Sunday, July 19, 2009

Business Traveller Tip - things to pack that you don't think you really need

Third in my series of business traveller tips is the list of things to pack that you do not think you really need. It would be redundant to do a "must pack" list for business travellers that started with a computer, covered an iPod and finished off with your passport. As a traveller you know all these things already. Instead in this list I cover off a series of things that you would probably not think to pack that I have found to be invaluable. You won't use or need all of these on every trip but when the time comes and you have these, you'll be thankful.

1. An eyemask - Even though 100% of business class tickets and more than 50% of economy long haul airlines will give you an eyemask there have been many times when have a spare one in my bag has been invaluable. Recently I need to get a 7am flight from Gatwick to Venice. Meant leaving the hotel at 4am. Was able to catch an extra hour of sleep in the taxi because of my spare eyemask;

2. Cordless iPod headphones - You already know the value of having portable music and podcasts but the iPod experience while travelling is dramatically heightened with cordless/bluetooth headphones. These enable you to put your iPod in your bag or leave it at your seat and listen with no cords. Cords that get caught on arm rests, tangled on tray tables, tied into knots with your laptop power cord and more. If you would like some podcast recommendations then here is the list of podcasts that I listen to;

3. Individual power adapters - it seems obvious to recommend a power adapter but the difference here is the type of power adapter. If you take a universal power adapter (all counties in one mega unit) or power adapters with the wrong angles and shapes then you risk being caught out in recessed power outlets. A recessed power outlet is common in Continental Europe, Japan, Korea and many other locations. It is a power socket that is not flush with the wall. Instead it is sunken into the wall by between 3-5cm. Therefore even if you have an adapter with the right number of pins, if it does not sink into the wall when needed then you are...well...powerless. I therefore recommend against universal plugs and recommend straight on adapters (not angled) such as the Korjo range;

4. Aspirin/paracetamol - no explanation needed but a real pain to be without;

5. Copy of the Economist - it is the perfect travel mag. Lightweight, takes up very limited amount of space and (most importantly) can keep you entertained/busy if you are caught on an aircraft on the tarmac for a couple of hours waiting for Godot with nothing to watch other than re-runs of Taxi;

6. For men - spare cuff links and shirt collar inserts - I keep a cheap pair of cuff links and stiff collar inserts and the bottom of my bag. A lost cuff link can wreck a business meeting, so carry a spare pair. And - as I said before - switch to shave oil from foam/gel;

7. For women - Madame BOOT tells me that she finds solid stick perfume indispensable when travelling. That is fragrance in a solid stick format rather than a liquid bottle. Currently she is travelling with and recommending the Crazylibellule and the Poppies brand. She tells me it gives her access to fragrance without the liquid hassle and without the risk of breakage in the bag;

8. Elastic bands - I hate cords and even with cordless headphones I can't avoid cords. Blacbkerry, iPod syncing, phone charger etc all have cords. I find an elastic band makes them manageable. I roll them all up and then secure them with an elastic band before putting them all in one old airline wet pack; and

9. A butterfly clip - I started carrying a spare butterfly clip about two years ago and have already used it in the least obvious but entirely useful ways. Holding shut a zipper on a bag that broke, keeping up my sons pants after the elastic snapped and reattaching an address tag on a bag. I once even used it to keep some related documents held together (ie what it is meant for). It takes up such a small amount of space but is the perfect McGyver inspired travel accessory.

What other tips do you have? What interesting things to you always pack?

Thanks to dressy.doll for the photo care of flickr


Anonymous said...

Lurking Uncle Boot recommends the New Yorker as well as the Economist.

The economist is only good for one flight a year max. One swiftly tires of learning that developing country X could solve its problems if the newly elected government under President Y would just deregulate industry Z and lower tarrifs.

New Yorker is more varied. Unless, of course, you happen to have bought one of those New Yorkers that contain a 6000 word essay on zinc.

Tim Hughes said...

@uncle booty - thanks

Anonymous said...

one other thing road warrior often forget and that is a 4-6 dock power board.

with so many toys it is easier to have one of these babys to plug everything into rathe than carry a bag of plastic

Valyn said...

I like to pack scented body lotion in the same flavor as my favorite perfume - no glass to break and a two-functions-for-one item, always a plus for efficient packing.

Also indispensable for conferences is a narrow chain lariat. The big cloth (usually logo'ed) lariats get caught in my collars and never hang right around my jackets or blouses. I keep an extra in the same bag as my adapter, power cords, etc. Men may not appreciate either of these tips, but Mrs. Boot might!

A less gender-specific necessity is at least one thumb drive/flash drive/memory stick. Always useful!

Tim Hughes said...

@Anon - good one. Thanks. Any recommendations on brands and specific products

@Valyn - thanks. Great to have more tips for the female traveller.

Anonymous said...

I've got some bluetooth headphones and they are great for eliminating the cord problems, but they are useless on an aircraft as you really need Noise Cancelling Headphones onboard, carrying both for a whole trip is painful. I pack the bluetooth in my check-in luggage and use them at night on those long conference calls in the hotel room, the NC are always with me in the carry on.
I always pack a small set of speakers (cost $15 bucks) as well as the laptop speakers are crap, and you can plug them into the IPOD for your own tunes/podcasts in the hotel room. (Beats watching the 24 hour news channels)

Some other good podcasts:
Harvard Business Ideacast
BBC - Peter Day's World of Business
BBC - From our Own Correspondent

Tim Hughes said...

@Anon - thanks for the podcast and audio tips

AlphaVictor said...

You can't get it in OZ, but for every trip to the USA I come home with 2 bottles of Pepto Bismol, which I carry on every trip when I'm nonstop for days on end or having to go to different local restaurant every night.
Cures (or blocks) almost every food or stomach related mishap. Have not been on a business trip since 1997 without a bottle stashed in the luggage. Has been a lifesaver on more than one occasion! The good news now is I've found a US Drugstore that ships the stuff to OZ for a reasonable cost.

Tim Hughes said...

@Alpha - great tip thanks

Happy Hotelier said...

Maybe a bit off topic

Make a xerox of everything in your wallet and leave it at home base accessible from foreign base so that you have details in case of loss or robbery for reporting and blocking purposes.

Can save lot of time and hassle