Traveling for Business and Surviving It

traveling-for-businessToday’s question about traveling for business comes from Nancy P…

I’d love a post on tips for traveling for business. (Thought of this last week when I was going to Chicago for a deposition and security took away my spray wax, because apparently it was an aerosol not allowed by the TSA. How am I supposed to sit through 2 days of deposition without hair product?!) Tips for packing? Good travel-sized products?

My (rather obvious) tips:
-Pack in the same color range — black, brown, navy — so you only have to bring one pair of dress shoes
-Bring a nice soft sweater to wear on the way home. I love changing out of a suit jacket to a cashmere sweater on the way home.
-Never bring shampoo/conditioner if you can help it — as long as you stay in decent enough hotels, you’ll have good products.

This is a great question, and we’re hoping our readers will be a wealth of information. For our $.02 — Almost everything can either be bought in a small size (see, e.g., Minimus) or converted to a small size (we like the travel supplies at The Container Store, but most any place has them).  You can also ship anything that the TSA might confiscate, or just purchase a new item when you arrive.  (The concierge is almost always helpful in directing you to a local drugstore — you may also want to see whether your arrival airport has any stores for beauty purchases, such as an Aveda or Sephora store.)  We would advise to save your packing space for things that you truly need large quantities of — for example, if your eye-makeup remover comes in a huge bottle, change it to a much smaller package that holds the quantity you need for your time away.  (We’ve actually used stacking pill containers to keep things like eye makeup remover, facial moisturizer with SPF (a little bit goes a long way!), and more serious SPF (on the off chance we go for a run outside or something).) (Pictured: Broken suitcases, originally uploaded to Flickr by toyohara.)

In terms of clothing, we agree with the reader’s advice that the same color range can be helpful for the shoe/accessory reason.  We would also suggest bringing a wrap(helpful for sweater/pillow purposes on the plane) and, if you’re bringing workout clothes, bringing nice enough clothes that can do double-duty — for example, if you prefer to fly in comfortable clothes, wear your yoga pants (before you’ve, you know, sweated in them).  You may also want to pack a pair of flip flops — not only are they incredibly lightweight, but they can be worn around your hotel room as slippers, and will be handy if you visit the hotel pool or spa.  (We prefer not to wear flip flops for airport security — almost every TSA agent makes you remove your flip flops, which means you’re left barefoot in the airport — yick.  But, to each their own.)

We might also suggest bringing along a spray bottle filled with vodka, and using it to spray on your suit as a deodorizer when you’re done wearing it for the day.    Hang up everything as soon as you’re done with it, and use steam from your shower to help straighten it out even more.  Many hotels will bring you an iron (or blowdryer or small coffee machine) if you ask nicely.

Finally — before traveling, be sure to check how many bags your airline allows. It seems as though everyone has changed the rules, and you don’t want to be caught paying a hefty fine and/or being forced to check your bag anyway.

Readers, what are your top tips for surviving business travel?


  1. – Your hair straightener (at low heat!!) can double as an emergency iron.
    – Bring hair spray (not aerosol) – the alcohol in it can get out most ink stains before they set, and you can put the hair spray in a smaller bottle for travel
    – Wear minimal jewelry on the plane to avoid metal detector hang ups, don’t put any in your suitcase to avoid additional stress over possibly lost bags
    – Have small bills with you, not just $20s so you can easily pay for cabs, something to eat at the airport, and tips if need be

  2. Okay this is a serious question (I’m not trying to be snarky, I swear) but wouldn’t spraying your suit with vodka make you smell like you’d had very many too many the night before?

    • vodka doesn’t smell! that’s why if you’re having a cocktail at lunch . . . well, you get the idea.

      • I totally disagree! I think vodka has a distinct odor (both in the bottle and on the breath of someone who has been consuming it).

        Maybe I am just extra sensitive to smells but I can definitely smell it.

        • I can smell it, too. Very distinctive. Maybe the scent fades, though? I would go the febreeze route just in case.

    • Vodka most definitely smells. I’d be terrified of doing this. Imagine walking into your meeting, deposition or hearing the next day smelling like you went on a bender the night before. :-)

    • Only cheap vodka smells

  3. Spray bottle with vodka? I have never heard this. Can someone explain? Does it end up smelling like rubbing alcohol or booze? I can’t imagine either is good.

    • Agree… small bottle of Febreze is probably a better plan… and better than killing everyone by using too much perfume

      • I keep meaning to do a whole post on this — a friend knows a costume person for Broadway, and she swears by the vodka-in-the-spray-bottle trick. Think about it — the actors are on stage, under hot lights, in the SAME OUTFIT night after night — this woman should know her stuff. Keep meaning to do an interview with her — maybe for next week.

        • I absolutely, 100% believe that this costume woman knows her stuff. I also absolutely, 100% believe that if ANYONE you work with smells a hint of vodka on your clothing, you are going to wish you’d used Febreeze instead…I’m trying to imagine telling my boss “Well, you see, I actually sprayed my suit with vodka last night to keep it fresh smelling…”

          Because I wouldn’t buy it.

          • Blonde Lawyer :

            I also think bringing alcohol in a carry on violates TSA rules but maybe it is only consuming it in flight. I could be wrong but be careful w/ vodka in an unmarked bottle, spray or not.

        • C, in defense of your friend — her clients are on stage with the same actors day in and day out, who are probably sharing these tips or know her well enough that they know what she’s doing. Or she has already done it to *everyone’s* costume. It’s not like the audience can smell the vodka. On the other hand, a business meeting in close quarters, such as sitting at a table in a conference room … yeah, not so much.

        • Is the vodka trick safe for all fabrics?

          and wouldn’t diluted rubbing alcohol do the same thing?

        • It seems your friend isn’t the only one who thinks vodka will do the trick. I look forward to a post on it.

          • I run a theater, and vodka absolutely 100% works better than febreeze (according to our costumers and actors). The trick is to use only a little, and to make sure the spray bottle is spraying, not spritzing. And no, it won’t smell. I promise. I’ve been doing the vodka trick for years and have never had a funder look at me askance. First, vodka does not smell very strongly. Second, the actual amount of vodka used is pretty small.
            Febreeze, in my opinion, smells much stronger and is full of chemicals and preservatives.

          • Delta Sierra :

            I tried it last night, put some vodka in an old pump-spray bottle and fiddled with it until I got a fine spray, as Jenny says. Sprayed yesterday’s shirt, lightly, so the fabric never actually got wet. This morning, there’s no smell of anything. Alcohol is very volatile, so I expect the alc. itself dissipates into the air very quickly, just as when you use wine to cook with, the actual alcohol is driven off as the dish simmers. I like the idea that this will cost me pennies-worth of a product I already have in the house, as opposed to going out and forking over money for yet another cleaning product full of god-knows-what chemicals. Also, I’ve had booze in my carry-on any number of times, and TSA has never said anything.

