Checking out is when you’re most likely to lose something. Whenever I check out of a place, I check the bathroom, I check under the beds, I check the desks, and then I make sure I have my passport, laptop, camera, money, phone, and external hard drive. I’ll be fine if I leave anything else behind. Having a routine that you go through every single time will help you keep track of everything. I learned my lesson with this one when I left my passport behind in a guesthouse in Bagan, then left it in an apartment in London two months later.
Changing or withdrawing large amounts of money minimizes the fees you'll pay to get local currency, but it also means you'll be traveling with far more cash—and larger bills—than you'd have on you at home. It's wise to make small denominations of currency easily accessible. That way, you won't pull out the local equivalent of a $100-dollar bill while attempting to buy a 30-cent souvenir. You also won't have to reach down into your jeans to get more money from an under-clothing money pouch.
Speaking of your body, this is the phase of travel where your body really starts to hate you, so come equipped to pamper it as best you can. Germaphobes, bring hand sanitizer and your own travel pillow. Prone to tight muscles or leg cramps? Bring a tennis ball to roll out what aches, or place it under a leg to release pressure in a knot. Frequent travelers might consider investing a pair of compression socks to increase blood flow during such long periods of immobility.
Whether due to a travel delay, a never-ending meeting, or arrival in a different time zone, you're bound to end up hungry at some point with limited appealing food options. I always carry three to five energy bars of some sort for just these situations. Look for something that doesn't melt, crumble, or expire, and is well-packaged so it doesn't end up spilling in your bag. I like Kind bars, as they're still relatively tasty even when flattened and deformed after a few weeks in my laptop bag.
That said, remember that a work trip isn’t your own personal spring break. Even if you’re technically off the clock, after-hours events with your co-workers are not the time to ride the mechanical bull, challenge a local to a drinking contest, or re-enact your favorite scene from Coyote Ugly. What happens at the regional sales conference doesn't necessarily stay at the regional sales conference—and you don't want to run the risk of your bad behavior making it back to your boss. A good rule of thumb is not to drink more on a work trip than you would at any other business function.
One thing I thnk you’d love which you may not yet know about is PortaPocket. Lets you safely, hands-free carry small essentials ON your body. Much more than any neck safe, money belt or leg wallet. It’s a patented, wearable system that’s modular, so it’s really ALL of those in one, and works almost ANYwhere on your body (& either under/over your outfit). Super confy, detachable/interchangeable, easy to use. Go from a workout to a night out without skipping a beat. I won’t leeave home without ’em, and haven’t relied on a purse to carry my valuables in over 10 years. Freedom = GOOD!!
Patrick Gray works for a global Fortune 500 consulting and IT services company and is the author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology as well as the companion e-book The Breakthrough CIO's Companion. He has spent over a decade providing strategy consulting services to Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can follow his blog at www.itbswatch.com. All opinions are his and may not represent those of his employer.