How to Plan for Your First Business Trip

Plane landing against the Manhattan skyline by John Wardell (Netinho)Today’s guest post is written by reader and blogger RoadWarriorette, who blogs about business travel.  She was nice enough to collect some of her best tips for us here on Corporette…

When you find out about that first business trip, anxiety can ensue. You have questions about what to take, how to pack, what suitcase to get, what you need on the plane, etc. There are even more questions if you happen to be traveling with your boss!  When I first started traveling for my job four years ago, there were no resources for women business travelers. The only article I could find had a tip about not putting on your nylons—yes, they said nylons—until you arrived at your destination, because if the plane crashed they could catch on fire. Seriously.

(Pictured: Plane landing in Manhattan, originally uploaded to Flickr by John Wardell (Netinho).)

Here is my packing list for a four day trip (the most common length of business trip, if Google search terms are anything to go by), my favorite general travel tips, and advice for traveling with your boss. Good luck, and happy travels!

What to pack for a four day trip
In your suitcase (try this one from Samsonite or this one from Tumi) (Choose your travel outfits from these clothes as well)
• Two bottoms (i.e., slacks and a skirt), one comfortable for travel, and a coordinating jacket if needed
• Four tops that go with both of your bottoms
• At least one light jacket or sweater (unless you need a heavier jacket)
• No more than three pairs of shoes, including a pair of flip flops for the hotel room
• Enough undergarments, including socks/hose
• PJs
• Your favorite work-out or yoga outfit
• Toiletries, makeup, hair stuff (brush, curling iron)
• Chargers (phone, laptop, etc)

In your purse/briefcase (this one from AK Anne Klein is great for travel)
• Phone, wallet, lipstick, keys, etc.
• Boarding pass
• Laptop
• Plastic bag of liquid toiletries
• Scarf/pashmina
• Book or magazine

And with that you should be good to go! Carrying-on for a four day trip is pretty easy.

In general, by way of tips:
• Flat, slip-on shoes are best for day of travel. They allow you to move quickly through the airport, go easily through security, and be comfortable on the plane.
• Bring a scarf or pashmina for the plane–use as a blanket, a pillow, or whatever you need.
• If you can at all avoid it, don’t bring anything that wrinkles or that you have to iron. Ironing will just waste time and stress you out.
• Bring clothes that fit into one color scheme, i.e. black or brown. This way they all match, and you can pack fewer pairs of shoes.

For the plane:
• Don’t throw your bag in an overhead bin that is way in front of your seat if you can at all help it. It’s not courteous to the people that sit under that bin and would like to put their bags there.
• If it’s a long flight, bring an eye mask and earplugs or noise-canceling headphones so you can rest.

• I bring my own shampoo/conditioner, because I travel so much if I use whatever random products the hotel puts out my hair gets mad; a couple of great sources are and Sephora.
Eagle Creek packing cubes are helpful for the small items (underwear, socks, hose, etc); they will help you save a ton of space.
• I have three small bags for my toiletries–one for liquids (that gets taken out at security), one for non-liquids (toothbrush, deodorant, etc), and one for make-up. This allows me to fit them in my suitcase wherever they will go instead of taking up a lot of room.
• And don’t forget about my new favorite tip from Corporette readers! Use spare contact lens cases for small amounts of liquids, such as face soap, moisturizer, eye makeup remover, etc.

• Emergen-C! I take it every day when I travel, sometimes twice. I also bring SoyJoy and Atkins bars with me everywhere in case food is hard to find (or I’m stuck on a plane).
• I use my White Noise iPhone app a lot in hotels, especially when the walls are thin, there is a highway outside nearby, or the air-conditioning unit is super loud off and on.

If your superiors are there:
• If you are traveling with your boss, you have to be on your best, and most competent, behavior. Keep this in mind with everything you do, starting with your suitcase. Be familiar with the airline’s guidelines so that if you are carrying on, your bag is within the correct size requirements. Also, make sure you can lift it into the overhead bin without throwing out your back.
• While on the plane, looking like you are working is never a bad thing. If that’s not an option, look at a magazine that you could show your grandparents: Real Simple, InStyle, something in that vein — not People or Us Weekly, please, unless you’re sure that your boss shares your obsession with Brangelina — or read a book. You don’t have to try to come across as a pseudo-intellectual, but please don’t read anything that looks like a trashy romance or something called “How to Get Your Boss’s Job.”
• During any downtime that you spend with your boss, wear something comfortable but cute and well put together. It’s pretty unlikely you’ll have to wear a suit to dinner (unless of course you’re going straight from the office), so maybe a pair of slacks or dark jeans, a nice top, and cute shoes. Don’t wear anything that would make someone think you are going to a bar: nothing revealing, no too-tall shoes, etc.
• And I hope this would go without saying, but just in case. Please, please watch your alcohol intake. Getting drunk and throwing up in a cab with your director looking on is not going to make the impression you want. (I saw this happen, and trust me, three years later we still talk about it.)
• The goal is to exude confidence and competence at all times. I know it doesn’t seem fair that someone could be judging you during “off” times, but that won’t stop them from subconsciously doing it. If a behavior could even remotely be considered questionable, abstain.

Readers, what are your best travel tips? Any amusing “if I’d only known then what I know now” stories?


  1. All excellet tips! One note on the “something to read” line — I once heard my boss criticize a former colleague for reading a book the entire time they were on the plane. His theory was that, if she didn’t have enough work to do that she was working at least part of the time, she wasn’t cut out for our firm. A bit harsh, perhaps, but worth noting. If you really don’t have work to do, perhaps bring along industry magazines or relevant articles.

    • I think it depends on whether you’re traveling during business hours or if you leave for the trip at the end of the work day or on a weekend. If you’re flying out at 10am on a Tuesday with your boss, for instance, I think you’re definitely supposed to bring work or industry reading. If your flights takes off at 7:30pm, I think some personal reading is fine (though reading something work related for a bit if you can stomach it probably sends a good signal).

    • I’ve never had the luxury of flying out for a business trip with nothing to do for work. I always end up bringing a canvas bag of work (deposition prep, cases to read, etc.) as one of my carry-ons.

      • A couple of other tips I didn’t see here: after a few delays too many, I always bring an extra set of underwear and tops than I expect to need, just in case. I bring yoga pants and a zip hoodie in my carryon for overnight flights and they double as workout wear. and I always bring a big bag of work related material, including research journals to catch up on, since my only time for that sort of reading seems to be trains and planes. Get a Kindle and you’ll never be embarrassed by what you choose to read again. AND if you’re traveling inter-country in Europe, remember the carryon size is smaller than in the US and pretty strictly enforced in some places.

    • I am pretty cautious about what work I will do on planes – reading cases is fine, IMO, but there is so little privacy on planes that I am disinclined to do anything that might raise issues of client confidentiality (especially since you never know who might be sitting near you). That said, I do still bring work, and find some time to do it during the trip, just not necessarily on the flight.

    • Any suggestions for someone who gets airsick when reading on a plane? Generally I sleep (even on daytime flights) or listen to podcasts, but if I’m suppose to look busy with work, I just can’t do without getting sick. Which, I would imagine, would be worse.

      • I have this problem often when I fly. On one of my first trips with a SVP we sat together and chatted for a while before he noticed I was turning green and I noticed I was about to…well you know what I’m saying. After that trip, I avoid sitting next to any of my co-workers or bosses if I can help it. On the few trips where it couldn’t be avoided, I made sure I took some motion sickness meds at least an hour before the flight and then just quietly informed my boss that I needed to be still and quiet. I figure it’s better to be upfront than suffer through a flight.