  4. Corporate Tool :

    MINIMUS??? How did I not know about this before? Also I want more details on the vodka trick…

    As a former road warrior, I would suggest:
    1) Extra pairs of stockings and underwear
    2) Even if you are traveling only for a single day (that is, not overnight) bring a toothbrush and a change of underwear. Flights will be delayed/cancelled
    3)Wear your hair in a low ponytail, or other non-restrictive style–for some reason wearing your hair “up” on flights can create significant headaches
    4) Wait until the last minute to put on your makeup (aka arrival airport bathroom) unless you are traveling with colleagues
    5) Ask the flight attendant if she can hang your jacket/suit. Often if they have room, they will, and you look MUCH better when you arrive

    • The extra underwear is a must… and socks/stockings/clear nail polish to contain emergency stocking runs

      • Corporate Tool :

        Apparently this topic is on a lot of people’s minds. Wise bread just had a post on it as well:

  5. I always have emergen-c with me (the vitamins you dilute in water). They help me re-hydrate, help with jet lag, help with headaches, hangover, and warding off the cold. . . . so I always bring them everywhere & they take no space. I usually drink one at take off and one at landing.

    I am also a big fan of small face misters (usually spring/thermal water). You can bring the small ones on the plane. Again, very helpful for re-hydration and avoiding that icky “my face feels super tight” feeling.

    I also like slip on shoes on the plane b/c you can take them off easier in security, and also slip them off during the flight.

    My other travel tip, if you’re checking in your luggage to tie a bright ribbon around the handle so you can easily spot it at the carousel (though of course not checking in, if you can, is always best).

    Also, show up early and be nice to the check in folks. Even nowadays, you can sometimes change your seat to either bulkhead or emergency &get extra leg room at no extra charge if you’re nice and get there early.

    • I use a bright green luggage tag. Target sells crazy ones in bright colors.

      • I have an orange handle that velcros around the luggage handle… literally a padded piece of velcro — sold at an exorbitant mark up by Brookstone, but after having luggage belts, locks, and tags fall of, get cut off, or once, get caught in the carousel (and, for the record, it was a small tag!), it’s the only identifying mark that separates my bag (bought in the brightest color available, btw) from any others.

  6. I was REALLY hoping that the vodka spray would have a secondary purpose… mouth spray for in-flight anxiety, maybe?

  7. – rather than vodka, buy unscented, travel-size febreeze
    – bring toothbrush, carry-on size toothpaste and medication in your carry-on purse/tote, just in case you have to check a bag
    – use a non-aerosol hairspray in a travel size. I buy an empty container at CVS and use herbal essences “set me up” hairspray, which you can open and pour into the travel bottle since it comes in a mister, not an aerosol
    – bring socks and a wrap/scarf for the plane
    – if you’re going somewhere warm, bring a light jacket or forego a coat altogether — the last thing you want to do is be hauling a heavy coat around when you don’t need it.

    • However, if you are going somewhere warm but have a layover in somewhere slightly less warm, might want to bring a medium-weight jacket. I flew to New Orleans recently (from Ohio) and brought clothes suitable for the weather there, but got stuck in Atlanta overnight where it was significantly colder, especially at midnight when I had to wait what felt like forever for the Days Inn Shuttle (thanks, Delta, for putting me up for 4 hours until I had to be back for my first-thing-in-the-AM flight!). Or bring a hat/gloves just in case – a winter hat doesn’t take up a lot of room if you don’t need it but would have helped in that situation.

  8. I have a ziploc baggy with travel size bottles (got mine from Flight 001) of moisturizer, cleanser, hair gel and conditioner, baby sized toothpaste, and an extra bottle of foundation that is permanently packed. That way I don’t need to worry before a trip, just drop it in my shoulder bag. (I have way too problematic skin and hair to use hotel products without risking a breakout or the frizzies — and if I’m trying a case or taking a deposition or meeting with a client, I’m stressed enough without having “my” products taken away from me).

    If I’m not going straight to a meeting, I travel in jeans (nice), t-shirt (nice) and cardigan. If I am, I pack those — in a lot of the parts of the country I end up in, going out to dinner in a suit would just be odd.

    Agree on slip ons, and NEVER heels, for running through airports.
    Agree on minimal jewelry. Losing it is just another worry.

    Extra BB charger lives in my shoulder bag. It’s THE worst item to forget.

    Agree on extra undies, stockings, and I usually have an extra silk shell or short sleeve sweater. Nothing will ruin your day or confidence faster than a run, or a spilled bit of something on your blouse.

    Hang everything the minute you get there, and if your budget permits, use the pressing/dry cleaning services at your hotel as needed.

    Best investment I’ve made this year was a netbook that weighs a fraction of my firm allotted lap top. Does everything — email, edit docs, etc. and slips in and out of my shoulder bag without ever weighing me down.

    If time at all permits, I do my research and plan a nice meal near but not in my hotel in wherever it is. I travel enough that “dining alone” has lost its stigma for me, and a civilized something with a glass of good wine makes me feel much better about being away from home that a tepid salad from room service while hunched over my lap top.

    • Agree — but if you don’t travel super often be careful with the foundation – if it gets too old it grows bacteria and (possibly of equal importance) doesn’t smooth on/work as well.

  9. I actually wrote this up once for my blog so I’ll republish highlights here:
    – Spacebags for travel: doesn’t require a vacuum, great way to pack up your dirty laundry on way back
    – everything that COULD get spilled gets doublebagged in a Ziplock and anything I want to prevent from getting ruined goes in one (all my silk shirts and cashmere sweaters)
    – if you’re checking luggage, make sure you bring 2 days worth of clothes in your carryon
    – NEVER bring nailpolish remover. use those remover pads, they won’t leak and destroy everything in sight

    My person “gripe” request: please make sure your carryon bag fits wheels first into the bin. I HATE people who put their bag in sideways so there’s no room for me. Be warned: I will turn your bag around so it’s in the right way and I can fit my regulation-sized bag in. When it doesn’t fit, I will watch with glee as the flight attendant makes you check at the gate. If you try to break the rules, I will make sure you get caught.

    • Wow, that bag-turning trick seems kind of mean. My tip for avoiding making other people’s trips more stressful–and not stressing yourself out trying to squeeze your bag in: Keep the in-flight essentials in the under-seat space, and throw your bigger carry-on in any wide-open bin, even if it’s way in front of your row. I never get why people stress out about fitting into the bin right overhead. If I’m sitting in row 20, I’ll still throw my bag in above row 8–that way I also get to avoid trying to get it down while all the people around me are standing up and being impatient. I just whiz on by while de-boarding and snag it.

      Of course, if the flight is so insanely full that there is literally no overhead bin space, go right ahead and get feisty about it.

      • I have to say the idea of toss your carry-on in any old bin only works for a half full flight. Otherwise, someone always ends up swimming upstream to get their bag because there was no room in their bin. You still have to wait for all the people in the rows in front of you get their bags down, might as well take the time to retrieve your own.

      • dont like this :

        The problem with this is when the people in row 8 get on the plane (usually after the person in row 20 does) and there is no space in the overhead bin to put their bag and the only space is above row 20, they have a hell of a time getting their bag when the flight lands. It would be courteous to leave the space for the people sitting in or near those rows.

      • Throwing your bag above row 8 when you’re sitting in Row 20 is actually really rude for the people who are sitting in Row 8 who then have to put their bag above Row 20 and then try to get it and slow EVERYONE down when they’re getting off. If you’re on Southwest and the front rows are already full so that there’s clearly space available, fine, but in other situations I think that’s really rude.

