I'm heading out this Saturday to attend a Google conference in the Bay Area. With a quick turnaround time before my next trip, I've been forced to be a little bit smarter about my travel preparations.
When I was a consultant, I traveled every single week between DC and New Orleans. The frequency of those trips became mind numbing but taught me some valuable lessons in work travel. While I don't fly nearly as often for work as I used to, I've swapped short haul domestic trips for long transatlantic flights.
Since moving to London in March, I've already taken 6 red-eye flights. They are somewhat unavoidable when traveling from the US to the UK given the time difference. No matter how many red-eye flights you take, you never learn to love them. However, with the right preparation, they don't have to be a miserable experience.
Below are a few really basic tips to help you survive your next work trip, whether you're going to Bentonville, Arkansas or Hyderabad, India.
Before Your Flight
1. Navy is king: Picking out your work trip wardrobe is all about versatility. You want items that are equally appropriate for the boardroom and the bar (damn, that makes me sound like a douche bag). Unless black is absolutely mandatory, try to travel with a navy blue suit. Navy looks very professional without being overly stuffy. I also prefer them over gray suits as wrinkles (from traveling) are more noticeable in the lighter shade. You don't have to rack your brain over what shoes to bring, because a navy suit looks sharp with either brown or black dress shoes. Additionally, you can combine the navy blazer with some dark jeans to instantly dress down your look for that aforementioned bar.
2. You're not going camping: It's crazy how often I see guys with much larger toiletries bags than girls. Don't overthink it. It's OK if you forget something. Unless you're attending a meeting on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean, there will probably be a convenience store nearby where you can buy some deodorant. Airline liquid restrictions are a blessing in disguise, because, let's be honest, you really don't need your entire 4 oz. bottle of Versace cologne. You also don't need your massive, titanium electronic shaver. Consider something slimmer like this Gilette Proglide Styler.
3. Compartmentalize: My go-to suit case is the Rimowa Salsa 55CM carry-on case. It's extremely light yet durable and has 2 interior mesh compartments that force to you pack smarter. I also like to bring with me a few of these Pack-It organizers. You can use them to organize small items like electronic chargers or for storing dirty clothes (and odors) you amass throughout the course of the trip.
4. Roll or fold: Everyone has their own method for packing luggage. Instead of folding and stacking, I prefer to roll packed garments. This helps to lessen wrinkles in t-shirts and pants. Rolling also maximizes storage space and allows you to use every nook and cranny of your carry-on. However, when it comes to blazers, I opt for an inside-out folding method.
During Your Flight
1. Dress comfortably: Simple as that. I try not to look like a complete mess, but I've learned that comfort trumps all else on long haul flights. In order to look moderately presentable upon landing, I typically opt for a comfortable pair of chinos, some slip-on loafers and a chambray shirt. It's critical to wear breathable fabrics and clothes that don't bunch up in all the wrong places. Therefore, keep your jeans in the carry-on instead of wearing them in flight. You should also fly in a pair shoes that is easy to slip on and off, because feet tend to swell after remaining motionless for so long.
2. Keep up your hygiene: When it comes to toiletries, I only keep a few items with me on the flight. It's good to always have some Chapstick and a small bottle of hand lotion to combat drying skin. To combat aches, apply some Tiger Balm to your temples and neck right before take-off. Lastly, carry a few Colgate Wisps to quickly freshen your breath before deplaning.
3. Go to sleep: This is obvious but harder said than done for many people. On red-eye flights, try to get to sleep as early in the flight as possible. Opt out of the in-flight meal and grab a quick dinner before boarding instead. It's not like you're missing out on a Michelin starred meal. However, make sure to get up for breakfast, so you have ample time to re-adjust before landing. Try to pick a window seat for the most comfortable sleeping positions. If all else fails, just start watching Frozen. That always does the trick.