Sometimes, the career of a project manager requires us to travel extensively and routinely between hotel and airport business can be very stressful (increasing even more the natural stress level of our profession) if we do not know how to minimize the impact of this endless changes situation.
When you’re on a business trip, you need everything to go smoothly so you can focus on important business meetings and client calls. In this article I will share with you some thing that I learned – and other tips that I found researching the Web – traveling hard during this last 15 years. Let’s go!
Before you go
Keep a packed bag: Even if you don’t know when your next business trip will be, get in the habit of re-packing your carry-on bag with fresh clothing and essentials when you return from being on the road. It may seem like an annoyance, but this step will save you valuable minutes the next time your alarm goes off at 4 a.m. for an early morning flight and all you have to do is reach for a bag and go.
Check the destination weather: Look at the predicted weather for your travel destination before you leave – and pack accordingly. Need we say it? Pack clothes suitable for the weather – lighter suits for warm weather, thicker suits to stay warm on colder days. If it’s likely to rain, pack a compact umbrella and raincoat (wet suits don’t exactly scream professional). Personally, I prefer to use only a raincoat!
Select the right clothes (for men). Pack only one color of pants and one (matching) jacket. This way you can optimize the accessories you need to take. The same shirts and socks will match, so you can reuse some of the items if you come up short. This vastly reduces the amount of stuff you need to pack. Also, if you want to exercise, take some of the new lightweight sneakers that take up zero room in your luggage. Wear the heaviest things you are taking (if weather permits) to minimize the amount of stuff you need to drag around with you.
Store items in a designated location. Organize your luggage and especially your computer bag/carry-on so that items have a designated place. This makes it easy to locate gear like cables and connectors, which are prone to get lost. An inventory check will suffice to make sure you didn’t leave something behind. Don’t forget to take appropriate electrical plug adapters. Avoid the panic by consulting websites like Countryplug.com
Become a packing minimalist. When was the last time you evaluated the contents of your travel bags? If you’re like many frequent travelers, you probably pack on autopilot and include items you have stopped using. So before the next trip, carefully examine what you pack and eliminate anything that isn’t necessary. You’ll be surprised by how much more quickly you’ll get ready and how much easier it will be to find what you need when you’re on the road. To avoid last-minute stress, I also suggest repacking your travel bag the second everything is washed and folded. The best packing method for your carryon luggage is the Bundle Wrapping Method.
At The Airport
Before the security line: Before you go through the security area of the airport, put whatever is in your pockets (pack of cigarettes, lighter, coins, keys, wallet, canet / pencil, reading glasses or sun, etc..) In your luggage hand. Thus you avoid having to dump all those plastic boxes and will win a valuable minutes during this process.
Pick the “right” security line. This is more of an art than a science. The best line is usually not the shortest one. Two things to check are the efficiency of the personnel manning the line and the mix of travelers ahead of you. Several things to watch out for include families with small children, unconventional luggage which will likely be inspected, and anyone who looks like they haven’t been in an airport security line recently. Picking right can save you literally hours if you travel often.
Create an on-boarding routine. This is particularly important for long-distance flights. For example, organize all your reading material in a separate bag (within your carry-on) before you get on the plane. When you reach your seat, take the bag out and put the carry-on away. I am amazed by the amount of time wasted by people who arrive at their seat and start rummaging through their bags to find all the things they want for the flight, while fellow passengers steam in the aisle waiting for this ritual to end.
Avoid caffeine overload. Loading up on caffeine to stay awake in the airport or during business meetings can have adverse effects. Drinking too much coffee will make it more difficult for your body to adjust to travel, which can negatively affect immunity, sleep and energy.
Take a picture with your phone of your airport parking space number. That way you won’t spend hours wandering around the airport garage searching for your car (been there – it is not awesome). This also works with hotel room numbers.
That’s it for now. Are you a frequent traveler? What’s your most hard-won piece of travel advice? Let me know in the comments!