        • Agree. It is incredibly rude and makes flying really unpleasant. Please don’t do this.

          Just carry your damn bag to the bin above your seat.

      • I remember being absolutely furious when I was sitting in the front of a flight and every person on the flight in about row 10 or lower was told there was no more room for carry ons. We were all furious when we arrived on the plane and saw that the bins over the back rows were completely empty but ours were full. The airline refused to let us put our stuff in the back bins, even though people in the back rows apparently had the option of using any overhead bin they wanted.

        I am with the people who say please use the bins over your own seat to allow everyone the chance to carry on bags. The people in the front of the plane should not be penalized or prevented from bringing anything on because the people in back were selfish.

      • Every domestic flight I’ve been on in the last couple of years has been a desperate, miserable flight for overhead bin space.

        In fact, I’d go so far as to say, if you’re not on an airline that charges extra for a checked bag* and you don’t have a time crunch on the other side, just check the damn thing. It makes life more pleasant for everyone and saves the space for the people who really need it (because they’re carrying something fragile or expensive or because they’re in a rush) rather than the people who happen to get to it first.

        * In which case, every woman for herself; no reason to hand over more of your or your employer’s money than you have to.

      • ugh. so, you make the person in row 8 fight her way back to row 20 to find her bag because you can’t be bothered to carry yours another less-than-12-yards? please.

        it’s one thing to prevent others from taking more than allotted bin space (yes, your bag should fit wheels first). it’s another to disregard the inconvenience of another passenger so you can “whiz by.”

      • Agreed–tossing your bag in above row 8 when you’re seated in row 20 seems incredibly rude to me. While that might minimize stress for you, I can’t imagine that it makes flying less stressful for people boarding after you.

        That said, I usually check my bag, even when carrying on might be more convenient given the length of my trip/ size of my luggage, because of people doing things like this.

        • I often gate-check my carry-on (if I don’t have a short layover or otherwise tight schedule at departure). Drop it as I get on the plane, pick it up as I depart. So far this is free (!). No fight for the overhead bin. In a pinch, my carryon is designed to fit under the seat & my second personal item is small enough to fit alongside.

          Using a bin not over your own seat, unless you’re one of the last ones on or the attendant takes it, is everything everyone else already said. A close second is grabbing pillows or blankets as you go down the aisle instead of (or in addition to) using the ones nearer your seat.

    • Anonymous :

      Fully support this. Have no respect for bin hogs. I have at times turned bags or asked people to put one of their bags under the seat. It amazes me how some people seem to expect that they have the right to fill up an entire bin that should be allocated for three seats! I also have no tolerance for those who ditch their bags in a bin that is not within a row or two of their own seats, leaving me to fight about where I am going to stow my regulation sized stuff. Happily, most flight attendants will move the offending bag back where it belongs, but it still does not make a peaceful start to the flight. How lazy are you that you won’t carry your own bag the extra rows to your own seat?!

      • Delta Sierra :

        I’m a big bag-turner. Put the damn thing in the way the overhead was designed for.

    • A-men on the bag turning. I was once coming home for Thanksgiving on a 1/2-full flight (lucky me!) and went to put up my little carry-on rolly luggage (with all my textbooks) and it “couldn’t fit” because everyone else had stuck all their shopping bags from the outlets into the overhead bins. THE FLIGHT WAS 1/2 FULL!!! The stewardess actually made me check my bag. Ooohhh, I was sooo angry.

      I remember when I was studying abroad, before every flight they had us put our carry-ons in the little metal-frame outline to make sure they would fit in the overhead bin. If it was too big, it was checked. Ahh, those were the days…

      • Let’s reserve some of the blame for this problem for the airlines that charge $25 or upwards for checking a bag each way. The flight attendants can never figure out why everyone’s trying to carry everything on these days. They should try reading the airline policies. My husband and I recently took a 3-leg flight. We saved $150 by carrying everything on for a 2-week trip. But yeah, we had pretty maxed-out bags.

        If I’m not going to be in a hurry on the other end of my flight, I often volunteer to have my bag gate-checked. Then I don’t have to pay for it or keep up with it on the plane.

  10. There’s some great tips about working efficiently while traveling. It’s at the bottom of this e-newsletter. I always find these tips helpful.

  11. As a former road warrior ( 2 years full-time) … my top tips:

    Bring a thin pair of socks on the plane – it can get VERY cold and it is much more acceptable to remove your ‘pretty’ shoes if you put on socks. Plus, if you have short legs (like me), you can use your bag under the seat in front of you as a foot rest to help alleviate the strain on your knees.

    Roll your clothes when you pack them. It saves space. Use dry cleaning bags in between items (if laying flat) to help eliminate wrinkling. Always unpack everything immediately and iron everything the first night you are in a room. Use cheap cotton handle bags (often you get them free with jewelry, etc) to put your shoes in – you won’t have to worry about dirty shoes and clean clothes mixing.

    Don’t underestimate the value of a pair of slippers (function and luxury). I pick up a pair at Victoria’s Secret after each holiday (~$8) and then I don’t have to worry about wandering around in my hotel room/bathroom without my shoes on.

    When planning your wardrobe to take: Layer, layer, layer! You’ll be ready for any last minute weather changes and items can do double-duty.

    • Delta Sierra :

      Sigh. No matter if I roll, or layer with plastic, or tissue, everything is still always wrinkled.

      • Check the fabrics of what you’re taking… linen is never a good idea for travel… and love it or hate it, polyester is probably your best bet… in between are your blends…

  12. Also, if you are taking a full-sized carry-on (18 inches?), make sure you can easily lift your carry-on over your head and into the bin, and into your rental car, etc. Because the polite men you are traveling with will be caught between wanting to do it for you but recognizing they are supposed to be treating you as an equal, and the jerks won’t care anyway. Either way, it makes it easier for everyone if you do not appear to be struggling. I also find that contact lens cases can hold 2-3 days worth of hair and face serums and lotions (try it!).

    • I’m sorry to inconvenience others but I didn’t really choose to be 4’11” tall. I have found that more often than not my fellow travelers are happy to hoist the bag into the overhead bin for me (on larger aircraft even if I can swing it up there, I usually can’t turn it without climbing onto the seat). In fact, I’m always pleasantly surprised at the number of people who offer before I’ve even put the handle down to lift it. I’m sorry it bothers you, anon, but on a short business trip I can’t afford to check my bag and risk it not arriving with me.

      • Not Original Anon :

        K, as someone who’s 5’11” and has gladly helped many people put bags in overhead bins, I’m pretty sure (judging by the fact that even a pretty short person could lift a suitcase into a rental car) anon’s advice was not targeting the short, but targeting people who pack crazy-heavy suitcases and leave someone else to deal with it.

    • No, polite men will help you with your bag, and anyone who thinks that treating a woman as an “equal” means ignoring that she’s 5 feet tall and can’t reach the bin is a jerk.

      • Ok, I understand not being able to reach. And I understand you may have a health issue. But it is a personal pet peeve of mine when the other 95% of people stuff their bags so heavy they cant carry or lift their own bag. I make sure that if I am carrying on, I can lift my own bag. Otherwise, I check it. I also make sure to wear a shirt or top that when I do lift it, will not provide a lovely peep show to rows 12-24.