  2. Great tips!

  3. Bring enough trail mix/energy bars/etc. for the number of people traveling with you from your office and become an instant hero if you get stuck on the runway for several hours…

  4. No suit on the list?!

    • Agreed – that list is for the luck business casual folks out there!

      Also, maybe just b/c I’m a klutz, but 2 pairs of pants (or 1 pair of pants and 1 skirt) for 4 days is really pushing it for me.

  5. Chicago S :

    Plan to carry on, waiting for luggage can waste so much time. I agree w/bringing trail mix/energy bars. I make a cashew/dried cherry/chocolate chip mix and carry it in my tote. It has saved me more than once when a flight was delayed or I was traveling during a meal time.

    • Definitely carry on for short trips! I find men are much more likely to do this (maybe they’re happier to use whatever toiletries the hotel provides?), and there’s nothing that makes you unpopular like being the one person holding up a group by waiting for luggage.

      • I agree with SJ. We once made a 1h 25 minutes flight. We were about 11 coworkers especially top management. Only one coworker checked her luggage we had to wait for her (eventually five of us took the hotel shuttle and said see you there!)
        You definitely don’t want to be THAT person who brings so many shoes for a 3-day business trip.

        • For a 3 day trip that’s fine, but you also don’t want to be THAT woman who can’t lift her own bag into the overhead bin. If you can’t do it yourself, it’s too heavy and should be checked. The people seated below you will thank you.

    • That mix sounds yummy. I might have to borrow it :)

      • I didn’t post it, but I eat it regularly, getting the components from Trader Joes — half salted almons and tart montmorency cherries are my version of crack!

  6. I think an important tip that’s implied but should really be stressed is that you do not want to come off as high maintenance. That means don’t bring a huge, heavy bag, bring a bag you can carry on in case that’s what everyone is doing, don’t complain about having to lug your special blow dryer, etc.
    I remember a 3 day moot court trip where everyone brought a small carry on & one person brough a huge suitcase. It did not go over well with the faculty advisor, and we all had to wait an extra 25 minutes upon arrival for this person to get her bag. I think that being competent AND easy going is really important when travelling with superiors or colleagues.
    On an aside: as for reading — Kindle is great for this! You can scan pdf’d work docs into it & read trashy novels & magazines . . . No one will ever know which you are on at the moment :)

    • …but don’t have better electronics than the boss! And agree about being high maintenance… being fairly petite, I hate struggling to lift my suitcase into an overhead bin, and always have to ask for assistance based on height, but excepting that, my rule is that if you pack it you have to be able to lift and carry it yourself.

      • My experience has been that older managers expect their younger employees to be more up-to-date with their gadgetry than they are, or at least are not perturbed by it.

        • Yes. And with something like a Kindle (as opposed to say an Ipod), you can explain how you can scan all your docs in there & are thus able to carry loads with you, get work done on the commute, etc., etc., thus scoring lots of bonus points for your ability to multitask, all while underlining the fact that you are always working on work!
          Who knows — your boss may love the gadget, get one for himself & you can bond over how great it is, etc., etc.

      • I hardly think my having a $189 Kindle is going to be looked at critically by a partner.

      • Oh come on! Then we should all stop reading Corporette and just buy cheaper stuff (compared to the boss).

        My boss thinks it’s ok to turn up at work on casual Friday in a 20yr old faded polo shirt (I swear you cannot tell what colour it once was) + too-short pants (my pet peeve for Asian men!). No way will I ever do the same. I don’t care WHAT he thinks of me (not sure he even notices anyway).

      • Shayna, do you have any hints on this? I am very short and when the plane isn’t crowded, I have no problem swinging my large carry on roller suitcase over my head and into the bin but when it’s crowded, I risk dropping it on someone’s head. I’m often surprised how many people will offer to help unsolicited but is there a polite way to ask for help without looking like you can’t carry your own bag? I can carry it, I’m just not tall enough to put it in the bin!

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      But, if you have something legitimate that requires maintenance, be up front about it so you can plan accordingly. For ex: I take a medication that makes me use the bathroom frequently. I book an aisle seat and ask that we allow time in our connections, travel etc. to not be late if I need to use the restroom. If you are diabetic or something and need to eat on schedule, be up front so it is planned in rather than announcing to everyone as the plane lands that you now need to take a half hour to eat. People don’t mind making accommodations, people do mind getting thrown off schedule due to something that could have been planned for.

  7. I think your choice of reading material is a great time to show your boss that you are a person with diverse interests. I would suggest Guns ‘n Ammo.

    • ?
      Is this a criticism of people who own/shoot guns, or a criticism of people who would bring Guns n’Ammo as in-flight reading material on a business trip?

      • I think it was meant to be a joke.

      • no….I just thought the image of a female lawyer in a suit on an airplane sitting next to her boss reading gun ‘n ammo was funny.

        • I actually recently sat next to a young’ish woman on a plane who not only was reading guns ‘n ammo, but also a self-defense magazine. She was in a suit and heals and had me totally freaked out. Eventually she opened up her lap top and started working on her powerpoint presentation on women police, which helped me relax!

          • I’m curious as to why this freaked you out?

          • anonymous :

            I’d be very happy to sit next to that woman on a flight – if sh*t hits the fan, she probably knows how to handle herself!

    • my mother seriously subscribes to a magazine entitled “Garden & Gun”

      • Yeah but that is more a southern lifestyle mag than a firearms mag

        • shhhh, the non-southerns don’t know that. it’s fun to see their reactions to just the title.

          • sigh, non-southerners, not non-southerns. so much bar exam studying i can’t even see straight any more, much less type.

      • southern gal :

        that’s a fantastic magazine with well-written articles. and they always have truly gorgeous items for sale that are almost always handcrafted. i get their newsletter and always drool over the leather luggage.

  8. associate :

    On my first business trip, I packed my belonging in a vera-bradley-esque duffle styled in my alma mater’s colors. I didn’t think anything of it when packing because I always use that bag on short trips. As soon as I got into the parking lot to meet my boss and leave I had the “doh” moment. Just an antecdote to illustrate you may want to consider bringing professional looking luggage.

    • Aside from the fact that Vera Bradley hurts my eyes (and that is a subjective, personal preference), I don’t think there is anything wrong with bringing that bag on a business trip.

      • I wouldn’t say there is anything inherently wrong about it, but it could send the wrong message depending on who you are traveling with. With exceptions made for plain black VB bags (which are highly practical imo), I think showing up with a pink & teal swirley paisley design could send the message that you’re not serious or are too young/girly, etc. Not always a problem, but could be!
        It’s akin to showing up with a pink suitcase. Some bosses might not care, but some might feel like they’re travelling with Elle Woods & not appreciate the comparison.

      • For my first business trip, I was thisclose to packing my Vera Bradley large duffel that I always use for weekend trips when my mother-in-law gave me a black rolling carry-on. THANK GOD she did because when I showed up, literally everyone else had something similar (I was traveling with about 15 people). I was already the youngest person there by a good ten years, so last thing I needed was another thing to make me stand out as less experienced.

        It’s definitely been my experience since then that most businesspeople travel with a rolling carry-on size suitcase plus maybe a laptop bag or tote.

        • Anonymous :

          Funny, I just went and got a great rolling bag overnight laptop bag in preparation for a trip with the boss and a client. I wanted to make sure I looked professional, didnt over pack, etc. He showed up with a little beat up duffle. Lol.

          I agree -avoid having to check it if you can, and be able to lift it yourself. And, black pants can be worn all week if necesary! SEriously, none of those guys will notice.

