Business Travel Tips and Tricks

business travel

Whether you travel every week for work or it’s rare that you find yourself at an airport for a business trip, travel can be a series of small hassles — but a little planning can be a huge help. It’s been a while since we’ve talked about business travel — although we’ve shared plenty of posts about all kinds of travel topics, such as:

We’ve rounded up a bunch of helpful business travel tips that readers shared in recent comments:

  • Use a list: It’s easy to forget something key like pajamas or your iPad charger, but a checklist makes packing pretty foolproof. You can use a packing app or buy a pre-printed pad — or just type up a list to print out each time. Some people even make a spreadsheet or draw their outfits.
  • Be realistic: To save space, be honest with yourself about whether you really need both pairs of black pumps, or whether you’re really going to make it to the hotel gym this time.
  • Don’t assume you’ll carry your carry-on: If you’re bringing something truly essential like your contact lens case, daily prescription, etc., keep it in your purse or laptop bag just in case. Especially if you’re flying on a small plane, your carry-on may end up checked for space reasons.
  • Coordinate colors. Pack neutrals, and colors that complement each other so you can mix and match — it’ll reduce the number of items you have to bring, and also help you get the most wear out of your shoes.
  • Check the weather forecast. Sure, this seems like a pretty obvious thing to do, but a trip I once took to Denver made it clear that not everyone does this. We arrived on a sunny, 70-degree day and were met by a blizzard the next — which forced several of my colleagues to make a snowy trek to buy gloves and warmer clothes.
  • Make it foolproof: Get an extra umbrella (a small one like this Shedrain one) and just leave it in your carry-on. Other things to always have handy in your carry-on bag to reduce the number of things you need to pack each time: gum or hard candy, travel-size hand sanitizer, travel-size lotion, pocket tissue packs, detergent sink packs, saline nasal spray.
  • If you’re checking a bag: Don’t put anything valuable in your checked suitcase. Again, this one seems like an obvious tip — but unfortunately, some baggage handlers are still finding a lot to steal (CNN).
  • Plan your in-air outfit. Put on your heaviest and bulkiest things — your coat, jeans, your more substantial shoes — and consider wearing the jewelry that you’d worry most about losing.
  • Keep certain things easily accessible. Make sure you can quickly reach your bag of liquids/toiletries for the security line, and if you pack a coat rather than wear it on the plane, put it at the top of your suitcase.
  • Pack a plastic bag or two to put your socks, underwear, and wear-once clothing items in each night.
  • Be a more efficient packer. Packing cubes keep everything neat, make it easy to find things, and help you regroup more quickly after your suitcase has been singled out for a security check. Roll your clothes instead of folding them, and fill otherwise wasted space by putting socks inside shoes, etc.

(Pictured: Airport morning 5 a.m., originally uploaded to Flickr by Manuel.)

Ladies, what travel tips do you have to share? 

best tips for business travel for working women!


N.B. These substantive posts are intended to be a source of community comment on a particular topic, which readers can browse through without having to sift out a lot of unrelated comments. And so, although of course we highly value all comments by our readers, we’re going to ask you to please keep your comments on topic; threadjacks will be deleted at our sole discretion and convenience. Thank you for your understanding!


  1. Gail the Goldfish :

    I’m traveling enough that I bought duplicates of my makeup and keep a makeup/toiletries bag packed that I can just throw in my suitcase. Saves the morning hassle of trying to remember if I packed mascara, etc, before I dash to the airport.

    Speaking of business travel tips–Is anyone signed up for TSA Precheck? Does it really save much time and is it worth it if you travel regularly? (Like a couple of times a month)

    • TSA precheck is incredible. Relatively painless to sign up and makes passing through security much more pre-9/11-like. When traveling with colleagues, though, it does raise that old “first class/coach” awkwardness because if your colleague doesn’t have TSA precheck, should you still use yours?

      • I usually offer to get through and stake out a good seat at the bar and order the first round (we spend a lot of time in airports).

    • I have Global Entry which gives me TSA Precheck domestic benefits in addition to the international expedited screening.

      OMG yes. Get it. Get it! It saves a ton of time and hassle, and if memory serves, the cost was $100 for 5 years.

    • I have Global Entry, which includes TSA Precheck. For me, it’s been worth it. I’ve flown internationally twice since I got it and had no wait at the touch screen kiosks coming back into the US. I’ve gotten Precheck every time I’ve flown on every airline (they say you may not, but I have). It means I’m through the security line in 30 seconds to 5 minutes, usually on the low end, every time. No shoes off. No crap out of my bag. Easy.