      • frstrated academic :

        I am with Anon–I am 5 feet tall & if I am going to carry my bag on the plane, I make sure, in the privacy of my home, that I can lift it over my head so that I can put it into the overhead bin. If I cannot, then I take something out.

        While I sympathize with persons, of either sex, who cannot reach the bin, I literally growl when someone has packed his or her carry-on to an inch of its life and cannot physically lift it into the bin.

        A few years ago, after watching my DH & I each put our own bags in the bin, a woman who was at last five inches taller than me asked my DH to put her bag in the bin because it was too heavy for her to lift. Although it made me sound like a total Cruella, I looked her in the eye, and told her that if she could not lift the bag herself, she ought to have checked it (at that point my DH tried to crawl into the bin himself, he was so embarrassed). Half the plane applauded and half looked horrified . A different gentleman jumped up to help, pulled something in his back, and spent the flight from Chicago to Vegas in what looked like intense pain.

        • disclosure – I’m 5ft tall and yes, I often ask for help to put my bag in the overhead bin. A couple things, even when my bag is lightly packed it can be difficult to lift it over my head and maneuver it into the bin so that the wheels are just so. Maybe frstrated academic is more athletically endowed than I or perhaps more graceful but I can’t seem to hoist the bag over my head in the narrow aisles without worrying that I’m going to clunk someone with it. Seems like we can all be generous with one another and help each other out and that will make traveling easier on all of us. I personally prefer not to pass judgment on people based on whether they can lift a bag over his or her head. And yes, EM – totally with you!

      • Blonde Lawyer :

        Amen to EM.

        • My first year my first trip home from law school, I packed all my books in my carry on, not even thinking about having to lift. I went to lift it and almost fell over, thank goodness like 3 people came to my rescue.

    • Original anon here. Definitely not referring in particular to those who are too short to reach the bin. I’m mostly referring to the awkward situation that some women can find themselves in when traveling with male business companions. If you need to ASK for help, that’s fine. But if you are traveling with business companions you should not expect help from them. My point was mostly to plan ahead and be sure you can handle your own luggage. As a lightly-built woman, I am acquainted with the embarrassment that can ensue when you are trying to accomplish physical tasks in front of male co-workers, not to mention keeping up in the airport with someone who has longer legs while wheeling a suitcase behind you, all the while trying to look professional in heels, stockings, and a skirt.

  13. I travel almost weekly for work, and have a whole host of suggestions…
    -bring some sort of scarf/pashmina with you on the airplane. Especially on longer flights, it can get chilly- and many domestic carriers no longer have pillows in coach, so it can also double as a pillow.
    -avoid wearing multiple jackets through security. If you’re in a suit, put the overcoat in your bag. Taking on/off multiple layers while going through security is a pain. And on the pashmina note, keep it in your bag until after you’re through security.
    -slip on shoes (whether slingbacks, pumps or flats) are the easiest in and out of security
    -no need to bring shampoo, conditioner or lotion. Wherever you’re staying, they have it.
    -when you’re checking out of your hotel room, go methodically through while packing (and afterwords to make sure you haven’t left anything.) For me, this means the morning that I’m leaving, after I’m done showering, everything that’s mine in the bathroom goes with me out of the bathroom and into the suitcase. When I’m done getting dressed, everything goes out of the closet and into the suitcase. After checking email, all computer accessories go into the suitcase/laptop bag. That way, when I’m ready to go, a quick scan of the room is all it takes for me to be certain I have everything.
    -make the bed before packing things up. This saves a favorite white shirt from getting mixed in with the sheets and forgotten.
    -the iphone/blackberry/android application TripIt is amazing for keeping track of all travel confirmations, flight status, maps, etc. It’s free to sign up, and has saved me lots of time.
    -chat with the gate agent when you get to the airport to find out how much time you have before boarding. They have more accurate information than what’s on the monitors. This can give you a good idea as to whether you have time to sit down for a proper meal or if it’s only enough to grab a sandwich.
    -No need to check a bag, as everything should be able to fit in a 20-22″ rollerboard. Put your workout clothes into your gym shoes (or bring a swimsuit for the pool- it takes up much less space!) If it is a longer trip, then dry clean your suit and send out your laundry.
    -Overhead bin space is a priority; if it looks like everyone else in the gate has a rollerboard+briefcase, hang around the gate area in order to be one of the first in your zone/group to board. This is especially important if you are in one of the final zone or groups. On all of my most recent flights, people have had to gate check their bags because the bins filled up.
    -The safe for security liquids bags are much better for liquids than a regular ziplocs, since the gusset at the bottom helps them hold that much more stuff.
    -bring a small, collapsible umbrella if you’re going anywhere where there is a slight possibility of rain.

    • Sorry about that…to make it easier to read

      I travel almost weekly for work, and have a whole host of suggestions…

      -bring some sort of scarf/pashmina with you on the airplane. Especially on longer flights, it can get chilly- and many domestic carriers no longer have pillows in coach, so it can also double as a pillow.

      -avoid wearing multiple jackets through security. If you’re in a suit, put the overcoat in your bag. Taking on/off multiple layers while going through security is a pain. And on the pashmina note, keep it in your bag until after you’re through security.

      -slip on shoes (whether slingbacks, pumps or flats) are the easiest in and out of security

      -no need to bring shampoo, conditioner or lotion. Wherever you’re staying, they have it.

      -when you’re checking out of your hotel room, go methodically through while packing (and afterwords to make sure you haven’t left anything.) For me, this means the morning that I’m leaving, after I’m done showering, everything that’s mine in the bathroom goes with me out of the bathroom and into the suitcase. When I’m done getting dressed, everything goes out of the closet and into the suitcase. After checking email, all computer accessories go into the suitcase/laptop bag. That way, when I’m ready to go, a quick scan of the room is all it takes for me to be certain I have everything.

      -make the bed before packing things up. This saves a favorite white shirt from getting mixed in with the sheets and forgotten.

      -the iphone/blackberry/android application TripIt is amazing for keeping track of all travel confirmations, flight status, maps, etc. It’s free to sign up, and has saved me lots of time.

      -chat with the gate agent when you get to the airport to find out how much time you have before boarding. They have more accurate information than what’s on the monitors. This can give you a good idea as to whether you have time to sit down for a proper meal or if it’s only enough to grab a sandwich.

      -No need to check a bag, as everything should be able to fit in a 20-22″ rollerboard. Put your workout clothes into your gym shoes (or bring a swimsuit for the pool- it takes up much less space!) If it is a longer trip, then dry clean your suit and send out your laundry.

      -Overhead bin space is a priority; if it looks like everyone else in the gate has a rollerboard+briefcase, hang around the gate area in order to be one of the first in your zone/group to board. This is especially important if you are in one of the final zone or groups. On all of my most recent flights, people have had to gate check their bags because the bins filled up.

      -The safe for security liquids bags are much better for liquids than a regular ziplocs, since the gusset at the bottom helps them hold that much more stuff.

      -bring a small, collapsible umbrella if you’re going anywhere where there is a slight possibility of rain.