    • My first business trip I carried a perfectly suitable suitcase, and then stuck my laptop in beat-up old backpack because it was easier to carry than my briefcase. Luckily I wasn’t flying with my boss, but I went out and bought a lighter briefcase after that!

  9. I agree that I’m puzzled by the no suit comment, but I guess you’d just do suit parts as your bottoms + jacket. That’s why I like buying pants and skirts with the same suit jacket, that’s what I would pack here. I’d also pack a little black dress that wasn’t revealing (meaning I could wear it in front of my boss) and I could accessorize with the color of the pashmina and some jewelry for an evening out.

    Even for a 4 day trip, I’d also pack some exercise gear: sports bra, long shorts and shirt (something I could wear in front of the boss if he walked into the hotel gym) plus socks and tennis shoes. That obviously adds to the bulk, but I have been able to fit that kind of stuff in one carry-on luggage before (carry-on is an absolute must). I don’t always end up exercising in these kind of trips, but I always want to be ready to. I’ve also skipped the tennis shoes and just done yoga in my hotel room (no need to wear too appropriate clothing at this point), or some of the 8-minute abs/arms/legs workouts on YouTube.

    • Netflix also has exercise dvds that you can instantly stream to your computer.

    • If the hotel has a pool, it seems you could pack a bathing suit and flip flops without taking up as much space as tennis shoes. And I’ve heard of several travelers carrying those rubber workout bands, so they can work out in their hotel room.

      • That always seems like a great idea in principle, but I’ve yet to go to a hotel pool that you could even conceivably pretend to swim laps in. they all seem to be oddly-shaped or tiny.

        • Intercontinental in Boston is the only one I’ve found. Sadly I wanted a hot tub when I went there, but they didn’t have that :)

    • Makeup Junkie :

      I wear exercise gear on the plan. If anything happens, I am ready to RUN.

      • Makeup Junkie :

        I of course meant plane. Paranoia will cause typos

      • I always wear tennis shoes when I fly for this very reason – I do not want to be running for my life in 3 inch heels, flip flops or bare feet.

  10. SF Bay Associate :

    I’m in biglaw. In the next three weeks, I have three 3-day business trips. I had another three similar trips in June, and again earlier this year. I travel alone. I’ve learned these lessons the hard way, and am still learning (in no particular order):

    1) Have $1 bills handy. I rarely carry cash in general, and almost never have $1s. And then fail to tip and feel really horrible about it. I swear I will make it up next time.

    2) Cabbies will try to get you to pay in cash, for reasons I won’t speculate. When you get in the airport taxi line, tell the cabbie-calling guy you want to pay with a credit card. Before you get into the next cab, confirm you are paying with credit. And one more time once you’re in the cab, confirm yet again you’re paying with a credit card. The shennanignans I have endured (We can stop at an ATM! I won’t charge you to wait!) even after all this… ARGH. I’m paying with credit. Get over it. And insist on a receipt.

    3) Request rooms that are away from the elevators. Don’t be shy about pointing out you are traveling on business, and will be back again someday –> nonsmoking. king. not by the elevator. Thank you.

    4) Be very nice to the hotel check in staff. Sometimes they’ll upgrade you after seeing on your res that you’re a corporate customer.

    5) Don’t eat crap. It’s exciting you’re traveling on business, but order oatmeal, not steak & eggs for breakfast. Resist the urge to spend all of your max allowance at every meal, as the expensive stuff is usually worse for you. Usually my breakfast is about $10 (starbucks oatmeal + coffee + banana), lunch is about $15 (a fancy, healthy salad if I can find one + bottled fancy tea), and dinner is around $40 (usually late, late at the hotel lounge). However, if I am stuck at my destination an extra day, I will go out to a nice dinner thankyouverymuch and spend $50-60. Since I keep the rest of my meals low, I haven’t had any pushback. YMMV.

    6) I always have at least three granola bars in my briefcase, and another 3 in my rollaboard. You never know…

    7) Know when your hotel lounge stops serving food. This is a good way to get out of the office at 9:45pm – “I have to leave now or I won’t get to eat “dinner” at all.”

    8) Stay as close to your purpose of visit (office, depo, whatever) as possible. But check tripadvisor for hotel ratings. The hotel a half block away may be a lot better. Two blocks is my max radius.

    9) Pick an airline and stick with it. I fly Southwest Business Select exclusively, and am about to get a free round trip flight for my trouble.

    10) Resist the college/female urge to save if you’re not expected to. My first trip, I did long-term parking at the farther away and cheaper parking, since that’s where I normally park for personal trips. Except no one expects you to go out of your way to save money, especially the $5/day difference between that lot and the affiliated-with-the-airport one. I park at the affiliated lot now, which has shuttles to the long term lot more often.

    11) Assume your depo/meeting will run long, and schedule your flights appropriately so you don’t worry about missing your flight. I won’t fly out of my destination before about 9pm, just in case.

    12) Before you go to the airport to go home, instead of eating nasty airport food, get something from the hotel restaurant to go. The prices will be similar, and you’ll eat a lot better.

    I may add more later…

    • All excellent tips. And don’t feel bad about ordering room service. Room service lets you (1) sleep later (2) work through breakfast and/or (3) bill more effectively generally.

    • These are excellent tips, especially the carrying $1 bills or other cash with you.

    • Thanks; this all looks helpful (and hopefully one day will come in handy)

    • North Shore :

      I don’t agree with the 9 p.m. flight. I pay careful attention to who is flying my airplane (major carrier vs. regional carrier) and what time it is leaving. I will spend the night and fly in the morning with a fresh crew in daylight vs. flying late at night with a sleepy crew. I go out of my way to avoid regional airlines and those terrible small jets. I try to stick with the big planes and the older, experienced pilots you get on major carriers.

      • Great tips. You’re especially right on resisting the urge to try to save the firm/company money. That’s one of the tips in Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. There is no reward for pinching pennies on a business trip.

        • SF Bay Associate :

          Yep, that’s where I got that from. On business trips when it comes to spending money, I will often stop myself and think “what would a man do?” A man would park at the closer long-term parking lot with the more frequent shuttles, that’s for darn sure.

          But I do emphasize that just because you have the money, doesn’t mean you *should* spend it all. Resist the urge to order dessert with your dinner just because you can (unless you really want it). Resist the bag of chips that can be a “combo” with your sandwich. You may not really want it, you may just like that it’s free. OTOH, sometimes I do want a bag of chips!

          13) There is no shame in eating alone. There’s a upscale restaurant a block from the hotel at one of my frequent destinations, and I’ll eat at the bar, alone. You will probably get hit on several times if you do this, but I bring a copy of the NY Times (thank you, bellman at hotel) so I can be antisocial if I feel like it. I also am perfectly happy to eat at restaurants without bars at a table for two. If you smile a lot and are friendly with the waiters, they will usually take care of you. It takes some getting used to, but it’s actually kinda nice.

          14) If deserved and you’re comfortably under your cap, leave a generous tip on your meal’s tab. A couple more dollars isn’t going to bother the biglaw firm (if you’ve been following suggestion #3), but it might make someone’s day. And they may remember you next time. I always tip generously to the guy at the lounge who takes my order at 9:52, before the kitchen closes at 10. I’m sure they’re not thrilled about my order coming in so late, and I want to let them know that I appreciate it.

  11. Chicago K :

    Question for everyone –

    Next month I make my annual pilgrimage to visit my out of state boss.

    Being an avid Corporette reader all this year, I am wondering if I should wear a jacket the whole time I am there. Our dress code doesn’t require jackets, but lots wear them here in the Chicago office. Where he is, not so much. I want to fit in yet look approrpriate and professional. Thoughts?

