It’s a business traveler’s worst nightmare: the meeting starts in five minutes, but you’re stuck rummaging through your suitcase, looking for that flash drive for your presentation.
Luckily, there are ways to avoid this and other common travel mishaps. It all comes down to knowing what and how to pack.
- Always Carry On
- Use Packing Cubes for Your Clothes
- Bring a ‘MiFi’ Hotspot Everywhere
- Lose the Paper; Use Your Smartphone
- Always Keep Backup Chargers
- Reevaluate Your Needs Regularly
- Buy a Transport Security Administration (TSA)-Friendly Bag for Your Laptop
You’ll never lose your luggage—or the valuable things inside —if you keep it with you. Skip the large, clunky suitcases that needs to be checked. Instead, use a rolling duffel bag. You can usually fit everything you need inside one, and its flexibility makes it easy to carry and store in overhead bins.
But how will your clothes stay neat in a duffel bag? You don’t want to show up to a client lunch in a wrinkled suit.
That’s where packing cubes come in. These lightweight rectangular bags are durable enough to protect your clothes, but small and flexible enough to fit inside your carry on. The cubes are essentially miniature suitcases that allow you to carry your clothes onto your flight. If you’re interested in adding a packing cube to your luggage options check out Pack-It™ Compression Cubes by Eagle Creek.
‘MiFi’ hotspots are small, credit-card-size devices that broadcast WiFi signals from anywhere. With one of these in your pocket, you’ll be able to access the Internet no matter where you are. Spotty connection at the hotel? Need to work but your phone’s data plan is roaming? No problem.
When you’re on the go, it’s easy to lose track of your receipts, boarding passes, confirmation numbers, and other important pieces of information. Nowadays, however, there’s really no need to carry all this paper—not when you can upload it all to your smartphone. Apps like Lemon.com and Expensify can digitize your receipts. The iOS Passbook app stores all of your flight information and boarding passes on your iPhone, and, with Evernote, you can carry all your contacts’ business cards right on your phone.
You never want to be caught without your laptop, tablet, or smartphone—these are the lifeblood of today’s business traveler. You should always pack extra chargers for any and all devices you’ll need during your trip. In case a charger breaks during transit, you’ll have a spare on hand and ready to go.
When you travel regularly you should keep a few essentials packed at all times—maybe a briefcase that contains all your documents, or a small bag where you always keep toiletries. Experts say you should reevaluate these essentials every three months. Sit down and take a look at everything you always bring with you. If you can’t remember the last time you used it on a trip, remove it from your essentials list. This means more space for items that you do need.
According to Frommer’s, your TSA-friendly laptop bag should meet the following standards:
- The bag should have a designated laptop-only section.
- The laptop-only section should completely unfold to lie flat on the X-ray belt.
- The bag should have no metal snaps, zippers, or buckles inside, underneath, or on top of the laptop-only section.
- The bag should have no pockets on the inside or outside of the laptop-only section.
If you’re carrying a lot of devices —a tablet, a laptop, flash drives, chargers, a hot spot, etc.—then you may want a tech organizer. These organizers use pockets and elastic bands to keep all of your gear in one place. You’ll never have to go looking for what you need. The Grid-It! Organizer by Cocoon is particularly popular.
If you pack at the last minute, you’re more likely to add things to your luggage that you don’t really need. Always pack at least a day before your departure. That way, you actually pack what you need. You can save space and weight, which makes it easier to avoid checking your luggage.
Don’t spend time digging through your bag at checkpoints. Instead, pack your toiletries last, and place them at the very top of your bag. When it’s time to remove them for security, you can simply unzip your bag, take out your toiletries, and zip through the line.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your trip goes as smoothly as possible. Business trips are stressful enough. Reduce the load by packing properly.