According to Google search, the most common length of time for a business trip is three to four days. But what happens when you are gone instead for three to four months? I recently received an email from Reader L that said:
“I have just taken a new job that is clearly defined as a “Road Warrior”, it was even in the job description. I will start in a couple of weeks, and am starting to makes plans and arrangements, but am a little overwhelmed. The job itself is constant travel – as in away from home for up to three months at a stretch with a new place every few days. This kind of travel obviously takes a special kind of packing. I found your blog online and love it so far! I’ve read a number of your posts, but it seems most of them are geared towards three- to four-day trips with a stop at home in between. Any specific tips for this kind of business travel? I would love to be able to carry on.”
Congrats on the new job! It’s true that the majority of my own business travel is for 3-4 day trips, but there are certainly exceptions. Three months is a long time! It will definitely require a lot of planning and strategy. The most important thing is to be as efficient as possible. I know I talk about efficiency while packing a lot, but this time I mean it even more. Planning ahead, carefully measuring the flexibility and durability of every piece of clothing, using helpful items like packing cubes, and the rest of the tips below can make a long-term, potentially tricky travel situation much easier to manage. Here are my suggestions.
- Packing cubes. Cubes will help you so much, allowing you to pack twice as much in the same amount of space. At the same time, make sure your suitcase isn’t so heavy you can’t lift it.
- Neutrals. All of your basics—pants, skirts, jackets—need to be neutral. Black would be my first choice, because it won’t show stains as easily. Just in case you, I don’t know, spill coffee on your pants one morning. Not that that’s ever happened to me……
- Capsule wardrobe!! You guys know I love the capsule wardrobe. Making sure that each of your pieces can be worn together means almost unlimited outfit possibilities, so you don’t feel like you’re wearing the same thing every day. Here is my capsule wardrobe for this summer, to give you some ideas.
- Laundry/Dry Cleaning. Your company should provide for some sort of cleaning service if you are traveling for this long. Definitely take advantage of it! I would recommend taking your clothes to the cleaners for general laundering as well, so you don’t have to mess with washing and folding.
- Stuff that wears well. Quality and durability is even more important when you’re going to be wearing the same 12-15 clothing items for three months. And remember, it’s not typically the wearing of clothes that wears them out—it’s the washing. So try to make your clothes last longer between washings—hang them up with space between the hangers, etc.
- FedEx is your friend. If you can go three months without buying anything, you’re a better woman than I am. Ship stuff home on a regular basis if you buy something that replaces it. If you’re a knitter like I am, once you finish a project, send it home or to its intended recipient.
- Toiletries. This is where things get really tricky. You want to carry-on, but there is no way a 3 oz bottle of shampoo is going to last three months. So there are a few options. First, replace your small bottles when you run out. Sites like 3floz.com and Sephora have travel sized bottles of almost every beauty product available. Another option is to ship your toiletries. If your company will pay for it, I think it’s worth it, and you can have larger bottles of your products with you all the time.
- Invest in an e-reader. I can’t stress how much I love my Kindle. You can carry thousands of books with you at all times, without having to tote around the actual books. On many models you can get magazines as well. Also, a lot of hotels have book exchange programs—you can take a book or leave a book.
- Be healthy. Although you asked specifically about packing, I want to add this one last tip. It is so easy to get into an unhealthy rut on the road—late dinners, heavy food, restaurant sized-portions, fast food, little to no time to work out…. Try to be as healthy as you can as often as you can. Look to places like Whole Foods for dinner, get yogurt or cereal for breakfasts, and try to stay away from fast food as much as possible. Also, plan ahead and work some form of exercise into your schedule. Even a ten minute walk around the block can make you feel better.
Whew! That’s a long list. I wish you luck, and am very interested to hear how it goes.
Readers, any tips that I missed? What is your advice for Reader L?