    Also, 2 years ago when I travelled I brought my laptop in a leather backpack. it was confortable because we went to a lot of locations and I had to carry the damn thing ALL DAY. However, a lot of the people I met with asked me why I was carrying a backpack. I explained to them my laptop was in it, I was in from out of town, used to carrying a bag because I walk to work at my location, etc. But felt like it really made me stand out. My laptop is insanely heavy (10 lbs) and giant (17 inch monitor) so it doesn’t fit in a briefcase and my laptop bag is hardly comfortable (the thing is bigger than i am, plus there is no room to throw in my wallet, phone, Blackberry, etc.

    Any thoughts on this? Shoudl I not care, or should I get something more professional? A black leather laptop backpack is fairly professional, or so I thought?

    • I personally wouldn’t have taken the leather laptop, but you already did it two years ago and it really doesn’t seem to have hurt you any :) However, your laptop sounds monstrous and even in a backpack I would not want to carry it like that. I would recommend one of these:

      And also carrying a nice business-y purse for your personal items.

    • This seems like the scenario that roller bags were made for. At our office, we have roller bags we can check out for taking to court/on trips, and they have the sleeve for carrying your laptop carefully. If your office doesn’t provide, consider investing in a good litigation bag.

    • IMO, a backpack is never appropriate at an occasion that calls for a jacket. So no backpacks at business meetings. Those rolly business cases can be annoying, but this is exactly what they are made for.

      I think the backpack is fine while you’re actually traveling, though. But don’t take it to the meetings and if you’re only going to have one bag, get a rolly case.

      • Chicago K :

        Thank you everyone. I sort of have to bring the laptop to meetings, because it is against our policy to leave the thing anywhere (hotel, car, etc). So if we go into the office from 8-10, and then leave and drive to another location where I walk around for 6 hours meetings with various people, then the laptop is coming with me for the day.

        Maybe I can try and lock it up at the office. Of course, then I either have to get someone to bring me back for it, or go noticed that I don’t need it to work in the evenings.

        I’ve been trying to avoid the wheely briefcase, but it does seem like the easiest option for me. I just wish I could have a cheapo netbook for work instead of this giant expensive laptop. :P

        • My husband’s work has a similar policy but they are allowed to lock their laptops w/ a fancy laptop lock in a hotel or car, etc. It basically goes from the lap top around the car door handle, or around a pole in a hotel room, etc. Maybe you could get your work to also adopt such a policy. It makes the laptop very difficult to steal.

        • Are you the only one with such a big laptop from your company? What do other people do? It seems silly to have such a big laptop when you have to travel with it at all times, you’d think if you need the screen space you could just have monitors at work.

        • if it’s a work laptop, I don’t suppose you can beg your work to buy you a cheap netbook for when you have to travel? probably too much to hope for, but 10 pounds is crazy heavy for a laptop. I get sick of carrying around my 5 pound one.

          • Chicago K :

            I’m not the only one, it’s our standard issue laptop (although new in this past year). My boss has the same one – but as he is in a City/State where he drives to work, and then just brings it from the parking lot to the office, he thinks the laptop is totally managable. I think our Tech area thinks only gigantic men work who drive to the office work at our company. When my boss travels, he refuses to fly, so he drives everywhere. If it’s too far away for a drive I’ve been known to fly there on his behalf.

            I work in Chicago, where I walk .5 to a train, and then .75 of a mile to my office. Every day. I have stopped bringing the laptop home everyday, unless I know I really want to work from home the next day. My boss is a bit upset about this, I am supposed to have the damn thing with me at night for business continuity purposes.

            Really, honestly, it’s a gigantic pain and I’ve requested a netbook as have some others out of our Boston Office who have walk/train commutes. A woman out there told me she’s had to stop taking the train and take the bus instead because she just can’t carry it to the train station. Our IT area is reviewing their policy and evaluating allowing netbooks – but no news on the answer so far.

            @lawDJ – you are correct, they did this to eliminate monitors. However, I already have a 22 inch flat screen we purchased years ago, so I’ve been grandfathered in to having one.

            And honestly, even the backpack sucked. It left bruises on my shoulders from carrying it around.

          • North Shore :

            I violate our company policy and bring my personal netbook. No way could I carry the huge company-issued laptop. I’m a 5’2″ weakling. The netbook was pretty cheap and does everything I need on travel. Shhh, don’t tell the IT folks . . .

          • For the time being, I’d *definitely* get one of those wheelie bags. My previous laptop was only 6 lbs and it saved me carrying it in one of those! They’re not that unfashionable, I promise :)

          • More worried about trying to maneuver it through crowds of people in pedestrian rush hour! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost tripped over others’ rolling briefcases – that’s why I find them highly annoying. Sigh. Karma’s come back to bite me in the a** on this one!

    • also a commuter :

      Stick with the backpack. The last thing you want to do is roll your wheelie bag through dog (or human) poop while walking to work, have it track up in the wheels, and then be the person schlepping around a malodorous bag all day. Please trust me on this one. Get a lighter backpack though; leather seems like it would be pretty heavy.

  12. s in Chicago :

    Really think about the food you’re grabbing if you plan to eat on the plane. Stick with something that won’t smell too strongly and will be easy to manage. I recently sat next to someone in the middle seat with sushi on a San Francisco flight back to Chicago–he waited until almost hour three before finally finishing the stinky fish and then spilled sauce all over his tray table, which eventually poured onto the shoe of the guy on his other side.


  13. Something else to keep in mind is chargers. In the electronic age, anyone who travels ends up needing multiple chargers. I have a nice case (that was originally for make-up and I repurposed) that has back up chargers I only use for travel for my blackberry, computer and Kindle. (I travel internationally all the time so I also have a multi- country adapter in there). Most times your firms will buy you a second charger if you are a regular business traveler.

    I also second the Kindle recommendation, and can say that 3 of the partners I work with have now bought one based on seeing me with mine on long airplane trips.

    For anyone traveling on long flights- noise cancelling head phones are a must. Bose is the best, but the Sony version is quite good as well.

    Also, an eye mask and ear plugs. Both for the plane if you are on a red-eye and have to sleep; and in the hotels to deal with jet lag or a noisy or not light proof room. Sleep is key to business travel and these things make all the difference.

    If you are traveling internationally make sure to take local currency with you. Most taxis will take credit, but if they don’t you will need local currency to get to the office or the hotel.

    Also, check with your hotel, many of them have miles/ points programs which will get you perks after you stay there a certain amount. Also, certain hotel chains will take your frequent flier numbers and you can get airline miles based off hotel stays, or extra perks at the hotel itself. I know British Airways and United have this.

    Finally, always pack an umbrella- Totes makes a great “mini” umbrella that is extremely light weight and small. If you use the one from your hotel and forget to bring it back, they will charge you for it. This way you will always have some protection if some rain occurs while you are away.

    • If travelling internationally, make sure you get those multi-purpose/multi way adaptors. Each country seems to have their own unique plug points and hotels do run out of these if they have many int’l travellers all asking for the same thing….

  14. Excellent advice above. I travel lots for work, although fortunately do so more by train than by plane these days (the joys of living in Europe — decent train service).
    I completely second, third, fourth the advice to carry food in your shoulder bag at all times. Granola bars, some fruit if you can. I also make a habit of grabbing a hard-boiled egg or two from the hotel breakfast buffet (if that’s where I’m having breakfast); pop it in a plastic bag and in a safe part of your tote, and you have fast protein later.
    As well as a pashmina/wrap for warmth or as a sub for an evening jacket, I always pack an oblong silk scarf in a colour that matches my travel clothes. That way if I spill coffee etc on my top while on the train or in the airport (this happens way too frequently, esp on the train), I have something to cover it for the rest of the workday. Plus, a silk scarf takes up almost no room in your bag.