  14. Blonde Lawyer :

    I use a contact lens case and put my face cream in one slot and my make up remover in the other. I can carry almost a weeks worth that way. This is also a great way to carry extra sunscreen in your purse.

    • Genius! Thanks for the tip.

      • Agreed! I’ve worn contacts for almost 20 years and I never would have thought to do this.

    • Great tip!! Especially since after 10 years of contact wearing I have a plethora of contact lens cases…

      Just remember which is which ;-)

      I have thought to use them as extra pill cases – they are waterproof, so your pills don’t get damp

  15. After buying my umpteenth car charger post my cell phone replacement I purchased an I-go ( one from Radio Shack. They also have standard wall adapters that can charge one or multiple devices. Each electronic item (blackberry, i-pod, etc) has a specialized tip to use with the generic wall charger. So many less cords in my luggage now!

  16. A regular commenter here has an entire blog about business travel. I like her style and recommend it:

  17. So much great advice already! (And thanks for that contact case thing–never thought of that).

    A couple more things:

    -Can’t stress enough:
    -flat, slip on shoes for day of travel
    -scarf or pashmina for 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
    -Emergen-C! I take it every day when I travel, sometimes twice.

    -I bring my own shampoo/conditioner, just because I travel so much if I use whatever random products the hotel puts out my hair gets mad; a GREAT source is, as is Sephora

    -Eagle Creek packing cubes are so helpful for the small items (underwear, socks, hose, etc); they will help you save a ton of space

    -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

    -If it’s a long flight, bring an eye mask and earplugs or noise-canceling headphones

    -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.

    -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

    Good luck! I actually have a blog about business travel, and a lot more things are covered there.

    • Road, thanks! I have also found that I have to carry a small baggie of almonds, in case of sudden lows. Don’t want to end up having to eat McDonalds just because I really need protein. I suppose a protein bar would have the same effect.

  18. a couple of suggestions in addition to the great ones above (I also never thought about the contact lens thing – but you can really put a week’s worth in there? you must have young skin :) —

    * put your shoes in shower caps – cheap (collect them free at the hotels!), slim, and keeps your shoes from getting your clothes dirty.

    * I stuff socks, hose/tights/Spanx, underwear in dryer sheets and then in my shoes to save room on packing (no matter how quick my trip or how little I think I’m taking, somehow I always have trouble getting it in a carry-on size suitcase). Put a couple of extra dryer sheets in your bag to keep things fresh-smelling.

    * keep a toiletries bag w/ travel-size items (other than stuff you can get at hotel) packed at all time; makes that night-before packing or last-minute trip much less stressful – I even have extras of make-up in here so there’s not much additional I need to pack.

    • Delta Sierra :

      2nd the always-packed toiletries bag idea. I live in earthquake territory, and it’s recommended for that. I always picture myself if disaster did strike: zooming out the door with a cat-carrier in each hand. In each carrier, a bottle of water and a ticked-off cat working her way into the little bag of kibble. And the bag of toiletries. I guess that would make 2 bags of toiletries. For barter. (I gotta get my imagination under control.)

  19. Second the suggestion to keep toiletries in your back at all times. It’s the only way I’ve found to avoid forgetting things. Buy two at a time when you buy makeup, and ask for samples — most department stores will give them to you and will even put samples in little jars for you. Shop for cosmetics when there is a gift-with-purchase — they often contain small-sized mascaras, skin creams, eye makeup remover, etc.

    One other rule: never check bags on the way out — only on the way back. If you have a hearing in the morning and your luggage is lost, you may be SOL.

    • Sorry — that should be “bag” not “back.”

      • Funny – I’m getting ready for a trip next week and am doing just the opposite. I usually never check, but since my colleagues will be, I will on the way out since I’ll be waiting there anyway. On the way home I won’t check at the end of a trip my first priority is always getting the heck out of the airport as fast as possible to get home – and not to wait around at a baggage carousel.

  20. A few more trips:

    If it’s a long trip – be aware that if your bag is over 50lbs, most airlines will charge you about $150. However, checking a second bag usually only costs $50. Also be aware that it is really, really easy to reach 50lbs if you’re packing for 2 weeks, especially in the winter when you’ll have boots and heavier clothes.

    Other tips:
    If you’re packing skirts, always have extra hose and a small bottle of nail polish for runs.

    I carry some Woolite in a travel-size container so I can wash clothes in the hotel sink, because hotel laundry tends to be really expensive.

    If your checked luggage is delayed, airlines will reimburse you for any reasonable purchases you must make. Underwear, reasonably-priced business attire, cosmetics, etc are all reimbursable. Generally they set $50 per day as a guideline, but it’s not absolute (they understand you may need to buy a suit). They do not usually tell you this up front if your bags are lost, so make sure you ask.

    Most hotel hair dryers won’t accommodate a diffuser so, curly-haired ladies, make sure you bring your own.

    For flights over a couple hours, bring a liter of water, eye cream/moisturizer, eye drops and nasal spray on the plane to avoid dehydrating.

    • I’ve moved abroad twice with the 50lb suitcase limit. I’ve found that using a huge suitcase that is more than 25″ is really easy to fill to more than the 50lb limit, but anything smaller and I can pretty much fit what I need in there without worrying about going over.

      • Really? Because three suits in a garment bag weigh 15lbs, my suitcase empty weighs 13lbs, and that’s 28lbs before I’ve packed shoes, underwear, toiletries or any necessary books or documents. My dress winter coat weighs 4lbs and you better believe I’m not wearing a dress coat on the airplane. I can hit 50lbs and still run out of clothes by day 10 of a trip if I have been unlucky about not spilling.

        • I think your problem is you have really heavy luggage. My suitcase empty is only about 5 lbs. A search on e-bags found hard-sided carry-ons as light as 3 lbs. You may also want to consider if you need the garment bag since your suits are going inside a suitcase already, or reuse the plastic bags from your dry cleaner, which weigh virtually nothing.

  21. Ok, I know this might be the most obvious tip.. but I used to travel all the time and I have to say that you never want to be caught without carrying a couple emergency “feminine products.” I say this especially because there have been times where the hotel gift shop (that really should carry essentials like this) has run out, and the drug stores are closed or aren’t convenient to your location or work schedule (esp. when traveling to smaller cities and you have an emergency “surprise”). I actually always carried alleve and allergy medication with me for similar reasons.

    Food – I always mapped out locations to get food, as was suggested above. I also would bring a pack of granola bars or something like that if I was going to be gone for more than a couple days. Some mornings there’s no time to get a real meal at a restaurant, and you don’t feel like messing with room service.

    Be wary of overnighting things that you will really really need the next day to your hotel. The hotels temporarily lose them ALL the time, even if the delivery was timely.

    And on a related note.. as someone who has had things go “missing” in my hotel room before, I would suggest getting a lock for your luggage and putting personal things in there if you are gone all day (or put up the do not disturb sign). I don’t carry many valuables, but I’ve even had my sweat pants gone missing from my room before. Weird, but not something you want to experience (especially in my case, as the only pants I had left to wear when I wanted to relax were my suit pants).

