don’t do what I do. Instead, here are some tips from the experts in six convenient categories that I regularly ignore. Plus a few tips I’ve conjured myself from decades of travel:
Focus on items you need for the scheduled meeting or event: pertinent documents, notes, reports, exhibits and equipment such as a laptop computer, tablet or smart phone, etc.
Then turn your attention to anything you might need for contacting attorney-clients back home regarding specific cases. Be selective about the type and amount of additional casework you pack. If you can break down your projects into smaller tasks – a good idea for effectiveness anytime – determine what you can reasonably accomplish while you’re away and take only what you need to meet those objectives.
Leave the paper at home and go electronic. Yes, you can do this! If you have large documents or a file that you don’t want to carry, or aren’t sure if you need, consider scanning them and either putting a copy on your computer or USB drive. If you don’t want to fill up your hard drive you could email it to yourself or place it in a “cloud” based storage service such as DropBox and access it when, and if, you need it.
If you’re driving, get a GPS app for your smartphone or use printed directions from Google® or Yahoo! ®
Remember to stash your luggage and just about everything else in the trunk to avoid tempting theft, or just be prepared to carry it all with you into Denny’s when you stop for lunch.
Download an expense log app or take along a paper expense log to track your business travel expenses and a large envelope to save receipts. You can also use an Excel spreadsheet.
Take extra business cards, brochures and promotional packages. After all, you never know who you’ll meet on the plane or at the hotel or at your business function. And remember to network with anyone and everyone who comes within three feet of you.
Keep it simple. Ideally, you should pack everything you need in one wheeled carry-on case (Hah!). This saves the anxiety and hassles inherent with lost luggage. However, if you can’t squeeze everything into one bag, at least make sure your carry-on luggage contains your business suit if you’re traveling in casual attire, a change of undergarments, medications, jewelry and essential personal and business items.
Plan the items you need before you pack by doing what fashion experts do to prepare for photo shoots – lay all the pieces of each outfit together on your bed and coordinate everything, including accessories. Use a packing list. One year I had to take an emergency shopping spree to Victoria’s Secret (maybe there are benefits to not keeping a packing list). That’s when the packing list was birthed.
Pack a single color scheme that you can mix and match. New Yorkers wear black for a reason – it goes with everything and eliminates extra shoes and accessories. (Note to self: I really need to try this one.) Dress for comfort, yet look professional. To reduce the need for ironing on arrival, take wrinkle-resistant clothes and pack neatly and tightly.
Remember to bring exercise clothes, casual clothes and shoes for after-hours and a swimsuit for relaxing in the hotel pool or spa.
Toiletries and Personal Items
If you travel frequently never unpack your toiletry items. Buy an extra toothbrush, hairbrush, etc. and keep them packed. I always have a second set of makeup and skin care and if I buy a new product I’ll put the new one in my travel bag so that I don’t run out. A hanging toiletry bag, always ready to pop into your suitcase, is a good investment. If you carry on your toiletries be sure to pack TSA-compliant, travel-size toiletry items and replenish them from your bigger bottles between trips.
Finally, be kind to yourself. Bring something just for fun during your well-earned downtime. A favorite book, journal, magazine, iPod or e-reader is wonderful for whiling away a layover or winding down at night before sleep.
Until a friend lost his MacBook® on a trip from Houston to New York City, I never thought I’d have to remind anyone to always carry your laptop on with you, not to check it in your luggage. Newer laptop bags don’t even need you to pull the computer out, you just flip the bag open and flop it on the belt at security. Take an extra charged battery or an airplane power adapter with you, but put the regular charger, mouse and other accessories in your checked bag. Tuck your iPod® into the case for your noise-reducing headset and you’ll be somewhat insulated from crying babies and chatty spouses. Oops, I mean fellow travelers.
Smart phones are essential both at home and away. Don’t forget yours, and be sure to pack your charger/adapter or an extra battery. But don’t misuse these communication tools. Give your full attention to the event at hand. Place your phone on “silent” or “vibrate” mode or even better, turn your phone off until you’re free to check messages. Based upon your business agenda, determine when you’ll have time to check messages – for example, once or twice during the day and once in the evening.
I look forward to seeing many of you on the road in 2013. I’ll be easy to spot at the airport. I’ll be the one with the teapot, table and tent.
Success Is Inside!
P.S. Comment here and share your favorite packing and travel tips.