    • I also spill quite a bit, do you have Tide pens in Europe? If not, I’d order some from Amazon because they have saved me MANY a times.

    • Makeup Junkie :

      Baby wipes are great for cleaning up spills on clothe.

      • Thanks all — prob no Tide pens here in UK, but likely an equivalent brand has come up with something similar (Vanish, most likely), or I can check them out next time I’m in the States. Will also check out the baby wipes. For a while I thought maybe I should just reconcile myself to the stains and only buy tops in mocha brown (!), but having a spill remedy as well as a cover-up option would be great.

        I blame the tilty Virgin Pendolino trains – the price for high speed is dodging coffee drips.

  15. I travel for 3-4 days at a time every 2-3 weeks right now, so I’ve started to get this down to a science. It’s easier in the summer where my clothes are lighter weight – I’ve been packing a lot of dresses, and they take up lots less space. This leaves me with room to pack my running shoes easily, which is nice. In the colder months when I want to bring multiple jackets, along with pants/skirts and a shirt to go under them, it gets really tight to also be able to fit my workout clothes. I always like to pack an extra shirt/dress in case my trip gets an extended by 1 day. If I’m going for a 4th or 5th day, I’ll bring a solid-colored skirt or pants which can be worn twice without wearing on back to back days. Don’t forget to pack some jewelry to go with your outfits – that is missing from the list.

    I agree with the comment about 3 small bath bags – I do the same. The plastic bag with toiletries goes in the outside of my carry on to easily be removed at security. Then I have a small makeup kit and a small bag with toothbrush, pills, etc. that go in the suitcase and take up very little room. I never unpack my travel bags – just keep them in my bathroom ready for the next trip.

    I also keep a little hoodie in my suitcase after learning the hard way too many times that hotel room temperatures vary greatly. I can throw it on over my pajamas and sleep in it if cold, or put on over my workout clothes if I want to be more presentable on my way down there. And I really like having it when staying up late working in my hotel room. I actually also take yoga pants with me for the same reason – as soon as I get to the room from work, I put my yoga pants and hoodie on with my PB top underneath.

    My second piece of luggage is an awesome Cole Haan tote I picked up for $79 on ruelala. It fits my laptop, several file folders, and my normal purse items. I can carry it as a purse once I arrive and take my laptop/files out. Get a tote that is as small as possible, but still fits your laptop. I use a little wristlet as my wallet, which is nice because I can take just that out of my bag and go to lunch or dinner without lugging my whole tote around.

    • I like the idea of a wristlet as you wallet, is it your regular wallet or just for traveling? Can you post a link to it or something similar? I’m in the market for a new wallet. Thanks :)

      • Here is what I use (below, in black) and I absolutely adore it. It fits in my laptop bag either folded (for extra security) or unfolded (for easy access to contents, note that it fits fully inside a normal laptop bag without showing even unfolded). (it’s on sale too!)

        • Is this an actual wallet or do you put your wallet inside? I hate that talbots doesn’t have more pictures on so many of their stuff!

          • It’s a purse – much bigger than a wallet but is still flat and discreet. Has a good assortment of pockets in side and the magnet holds it closed well. The leather is good quality and the pebbled texture has seemed to prevent scratches so far.

      • I have carried a wristlet as my wallet (really as my purse) for years, since about the time I started traveling a lot. I travel with a rollaboard and computer bag – that’s my carryon limit. A purse would have to be crammed into my suitcase or something. The wristlet has my ID, credit cards, cash, lipstick and Blackberry in it – all I really need when I am out and about. My laptop bag holds my iPod, sunglasses, and other miscellaneous items I want to take with me but don’t have to have on my person every second (for example when going out to dinner).

        I got mine at Coach and that’s where I see the majority of wristlets out there. Sadly, they’re not all that easy to find.

        • Anonymous :

          Ditto, except that I never have a hard time finding them. I have too many!

    • as a consultant, i’ve traveled heavily for the last 10 or so years,out for 4-5 days at a time, sometimes on trips with colleagues or managers, and sometimes alone.

      Second the tips on emergen-c, easy to handle luggage, and carrying healthy snacks in case of delays.

      the woman-specific tips i don’t see that often include:

      1. drink water, lots, more than you think you need. Planes are super-dry environments, and dehydration coupled with the time changes (i fly west to east a lot) can be tough on the body the next day. I buy 1L water in the airport post security, and once on the plane, try to drink at least every time the flight attendants come around with water. I buy several more liters when i get to my destination and keep them throughout the week since hotels will charge $3-5 for the in-room bottles, and frankly I don’t like drinking out of the hotel tap in the hotel-provided cups.

      2. look for a thicker moisterizer and use before plane, during, and directly after. I use for face, lips, and hands. Needed for the plane’s dry environment and also the soap at the hotel which might be harsh.

      3. Don’t be afraid to ask the front desk for a room in which you feel safe. For me this includes not on the first floor (if a property like Hilton Garden Inn) or at the end of a long hallway, and not in an annex or separate tower that requires an outside walk. If I get to the room and don’t feel comfortable, I call the front desk and ask for a different room, being polite but firm on the new room location I am looking for. If I get to the property and do not feel comfortable even with a room change, I check out.

      4. The hotel check-in should NEVER EVER say your room number aloud–merely hand you the keys with the number written on the paper jacket. When this has happened in the past, depending on the situation and whether other guests are around the check-in desk, I ask for a room change, and ask that for the next room they not mention the number.

      5. If I am in a situation where I expect to get back to the hotel very late every night, I pick a hotel with valet parking and use the valet service even if extra cost. I do not need to be juggling laptop bag and suitcase through a dark parking garage or lot at night by myself. Have never had a manager reject an expense report with this on it–then again maybe it’s more accepted in my industry.

      6. If traveling along, grocery stores that have salad bars or pre-packed salads (e.g. whole foods or fresh farms) can be a great source for non-room service meals. WF generally stays open until 9:30 or 10 in a lot of cities. Lots of front desks/concierge desks will also have a list of local restaurants that deliver.

      7. Heels that are comfortable in the office may not be so comfortable on the road for 14+ hour days for 4 days straight. Using gel inserts, taking a chunkier heel, and making sure that all shoes are broken in can really help. I’m short, so prefer to not wear flats.

      8. Headphones can help tune out more than the baby two rows over…they can also create a cocoon of space and send a signal to a flirtacious or chatty seat mate that you are busy. If I’ve had a hard week and am not seated with colleagues, mine go on immediately after boarding/safety briefing and don’t come off until we land even if the music is off. I’ve had the Bose and Sony, but these days am preferring Shure SE series earbuds since they can easily be tucked into a tote and used for working out as well as planes.

      9. Target has a great and inexpensive section of travel products! i’m all for transferring *some* of my favorites into 3 oz. bottles, but for things like 1 oz of hairspray, toothpaste, & febreze, Target rocks!

      • Old Lawyer Lady :

        Totally agree! You’re living my schedule. Some other hints:
        1. buy a cosmetic case for travel & stock it w/ all your non-liquid essentials ) I use a Veral Bradley case w/ 3 sections because the fabric is washable if anything is messy. Just leave it stocked so you can grab-n-go rather than having to pack everything every time.

        2. pack 1 extra outfit. Your flight back will get cancelled…

        3. pack a bra & panties (ziplock baggie) in your handbag in case your luggage is lost if you plan to check your bag.