      And for me the “worth it” calculation was time only, as my AmEx reimbursed the $100 fee. So, it was the half hour out of my day to go to a little office complex near the airport and have a 30 second interview with border patrol.

      I travel on average once a month, sometimes more sometimes less.

    • Definitely worth it (and see if you have a credit card that will cover the fee, as RR mentioned). You just put your bags on the belt & walk through the metal detector (w/shoes on and tissues in your pockets). Global entry is $15 more than Precheck and covers both ($100 vs $85, I think), so if you travel internationally even rarely, probably makes sense to just go for the global entry, and then you have it for 5 years.

    • Road Warrior3tt3 has talked about it quite a bit, so you may want to check for her take as well.

    • TSA Pre-check is a must have in my book. It makes getting through security much faster and more bearable. In big airports you don’t have to remove your laptop or liquids (though the same size rules still apply) or take of your shoes. Fast!

    • Yes, I have Global Entry (which includes TSA Pre-Check) and it is so unbelievably worth it.

  2. Yay! I love these tip’s and have one of my own. Whenever I travel for busness, I alway’s bring some chewing gum b/c when you go in the plane, it is stuffy and my ear’s pop. So chewing helps a lot. The other thing I remember is alway’s to wear schrunchie’s on the plane b/c you do NOT want to have your hair getting all over the place and touching the dirty seatback’s more then you have to. My Grandma Trudy also loaned me her babushka so that I can just throw that in the wash after I use it. It also help’s keep men from stareing at my hair b/c it is blond and guy’s love my blond hair and they get all kind’s of idea’s if I did NOT have a schrunchie and now the babushka. YAY!!!!

  3. In addition to miscellaneous locations, I travel to the same office each month….I actually keep a bag of personal items in a drawer in a shared office there (extra socks, flats, underwear, deodorant, hairspray, toothbrush, contacts, brush, phone charger, etc) because I have forgotten these things so many times!

  4. S in Chicago :

    Tip for anyone attending a conference with a TON of walking. Pack a spray can or bottle of nu-skin. (It’s clear and the consistency of rubber cement when applied to the back of your heels.) No blisters and easy to wipe off at night. I also pack a couple of extra baggies so I can make some ice packs for my feet, if needed. (Can you tell how much I love working at conferences?)

    • The baggie idea for ice packs is pure genius! Baggies come in handy for so many things.

    • Coach Laura :

      Yes to baggies. Wet swimsuit, banana peels. Also, I love Nu Skin – have some at work, at home and in the car for vacations.

    • In the Pink :

      I always have small and large size ziplocs in all suitcases. Also envelopes – great for bringing back maps, receipts, etc.

      Have used this stuff called Body Glide. It is a lotion but dries to a powder. Excellent to prevent rubbing,chafing, whatever and I put it on thighs where pants seams are, including the inseam. Seems to do a fab job with seam marks and rubbing from sitting or even reclining on long international flights. Also good for miles of walking or when I’ve got thermals underneath slacks.

      • In the Pink :

        link to product (used to be called body glide for skin in a white tube with blue/red print – this works the same way)

    • Advil. I ended up needing to buy more after my last conference in Vegas. Between my aching feet and legs, I really needed it to last for the whole week of standing/walking.

  5. Anonymous Associate :

    Get duplicates/minis and keep a toiletry make-up bag packed at all times. With this, I can pack in 15 minutes flat.

    Get Global Entry/TSA pre-check. Don’t balk at the $100. AmEx reimburses it anyways for Platinum and Black cardholders.

    Don’t check a bag. I went to a 3 week trial with a carry-on. Trust me, you can do it too, especially for shorter trips. This is harder when traveling internationally, given some airlines (esp. Asian carriers) strict requirements for carryons. But there is an international size carry-on that is shorter and will work for most flights to Europe.

    Fly one airline, and get complimentary upgrades, or upgrade with miles on long flights. Worth it, especially if you get a lay-down bed.

  6. Calibrachoa :

    Baby wipes (or, okay, other moist towelettes) are your friend.

  7. I swear by the Flight 001 SpacePak compression bags. I packed for a 9 day trip to Alaska in April (I live in Texas) in a standard carry-on using those things.

  8. Marion Parsons :

    Thanks for the tips! I am gonna have my first business trip next months, and I really want to be very well prepared. I need to make a research about the weather and the dress code, so I will know better what to prepare! Greetings