Every business trip is different. Certain trips are filled with meetings from the moment you land, while others are more relaxed and let you enjoy gaps between schedules. Regardless of your schedule, always dress comfortably for the flight. Forget about wearing a suit; you will not be able to snatch some rest during the flight with a formal business attire.
Prepare a digital backup in case your identification gets lost or stolen. With your camera phone, take a photo of your passport or driver's license and email the photo to yourself. You might also want to take a photo of the contents of your checked bag, which may come in handy if the airline loses your luggage. (Use the photo to help document your missing belongings when filling out a claim form.) Throughout your trip, take advantage of the camera on your phone and snap photos of anything that might serve as a helpful reminder, from your airport parking-lot spot to your hotel-room number.
Other smart garments include vests with elaborate hidden storage systems, scarves with savvy pockets, and ExOfficio's insect-repellant button-downs (perfect for a trip that takes you from indoors to out). Convertible bags will also extend your wardrobe and lighten your carry-on load; this option from Tumi converts from a flight-friendly backpack to a tote bag for everyday use.
"Packing in a soft-sided weekender or duffel gives you the flexibility (literally!) to shape your bag to what you're packing instead of the other way around. My canvas overnighter takes on a different shape depending on what I need it to hold and will squish, even when packed almost beyond its means, into spaces a hard-sided roller bag just won't go. I hope my current bag will last forever but I'm eyeing this simple weekender from Makr as its eventual replacement." — Skye Senterfeit, Photo Editor
California is made for road trips. An easy-to-navigate network of more than 50,000 miles of good-quality highways and freeways link just about every corner of the state, with secondary routes leading to even more under-the-radar finds. Some of these roads are famous—Highway 1 along the Pacific Coast, legendary Route 66, and Avenue of the Giants (Highway 101 winding through towering redwoods). Some are workhorses—most notably Interstates 5 and 80—getting drivers (and truckers) up and across the state as quickly as possible. But even these heavy-lifters can lead you to surprising destinations.
Do you usually toss your boarding pass as soon as you step off the plane? You might want to reconsider. Your boarding pass can serve as proof of travel if your airline fails to give you the proper credit for frequent flier miles; this type of problem is particularly common if you’re flying on a codeshare partner of the airline in question. Your boarding pass can also be useful as a receipt for tax purposes, particularly if you’re self-employed.
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!
Have a few overflow items that just don't seem like they'll fit? Try closing and zipping your suitcase completely (even if you have to sit on it to make it work). Then reopen your bag and try adding the items in any available spot (think corners, spaces between larger items, etc.). Often, once you've compressed the bag by zipping it shut, you'll find just a bit more room once you open it again.
Specialized packing systems can keep clothes from shifting and rubbing together in your suitcase, reducing the chance of wrinkling. There's a variety of available products that accommodate everything from socks to sports coats—The Container Store offers the Eagle Creek Pack-It line, which features a great collection of organizer tubes, cubes and folders. Flight 001, a store that specializes in innovative travel products, also carries an organizational packing system called SpacePak. Most of these systems have mesh panels or see-through sides so you (and security) can easily see what's inside. "Packing envelopes and cubes are extremely efficient and have allowed me to actually add more to my luggage," Brown says.
Even if you aren’t headed to a beachside city or major metropolis, work trips don’t have to be total snooze-fests. Every destination, no matter how small, has something to keep you and your co-workers entertained. Find the local hot spots using TripAdvisor and Fodor's, or search by city on the Food Network website for restaurants featured on shows like Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. At the very least, you'll avoid an overpriced meal at a mediocre chain restaurant, and you may even become the office hero for discovering that the sleepy southern city you're visiting is home to the world's best hickory-smoked ribs.
Make the most of your layover in Iceland by booking one of Icelandair's tours, including a transfer to the Blue Lagoon between flights. See Dubai without having to pay for a visa with Emirates' stopover offer, which includes a free visa for a one-night stay. Get to the Eiffel Tower, even if you only have seven hours at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, by booking the Paris Transit Tour from Aeroports de Paris.
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.
Along freeways with heavy traffic, carpool lanes (also called “diamond lanes” for the diamond-shape pattern painted on the lane’s surfaces) are identified by black-and-white signs that include details on times and days of enforcement (usually during peak rush hour periods on weekdays). To drive in most carpool lanes, you must at least two people (including the driver) in the car (some lanes in the San Francisco Bay Area have a three-person minimum. Tempted to use the lane when you don’t have the required number of riders? Don’t—fines are staggeringly high, close to $400 in some areas. In the Los Angeles area, carpool lanes may have specific entry and exit zones; adhere to them or you could get a hefty fine.