        4. buy a bottle of water for the plan after you’re thru security in case you’re delayed on the tarmac.

        5. Airport shoes — easy on, easy off, capable of handling an all-day hike. These are commuting shoes on steroids. I highly recommend anything from Cole Haan, because they have Nike Air soles that you will be grateful for when you finally arrive at your hotel.

        • Airport shoes.
          Though I want shoes that are easy to take off for going through security I am careful since many easily removable shoes are worn without socks. The idea of walking barefoot over the dirty carpet that hordes of people have previously walked over seems needlessly dirty. Though I haven’t flown for business, when I fly, I tend to wear a black sleek looking sneaker that will fade away under pants (not the big clunky white tennis shoes) because socks are easily worn with them. Another perk is workout shoes tend to be klunky and take up a lot of space in a suitcase. This way I can have comfortable workout/walking shoes with me without using too much space.

  16. I would add to always bring painkillers, upset stomach medicine, and allergy/cold medicine. For international travel, make sure they’re in the original packaging, and make sure any prescription meds you bring are also in the pharmacy-issued packaging.

    • Yes yes on this. I have a little kit I keep on my purse all day long actually. It has: Advil, Tums, Imodium, wet wipes, Tide Pen, small sewing kit, a tiny tube of hand cream, Neosporin and band aids.

  17. I’ve been traveling 4 days/week for the last 5 years. 100% agree with the comments above. My only addition – I keep a 10′ extension cord in my roller bag. It comes in handy when you’re stuck at the airport and outlets are scarce (you can usually unplug someone & replug them into the cord) and at the hotel, where there are often no outlets anywhere near the bed.

    • Chicago K :

      great idea!

    • I always say I’m going to bring one of those 3 outlets in one thing but always forget. They’re much smaller than the extension cord although they don’t give you the length.

  18. I like to bring a water bottle when I fly. You can carry them through security if they’re empty, then fill them up at a water fountain past security. I always end up sightly dehydrated if I’m flying, and while the flight attendants will happily give me water, it’s in those little small cups and I don’t like being that person who is repeatedly asking for more water.

    • i obviously fly coach–perhaps in first class it’s less of a pain to track down a flight attendant

    • Chicago S :

      I second the water bottle and take it on both business and vacation trips. I tuck flavor packets in my tote and am good to go.

  19. Alert your credit card company that you are traveling so you don’t get your credit shut down for being out of area. That is super embarrassing if you go to pay for a business dinner and your card is declined!

    • Chicago S :

      I only do this when traveling internationally. Has anyone had problems domestically? This year, I used my Citicard to book Panama Canal tickets without problems wo/notifing, but my sweetie had airline tickets for an island hop held up on his Citicard. Both credit cards were run from Panama, makes no sense.

      • Yes. I’ve had both Amex AND Visa freeze my credit card (on different occasions) when I’ve bought gas in a NEIGHBORING STATE. Yeesh. Visiting family/roadtrips that uncommon??

        • According to my credit card issuer, gas purchases are used as a way to ‘check’ if a stolen credit card works. Out of state or country gas purchase can trigger a shut down of your card depending on your past spending patterns.

  20. For luggage, LLBean has great roller carry-on luggage.

    The luggage can be a little pricey, but it has a life-time guarantee. So when your handle breaks or wheels break (which they always do if you travel a lot), you can take it back and get a new one for free! Even better, the roller boards open in half (instead of with a thin top opening), so that you can pack your clothes in two sections of the bag, with a mesh cover on the clothing.

  21. Make sure you have all the numbers you might need programmed into your phone… travel agent, airline, car rental place, hotel, local taxi, client office number & cell phone, etc.

    For traveling with my boss, I find that I end up in charge of all the details (how long is our layover? what terminal do we land in? can you give the taxi driver the address?, etc.) So part of being prepared is having all this information compiled and handy. Also, my boss and I sometimes have different itineraries (e.g. he’s continuing on to another client), so I get a copy of his itinerary from his PA so I can help him make sure he’s on time and in the right place for the next leg of his trip.

    • I worry about doing this – I try really hard to not allow myself to be treated as “staff.” What does your boss do when you’re not there? He calls his PA. What happens if you don’t have this information handy? You say, “I don’t know – I’ll have to call my assistant and find out.” Then it’s clear that you’re not doing assistant-level work, and it doesn’t really slow anyone down. And chances are, he’s got the information, he’s just too lazy to find it.

      I’m torn, but that’s my two cents.

      • I share your concern… I don’t offer to play that role; I mostly use it for my information. So if I have an 8pm flight but he’s a 7pm to another city, I can make sure I know when we need to leave for the airport from the client. As RoadWarriorette said in her intro, it’s about being competent and in control. And I know that preventing my boss from missing a flight is always going to reflect well on me, esp. if it’s after hours or his PA is out sick that day.

        • Yes, agreed. The rainmaker I work for has an assistant, but I am the one the rainmaker is traveling with, so I need to be on top of everything in case her assistant is out/away from her desk/can’t be contacted in the middle of a deposition. I also make sure that her assistant knows that the rainmaker needs flights and hotels for the dates where I am traveling with the rainmaker so that her travel is smooth. I was and remain concerned about being too admin-y, but what’s turned out is that I come across as organized, reliable, and 100% having her back, so my responsibilities and opportunities for “real” lawyer work have increased as well.

          Because I’ve become her can’t-do-without (very distant) second chair, I get to go to great depos, get lots of 1:1 time with her, and am generally protected from firm politics because the rainmaker wants ME, and no one else. And yes, that includes me knowing what flights she’s on, when she needs a hotel room, booking her visitor office for her, and making sure she has plenty of her favorite pens and post-its. Hardly glamorous, but I make sure she has what she needs to do her very, very busy job.

      • It’s probably employer-specific, but if I adopted an it’s-not-my-job attitude with respect to my boss’s mundane requests, he’d assume I wasn’t competent enough to handle it and fire my ass.

        • Anonymous :

          This. I always want to make the case that something isn’t my job to avoid getting stuck with the really admin-type things, but I feel like flat-out refusing when I’m certainly capable of doing a small task makes me seem like not a team-player.

          • Basically, my attitude if my boss wants me to do something, it’s my job because my boss is asking me to do it. If I’m in the office and it’s a delegatable task , by all means I’ll delegate it (and accept responsibility if my delegat-ee messes up), but if it’s just me and him I’m not going to act like it’s beneath me to make coffee.

          • I realized my above comment sounds snarky – that wasn’t my intention, it’s just a reflection of the realities of my job, and my boss is very much the kind of person who makes his own photocopies and will do favors for me if I need them and can’t find someone below me on the totem pole to help.

        • I don’t feel like I take a “not-my-job” attitude – I take the same attitude my supervisor takes, which is that some things are not as important as billing time to clients (which is what I was doing right up to the point I got on the plane, most likely). If asked, I’ll offer to help, but I don’t think it gets me ahead if I’m going out of my way to do administrative tasks. I haven’t experienced any pushback against this – my supervisor didn’t seem offended that I hadn’t memorized the hotel address the last time we traveled together.

          Of course, this probably all goes out the window if your supervisor never travels alone and isn’t capable of organizing him or herself. But my supervisors have been well-traveled and have their own organizational routines.

    • I would also make sure that you have all the numbers that you really need somewhere else than on your phone – just in case you lose the phone, it breaks or get stolen, or something like that.

      A slip of paper in your purse or in the luggage, for example.

      Most of them you can find easily again, without a note, but not necessarily all of them.

