How to Fly, Pack, and Sleep: Business Travel Tips

For the last few years I’ve been traveling a lot for work.  At first it was very fun and exciting, and I thought I would never tire of feeling the plane take off – but I’m starting to be over it.

However, I still make the most of my travel, trying to have adventures and discover fun little spots and interesting, artsy towns on every trip, schedule permitting.

For example, this week I’m in Winter Park, Florida.  Actually, I’m in Altamonte Springs, but that town is boring so I drive 10 min to Winter Park for good food, awesome parks, and beautiful neighborhoods to walk in.  It’s a hidden gem amongst the Disney-fied spread of the Orlando area. I’m not sure what it would be like to live here, because it’s a bit ritzy and maybe the demographic is more wealthy retired people, but the locally-owned shops, gorgeous homes, and a good restaurant make me happy.

But I digress.  During all my travels I’ve come up with a few tricks to make things easier.  Here they are!

Business Travel Tips - The Borrowed Abode #travel


Select an aisle or window seat in the last 5 rows of the plane.

After one too many California-to-DC flights where I was stuck in a middle seat between two broad-shouldered business men, I came up with this plan of attack. It hasn’t failed me since. People are not going to choose a middle seat in the back-most rows of the plane unless every other possible seat is full.  Therefore, you dramatically increase the chances of having an open seat next to you.

At The Hotel:

  1. Check the sheets! As soon as you get to your room, peel back the comforter and blankets at the foot of the bed, and check the sheets for hair or dirt or evidence of bedbugs.  It’s much easier to change rooms before you unpack!
  2. Keep it Quiet:  Take one large bath towel, roll it into a kind of towel log, and shove it against the bottom of your door each night before you go to sleep. I don’t know why they do it, but hotels seem to always have doors that stop about an inch from the floor. My not-yet-patented Towel Log Technique does a great job of muffling sounds.
  3. Make Some Noise: Speaking of sounds, my next tip is to have a sound machine app installed on your phone.  It’s another great way to mask unwanted noises and get a better night’s sleep.  On my droid I liked the free HonkShooLite app and on my iPhone I use Sleep Machine (also free).
  4. Hoard Toiletries: I will be honest, I always steal the leftover toiletries because I donate them to my homeless shelter. You may be able to do this too.

    Business Travel Tips Muffle Noise in Hotel Room

    My not-yet-patented Towel Roll sound muffler.

How To Pack:

I love fashion, but I hate lugging a heavy suitcase around the airport. My solution is to pack light on the clothing side, because I always have to travel with my DSLR and two laptops (one for work, one for personal use) and marketing materials. That alone adds weight.

I’m going to be honest: I try and see how many outfits I can get out of very small amounts of clothes.

  1. Get a killer suit in a neutral color.  I go with a black suit.  You can technically wear the same suit with a different shirt under it each day on a business trip.   But if you don’t want to do that . . .
  2. Pack a simple skirt that will work with your suit jacket.  I often pack either a teal or lavender knee-length straight skirt.
  3. Add a few colorful tops that can be worn with either the suit or the skirt.
  4. Shoes:  I only pack one pair of work shoes – usually a black wedge heel.  I learned the hard way that conferences require a ton of walking and standing (usually) so now I try to straddle the line between cute and comfortable. I also pack a cute pair of flats for off-hours.
  5. I pack fun jewelry to mix things up (but never my treasured items, just in case).  I also pack a few fun scarves, because meetings are always cold.
  6. I add a pair of skinny jeans and a sundress for my off hours, and I make sure the tops I pair with my suit are equally awesome with my skinny jeans.  Also, the blazer from the suit can still be worn with the jeans

I think that concludes my business travel tips.  If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments.  And if you have any questions, just ask! I’m happy to answer anything I left out.

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  • Reply Kiri at 9:47 am

    More Flying tips – for long-haul 12-36 hours and crossing time zones. I was doing Melbourne to Dublin runs and they get very old very, very quickly.

    1. Drink as much water as you can, and walk the aisles at least once an hour. Water will stop you from drying out, walking the aisles will reduce the risk of thrombosis.

    2. During re-fuelling stops where you’re in a place for about 1-2 hours, take the opportunity to shower if you can, or at least sponge down as much as you can. It refreshes you for the next leg, and helps minimise the jet lag.

    3. set your watch for your new time zone, and try to change over your sleep patterns before you get there. It will reduce the time lost due to jet lag.

    4. when you get there – no matter how tired you are, stay awake as much as you can during the first day. The sooner you are on their circadian cycle, the sooner you can enjoy yourself.

    5. Change into loose fitting clothing for sleep, and change into clean clothes and underwear after sleep. Being stuck on a plane for 24-36 hours, in dry air-conditioned air will often cause you to sweat, and dry the sweat very quickly. Clean clothes helps you feel fresher.

    6. Order a special meal – low fat, vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, or one of the other special meals. (a) you’ll get fed first. (b) you’ll get a healthier meal that you won’t feel like it’s swimming in fat and oil which you feel better on flights (at least, I do).

    7. In your carry on bag, pack enough bits and pieces so that if your main suitcase goes walkies, you can last out the evening and the next day without it. (i.e. medication, toiletries, change of undies, clean shirt, sleepwear, a book or any other thing you use for your sleep routine).

    8. If you’re not used to sleeping masks, try practicing with them at home before the trip. They can feel a little strange having weight on your eyes at first, but are wonderful once you’re used to them.

    9. If you have a little of the foreign currency for your stop-over places, it will allow you to get something to drink and showers, without wasting time and money changing at the currency exchange. (currency exchanges within airports generally have the worst rates).

    10. No matter how many times you’ve done it, look on it as an adventure and go out of your way to find something new or startling to see, or person to talk to. I’ve met many worthwhile and wonderfully interesting people sitting on a plane next to me.

  • Reply Marti at 8:40 pm

    I’m not sure I’m replying to the right thread, but it should be to the one with travel tips.

    Great tips! I don’t travel that often, though now that my kids are in different states, it seems I travel more. I’ll definitely sit near the back next time, though the last few times I’ve flown, the flights have been completely full, and the screaming kids were in the back. Sorry, that probably wasn’t politically correct. Let me rephrase that. The last few times I’ve flown, the flights were full and the noise level was higher in the back.

    I have thought that about the rolled up towel, but have never done it. Next time I will. Does the hotel staff still manage to slip the bill under the door with the towel there? You’re probably already up by the time they usually do that though.

    I don’t go on business trips, but do try to travel light and even for me, I think a dark suit would help when I need to dress up or dress down. Thanks for all the tips.

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