    When necessary, the hotel dry cleaning service can be a godsend… but it’s always super pricey. You may want to inquire if, on an extended trip, your employer would pay for it (mine did). If your suit just has a couple wrinkles and you don’t feel like ironing, just hang it in the shower (not so it gets wet, but so it gets steamed). If I close the bathroom door and shower for 15 min, the wrinkles will fall out of my suit. However, this won’t work for a button down shirt.

    I like the idea about not bringing soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion in theory – but I find that sometimes the hotel products smell weird. I didn’t bring lotion one time, and the hotel’s lotion smelled so strange that it was bothering me because I could constantly smell it. So I usually ended up bringing my own stuff in the travel size containers, unless I was familiar with a hotel chain’s products and could work with them.

    One last tip – you know the zippered clear plastic cases that you get blankets and sheet sets in? Those are great for organizing items in your suitcase.

    • If you overnight something to your hotel, you can always call the hotel in advance and let them know you are expecting a package on the day you check in. I was a front desk agent at a business hotel and we kept a little book at the front desk where we kept notes about certain situations the other employees would need to know. I always wrote down who was expecting a package on the date they were checking in and then the agent who worked that day would keep an eye out for the package and have it ready when the guest arrived.

  22. Another Anon :

    Hello All,

    If you have room in your luggage, a small “throw” or blanket is great for watching TV or reading in your hotel room, and a presentable “comfy-pants” outfit with a zippered top saves embarrassment when bumping into colleagues at the ice machine or front desk.

    And I bring a small candle to soothe my ragged nerves and make hotel rooms a bit nicer.

  23. Delta Sierra :

    Most of my travel toiletries are sample sizes from the drugstore. Also, I’ve had one of these for years. Keeps all the toiletries in one place, doesn’t clutter up the bathroom countertop, I can see everything at a glance.

    Shoes go in old plastic grocery bags, of which I throw in a few extra. They squish down to nothing, and are good for dirty clothes. Always take 2 pair of ‘good’ shoes, because what if one gets trashed somehow?

  24. North Shore :

    My best tip is . . . FedEx. I’m one of those wimps who struggles to get my suitcase in the overhead bin, even though I’m a lean & mean packer. If I need to bring documents, I’ll box & ship them ahead of time, and I’ll also toss in my shoes, make-up, liquids, and whatever other heavy things I’ll need. I print a return label before I leave, and put it in the box, too, along with a small roll of packing tape. Drop it off with the hotel staff on my way out, and my suitcase is nice & light.

    One more tip is that I always use a packing list. It’s typed up for easy reference, but eases my mind that I know I’ve remembered those few things I usually toss in at the last moment.

  25. Blonde Lawyer :

    I can’t believe I forgot this the first time but I ALWAYS travel with food. Protein bars, shakes, dried fruit, etc. I was on a 2 hour flight to Atlanta when a passenger had a medical emergency. We had to emergency land in DC (right after 9/11) and we hadn’t been pre-cleared to land there. We were on the tarmac HOURS, not allowed off the plane, while it got re-inspected and cleared again for take off. I’m not sure if this would happen today but the bottom line is you may have to go way longer than you should without food. I personally feel very ill if I get too hungry so I stash protein bars for interviews, trial, everything so if I get too hungry I can take a few bites from the restroom and be good to go.

  26. Frequent traveler here, writing this from on the road. I think most people wildly overpack, and I never, ever check bags unless absolutely critical. A few other things:
    – I travel with two Trish McEvoy Essential Pencils in shell and nude (the nude is actually a rose color) that serve as concealer, eyeshadow, blush, and lip, and take up no room. Can even be tossed in the bottom of a briefcase or handbag.
    – On overnight trips, I wear (nice) yoga pants, a t-shirt and light jacket and slip-on sneakers. That night, I sleep in the t-shirt and pants or hotel bathrobe if available. Get up, work out, then shower and get dressed for the day.
    – A Kindle, Nook, etc. instead of heavy books or magazines.
    – Always pack a bathing suit. You never know when you want to use a hotel pool or whirlpool.
    – Have a color theme if you are gone for several days.
    – You can repeat basic outfits if you have different jewelry / accessories to jazz them up.
    – Ziplock bag an outfit plus underwear, jewelry, etc. all together.
    – Anyone who wears boots to get through security is a blithering idiot. Esp high heeled ones.

    • agree with everything except the last item. Boots take up too much room in my suitcase. They’re usually pull-on or zippered and therefore are super-fast in the security line.

      • Agreed – I frequently wear high boots with skirts in the winter when I travel (I’m in consulting and my client site is business casual), and boots take up a ton of space in my suitcase. Most of mine have zippers so I can take them off and put them on quickly in security, or at least faster than most people in front of me take with their liquids ;)

        Everyone’s got a slightly different wardrobe — I say try your trips a few different ways and find out what works best for you.

  27. Oh! You know the perfumed strips in magazines? I rip those out and throw them in my suitcase. That way I have a perfume to wear, in a light amount, and no liquids. I have a thing about liquids; can you tell?

    If you frequent a certain hotel regularly as I do, you might even ask if they would store some stuff for you over a weekend. I’ve done it so that I’ve traveled in with a suitcase, left for home with just a briefcase, came back with just a briefcase, and then left for home again with the suitcase.

    And don’t be a stooge through security. Shoes off first, people.

  28. A couple of things people didn’t mention:

    -Wisps! Disposable small toothbrushes with built-in toothpaste for waterless brushing and a toothpick on the other end. Especially great for flights and day trips. (

    -Many hotels do not supply conditioner or toothpaste (yes even the nice ones. There’s always shampoo and soap, but that’s not enough for me). I usually keep a stash of travel size or sample packets of perfume (like the ones they give in Sephora), deodorant, moisturizer and conditioner to grab with me for travel.

    -Don’t forget your hairbrush (or buy a mini version for travel)! My tangly, wiry hair requires a special brush and I’d be lost without it during travel, esp for business mtgs.

    -I usually do my makeup at the end of the flight to keep it fresh as I always need a fresh layer of moisturizer during and post-flight. I definitely second the facial spray suggestion and recommend Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater (

    • Oh, I would also add:

      -Tide To Go stain remover pens
      -Water with you At All Times! Nothing is more dehydrating than air travel.

  29. i travel frequently for work. my best tips include the following:

    get a bag with spinner wheels — much easier to deal with

    splurge on the la mer travel set. flying messes with your skin. this keeps me looking good and a plus is the bags they come in

    keep a number of bags permanently packed in your suitcase: make up, skin care, hair care (i won’t travel without the travel size terrax conditioner and my small hot rollers), meds (nothing worse than getting hit with a urinary tract infection and no medicine), and a separate ziploc bag with all your liquids.

    i keep a cotton tank and leggings in my bag to sleep in, along with a long loose cashmere cardigan. keeps me warm and double for nighttime casual wear if necessary. i also have a pair of ugg slippers — they’re my one space splurge, but it’s minimal and they are so comfortable it’s worth it.

    use a hard side suitcase. you can get a lot more in them and they travel better.

    limit yourself to a carry on if you have a connecting flight. if you’re on a direct it’s safer to check something in, but always easier to just have a carryon. i use my carryon suitcase, plus a big bag that holds all my computer stuff, knitting, and work for the flight. i use a small kate spade microfiber purse that is professional looking, small enough to fit into the big bag (so i stay within the two bag limit when i’m boarding), and has the added benefit of being impervious to rain.

    i try to fly southwest whenever possible, and love the iphone ap that lets me check in so i can be in the a group, even if i’m in a meeting during check in time

    i’m so appreciative of this post. lots of great ideas here!

