Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Business travel

The stars at night
Are big and bright
Deep in the heart of Texas
-George Strait

Yee-haw and howdy! Right now I am writing from the comfort of my totally adequate business traveler hotel near the conference I am attending. I wish I was attending one of the super fun blogger conferences that have been going on lately, but this is work related. Not quite as much fun. (Also: the only person who has said "yee-haw" or "howdy" so far is me. It is possible I know nothing about Texas).

I travel a bit for work, and while I am lucky that most of my trips are day trips (Amtrak and I are very well acquainted), every so often I get the pleasure of spending a few days in a new city. Business travel isn't usually the most fun. Oh, the first day is OK -- you're excited to get to your destination, you check out your hotel and it kind of feels a little bit like you're on vacation...but that usually only lasts about 24 hours. Now the honeymoon is over, and I miss my doggy, I miss my time zone, I miss my comfy bed.

While I'm counting down the hours until I head home, I thought I'd share a few of the tips I've picked up that make business travel (and maybe all travel) a bit easier:

1. Pack light

This is definitely a hard one for me, but I find that when I travel, I never regret the clothes I didn't take; I do regret stuffing my suitcase to the breaking point and having to lug it on planes, trains, and automobiles. Check the weather before you pack, be realistic about your needs, and REALLY think about your shoe wardrobe. Those suckers are heavy.

These aren't mine, but I do love my pretty pink suitcase
Photo credit: Love Pink

I like light layers (can handle lots of weather situations), dark colors (because I spill things on my shirt at every meal), and dresses that don't wrinkle easily (you're instantly pulled together with one piece of clothing - so easy).

2. Make your toiletries work for you

Toiletries are also really thought out carefully. I really miss the days of being able to bring all manner of bottles and tubes of lotions and liquids galore in my bags. I like beauty products :)

I usually try not to check a suitcase, so I am often dealing with a 3oz-product-in-a ziplock-bag situation. My strategy is to try to take advantage of what the hotel will provide and only bring the things that are essential (to me). For example, I can use just about any shampoo, so I'll use whatever I find in the hotel bathroom, but I need to have my own conditioner. I am not picky about soap or body wash, but I need my own moisturizer. This makes more room in my ziplock bag for makeup and other fun liquids.

It turns out you can't take it with you (at least not through security)
Photo credit: travelpod.com

I also try to think outside the box and find non-liquid replacements for some of my products. One of my favorite products for traveling is a makeup removing balm from Clinique:

Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, $27.50

Usually I use a face wash and a separate eye makeup remover, but this one balm takes the place of both. Since this isn't a liquid, I can bring it right through security. And a little goes a long way -- I've had the same jar for over a year (using it mostly for travel).

Try to make these kinds of swaps when you can -- makeup removing cloths instead of face wash, solid perfume instead of a spray bottle. Every little bit of room helps!

Also, if you like to travel with your fancy products I have two suggestions: check out 3floz.com or become a Sephora Beauty Insider (their free loyalty program). Sephora is INCREDIBLY generous with samples, which are perfect for traveling.

3. Do a little research

I want to try to keep myself on a healthy track during my trip, so I did lots of research before I got on the plane. Two big questions: what am I going to eat, and how can I workout?

Travel can be tough on eating habits because poor food choices are everywhere -- fast food at the airport, stale sandwiches at meetings, ice cream sundaes on the room service menu. If I'm going to be away for a few days, I usually try to find a local grocery store to hit when I arrive. It doesn't cost too much to pick up a few healthy snacks, maybe a pre-made salad or two, some fruit, etc. to have in my room. I'd much rather snack on an apple in my room than try to find something in the vending machine. I also look for some local lunch and dinner options. There are precious few options in the area where I'm staying (and I have no car), so I'm glad I looked online and found Au Bon Pain and The Corner Bakery nearby. Tasty, fresh ingredients = winner.

My hotel has a gym, but I know a lot of my coworkers will be using it as well, and I'm not really a fan of being red-faced and sweaty around my boss and my boss' boss. I found a little park near my hotel, and I took a nice walk this morning before conference activities started. I also like to do a couple of circuits of push-ups, situps, squats, etc. in my room. This isn't exactly going to do as much for me as my normal strength training routine, but it does help work the muscles a little. I also feel like just doing *something* helps me keep my momentum going. It isn't so hard to get back into the routine once I'm home if I have been moving a little while I'm away.

4. Be super nice to hotel staff

I go out of my way to be friendly and polite with every hotel staff person I encounter. These folks can really be life savers -- they can give you restaurant recommendations, hook you up with loads of free toiletries, and help you get a cab when you're late and you don't want to arrive at your destination a sweaty mess. I've already made a friend at the hotel bar who is hooking me up with free Diet Cokes (yes, I know that soda is not the best -- I'm working on cutting back, I promise).

5. Let technology work for you

If you travel a lot, investing in an iPad or a Kindle is SO worthwhile. Before I left home, I loaded my iPad up with two books, a movie, crossword puzzles, episodes of a couple of TV shows I have been meaning to check out, and a GMAT practice test app (more on that in a future post...). Basically, I will never be bored: on the plane, in the hotel, during the conference sessions. And all I need to pack is one slim little device -- barely takes up any room in my bag!

Who am I kidding -- this is the only app I need
Photo source: worldweblogwhizz.com

What are your favorite tips for happy travels, business or otherwise?


  1. Love this post! I'm going to try and post something similar soon with all of my tips since I travel alone a lot.

  2. Love this... and know it all too well! I love the swaps to get of liquid. I also never regret the clothes I didn't pack!

    p.s. I was born in Texas and had this awful country accent until I was 4... when we moved to South Florida. Took care of that real quick! Thank God! :)

  3. A - thanks! And yes, you should -- I would love to read your travel tips!

    K - yes, I'm sure you could write a book :) Actually, maybe you should!

    Finally, one more tip borne of yesterday's frenzy: don't wait until the morning you leave to pack, it does not end well!

  4. dark colors (because I spill things on my shirt at every meal)...That is so me. I cannot wear white!

    My husband has a "check no luggage" rule, well until the babe came along, and now we have no choice, but I know the 3 ounces toiletry drama all too well, and we are so alike. I'm good with any shampoo/soap, but I am pretty picky when it comes to conditioner and moisturizer. Good to know about the Clinique cleanser.

    Also love that you opted for the park instead of the gym. So many people automatically think that a good workout requires a treadmill or an elliptical, but I'd much rather just play outside and do exercises using my own body weight. Just as affective and so much more fun.

    P.S. I think your blog design is already lovely. :)

  5. Thanks, Heather -- and I'm glad I'm not the only one who has a food vs. clothing battle!

    I definitely used to be a gym rat, but these days I just want to be outside! For this trip it was actually more efficient -- I got to familiarize myself with the neighborhood, check out possible dinner options, etc. Also forced me to get up bright and early (because Houston gets hot FAST).

    Thanks so much for checking out my blog (and for your kind words)!