  22. I was a conference with my supervisor recently, and I knew it was casual and in Miami. I (a woman) also knew my supervisor (a man) would wear a navy blazer and khakis the whole trip, so I packed a grey blazer and a couple pairs of slacks. We got there, and all the senior-junior pairs were dressed alike; one set of guys was wearing striped pastel shirts and khakis, one set was wearing white shirts and grey slacks with red striped ties, lots of them were wearing polos and khakis, etc. Too funny!

  23. Great tips, but I was hoping for humorous antecdotes about “that” person

  24. Given all the discussion about travel lately, I thought it was a lucky coincidence that I found these “Etiquette 101” guides from Conde Nast Travel. They’re quick and sometimes funny reads. It includes some great information such as how to wear a hijab based on where you’re going (party versus work meeting) and what to wear on a safari, etc.

    This is the link for the dress code 101 guide which covers Africa/ Middle East, Asia, and Europe by country (for women and men):

    There are also country-specific etiquette guides (in the navigation bar on the right) which I have yet to peruse.

    • anonymous :

      If the woman who recently traveled to Saudi Arabia and UAE on business is reading this, I’m very interested in hearing how it went!

      • That’s me — the trip hasn’t happened yet but I surely will report when it does!

  25. Two absolutely necessary items for your purse: a bottle of hand sanitizer (I’m not germ-obsessive, but planes in the winter are full of sneezing, coughing, sniffling people with colds I don’t want) and a small package of kleenex (which can be a lifesaver in a number of situations).

  26. Just a word of caution. Packing make-up in a separate bag from your liquids is not the wisest game plan. Even make-up that you may not think of as liquid (i.e. lipstick, mascara) is technically supposed to be in the bag with your liquids. I recognize that they don’t typically call you on this, but they can and I lost about $100 worth of make-up once this way (two cream eye shadows, a lipstick, a mascara, a cream blush).

    • anonymous :

      Agree – I always err on the side of counting ALL my toiletries as a “liquid” (including toothpaste, solid deodorant, etc) because I don’t want to end up in a debate with a TSA agent or out $$ buying new toiletries.

      • I had a ton of make-up I wanted to take on my recent (for fun, not business) trip to Vegas. (I had big plans for myself to do different fun looks.) Anyway, I just couldn’t fit my deodorant in my baggie and I was so afraid they were going to take it away! Luckily, I made it.

  27. has everything you can imagine in travel sizes. I use them for things like peanut butter in little packets, medicine, toiletries– you name it, they have it. You can buy one travel-size item without having to buy a whole box of them, and they are so much cheaper than the airport gift shop. I bring along small packets of Woolite in case I have emergency laundry to do in the hotel sink.

  28. Anonymous :

    I’ve started bringing a small nail brush with me – it’s one of the things I always miss having when I’m not home and I would never think to bring one in the past. Hopefully this will remind any others who might be in the same situation! Also, nail file, nail clippers, etc. – I find that if I don’t have them handy when needed I start biting my nails or fidgeting with the cuticles.

    I’m also thinking about starting to bring my own liquid hand soap since I hate hate hate bar soap for my hands and hotels always seem to go the bar soap route. Why oh why, hotels? And always the harshest soap?

    • It might be easier to carry a small slice of nice soap. While spending a month in a serviced apartment (with no hand soap – it was dishwashing liquid or nothing), I bought a slab of Lush soap and cut slices for the kitchen, bathroom sink, etc.

      • I use a face soap (with little beads to clear blackheads). I use it for my hands, face and sometimes body and it is a soap bar so i don’t worry about it spilling in my luggage

  29. North Shore :

    Any other traveling moms out there? By far the biggest issue for me with work travel is dealing with my kids. DH and I are both lawyers who need to travel for work, so usually my mother gets the job of taking the children. We live in the same town, but they move in with her when I’m gone to make it easier for her. They are in school, so I seriously have to print out spreadsheets of their activities, plus leave my mother with names and numbers of babysitters and other parents in case of emergencies. My mother is semi-retired and now traveling for leisure, so I need a separate calendar to keep track of her schedule because I cannot schedule travel when she is unavailable to help me. I use the vague “schedule conflict” to explain to judges and opposing counsel why I need to block out certain weeks; luckily nobody has gotten really nosy yet. My children are finally old enough that they don’t cry when I leave, but that only stopped last year with my 10-year-old daughter. Now she just writes me sad e-mails about how she misses me. Aaah, the guilt. I wish my travel worries were only about germs and TSA confiscating my mascara . . .

    • I don’t travel that often for work but since we live in a different country from parents/inlaws (we are lucky to have a live-in nanny who is a lifesaver & great with my son), we try not to travel at the same time. On the rare ocassions we’ve had an overlap of a day or 2, we make sure good friends (who don’t work) are around to check in on my son & nanny. Anything longer than that and I’d fly the parents out for a week!

    • Old Lawyer Lady :

      My husband & I both travel – a lot. I have 2 tweenage girls. My hubby & I coordinate schedules. When he sets something, I block off the dates on my calendar (& vice versa). When we both have to travel, we fly my mom up from Florida (we’re in the Midwest). It’s expensive, but necessary & she love to see the kids. The kids have a plain white USA map (printed from the internet) on a bulletin board in our home office. It’s captioned “Where’s Mommy?” They put a green pushpin where I’m going, then replace it with a white pin for where I’ve been. They write in the name of the town. There are blue pins for where Grandma & other relatives live. It helps them get their mind around it. We also write on a family calendar so they can see when I’ll be back. The youngest hates when we leave, but the oldest is pretty blase. (sp?) They hate to be surprised with a sudden trip, so I make sure we talk about my schedule weekly so they know when I’ll be gone.

      We still have a nanny who can stay with them if my mom can’t come.

  30. Always assume the clock in the hotel room is set wrong (am or pm flipped) or the alarm won’t go off as needed. Phones are a great tool for that these days or a good ol’ jarring wakeup call.

  31. – Use Skype to keep in touch with kids/pets. Free and, if everyone is on a laptop with cameras, you can all see each other.

    – Don’t sit next to coworkers on flights. Just don’t. Near, fine, but not next to them. Usually if you have two people booked together they’ll book someone in the middle and the other in the window or aisle anyway, so you don’t want two seats booked together. Plus, it gives you a break from having to be “on” all the time. And if your coworker sleeps, slumps on his/her sleepmate, and/or drools, do you really want to know? I ALWAYS switch the seats my assistant/the travel service gives me, and have never had anyone notice or say anything about it.

    – Use your bottled water to brush your teeth in the airplane bathroom before landing, wash your face, and reapply your make up. When you land, you’ll feel more awake and refreshed, and won’t look like you just got off the flight from hell. Even if you did.

    – I agree with eating healthy, but also try to eat something local — have clam chowder in Boston. Have dim sum in Chinatown in NY. Even if you just order a local specialty from room service, you’ll still have a better chance of remembering what city you’re in.

    – Use your cell phone/blackberry/iphone camera to take a picture of your hotel room door. That way you’ll never forget the room you’re in. (3 hotels in one week can do that to you . . . .)

    – Use the same camera to take a picture of your rental car and where you parked it. After a while the cars blur together and while the tag may say what the make/model/license plate number are, sometimes they don’t.

    – Use apps on your iphone/whatever. For example, if you forward your reservations to tripit, you’ll have all the info in your iphone and can print out nifty looking schedules with all your info. Takes minutes and really helps keep you organized.

    – Figure out your receipt system and use it every trip. Some people use an envelope from the hotel, some use a plastic envelope you can get from Office Max, whatever. Just figure out what works for you.

