To ensure that your business trip runs smoothly, you don't want to have to worry about what you've left behind once you've reached your destination. Ideally, if you travel frequently, you will keep a stored list handy, full of all the common items you need for travel, so that you're always prepared and never frazzled when the time comes to pack your bags. To get you started in the right direction, start with this list of essentials, and add your own to build a list you can count on for all your future business travel packing needs:
• Vital electronics and their accessories, such as cell phone, camera, laptop, PDA, iPod, their respective chargers, as well as an extra battery for your laptop, the car charger for your cell phone, and extra memory cards for your camera.
• Travel alarm, just in case your hotel does not provide an alarm clock. To save yourself that space in your luggage, however, you may call ahead to find out whether they perhaps offer wake-up calls by request.
• Flash drives containing any information you will need for meetings and presentations, so that you're able to present and be prepared no matter whose system you're forced to use rather than your own.
• Briefcase stocked with all necessary office supplies, including pens, notepads, stapler, staples, paperclips, calculator, reference and presentation materials, works in progress, a folder filled with any other necessary papers and work-related materials, and a single document containing all of your traveling material such as your daily itinerary and flight, hotel, and rental car information.
• Directions to and from important locations on your itinerary, as well as important contact information you may need throughout the course of your trip.
• Sewing kit for emergency tears or runaway buttons.
• Trial-sized detergent packages for quick and easy laundry touch ups at your hotel room sink.
• More commonly necessary items you may not want to forget: jacket, medications packed into a daily pill container, vitamins, glasses, contacts and contact lens solution, lip balm, cosmetics, flat iron/curling iron, cotton balls/q-tips, feminine sanitary products, hand sanitizer, pajamas, earplugs, business cards, cash, credit cards, identification, gifts, guidebooks, membership cards, calling cards, extra batteries, extension cords and power adapters. Books, magazines, and unfinished work will also be nice to have handy for any down time.
It has often been said that it is the small things that make a difference. Try to bring a pair of headphones for particularly long flights, since many airlines now charge for the headsets they offer to accompany the movies they show in the air. If you do buy the set from the airline, keep them handy for future flights to avoid incurring the fee over and over again. (Keep in mind, though, that any headphones you buy yourself are likely to be of much higher quality than those distributed during your flight - so if you're going to make the investment at all, you might as well acquire a nice pair.) It will also help to have a travel pillow and cozy jacket, for comfortable long distance flights, since many airlines either no longer offer the complimentary in-flight blankets and pillows they did once, or are now charging for the amenity. All of the practical tips in this article should help to make your business travel life easier. Paying attention to detail is the key to everything from saving a few headaches to gaining corporate recognition in your line of work.