The best business traveler knows how to pack both the absolute minimum and everything he or she could possibly need. The basic key to this is remembering the purpose of the trip: business. A pro business traveler packs his or her personal items efficiently and packs a disaster kit for business because being shy that one adapter or not bringing a flash drive can cost one a deal.
Everyone aspires to pack light. Some travelers are successful, others can’t help but bring everything and the kitchen sink. Here on our blog, packing light tips are the most popular posts. Even veteran light packers like Jeremy and I are always open to new ideas. Packing light is a process, not a goal. We can always get better. So we asked our favorite travel writers, speakers, designers, and CEOs, “What’s your best, non-obvious tip for packing light?“
In my early twenties, I was very good about keeping a copy of my passport in a separate bag from my actual passport. Then I got lazy. Recently, a friend of mine lost her passport at the airport. She was told that if she had brought a copy of it and extra passport photos they would have let her travel. Since she didn’t, she was forced to forfeit a $2,000 flight and a week in Europe. I now carry a copy with me.
The one thing I really have to disagree on though, and think you’re mad for not doing, is collecting points and airmiles. I cottoned on to this a few years back and every single trip I’ve taken since then has been by using airmiles and reward flights. I’ve travelled to Thailand, Finland, Croatia, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Germany, Norway and more – all with points and just paying the taxes in cash. It saves a tonne of money and even if you use budget airlines most of the time, if you pay with a points-earning credit card then you can still collect points to use on airlines where you may want a better quality experience, for a longer flight for example. I would seriously recommend American Express – I’ve had the Amex Gold, BA Basic and BA Premium Plus cards. I’ve also just applied for the Lloyds Avios rewards visa and mastercard combo for when we spend a year abroad, which also comes with 0 fees on foreign spend and earns you points. If you want more info, I find this really useful:
Hits the nail on the head on so many points. This brings back many memories of our travels, like when we packed too much and wanted to kill each other since we were both so miserable with our heavy bags. And the time we had to give up on the hostel in Morocco and paid for a pool day pass at the Sofitel. We felt like we were cheating, but in the end, we needed the rejuvenation. Always love your posts, thanks for the inspiration and congrats on all the years of traveling together!
Little rubber doorstops hide out behind hotel-room doors, waiting for fleeting moments of glory. And while the unassuming devices are put there so guests can prop open their doors, they're just as effective at keeping doors shut. So if you want an added level of security when you turn in for the night, wedge the doorstop under the bolted door. Voila, you've just added an additional lock.
5. Arrange for voice and Internet access before you go. Depending on where you travel, Internet access can be great or it can be pathetic. And having to pay $30 a day for an Internet connection in a $300-a-night hotel is not unusual. So buying an international data plan for your mobile device may be cheaper than paying daily local rates. Then, use your mobile device as a hotspot for data. Check with your carrier or with an international telecom service before you go.
In some respects, I’m amazed at how staggeringly little I’ve grown as a traveler: I still roam cities with nary a clue as to what I’m doing, I’m still motivated largely by my quest to stuff as many baked goods into my mouth as possible, I still weep a little when forced to read a map. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t learn anything. I have picked up a few tips and tricks that I’ve gleaned from my many copious mistakes. Here are the best of of them – my my top travel tips and lessons learned from the last few years.
Tissue Paper: For delicate items, one of our favorite packing tips is to use tissue paper. Lay the item face down and place tissue paper on top. Fold it up with the tissue paper inside. Use additional layers of paper as you fold the garment so it is completely wrapped in and around paper. This is easy enough the first time you pack, but becomes a pain if you have to keep repacking. We only use this approach for evening clothes that we don’t want to crush.
Also, some airports have their terminals connected, other’s do not. Some have less obvious security checkpoints or “hidden ones” that are just around the corner. Figure those out if you can. I’ve went through a United Terminal checkpoint because it was less busy than the Southwest Terminal checkpoint before because I knew the Terminals were connected. Make sure they are though, or you will be making a trip out and then back through security! Ugh!