    • SF Bay Associate :

      Wow, what a road warrior. Marla, you’re amazing. I hope you have some great perks cards in your wallet a la Up In The Air.

      • Thanks! I LOVE that movie. Some more random tips:

        – I have different packing list spreadsheets for different types of trips. That way you don’t start from scratch each time.

        – I also recommend having multiple business card holders — that way I can keep one in my laptop bag/tote bag that I always take on business trips, one in my normal brief case, one in my office, etc. so I never find myself without business cards.

        – Figure out if you can ship things ahead. If so, ship them to arrive the day before you do in case FedEx/UPS loses them — that way you know if they they don’t make it there and you can send another set/have time for them to be found and delivered. I always ship the heaviest stuff and if I know there is heavy stuff I have to carry on (like big binders, whatever) I’ll ship my running shoes instead. Rather than counting on the front desk or business center to have working office supplies, depending on how long I’ll be there or what I’m doing I’ll ship myself my stapler and 3 hole punch.

        – I always take a self-addressed FedEx label with my work billing number filled in. (Actually, I leave it in my laptop bag.) That way if you collect a lot of paper, you can always give it to the hotel front desk and ask them to ship it to you.

        – Have your airline help desk number programed into your cell phone. When they announce they’re deplaning and you’re going to sit at the gate for 3 hours while they wait for a new plane, you can call from the plane or from the line at the gate rather than just standing around.

    • Also take a picture of any luggage you are checking, if you aren’t doing all carry-on. If they lose your bag, you can show them a picture instead of having to describe it.

    • I agree with eating something local, wherever you are. It’s my thing.

      I had great clam chowder in Boston, amazing crab cakes in Baltimore, and so on.

  32. Based on an earlier corporette post, I have implemented a foolproof packing system!! I’d send my list via attachment if possible but not sure can do so via blog? I typed a 2-column list in a Word table grouped in categories (clothes, electronics, cosmetics/etc, other..) each with a little checkbox. At Target, I got plastic paper covers (10 for $2) and a pack of erasable markers. Slipped the packing list into the plastic, and put it on a clipboard. Now before each trip, I put the trip date/name at top, and check off items with the erasable marker as I pack. Also I add uniquely needed items the week before as I think of them. It makes me feel so much more relaxed. Also I modified it for “fun weekender trip” which is a different list. After a few trips on each, I feel confident that the list is complete and I’m not forgetting anything. And I love the clipboard/plastic erasable system- prevents from having to take time to reprint. Yay for group input!

  33. I’ve been caught off guard on several business trips when hotel or restaurant hospitality staff have treated me and my male co-worker as if we are a couple. It’s happened to me with two different male partners. It’s happened while checking into hotels, getting on planes, eating at restaurants, etc.

    I’ve developed a few tricks to avoid this. I try to fly in and out alone whenever possible. If not, then I just try to keep my distance at key times, like getting on a plane and checking into a hotel. While checking into a hotel, I try to stand as far away from the co-worker as possible and/or seek out another person at the reception desk. I keep my credit card in hand, and once even announced that I was checking in and needed ONE key. (This is because the trip before, I had someone at a hotel desk loudly say while pointing “Two keys, right? No? Oh, I thought you two were together!”). If you feel awkward standing aside from your co-worker, you can always make it look like you’re searching for your credit card in your purse, or responding to an email, etc. As far as attire goes, I generally go more “businessy” with my clothes than I might need to, just to avoid looking like I’m on a date. Sometimes I’ll wear my glasses instead of my contacts, and I’ll carry my airline carry on as a purse, instead of just carrying a clutch or a wallet. All of this goes out the window when I am traveling with a group, because the date confusion doesn’t happen the same way it does when I’m just with one male co-worker.

    • Sounds like you are going way out of your way just to avoid a potentially awkward moment- maybe you should just laugh it off if it does happen again.

      • Yeah, I was going to say – doesn’t seem like that big a deal if a hotel receptionist in a city I don’t live in gets the wrong idea.

      • I agree. I think as long as you and your co-worker aren’t behaving in such a way as to leave little doubt in anyone’s mind that you are a couple (gazing longingly into each other’s eyes, etc.), you shouldn’t worry.

        Same thing happens to me when I travel with my brother, btw.

        • It happens to me with my brother too, which is fine, because he’s my brother. I laughed it off the first few times it happened because it is kind of funny, but really, after going through two straight days of people thinking I am involved with one of the partners I work for, it was just too much. It made me feel so self-conscious that I try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

          • I don’t mean to add additional worry, but if I were an observer/the desk clerk, and you were clearly making a huge effort to show everyone watching that you and your colleague are NOT TOGETHER, NOT A COUPLE, NOT ROMANTICALLY INVOLVED, I would probably assume that you were trying to hide your affair.

  34. I always pack my chargers in my tote bag, not my roll-aboard: This is because I’ve twice been asked to check my regulation-size roll-aboard, and I’ve chosen NOT to argue with the gate attendents due to TSA’s heavy hand. Both those times the luggage didn’t arrive when I did. Cell-phones, blackberries and laptops are all useless without their chargers, and I can’t do my job without them, thus I never let them out of my sight.

    Another trick I’ve learned is to put a small bag in my roll-aboard containing anything I’d desparately need (e.g. make-up, clean hose, clean top, nightgown) if I have to check the roll-aboard at the last minute. If I have to check, I just open up the suitcase and pull out the tote.

  35. I find that the more travel writing I read, the more places get added to my list, which makes it even harder to decide where to go. But I will surely not miss this one, this is just so great! And this will be on my top list!

  36. One thing I always do is make sure I have a photocopy of my ID – drivers license and passport if necessary. This way if the originals were lost, stolen, or damaged, I have a backup. I will frequently mail a copy to myself on an external e-mail account (yahoo for me) so I could lose everything and still have access to this critical information.

  37. lots of great ideas in this very long string- so forgive me if this is repetitious- but burt’s bees res-q ointment has saved me more than once on planes & trains. it’s a very aromatic balm (lavender, comfrey, rosemary- i think) that you can wipe on your cuticles, lips to override any lack of freshness you may be experiencing from a nearby passenger; or if you’re seated near the lav- ugh. not so perfume-y that it will be a nuisance to those around you, but far more pleasant to smell!

  38. For working out while traveling, consider buying and bringing Vibram Five Fingers shoes. They’re a lot smaller and lighter than sneakers, but are great for gym workouts/treadmill/etc. And they can also serve as in-room slippers!

  39. Also, the wristlet purses are great in your briefcase – but be careful of the magnetic closure. Magnets kill hotel room key cards!

  40. On my first business trip (just last year) to a professional conference, with partners, I had no idea what to wear on the plane. We were scheduled to arrive at the destination a few hours before the first meeting of the conference began, so there would have been time to change, but I still wasn’t sure. Because my life’s motto is “better to over-dress than under-dress” I arrived for my flight in a full black suit with a silk top and poofed/professional hair, with one roller black carry on suit case.

    The two partners I was traveling with met me at the airport wearing jeans and sneakers! One was carrying a lime green Vera Bradley. So embarassing for me, but how was I to know? Looking back, it would have been a good idea to ask a female partner(s) about what she recommends…

    P.S. If your plane is crashing I think you have more to worry about than your “nylons” catching on fire. hehe. LOVE the post – thanks!

  41. If you’re wearing a jacket to the airport (or anywhere that involves security), make sure you can take it off without blushing. I like to wear thin, flimsy tops under my suit jacket, but it’s rough to get caught in one when the TSA person insists that jackets come off to go through the metal detector.

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