I'll admit I’ve fallen for the click-bait enough times to be angered by finding an article that touts tips and tricks for the frequent traveller only to find out it’s a laundry list of cosmetic items that would fill up my carry on bag quicker than stuffing a pillow inside, and probably be about as useful on a 4 day trip. I am not going to pack a spritz to spray around my seat in economy to incur the wrath of other travelers, although that does sound like a fun social experiment.
This blog isn’t one of those articles. I promise from this point on it is spritz-free.
Recently I have taken on a new role that has significantly increased the number of frequent flyer miles I’m accumulating. I am no stranger to flying but this increase of short travel stints has me re-evaluating my travel life. The be prepared, organisational side of me has suddenly turned from laying clothes out a week before traveling to the challenge of packing in under 20 minutes. In my mind I’m minimising the impact that travel has on my regular routine because unless I’m traveling back home or on holiday there’s no more excitement in plane travel for me.
So what really helps to minimise the impact of a trip for work?
The first lesson I learnt I can't even take credit for. My mother in a moment of genius suggested I keep two sets of cosmetics, including makeup. I can tell you now this reduces the time suck of packing and unpacking significantly. Gone are the days where the cosmetics are the last things in the that gets packed because you are trying to use them at 4am in the morning, 3 hours before your flight.
From this one idea spawned another, what can I also keep two sets of in order to reduce the time suck? The answer? Cables. A set of charging cables for each of your main devices including laptop, tablet, phone and anything else you have. Be warned though, complacity can occur. I may have forgotten the adapter requirements of a recent trip outside North America.
For passing through security at the airport, always pack the items you have to take out of your bag (laptop, tablet, liquids) in your handbag to access easily. Another great thing about travelling often is learning from your mistakes, knowing which airports are stricker than others with liquids and do whatever you can to allivate the pain of having a bag inspected. Be prepared though, sometimes this is unavoidable and recently even though my liquids were all under 100mls and in a clear toiletry bag the security agent wanted me to take them out of that bag to see if they all fit in their snap lock bag. Yeah, she got an eye roll and a snarky, "are we good?" when I held up the snap lock bag with all my liquids fitting nicely inside.
The next suggestion I have is for clothing. It's the +1 rule (for short trips only - say 5 days or less). Pack only the number of outfits for the required days, +1. You know, just in case your flight gets cancelled and you are out of clean underwear. The +1 gives you a little choice whilst you are away whilst the comfort of knowing there's a clean pair of underwear in your bag. The +1 should be a versatile outfit, one that you can get away wearing to work if you have to but also works for long days at the airport.
Speaking of clothing. If it is a short trip as soon as you get to the hotel empty that bag of clothes. Put all your clean clothes in a drawer or on a seat so as those clothes turn from clean to dirty they go straight back into the bag. This is a double time saver as it saves you time when departing from the hotel and it means your clothes are stacked to easily sort when you return home (clean clothes are on top).
When you finally do make it home, regardless of the epic delay you just suffered, the lack of food in your refridgerator or how great that pillow looks on your bed... UNPACK YOUR BAG! Your future self will thank you for this come the morning, and it makes your apartment and your life go back to normal in the blink of an eye.