As a frequent traveller it is easy to be scornful of those that don’t travel so often, so I thought I’d open up my box of secrets. This might help you if you are like me, a frequent traveller for meetings and conferences – or also if you are a consultant travelling Monday through Thursday.
1) Shop around for a good carry-on
- Maximum size for carry-on = maximum capacity
- Ability to carry 2 or even 3 suits
- Expandable if you need it for long trips (but must go in the cargo of the plane)
- Expensive (sorry) – $350-$600
But, this is a one-off purchase. Briggs & Riley offer a lifetime guarantee. My Tumi has been going for 5 hard years. The expense will offer you a huge degree of comfort and if you shop around in the sales, you will find one at a 30-50% discount.
2) Choose an airline group and become a frequent flyer
You have roughly 3 choices:
- Star Alliance: Adria Airways JP, Aegean Airlines A3, Air Canada AC, Air China CA, Air New Zealand NZ, ANA NH, Asiana Airlines OZ, Austrian OS, Blue1 KF, Brussels Airlines SN, Croatia Airlines OU, EGYPTAIR MS, Ethiopian Airlines ET, LOT Polish Airlines LO, Lufthansa LH, Scandinavian Airlines SK, Singapore Airlines SQ, South African Airways SA, SWISS LX, TAM Airlines JJ, TAP Portugal TP, THAI TG, Turkish Airlines TK, United UA, US Airways US
- One World: Air Berlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Mexicana, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines
- Skyteam: Aeroflot, AeroMexico, AirEuropa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, CSA Czech Airlines, Delta, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines
Figure out which one serves your home location and destinations best and stick to it. Always log your frequent flyer number. You will get benefits (cheaper miles flights) and upgrades. US Airways are particularly good to their frequent flyers in terms of upgrades, and the One World group has free lounges for Silver members and above.
- 1 Pair black shoes and belt (I wear the black belt on the plane)
- 1 Pair tan shoes and belt
- 1 Grey Suit
- 1 Navy/Black Suit
- 5 White Shirts
- 7 Pairs of Underwear and Socks (Black)
- 3 casual tops
- 1 pair denim jeans
- 1 Washbag (see below)
- 1 Pair Sneakers & workout clothes (see below)
- First lay the shoes in the base, toe to heel. Fill them with underwear and socks. Fill your sneakers with the workout clothes.
- Fit the belts into the gaps
- Then lay the casual tops and denim on top.
- At the last minute, put the suits and shirts in the suit carrier and fold it over into the bag.
- Press down hard and zip it up!
6) Don’t forget your workout clothes
I always pack one set, use them wherever I am and wash them in the shower and hang them out to dry for the next day. It’s not perfect but it’s a reasonable compromise.
7) Be frugal on your wash bag
Remember that you’ve only got a carry-on now, so you have a 100ml (1oz) limit per item and 1 litre (1 quart) overall limit for your wash bag. So go and buy a 1 quart clear wash bag in Acme or Boots and buy travel sized toothpaste, hair wax etc., but always a full sized toothbrush.
I never pack shampoo or soap as I always use the hotel variants. Suit yourself if you want to!
Then I always put my wash bag in my laptop case. This way it is easier to get through security as you don’t have to unzip your bag and you have no worries about spillages.
8) Travel in comfort
First, shower before you fly. I don’t know how many times I have been sat next to someone with bad body odour or halitosis. Don’t be that person!
I always wear loose jeans, smart sneakers, a t-shirt and a jacket. Smart enough so you don’t look out of place if you get upgraded, but not so smart that I’m uncomfortable.
Once on the plane, I always ask the attendant to hang my jacket – which I carry mostly so I have something to wear in the evenings if I need it.
9) Choose your laptop bag contents carefully
You may have to put this under the seat in front of you, depending on the flight, so I pack a small laptop bag with the bare minimum. Here’s what’s in it:
- Laptop with travel charger and adapter for my destination
- iPad – great for browsing in the hotel room
- USB phone charger for iPad and iPhone
- Adapters for network and VGA display for presentations
- Noise-cancelling earphones to cut out the screaming kids
- Pen (for immigration and customs forms)
10) Learn how to get through security
This is so easy and people make it so hard. Here’s the trick:
- Put the contents of your pockets in your jacket pocket, take your belt off and put it in your bag and take your shoes off (if required).
- Get 3 trays.
- In the first put your shoes, jacket, empty laptop bag and wash bag.
- In the second, put your laptop and iPad if you have one. And watch this tray because items can be stolen.
- In the third, put your carry-on.
Then, when it all comes out, you put your shoes and jacket on, put your wash bag in your laptop bag, then your devices come out to put in it and off you go. Put your belt on later.
I hope this helps you – I know it took me some while to learn my formula. What are your travel tips?