Travel is not much fun today. Security measures since 9/11 have increased the stress and the inconvenience of travel, so when I used to travel a lot I looked at ways of minimizing both. For many years, I traveled three to four days a week and had some trips for one or two weeks including weekends. During that time, I adopted some useful habits to make life easier.

Neville Isdell, former Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company devised one great TRICK I heard about. Rumor has it that he used to have two suitcases constantly pre-packed in the colors of blue and red. The suitcase colored blue was packed for the Northern hemisphere and, therefore, cold climates. So it held heavier suits, vests, and overcoat. And the red? Yes, you guessed it, for the warmer climate countries, so lightweight suits, and jackets. That level of smart organization is an example of why he was such a very successful leader and businessman.

Here are 7 ways to make travel stress free. They are simple things you can adopt to make your travel preparations, easier and more efficient.

1. Have A Packing List

No matter how many trips I made, I always referred to a packing list. Otherwise, I invariably forgot something. This is no big deal if you are traveling within the U.S. or Europe because you should be able to buy the same items easily. However, on a short trip you may not have the time to go and shop and when you start going to Asia, or Latin America, the items you normally use, such as toiletries, may not be available.

I had two packing lists and two different cases: one for two to three day trips where the suitcase could fit in the overhead bins, and one for more than four days and I would check my luggage. The big difference was that the longer trip packing list would have more casual items to be added for the weekends and evenings including trainers, casual shoes, sports clothes and tops.

I am a PowerUser of Evernote and so I have the packing list on Evernote and, therefore, can see it on all my devices for easy and quick reference. And if, like me, you like checking off lists, Evernote lets you do that too.

2. Allocate Clothing Specifically for Travel

I have a travel section in my closet where I reserve certain items for travel, like specific color pants and shirts that go together, as well as jackets. I also have a travel outfit that is comfortable but casually smart. On long flights with short one-to-two hour changes in plane or layovers, Neville Isdell carried a suit on board to change into before touchdown so he was appropriately dressed as CEO and Chairman in case he would bump into colleagues or customers. I thought I was organized.

3. Have Two Sets of Toiletries

I keep two sets of toiletries. The choice of brands for shampoo, shower gel and moisturizers are all the same, but for traveling they are poured into and kept in sealed and labeled travel containers ready to slip in the outside of my garment bag where they are ready to transfer into the security bins for x-ray at the airports.

This also means I can quickly grab the travel set on trips at short notice, rather than going through the laborious methodology of ensuring I have taken all I need.

4. Get The Right Luggage

What do I mean by that? Well, luggage, suitcases, and travel bags should be chosen carefully to accommodate what you intend to travel with on a regular basis. For the two-to-three-day trips, or trips where I will be changing planes and hotels every one to two days, I prefer to carry on.

Most people go for rollerboards now. however, I have noticed that if the size is not carefully chosen, boarding becomes a stop-and-go process because numerous passengers are engaged in a futile battle to stuff an oversize bag into a space ill-designed to accommodate it. Common sense appears to have disappeared quicker than Harry Potter in his invisible cloak.

Often, the result is that people cannot get their ill-chosen luggage into the overhead bins and it ends up in the hold anyway. I might add that airlines have not helped this situation by charging for luggage to go in the hold.

For that reason, and for convenience, I carry on a garment bag. On a short business trip, I like to have shirts and pants hanging. I use hangers covered in laundry plastic bags that keeps them from creasing. I can carry it over my shoulder and it slides easily into the overhead bin, even in the commuter planes such as Bombardier CRJ and Embraer’s.

For a trip over four days where I’m going to be lugging more things,  I go for larger version of the garment bag with wheels, so I can still accommodate the suit, pants, and shirts, along with jackets and more casual clothing, rather than stuffing everything in.

5. Get The Right Briefcase

My briefcase is Tumi and I have two versions, one for the two-to-three-day trip and one for longer trips. They are both similar but the latter one has wheels and is larger, allowing room for stuff that I typically collect on my travels; such as files, samples etc., which you don’t want to put in the suitcase.

I like to be able to access different things on a flight depending on the space I have and what I feel I want to work on, so both my briefcases are capable of sliding under the seat in front of me.

6. Create a Briefcase Check List

Like a clothing packing list, we need the same for our traveling office. There were many times, before my checklist that I found I had my computer, but no power lead or several hours were spent finding a store that sold adapter plugs. Here are the basics of what I pack:

  • MacBook Air 13″ with adaptor, extension lead and adapter for MacBook to the projector for presentations.
  • Combined laser pointer and remote slide changer for PowerPoint decks.
  • iPad and charger
  • iPhone and charger
  • Mophie Power-station PRO power charger so I’m never out of power.
  • Plug adapters, for overseas trips, (I carry several, at least three, for whichever country I’m going to. The multi-adaptors are too big and I often need three things (phone, notebook, iPad) charging at the same time, especially overnight.)
  • Bose Acoustic Noise Canceling Headphones
  • Logitech mouse

In addition, of course, there are business cards, pens (I have a special small bag for a variety of pens and pencils including highlighters), USB sticks, hand sanitizer, nail files, Tylenol, mints, gum, earplugs, sunglasses and a few yellow legal pads in different sizes.

7. Organize Your Travel Documents

I ensure I have everything in digital form. Boarding passes in my Passbook or scanned on my phone as well as all my credit cards are available there in case I lose the physical ones.

I also have scanned copies of my passport, driving license, travel itinerary, accommodation and car hire reservations in Evernote, so they are available on any of my devices. 

Even in our digital age, technology can fail us. So I also have hard copies of all my travel documents in a special two-sided transparent folder for easy checking and access. 

So, like well-run meetings, it’s all about preparation. Having checklists takes time and can be trial and error. But they can take a lot of  the stress out of travel. Do you have your own travel checklists? Have you got some great travel tips to share! Let me know if you want a copy of my checklists.

About the Author:

I am the customer relationship mentor, who helps those responsible for their company’s most important customers, to build and maintain their customer relationships and keep them happy, so that they can protect & grow their business.

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