For people who do not travel for work frequently, it's often thought of as a fun and exciting thing to do for work. And while the fun part can definitely be true, it can also be completely exhausting. Countless flights, constantly checking in and out of hotels, always on the move and living out of a suitcase.
This year alone I have been on over 20 flights, flown god only knows how many miles, and spent almost half of every month sleeping in a hotel bed. And it's only April. When you travel this much you eventually learn to get pretty good at packing and develop some shortcuts to make work travel more bearable. So, after some trial and error, I put some routines in place and figured out how to save myself not only a lot of time, but a lot of frustration while on the road.
1. Pack The Night Before
This may seem like a no-brainer, but having everything ready in advanced definitely makes life less stressful. Obviously, you can't pack everything the night before (hello, beauty products?) but if you can get all your clothes in your bag, and lay out your travel outfit the night before it saves time the next day. Especially when you have to get up at 3 or 4 AM for a 5:30 AM flight.
2. Designate A Travel Outfit
Nothing is more stressful than staring at your closet and feeling like you have nothing to wear. Instead of going through this routine every time you have to board a plane, have one go-to travel outfit for your travel day. Regardless of the season, I'm almost always wearing a pair of stretchy black or khaki jeggings/dress pants, black flats, a white blouse, and black blazer. It's comfy enough to wear on a longer flight, but professional enough to get me through a meeting, networking event, or dinner with colleagues if I'm coming straight from the airport.
3. Create A Carry-On Toiletries Box
If you plan on carrying on your luggage, (which I HIGHLY recommend if possible) and want to bring some liquid beauty products, you're going to need to put them in a clear quart-size bag, and all bottles need to be 3 oz or less. Instead of waiting until the morning of to scramble and rummage around for these products, have a box in your linen closet or bathroom set aside specifically for these items. This way you won't be searching for that travel size bottle of shampoo you swore you bought six months ago.
BONUS: If you take the same products every trip, just leave them in the plastic blag! I haven't had to re-pack my liquids all year because I just keep them in the bag. One less thing to worry about!
4. Pack Appropriately For Security
Nothing annoys me more than going through security and getting stuck behind someone who either:
A- Clearly hasn't flown on a plane maybe ever and has no concept of what is and is not required at security and has no sense of urgency in getting through security. It should not take you over 10 minutes to put all your shit on the conveyor belt (yes, this actually happened. I timed it).
B - Clearly didn't think about all of the things that need to go through the metal detector. Looking at you dude with all the change in his pockets and lady with the 15 bangle bracelets.
Watch this clip from Up In The Air to know what to watch out for (yes, it's somewhat controversial but unfortunately mostly true).
To avoid being that person, make sure to pack the "special" items (jewelry, belts, laptops, 3 oz liquids) that will need to be put in separate bins in the top of your luggage or in an easy to reach spot. And practice! It may seem silly, but do a few practice runs to see if where you put these things is actually an easy to reach place.
My 3 oz liquid bag is always in the front pocket of my carry on so I can easily take it out. My laptops are always in the front of my work bag so I can seamlessly take them out (and in separate bins!!) and put them back in. My shoes are always slip on's and I don't wear belts or a lot of jewelry. Be considerate people.
5. Bring a Marked Envelope for Receipts
There is nothing I dread more for work travel than submitting my expense report at the end of a trip. Especially if I am traveling to multiple sites for different projects in the same week. Where was that restaurant? Where did I put that receipt? It is a nightmare.
To avoid this, I bring an empty envelope with the project/location labeled on it. As I go through my trip I put all my receipts in their appropriate envelope. That way, when I have to submit my expenses all my receipts are allocated to the correct trip and everything is together. No more rummaging around in my purse and work bag. No more lost receipts.
*Note- I have now discovered the beauty of the Concur mobile app, so now I mostly use that. BUT - if your company does not use Concur, this option is still your best bet for keeping track of expenses.
Work travel can be fun, but it can also be a pain in the ass. Developing some routines and a few shortcuts will definitely help the whole process be less stressful.