Flexible, remote work is the new norm, but it doesn’t erase the need for face-to-face meetings—or hands-on work. In today’s interconnected world, traveling can be more necessary than ever. But just because you’re trying to disrupt your industry doesn’t mean that travel has to disrupt your life. Here are 12 tips for making your business travel go as smoothly as possible.
Don’t check a bag.
Heading down to baggage claim once doesn’t seem like too big of a lift, but with frequent travel it can become somewhat of a chore. Plus, it’s easier to coordinate transportation when you can just pick up your luggage on the plane and go—and smaller bags mean less baggage to follow you on your travels, literally.
While carry-on luggage sizes can vary from airline to airline, according to Consumer Reports, the top three airlines have settled on some consistent, maximum internal measurements, including wheels: 22 inches high, 9 inches deep, and 14 inches wide. If you’re going to find yourself traveling internationally more often than not, it may be worth investing in a shorter suitcase.
If you have trouble fitting your necessary belongings in one, carry-on suitcase, consider using packing cubes, which serve a dual purpose: They help compress your items and keep them organized at the same time.
Plan a small capsule wardrobe for travel.
Both packing and getting ready in the morning can be streamlined by picking a “capsule wardrobe”, a term coined by Susie Faux in the 1970s to mean a collection of timeless pieces that can be easily interchanged to create a variety of different looks. You won’t be heading to your meetings every day in the same outfit, but by bringing just a few items that all pair flawlessly—say, two bottoms, five tops, and one jacket—you can create more options out of fewer items.
Roll, don’t fold.
Rolling your clothing can serve a few different purposes: It can mean less ironing down the line, helps pack your items into a smaller space, and tends to go faster than folding.
Pack extra essentials.
While less is usually more with packing for travel, it never hurts to throw in extra socks, underwear, undershirts, and necessary medication. You never know when it’s going to make sense to extend your trip.
It doesn’t hurt to keep some in your backpack or laptop bag, either, just in case you have to check a bag at the gate.
Keep travel necessities in your carry-on—even when you’re not traveling.
If you know you’re going to bring your travel-size shampoo, shaving cream, and a cell phone charger every time you travel, just keep them in your bag so they’re ready when the time comes. Remember to throw your quart-size bag for TSA in there, too.
Nothing can make a relatively normal, busy day become a stressful experience like an empty stomach—and you never know what will be available on the plane or at your destination.
Look into TSA pre-check.
If you’re traveling by plane often, you can expedite the sometimes-grueling security line by signing up for TSA pre-check. The whole process can take about a month and costs $85 to $100, but it means a whole five years of shorter lines and more checkpoints.
Work on the plane, but don’t count on Wi-Fi.
Our work is increasingly connected and living in the cloud but Wi-Fi on planes is notoriously unreliable. But you can still plan some productivity around your flight. Take some time before leaving to set yourself up to complete projects without the internet and download or print any necessary materials. Make an offline to-do list. Draft strategy. Write out longer or more complicated e-mails to send later. Crunch budgets on offline spreadsheets.
Who knows? It could be that disconnecting could bring you the heads-down work time you need. And best case: If the Wi-Fi does work, you free up a little bandwidth for other work.
Link up with a coworking space or shared office at your destination.
Finding a coworking space or shared office won’t just help you find productive space to get work done and professional facilities for taking work meetings. By meeting up with new co-workers that live at your destination, you can really experience the culture of where you’re traveling—even while you’re working. At the very least, your new office mates can give you some insider tips for what to do after the workday is done, and maybe even join you for a happy hour. If you’re travelling to Pacific Northwest and you happen to be in the area, visit ATLAS Workbase for the best coworking space in Seattle.
Make the most of your per diem by hitting the grocery store.
If you’re traveling for more than a few days—and your workplace’s policy isn’t too strict to prevent this—it doesn’t hurt to hit up a grocery store instead of a restaurant for that first reimbursable meal. Having quick, easy food options in your hotel room can do wonders to take the stress out of feeding yourself. Try picking up healthy options like yogurt, nuts, hummus, fruit, and salad fixings that can be breakfast, snacks, or even a late-night dinner for busier days. You’ll get going faster in the morning and feel healthier when you return. At the very least, it can help your hotel room feel a little more like home.
Can’t iron? Steam in the shower.
So you’ve unpacked your suitcase, and the shirt you were planning on wearing to your 8 a.m. meeting is wrinkled, and there’s no iron in your room. An easy fix is to hang the shirt on the shower curtain rod in the bathroom, turn the shower on hot, and close the door for 15 to 20 minutes. Just remember to hang the clothes outside the curtain so you don’t soak them in the process.
Plan for non-work time.
Just because you’re traveling for work doesn’t mean you have to be on the clock the whole time. Prevent burnout by taking at least a couple of hours every day to just be a tourist—or just have a Law & Order marathon at the hotel. Pro tip: Remember to pack more comfortable clothes to wear during that downtime so you don’t feel like you’re working even when you’re relaxing.