As someone who has worked in the travel industry for about 15 years, I’ve learnt a few travel hacks along the way. My ventures have been everything from a quick overnight stay overseas, to more extensive 2 week/5 city trips, from 2-7 night cruises, to 5 day road trips…you name it, I’ve probably done it.
Travelling for work sounds so glamorous but sadly it can also be very tedious, it takes you away from family and often makes you miss important personal events…
So whether you’re travelling for business or just taking a leisure trip away, read on to discover my travel tips for business travellers – I promise at least one will make your life a little bit easier!
I’ll break it up into sections to make it easier to navigate. If there is anything I’ve missed, please do comment at the bottom to let me know.
And yes, it leans more towards women than men when it comes to packing..cos, well, I’m writing from experience obviously – sorry guys!
- Check-in online, and download your boarding pass to your phone – let’s be green peeps.
- You really don’t need the advised 3 hours for check-in. Unless you are trying to blag extra baggage allowance or change seats, but otherwise, 2 hours is fine. Don’t cut it too fine though, security can take up to 30 minutes in some airports these days.
- Have to print your own bag tags? You may notice at the end of the tag are several copies of the bar code on small sticker strips. You need to pull off a couple of these and stick them on different sides of your suitcase. This is extra security in case the main tag comes off, you bag can still be identified.
- If you prefer an aisle seat, choose one in the middle section if the config is 3-4-3. That way you only have one person climbing over you to get out instead of 2
- Top Tip! Book a seat towards the back of the plane, and then board last (ensure you don’t need overhead locker space). As you walk towards your seat, have a look to see if there are any seats with free ones next to them, and confidently sit in one of them. The chances of any crew member asking to check your boarding pass are very slim, and if a passenger does arrive and claim the seat, you can play ignorance and just move to your assigned one…nothing lost! I’ve done this several times recently and got a free seat next to me on a long-haul – makes such a difference!
- Alternative to this – when checking in you can ask the staff if it’s a full flight, and if not, can they place you in a seat with a spare one next to you. If you charm them enough, they can even put a ‘block’ on the spare seat to ensure it doesn’t get filled. You definitely need to go on the charm offensive to make this work, but again, I’ve done it several times 🙂
- Pack light – use a bag which can fit under your seat so you’re not fighting for overhead locker space.
- Pack a power bank in your hand luggage so your phone is always charged – in case of delays
- Pack a toothbrush and spare undies in your hand luggage – in case it gets lost or delayed
- Take snacks/lollies with you – they’re so expensive at the airport. Protein bars are always good to have on hand if you have really bad plane food or long layovers. Don’t take nuts, some airlines won’t let you take them on board due to allergies.
- Check if you need to get water sealed to take on plane – always take at least one bottle on with you, you need to keep hydrated and service isn’t always great on long haul when it comes to water.
- Travel with good headphones – no one loves hearing screaming kids when you’re trying to finalise a presentation or relax to a movie
- Sign up for every loyalty program as you use them. Seriously. You may think you’ll never fly Oman again, but you just never know, and being on their program gives you a little recognition (such as not being the first to get bumped) when the time comes. It’s free. Just do it, trust me!
- Don’t try to save a few bucks by booking several connecting flights…you’re opening yourself up to delays and lost baggage…
- Give yourself enough time for connections, especially if you are travelling to/through the USA. Allow at least 3 hours between flights to get through security/immigration etc, as their queues can be brutal.
- Use as many multi-purpose items as you can to limit weight/space.
- If you’re not away for long, your skin won’t fall apart because you’ve reduced your usual routine. One moisturiser is fine for day or night. I use Nivea Soft which comes in a light tube for short trips.
- Put medications/vitamins into one pot, just enough for the trip.
- Always travel with echinacea – don’t get sick!
- Always wrap your wash bag in a plastic carrier bag to prevent leaks into your clothes.
- Use travel size bottles for shampoo/conditioner, big bottles are HEAVY!
- Unless you’re staying in Timbuktu, your hotel will have some form of shower gel provided, so don’t bother packing this.
Short Stay Travels
- Try to pack everything into a hand luggage bag if possible to avoid waiting for checked baggage.
- Remember to keep toiletries to a minimum and under 100ml.
- Ladies – can you do without your straighteners for a couple of days?!
- Capsule wardrobe – ensure every item creates at least 2 outfits – mix and match.
- You really don’t need more than 2 pairs of shoes. Day/night and casual. Ladies, take a pair of neutral colour heels which work for day or evening and a pair of casuals for running between meetings or leisure time (not saying you need to wear heels – I needed to for my work, but go with whatever is appropriate for you).
- Dresses are lighter than suits/2 pieces, and can be dressed up or down.