Obviously flying international business class is loaded with business class in-flight amenities. A business class airplane cabin can include noise-canceling headphones, nicer pillows, down comforters, fancy socks, and amenity kits, sometimes with some decent swag. I enjoy the more attentive flight attendants and also appreciate shorter bathroom lines. There are loads more little benefits to flying business class, ranging from unlimited alcohol and food, the ability to charge your electronic devices during the flight, free newspapers and magazines, and more.
Get out of your comfort zone and make an effort to meet local people. This is easier said than done, especially if you're traveling with friends or a partner, but it will dramatically affect your travel experience. So many of us go to the all-inclusive resorts or backpacker hostels and never get a real taste for local culture, food, or traditions, and then come home and talk about what the "country" is like. Stretch your comfort zone, push your social boundaries, and travel deeper.
Hello Lauren, great tips. thanks so much for sharing! I’ve been doing lots of searches as well for travel tips and your tips are very helpful. I’m not new in traveling, but end August I will be taking for the first time a 6 months trip and yes with a bag pack for the first time ha ha. I just lay out all the clothes that I want to bring with me. I still have to sort out what I actually need to avoid overpacking. Considering I’ll be traveling around in S.America where weather varies a lot from one country to another , packing is a little bit tricky I find. But you are right when in doubt do not bring them! I need to check out the solid shampoo and conditioner. i have dry shampoo as well but they only come in 200ml, was looking for something smaller. Will also check out HERE maps and make use of the camera on google translate! As you can see your post is really helpful! thanks a lot and keep sharing ;-)
If you're traveling to a "regular" city and you're not taking clients out, a great way to save money is to get a gift card to a chain restaurant(s) you like. You save time, as you know the menu in advance and you potentially save money/hassles over unknown local options/hotel offerings. Of course, make sure that the chain exists where you're staying and this advice is for "regular" meals only - not trying local cuisine. This way, you can focus on business with one less distraction.
I’m all about travelling on one-way tickets, because they give you the freedom to be spontaneous, change your mind, and extend your trip, if needed. My original itinerary had me heading to Australia after six months, but I ended up going to Thailand instead and stayed for seven months! You can’t get that kind of freedom on a round-the-world ticket. Plus, with so many budget airlines around, one-way tickets don’t have to even be that pricey.
One of the first lessons I learned on the road was that your plans will nearly always change. You’ll arrive in a place and hate it and want to leave immediately, or you’ll fall in love with a destination and want to spend longer there. You’ll make friends with a group of awesome people and want to change your plans so you can travel with them for longer, or you’ll find out about an amazing town that’s nearby and want to head there instead.
Great advice! I’m a BIG fan of packing cubes… I can’t believe I had never heard of them until a few years ago. Never have tried the tissue paper method. Will definitely have to, especially on business trips. I also recommend shoe bags as a way to keep organized and clean. Plastic bags are a great alternative but they often leak or get dirty too quickly. Hope you don’t mind but I linked your blog on my own about essential travel items. Thanks again!
Unfortunately, UK residents (and basically anyone who isn’t in the US) just don’t have access to the crazy amount of points that Americans can get with credit cards and whatnot. It’s not much of a thing in the UK — there are rarely signup bonuses, and if there are, they’re crap. I’m really not loyal to one particular airline, either — I fly with budget airlines 99% of the time, which don’t have rewards programs, and I only take one or two long-haul flights a year. Also! Because I spend a lot of my time in developing countries, I very rarely pay for things with a card, so I probably wouldn’t meet spending requirements.
So many travellers preach that it’s all about experiences not possessions, but you know what? Sometimes possessions can offer beautiful reminders of the experiences you’ve had. I only started buying souvenirs from every country I visited in the last year, and I wish I’d been doing so from the start of my trip. And if you’re worried about space in your backpack, just mail them off to a friend or family once you’ve bought them and your pack will be none the heavier. My friend Jaime collects magnets from every place he visits and I’m so jealous of his collection!