I have spent the majority of my career living out of a suitcase. At one point I was traveling full time for work and going to grad school part time. I survived. With some trial and error, business travel became second nature to me. It can be quite enjoyable and stress free. I’ve compiled my top three tips on how career girls can breeze by the TSA and travel in style.
1) CONSOLIDATE: Everything should fit into these three items i) roller carry-on suitcase ii) laptop bag iii) clutch. Trust me, this can be done!
- Carry-on suitcase: An airline lost my checked suitcase once, and though they did eventually locate it, I never checked a bag again — I did not want to go through that ordeal a second time. Also, I don’t like waiting for my checked baggage. When I’m on the road, I like to get going! You should get the lightest and most inexpensive suitcase you can find. Don’t waste money on an expensive suitcase because it will get bashed up if you travel a lot, no matter what. One with an expandable zipper option works well, especially for the winter months when clothing is bulkier.
- Laptop bag: If you want to splurge on travel accessories, this is where I would recommend doing so. There are a lot of feminine versions with bright colors and prints. I would look for one that is on the larger side, so you can fit your purse/clutch in it.
- Clutch: There are several airlines that are very strict with their carry-on policy. You may be able to get away with a purse, but you are technically allowed only one carry-on and one personal item. I found that a clutch works best, as it fits easily into my laptop bag when they are enforcing their rules.
2) PACKING: It is not possible to fit your entire fall wardrobe with matching shoes and purses into a carry-on suitcase. I’ve tried. You want pieces that are comfortable, wrinkle-free, and interchangeable. Here are my packing essentials:
- Oversized scarf: This is always in my suitcase no matter what time of year. It has saved me in unpredictable weather during many trips and even on the plane when the temperature can get very cold (they do not provide blankets anymore on domestic flights – only on international business/first class).
- Trench coat: You can layer underneath. There are many trendy and colorful versions. I recently purchased a bright pink one.
- Wrap dress: They do not take up very much space and you can easily wear a suit jacket over it for a meeting. There are a lot of great prints in non-wrinkle fabrics to choose from these days. I have accumulated quite a collection over the years.
- One suit: You can interchange the pants with different tops or wear the jacket with different bottoms.
- Shoes – two pairs: Any combination of a mid heel or kitten heel pump for the airport and a higher heel alternative or an ankle boot/bootie. It is not physically possible to race through the airport in four-inch heels with two carry on luggage bags every week (I have to admit I tried this early in my career and it was not pretty!). Avoid anything that has laces as it will be too hard to take off at airport security.
- Travel slippers: There are great ballet ones that are foldable. These are good on long flights or for the hotel room.
- Good hand lotion: I am constantly washing my hands when I am traveling and they get very dry.
3) POINTS: Rack them up! Fly with the same partner airlines, stay with the same hotel chain, and use the same rental car company. The airlines have an express line, early boarding, and first class upgrades for frequent fliers with elite status. Hotels upgrade you or give you free meals when you have elite status. Rental car companies upgrade you when you have reached certain tiers or you can bypass the line. I can’t stress this enough. Once you have accumulated enough points, you will be flying first class, staying in a suite, and driving around in a luxury sedan in no time!