- Men: ties are lighter than a whole new outfit but can really change your look, so use those to minimise how many suits you need to take, or if it’s your thing, a waistcoat/vest is a lighter way to change up a suit from day to night.
- Put essential jewellery into an earring box, keep it simple. Plain pearl or diamond studs can be all you need for the whole trip.
General Hacks for International Travel
- Keep a photo of your passport on your phone for ID and in case it gets lost/stolen. Also helps when you need to check-in online and don’t have your passport nearby.
- Don’t keep all your valuables in the same bag (ie laptop bag should be separate from back-up hard drives/flash drives etc). Yep, learnt the hard way…
- Also, never let your bags out of your sight, or even touch. Even 1 metre away from you is too far, it takes seconds for professional thieves to snatch it.
- If you have more than one credit card, separate them (I have one in my wallet and one on the back of my phone).
- Always have travel insurance…and check the policy is actually relevant to you. Does it cover cruise if you’re doing that? What is the excess? Where will you be repatriated to? Does it cover helicopter rides (yes, I used to take a helicopter to my work for one of my jobs!).
- Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do at home. So many people hire motorbikes when they visit Asia because it’s so cheap, but if you don’t have a licence in your home country, you’re not covered by any insurance if anything goes wrong.
- Take some time to actually explore where you are! So often we go from airport to hotel to meeting to airport, the destination becomes irrelevant. Do a little research before you leave, use a site like Take Walks to find a walking tour in the city you’re visiting so you can get some fresh air and really experience the new destination.
- If, like me, your work requires you to travel with a laptop, iPad, work and personal phones etc, you will be needing a lot of adapters…or…get yourself a multi-way power board. Mine has 4 plug sockets which take any country plug as well as 6 USBs. Then I only need one adapter to plug the board into and I have everything covered. Note you won’t be able to take this onto a cruise however.
- Always take an extra long USB lead for your phone too – you’ll always come across those annoying hotels with the plug miles away from your bed!
- If you’re cruising for work, you may want to get yourself an old-school style small alarm clock. Chances are the ship will be on a different time zone than your phone will auto adjust to, and you could end up missing that early meeting or conference (yes, I’ve done this…and I was leading the conference…oops!).
- If you are travelling regularly, consider downloading a travel management app. Your company may be using a Travel Management Company who has one you can download for free or one I use is called TripIt which automatically pulls my itineraries from my email and will keep track of my flights, hotels etc including telling me of any delays and gate changes during the journey.
- Take a spare wallet to keep different currency separate.
- Ensure your passport has 6 months left on it, many countries won’t allow entry without this.
- Check what visas may be required at least a month before you travel as some may require your passport to be sent away.
- Always have a power bank in your hand luggage, you can use the same USB to charge your phone on the plane too.
- I always take a pair of thick socks on the plane with me! If you have a long flight, you won’t want to have your shoes on the whole time, but you don’t want to get cold feet either.
- On that note, I also travel with a scarf as I tend to get cold on planes and the blankets are pretty useless!
- I also keep anti-bacteria wipes with me, plane seats and more so, the tables and pockets, are absolutely full of germs. People put all kinds of nasty things in the pockets (I’ve even seen dirty nappies) so just think before putting your phone in there and then later putting it to your face…
Work Related Hacks
- Take an empty envelope with you to keep your expense receipts safe.
- Try to get a flight which arrives in the evening so you can check straight into your hotel and get a decent night’s sleep before morning meetings.
- Don’t skimp on a cheap hotel if you get the choice to book…a good night’s sleep after a long flight is invaluable when you have to be at your best the following day.
- Always have any important presentations backed up on several USBs, spread around your belongings. Email to yourself too if you have the storage to do so.
- Be aware of cultural differences if going to a new country for work. You may need to research customs, know if you have to keep arms/legs covered etc and understand any greeting formalities.
- Take clothes which don’t crease easily. No one wants to get up earlier than needed to be ironing clothes. I have several dresses which travel really well and can be worn from day to evening easily, reducing the number of outfits required.
- To pack efficiently, I always put shoes at the bottom and then I fit my undies in and around them to save space. Don’t forget to fill shoes – don’t waste this space!
- Take a spare light cotton bag with you to fill with washing or use as extra hand luggage if required on your return trip. I also use as a gym bag.
- Throw in a couple of extra undies, you never know if you have to extend last minute and no one wants to be washing underwear in a hotel sink!
Ok, that’s my travel tips for business travellers revealed, I hope you found a few gems in there to help you for your next venture away. Try to have some fun whilst travelling, it can be exhausting and frustrating, but if you can grab even an hour free time to explore a new place, it will be worth it!
Let me know if you have any other hacks to recommend? Or if you’ve had success with anything I suggested? I always love comments 🙂
Thank you for reading – see you next time!