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Between airplanes, shuttles or airport limousines, checking in to a hotel and a busy convention or meeting itinerary, when conducting business away from home, organization can become an afterthought, particularly when you are tired. If you are not an expert business traveler, these seven savvy tips will help you keep organized and reduce the inconvenience and stress of business travel.
Your carry on luggage is important for two reasons: first, it provides all the business essentials you need, including a charger, cords and other devices you need to be productive while traveling. Second, it acts as a safety precaution, providing you with one change of clothes and shoes, in the event that your baggage goes missing. However rare, it does happen and it can leave a professional stranded without essentials.
The carry on luggage limitations are standard for most airlines. All carry on bags must be no more than 9” deep by 14” wide, and 22” high. Since you can access your carry on bag during the flight, choose one that has organized compartments for essentials like medications, electronics, and other travel needs.
Right now, there are one or two shirts and pairs of pants that are notorious for wrinkling. Don’t pack those. Go through your wardrobe and evaluate what pieces look best, and what are likely to be most comfortable for extra long days. Under pack if you are a staying up to a week or more, and choose pieces that can be mixed and matched to create several different outfits. Pant hangers are a traveler’s best friend.
Do you know which men’s shirt and pant have the least likelihood of wrinkling when packed? A brand new ones. Consider a trick that many executives use, and purchase two or three brand new dress shirts for your trip; but don’t unwrap them. While pinned to the cardboard, your shirt will not move around in your luggage, nor will the collar fall (thanks to plastic inserts). When you arrive at the hotel, unwrap each shirt and pant and hang them up. A quick run through the fold creases with a portable steamer, and you will be ready to go!
You may be in a hurry when packing for your business trip, but throwing your full-sized sundries into your suitcase is not the best idea. First, that big bottle of shampoo could come open during baggage handling. Second, the full-size bottles take up a lot of room, and large fluid bottles are more likely to get your suitcase opened, with the possibility of your garments and property being mishandled by security.
Travel sized bottles are a great alternative (particularly if you don’t have the time or patience to dole out your products into small, empty travel bottles). Pick up and pack your favorites for your trip, or wait until you check in to the hotel, and purchase your sundries at a nearby drugstore.
If you know how to use one correctly, a travel steamer is a convenience and a time saver. If ironing your own clothes isn’t within your wheelhouse, you have the potential to damage or ruin your clothes. A steamer however makes it impossible to singe clothing, and can be used on all fabric types. Simply fill it with water, let it heat up, and steam your garment on a hanger to go from wrinkle to wrinkle free.
A second benefit of a steamer is stain removal. If you have a favorite garment that has a food stain on it, you can rescue it in your hotel room with the help of a travel steamer. Simply wet the fabric under the faucet, and apply hand soap or shampoo to the stain. Apply the steamer to the stain area, making several passes, and then rinse. The steamer makes it more difficult for stains to set in, so you will not have to mourn the loss of your favorite shirt on your next business trip.
It is the one item that business professionals are guilty of over packing; shoes. Don’t assume that professional women are the only ones at fault; men are equally likely to over pack casual shoes, including athletic and comfortable styles for off hours.
If traveling for up to five days, you really only need three pairs of shoes; one style for dress (stick with black or brown), one style for comfortable walking, and if you intend to use the spa facilities, a pair of pool shoes. Pack each set in a shoe bag to prevent scratching and damage during baggage handling, or soiling other garments in the suitcase.
Laundry service at hotels is typically inexpensive. And if you are traveling for business, you can of course keep the receipt and claim it as an necessity. If you are staying for more than five days, you can get away with four outfits that are interchangeable (mix and match). Use the hotel’s laundry service to minimize the clothing you need to pack, and simplify.
When you are running from one meeting, to a conference, and then to a dinner, charging your smartphone, tablet or other personal devices can be a challenge. Invest in a portable USB charger with at least four ports. A charger can take an iPad and a smartphone from zero battery to full-charge in less than an hour, and fits conveniently in your bag or pocket. Charge it up overnight in the hotel room, and you’ll extend your battery time by double (and avoid having to find an outlet constantly, which is stressful).
Start with a checklist of essentials, when packing for your business trip and do your best to stick to a list that gives you everything you need, without packing the kitchen sink. The less you travel with, the better.