After 20 straight months of working quietly in my home office and never leaving the State of Maine, I embarked on three business trips in just over three weeks:
- The American Copy Editors Society (ACES) annual conference in New Orleans (http://nola.copydesk.org/).
- Client meetings in Northern Virginia.
- Our Dragonfly Editorial strategic planning summit in Tipp City, Ohio.
Somewhere in the midst of those 14 flights, eight hotel stays, and dozens of sessions, meetings, and networking events, I picked up a few travel tips:
Invest in a good suitcase. Be sure you have a suitcase that is small enough to fit in the overhead bin so that you don’t have to worry about suitcase separation anxiety or pay for checked baggage. Here’s the link to details on bag size restrictions: http://www.reference.com/motif/travel/carry-on-baggage-size-restriction. Splurge on a suitcase that wheels in every direction. When you spend 12 hours in an airport, you’ll be glad you did. Oh, and if your suitcase is cute enough, even TSA will compliment you. In every city.
Pack more business cards than you think you can possibly need. If you’re going to a four-day conference, don’t just fill the little business card case in your purse like you’re going to a networking lunch. Bring refills.
Bring a laptop. Even if an airport isn’t an ideal location for focused, detailed editing, I did get a bit of scheduling, writing, and email spring cleaning done in transit. If you pack your laptop in a “TSA Friendly” laptop bag that zips open so that you have nothing but the laptop in one pocket, you don’t have to put your computer in a gray, plastic bin.
Recharge. If you do forget chargers for your phone, tablet, laptop, or other electrical gadget, whatever airport you are in probably has the solution to your problem. Gift shops sell the most common chargers, ear plugs, and so forth. You might also find a ChargeCarte (photographed in Dayton) or a Best Buy vending machine (photographed in Baltimore).
Pack comfortable shoes. I started my four-day stay in New Orleans with a three-hour historical walking tour… and the resulting blisters. After that, every meal was an opportunity for networking and exercise, as we tried out restaurants from every corner of the French Quarter. Lesson learned: No one will care if you have smart looking shoes if you’re hobbling around in search of a store that sells first-aid products.
Pack a sweater. With all the temperature changes involved in traveling, a cardigan is a good idea. The meeting rooms in New Orleans were nearly 40 degrees cooler than the temperature outdoors.
Be patient. Being impatient won’t get you to your destination faster. So bring a novel or other “escape,” and just veg out in transit. And if your travel plans are flexible, patience is not only a virtue, it’s a way of getting two free tickets to anywhere in the continental United States.
Be social. Large conferences provide plenty of opportunities to be social—not just in person during the conference but also using social media before, during, and afterward, most commonly by using a Twitter hashtag for the event.
Use it or lose it. Set aside some time after your travels to go through your notes, follow up on networking, take care of action items, and do any after-travel paperwork that needs to be completed. Whatever you want to be sure to do—volunteer to speak at a future conference, write a blog, make some new connections on LinkedIn, or send in expense receipts—give yourself a deadline.