But what about work trips? Suddenly, the inconveniences of travel are mixed with the potential awkwardness of spending 24/7 with your co-workers. Like it or not, though, you’re bound to have conferences, client trips, or company meetings on the calendar at some point. So before you pack your bags, here are a few tips on making it tolerable and even—dare we say it—fun.
Studies show that frequent business travelers, who travel on average more than two weeks per month, are at a higher risk for a number of health concerns, including weakened immune systems, obesity, or mental health problems. Being prepared and smart throughout the booking, traveling, and working away process can influence some major attitude adjustments when it comes to business travel. Limiting stress on the mind and body can make more of a difference than you could ever imagine, so why not try out a few, and turn the worst part of your job to something truly enjoyable?
Here’s a confession: I gained around 20 pounds over my first few years of travel, mostly thanks to eating out for every single meal. While it can be tempting to treat yourself to junk food, and Pringles and Oreos will fuel your every travel day, resolve to have at least a few days every now and then when you go for the healthier option. Your body and mind will thank you for it. Aim to cut out the rice, bread, and beer to keep your calorie intake low if you’re feeling as though you’re gaining too much weight on the road.
For something a little more unique, pay a visit to www.RoadsideAmerica.com. This website lists unusual landmarks and tourist attractions by state. (Headed to Omaha? Get your photo taken in front of the city’s 6-foot bronze statue of Chef Boyardee!) Convincing your co-workers to do something silly or partake in the local culture will provide some surprisingly good team bonding time (not to mention photos for the break room).
4. Record room numbers. If you’ve been on the road for weeks on end, it can be very hard to remember if you’re staying in room 304 -- or if that was last week’s hotel. When I park in a numbered spot or check into a new room, I create an entry in the “notes” function of my smartphone, so I can quickly remember where I’m going. It may sound unnecessary, but it’s saved a lot of confusion and grief.
Start with your sports jacket or the longest, most wrinkle-prone item you have. With the collar or waistband flat, place it against the bottom edge of the bag and drape the rest of the garment over the opposite side of the bag. Take another garment and place it in the opposite direction, flattening and smoothing out both garments in the bag and draping the remainder over the side. If you have trousers or other narrow items, do the same with them in the narrow direction of the bag. Keep alternating your items, ending up with the most wrinkle-resistant clothes you have.
"Choosing thin clothing that packs flat over thicker, more bulky items makes a huge difference in how much you can fit in your suitcase," says Susan Foster, author of Smart Packing for Today's Traveler. Instead of packing a heavy sweater and jeans, try more travel-friendly options like a micro-fleece pullover and pants in lightweight, weather-resistant fabric. Diana Lane, an associate with Geiger & Associates, a Florida-based destination marketing firm, loves the versatility of lightweight sarongs, which can be worn as skirts, various styles of dresses, shawls, swimsuit coverups, shoulder bags or even used as a blanket. "There aren't many items that give us quite this much bang for the buck," she says.
Step 2: Fill empty bottles with your favorite brands. Evelyn Hannon, creator of journeywoman.com, a travel-advice website, swears by Japonesque’s Gotta Go Weekend Travel Bag ($20, amazon.com). A mere four inches high by four inches wide, it’s stocked with eight clear containers for lotions, contact-lens solution, and the like. Fill them three-quarters full. “The storage department on a plane is not pressurized, so items filled all the way to the top will overflow,” says Bond, who learned that the hard way when a sample of Pepto-Bismol exploded all over her clothes.
3. Always keep an energy bar in your carry-on bag. During one seven-hour delay I experienced in Miami, the airport vendors had literally sold out of food. If it’s a winter blizzard or a massive string of delays, you may be out of luck. Prepare in advance by keeping an energy bar in your bag so you’re always ready in case disaster strikes. Pro tip: At the grocery store buy your favorite kind in bulk -- they often sell them in boxes of 12 or more.
Resorts: Certain parts of the state—the Deserts region, coastal communities, mountain resort towns—are renowned for five-star retreats, with many championship golf courses and tennis complexes, spectacular swimming pools, destination restaurants, and elegant spas (often open to the public). California’s celebrated wine regions also have ultra-luxe retreats, with romantic settings, unparalleled farm-to-table cuisine, and, of course, incredible wine lists. Many resorts also offer special activities for kids, like movie-and-popcorn nights, so parents can enjoy time alone while their children have experienced childcare. Weddings and reunions can book private event spaces and exclusive catering services. For top resorts statewide, check California Welcome Centers and local tourism agencies.
Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture (formerly Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide). In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.
The best way to fit more into your bag is to have a suitcase that grows with your packing needs. Expandable suitcases double as two bags in one, often starting out carry-on size but expanding to a larger bag when needed. We love the Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable Upright, which grows by 25 percent with the pull of a lever. If you're packing for a big trip (or need extra souvenir space on a return flight), simply expand the suitcase.
Invest in Luggage: After you figure out if you will be a “carry-on only” or “check only” type of business traveler, invest in a lightweight, durable piece of luggage that has a warranty. The same goes for a laptop bag. Whether you choose a shoulder bag or backpack, make sure it has a lot of padding and distributes weight evenly. You do not want your luggage breaking in the middle of an airport.