Sunscreen’s a good idea for situations where you can’t otherwise avoid extended sun exposure, but it’s got its problems too. It enables you to spend unnatural amounts of time exposed to the sun, and unnatural is almost always bad. Plus it blocks your skin from absorbing all the sun’s nutrients. There’s also a debate about whether some of its chemicals are toxic or not—if not to you, at least to the environment. And…
A good pair of earplugs is an essential item on any packing list. No matter where you’re traveling, whether it’s on the other side of the world or in your home country, there’s always a good chance that you’ll end up somewhere that’s just too noisy. It could be a hotel with poor noise insulation, an Airbnb with noisy neighbors, or a hostel dorm with noisy roommates.
What happens if you arrive in a city, go to grab your email confirmation for your accommodation, and your phone and laptop are out of battery? I always make sure I have a hard copy of my guesthouse name and their address, as well as directions if I won’t be taking a taxi. Once I arrive, I’ll grab one of the hotel’s business cards, so I’ll always know where I’m staying, and can show it to locals to ask for help with finding my way back.
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.
When possible, even on business trips, I try to avoid hotels and stay with a member of one of my homestay networks. I find the genuine contact and family atmosphere a welcome change from conference hotels. Yes, there's some transportation logistics, but generally, I find it worth the schlep across town to make new friends and get my batteries recharged.
1. Do your research before you travel. First rule of safe travel — don’t be ignorant about where you are going. Make an effort to learn about the country, the political situation, the cultural norms, the safest spots for travellers, safe accommodations to stay and the areas or regions that are best avoided. Head off on your trip with your eyes wide open to avoid surprises.
Avoid packing pitfalls by only bringing items that have an 80 percent minimum chance of being used—but be sure to plan before you pack. "Lay out everything that you think you want to pack on your bed and take a good hard look," suggests Samantha Brown of the Travel Channel. That way you can avoid packing, say, three floral tops when you only need one. "It's only when you lay your entire ensemble in front of you that you see where you've made mistakes and can make the appropriate cuts."
Never do these 9 things! 1. NEVER forget that your boss is evaluating you at all times. 2. If you are on a business trip, it’s because you’re supposed to be part of the solution—not part of the problem. 3. Don’t be late. 4. Never be rude to staff—any staff, ever. 5. NEVER drink too much. 6. Don’t be difficult or ask for special favors. 7. Don’t let your boss lull you into behaving unprofessionally. 8. Keep your cell phone out of sight. 9. Never cry or lose your cool, no matter what happens!
Shrink it. Jessica Ellis, a graphic designer who travels between New York City and Chicago every other week, piles clothing into Eagle Creek Pack-It Compressor bags ($10 to $26, rei.com). “Zipper them, and they take out 80 percent of the volume.” Warning: This can have wrinkly consequences, so if the clothes don’t yet require laundering, lay them flat and place fabric-softener sheets between them. Consider your fresh-smelling clothes a welcome-home present.
I generally don’t mind staying in hostel dorms, but if there is one among the good business travel tips I have been given, it is to avoid them whenever I am traveling for business reasons. Indeed, I do need my sleep, especially if I have had a long day and I have a packed schedule the following morning. The last thing I need is having to fight my way to sleep through someone’s snoring, and there’s always bound to be a loud snorer in a dorm. This was the case in my hostel in Tel Aviv. It was so bad that not even ear plugs helped to block the noise.
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!