  30. Bring an empty water bottle through security, then fill it up at the drinking fountain before you board the plane. No reason to buy a $4 water at the gift shop.

    Soft foam earplugs are a must for me. They block out screaming babies on the plane, and freeway noise outside your hotel room. I put them in my ears slowly and obviously, right after sitting down, to signal to others in my row that I am not available for chit chat. Sorry, but I have no need to find my new best friend sitting next to me on an airplane.

    I will vigorously second the commenter who suggested extra feminine hygiene items. I keep a bunch in the pockets of my suitcase just in case. You can use shampoo to wash your pantyhose, vodka to spray out wrinkles, and even brush your teeth with toothpaste smeared on your finger, but there is NO substitution for a tampon!

  31. This website has been a lifesaver for me with regard to travel : I actually keep a small lunch bag sized bag packed with me at all times that contains nearly everything on his master list except the clothes. I’m known as the one to go to whenever anybody needs or runs out of anything due my “bag”. It’s taken me years to finally assemble a bag that I can use for just about any emergency whether traveling or not. I use his check list as well. He has great suggestions for multiple use products and my favorite is dental floss; it has a multitude of purposes from shoe laces to a travel lock to a clothes line. He has links for nearly every product he lists. Everything he suggests fits in a small carry on and I never over pack anymore. Anyway, I hope it helps and happy traveling!

  32. I would add that one “don’t leave home without it” item is an extra set of contacts. I don’t always travel with glasses, but if you have a ripped contact and you’re as blind as me, well, it’s awful to squint for a day or two.

    If I am going for a longer trip, I always bring tea bags and some splenda–I am not a coffee girl and am particular about my tea!

  33. I don’t think anyone has mentioned this – applying moisturizer to the inside of your nose while you fly. Sounds weird, but the rationale is that the air on planes is so dry it dries out your nostrils, causes cracks in the membranes, and this makes it easier for germs to get in. Ever notice that you end up getting a cold from traveling? Not sure this logic all works out, but I saw it on Ellen and she had a doctor confirm it…

  34. I just want to say thanks for all the tips. I travel for work sporadically and always feel like I just can’t get my act together. I can’t even figure out what size roller bag carry on is the right size to fit on every flight. I’m a bad packer. I’m going to take so many of your tips to get myself organized and ready.

    Now, does anyone have any perfect carry-on bag suggestions?

    • has terrific rollaboard bags, which are cheap, indestructible, and very light weight. I’ve been in search of the perfect bag for years, and these are the best I’ve found. DH and I each have the 21 inch bag, and we’ve been all over the world with them, for business and pleasure.

      • Thanks for the recommendation. They are having a sale, so I’m considering one.

        • TravelSmith also has a good carry-on that usually fits in the overhead and has fit under the seat on every plane I’ve been on. It has a rounded top contour that makes it easy to manage in both situations. I’ve lived easily for a week out of one.

  35. Just tried to post this and got a message that said I was posting too fast… strange.

    Two things not mentioned.
    1) I always bring benadryl…. helps me sleep and my Family Doctor says it is harmless.
    2) I read an article that said the thing most people leave in hotel rooms.. is their phone charger. So if you forget yours… call the front desk, they may have one that works for you… it worked for me once.

  36. My tips, to take or leave:

    – just check a bag. I hate seeing people messing with more and bigger carry-ons than they’re supposed to have, it just makes getting on/off the plane (and getting thru security) take that much longer, and then they take up all the room in the storage bins. If you have a particular reason you need to take all your stuff on the plane with you, fine, but if you’re just too lazy to wait for the luggage to come off the plane or don’t want to pay the $20 or whatever, then really you should reconsider. Plus, an added benefit is that if you have say a 4-oz bottle of lotion that’s half-empty, instead of trying to get some into a 3-oz bottle, just throw the 4-oz one in your checked bag. Saves time and hassle, and then when you get back home you won’t have duplicates bottles of everything on your bathroom sink.

    – moist towelettes to wipe your hands after eating something (or face/neck if you’re hot on the plane)

    – travel-size kleenex, for obvious reasons.

    – make a list during the few days before your trip of the essential items that you don’t want to forget (or, all of your items!). Just keep a sheet of paper and write stuff down as it occurs to you. Then check it off as you’re packing.

    – to those people who have permanent travel bags w/ travel-size stuff, don’t those things (e.g. makeup) dry out if you don’t travel and use it very often? I think this must only work if you travel more often than I do.

    – second the suggestions to also pack feminine products, device chargers, easy-to-eat snacks (plus some food in your checked bag if you have special diet needs and may not control when/where you eat on the trip), extra underwear in your carry-on, and some sleep/lounge clothes for your hotel room. Oh, and a good trashy magazine to read on the flight — I always get headaches and can’t read anything the least bit “sophisticated” while flying, so slipping through some women’s magazine is the best way to pass the time painlessly. And for longer flights, an eye mask so you can sleep or at least pretend to.

    • Good tips, for the most part, but you shouldn’t have been getting away with the “half-full 4 oz.” trick:

      Probably OK to try, since I haven’t seen a TSA agent look specifically at the “liquids” baggie and 4 oz. isn’t too far over the limit. However, don’t do it with anything you just can’t stand losing if it gets taken away someday by an eagle-eyed screener.

      • I think she was saying that you can just toss the half full 4 oz. into your CHECKED bag, which she is advocating.

      • Rats, fell prey to the “skimming Corporette when I should have been working” bug again! Sorry, I was fixated on the carryons. Yes, a larger bottle is fine in *checked* luggage. Apologies, it won’t let me delete my earlier comment.

        The TSA web site is good for helping avoid arbitrary local enforcement, though–I’m a knitter and often have a print-out of the “accepted items” page in case someone gets huffy about my needles.

  37. How should one pack for a 2-month long assignment in another country? I understand the with toiletries it would then be possible to buy them at the new place, but how about clothes? Obviously I’d like to bring as little as possible but I’m concerned about binge shopping when I get thoroughly bored of what I brought.

    I’ve always lurked and never posted here, but I have such a trip to Melbourne coming up and would love to hear some pointers! Thanks!

    • K, I did just that this past summer. I brought two huge checked bags and one smaller carryon. I bought all the toiletries there (but do bring your essential products, I didn’t because I didn’t realize my hair product was difficult to find and had to order it online).

      I would recommend packing as many work clothes as possible, and only a few weekend outfits (your favorite jeans, a pretty dress, workout clothes). I did go shopping but for fun clothes. I find this minimizes the damage to my credit cards. a) I tend to shop at cheaper stores for fun things and b) they’re harder to justify than a pair of work pants.

      Also, don’t bring too many shoes: you know you’ll end up wearing the same ones you wear to work everyday here, anyway!

      Have fun! I thought being away from home would be a drag but I was amazed how liberating it was to be away. I missed my husband but I worked out a lot more, lost weight, found new hobbies.

