Been doing a fair bit of traveling lately, so here a few thoughts regarding short trips.
I think you want to go all-carry-on if you can. Saves time, less risk of losing your stuff, less pain and suffering lugging equipment around. “Your enjoyment on a trip is inversely proportional to the amount of luggage you take.” Most of the tips are with this goal in mind:
- Always bring a book when flying. All electronic devices are restricted at certain times on the flight, and space is too limited to work anyway. Even if the flight has an in-flight entertainment system, the system may crash, it has annoying commercials that take forever to get through, and it will be turned off and rebooted at various times on the run-way. Use a book to get through the dead-time. Libraries are free
- If travelling alone, consider getting a second tiny, pocket-sized book. You can bring it when you’re stuck waiting alone at the restaurant for food to cook, cooling your heels at the client’s lobby, etc.
- Pack earbud-style headphones on the flight just in case you want to use the in-flight entertainment.
- If expensing food, it may be easier to buy a snack before you get on the plane so you can get a receipt. If you're worried about not being able to get food, pack a snack for yourself before you go
- Bring earplugs onto the plane. You may want to sleep, or tune out the annoying kid behind you
- Rushing for a plane sucks. Get to the airport early, buy a snack, and relax
- Get all-arounder shoes: good enough for business settings, but comfy and protected from the elements. You may want to save these shoes just for demanding situations and wear your more vulnerable dress shoes in the office
- Similarly, do you have pants and shirts that can do double-duty? Now is the time for your wrinkle-resistant, stain-resistant clothes
- If unsure about the weather, or flying between hot and cold climates, use layers to beat the cold. T-shirt + shirt + sweater + vest + light rain jacket with rain hood and a warm hat in the pocket will get you from summer to almost-winter
- A rain-jacket with hood can remove the need for an umbrella
- A pilates band is a portable way to work out on the road, if you’re not staying somewhere with a pool or weight room
- Rental cars rarely come with maps, so bring some along. (Try the library, google maps print-outs, etc.) You can often rent a GPS with a rental car. Having the postal code of all your destinations is an easy way to input destinations to the GPS. You can use the preloaded GPS information to find restaurants and attractions if you did not prepare beforehand
- Have a USB stick just in case. Pre-load it with any critical files. Even if bringing a laptop, have the USB as a back-up
- Buy small capsule containers you can fill with pills. Don’t bring full bottles. Bring minimal medicine and buy more over there if an unexpected illness comes up
- If worried about colds, consider buying medicine as capsules instead of a liquid. This gives you more liquid carry-on space for your toothpaste and other necessities
- Watch the electrical differences between countries
- If going to a distant location, hotels may not provide everything you expect. (No mini-shampoo? No TV?)
- Find a few tourism destinations you can visit in the target city, just in case you get an afternoon to yourself. Watch the hours of operation: many museums and tourist destinations only keep business hours (8-5). If you did not have time to prepare, ask cabbies, hotel reception, your hosts for advice
- Know the roaming charges before you use your cell. Text messaging may be cheaper
- Consider an audiobook for your CD player or mp3 player
- Bring a face mask and ear plugs in case your hotel room is noisy or has poor curtains
- Check out http://www.onebag.com/ if you need really detailed advice on packing lightly
Also check out The Economist doing business in... guides.