  38. I too wrote a blog about business travel tips – one thing I haven’t seen on here yet (unless I missed it!) was the value of the carry-on!

    If you must check, check your bag. However, bags will and do get lost. So, in your carry-on, make sure to pack enough of the essentials to get you through a full day (i.e., nylons, panties, your bare-neccesseties toiletries, contacts & case, glasses, medication… you know the drill.) Depending on what you’re wearing on the plane – you can even bring a simple wrinkle-free blouse in your carry-on, enough for one day of meetings!

    If you’re bags are lost for more than one day you can utilize the hotel laundry service to keep going for another day or so. Plus, you can always buy an extra skirt or something to make it work while you’re out and about. Most lost bags are returned later that day, or the following day, so one-days worth of bare-necesseties should do it.

  39. Wouldn’t removing creams and makeup removers from their original packings un-sterilize them?

  40. Delta Sierra :

    A word on yer actual luggage. After too many years of cheaping out with soft-sided bags, using them 3 or 4 times and then having at least one zipper break, grrr, I finally bought some good hard-sided wheeled suitcases with latches. One is big enough that I have to check it. The other is a carry-on. I’ve used them countless times, and they still look good and nothing has broken. I think they look more, hm, what’s the word I want… grown-up? Professional? No chance of the bulging-at-the-seams look of soft-sided bags.

    • Do you have a brand/model recommendation? I’m in the market for a good wheeled carryon.

      • Delta Sierra :

        Samsonite. I think the big one is the F’lite series. The carry-on I’ve had for years, so dunno if they still make one with latches.

      • Briggs & Riley. Super comfortable handles, good assortment of pockets, and clever features like a luggage tag where the end is magnetically held the suitcase so you’re not flashing your name and contact information around indiscriminately.

  41. My advice: Keep a ready-to-go toiletry and make-up bag on hand.

    I have two bags I always keep packed. One is a zip-loc with travel sizes of all my liquid toiletry essentials (face wash, moisturizer, toothpaste etc.), the other is an airplane friendly (i.e. no liquids) make-up bag.
    For the toiletries, I bought small bottles I can refill with my at-home products. Whenever I get unpack from a trip, any bottles that need it get refilled and the bag goes back in the drawer. For the make-up bag, I use a compact foundation and gel eyeliner instead of my usual liquids and also keep an extra of my favorite lipstick, blush, etc. in this bag. I know it may seem redundant to have two of each of these things, but too often when I was traveling, I was forgetting something basic like lipstick or deodorant becuase I couldn’t pack those until right before the trip because I needed them to get ready, or I would return from the trip and need them the next morning, but hadn’t had time to unpack yet. Now when I travel, I can pack my clothes the night before, throw in these two bags (each of which can be carried onboard) and know I will have everything I need.

    • Second!

      After my first year of traveling and forgetting things because I needed them the morning of travel, I finally just created 2 separate stashes of all my goodies. Makeup, liquids, etc. If you travel every week – it’s just worth the extra expense to save the hassle.

      I love my hardside Dash by Brookstone. It’s pink so I know when someone moves it in the bin, etc. At 5’2″, I appreciate those that help me place my bag overhead (some bins are just enough higher that it is tough to reach without a huge SWING up).

      Alka-Seltzer cold medicine is a great preventative med in the winter when traveling often. On days you are going to be in airports and cooped up in planes all day, just pop one of the fizz tablets in your morning water! I haven’t been sick for 2 years…

      • I second the Dash recommendation. My husband and I both have one and we love them. So light, fits into every overhead bin (even the smallest regional planes), doesn’t get damaged and really protects your stuff.

        For those who want to maximize your “personal item” carryon, I also recommend the Longchamp Le Pliage bag (I have the largest one, with the long handles). It fits SO MUCH and zips up at the top so your stuff won’t go sliding out while you rest your feet on it underneath the seat. It’s virtually indestructible and doesn’t get dirty.

  42. To further guard against toiletry spills in the suitcase, I use plastic pencil boxes instead of fabric/soft vinyl cosmetics bags. I use one pencil box for makeup only, one for shower stuff, and one for facial cleansers and toothbrush and paste. This is especially convenient if you have limited space in the bathroom, as the boxes can be stacked.

    No need to contaminate contact lens cases with goop. Crafts stores have all manner of small storage cases, especially in the paints and jewelry departments, able to hold a quarter ounce of moisturizer, foundation, other liquid or cream makeup, etc.

    When an eye or lip pencil gets down to about 4 inches long, I convert it to travel use. Ditto for deodorant applicators – save the last 1/2 inch of product and use it on your next short trip.

    The Container Store and similar places sell pill containers with multiple divided sections. I fill one container with 5 or 6 pills each of pain relievers, antihistamine, decongestant, acid reducer, etc.

    Keep tickets, itinerary, receipts, contact list, and similar documents in a plastic see-through envelope – ideally one that fits in a convenient outside pocket of your bag. The plastic envelope is easy to locate among paper folders, and you can arrange your documents inside it so the information you need is visible without having to open the envelope.

  43. wow so many good suggestions – but can you really fit as much in a hard-side as a soft-side carry-on? and do I have to use GOOD vodka for the clothes?!

    couple of other things I remembered:

    tiny cordless mouse for my laptop (when I take it) – I HATE the laptop mouse; just makes life easier and takes up little space.

    my assistant does a little “travel folder” for me for every trip (yes, I am spoiled). the front page is a summary w/ my itinerary, flight info, hotel address, rental car info, AND the weather in the city I’m going to. Then after individual tabs behind the cover page are confirmations for flight, hotel, rental car; there’s a tab w/ directions if I’m driving (multiple if going to different places); and a tab w/ a clear plastic sleeve for receipts. If I’m going for a depo or hearing, there’s a tab for that notice too. it’s so easy to put in the front of my tote bag, and I can pull it out easily to check info!

  44. I’ve been struggling with the three bag conundrum for years… roller, laptop bag, and purse and how to get down to two so I can carryon. I finally found the perfect clutch purse that slides into my laptop bag cleanly, yet still has room for the basics and keeps everything secure. Here it is (from Talbot’s) –

  45. Delta Sierra :

    Emergency mouthwash that’s easy to keep in your handbag: travel-sized toothpaste. Little dab in your mouth, sip of water, swish it around. Useful also to perk yourself up a bit, if you’re tired and energy is sagging.

  46. Dramamine. I can’t believe I haven’t seen it here yet. On overnight flights, it keeps me from feeling ill, I can stomach airplane food, and it will knock me out enough that I get some sleep. On domestic, I take the non-drowsy. Either way, I arrive feeling fresh instead of green in the cheeks.

    Another tip for eliminating/ reducing liquids. For makeup remover, I soak a few cottons pads (one for each day I’m traveling) and stick them in a Ziplock. No leak, no mess, and one less thing I have to pack.

  47. Tips that are not about packing!
    – When offered a beverage on the plane, select someting clear (water, clear soda, white wine) so if you spill or drip, it doesn’t leave a stain.
    – If you’re on a flight that serves food (I’m showing my age here, I know, as regards most domestic flights these days), request the vegetarian or a special diet meal – if you feel you must eat, that is.
    – If I’ve parked my car at the airport, I jot down the location & lot # on the parking stub as a reminder.