Tips for surviving a multi-leg trip

a brown shoe with white soleWhen I first started traveling for work I would frequently visit multiple cities on one trip, often three or four cities in just a few days. I’m exhausted just thinking about it! In the past few years my travel has calmed down a bit, and I generally travel to one location per trip.

In a few weeks I have one of those city-hopping trips, going to three cities in three days. I head to Phoenix early on a Tuesday morning to visit one office, then head to Oklahoma City that evening. Wednesday I’m at the OKC office, flying that night to Nashville. Thursday I’m in the Nashville office, heading home Thursday night. Seven flights in three days, with what feels like one million stops in DFW.

I’m having to dust off my old multi-leg trip skills! Here are my tips for surviving a trip with lots of legs.

Bring extra shoes. Yes, I know normally I’m the two pairs for a week girl. But when you’re on your feet this much, especially that first long day, it’s better to have multiple pairs of shoes to wear. I plan to bring two pairs of work shoes along with my beloved Toms for the airport.

Don’t overpack. Even though I’m bringing extra shoes, I’m going to be very cautious with how much else I pack. It’s three days, but one of the work days is the day I leave so I really only need clothes for two days plus PJs and toiletries. My plan is to wear slacks and a shirt, and bring a skirt and two more shirts. All the shirts can be worn with either the pants or skirt, simplifying outfit choices for each day.

Tip: If you’re going on a longer multi-leg trip be sure to check the weather for each location. A few years ago my mom did a four-week work trip that started in London and ended in Zimbabwe. Talk about a range in temperatures!

Plan for travel time. I’m going to be spending so much time on planes during this trip, many of them regional jets that won’t have much room for working. Plus several flights are so short that it doesn’t make sense to get out my laptop for just 10-15 minutes. I’ll be putting a lot of documents on my phone for easy access and portability. And probably watching some TV 🙂

Pack extra snacks. I always have a couple of granola bars in my bag, but there won’t be much time for eating real meals between dashing from the airport to the office and back again. I’ll definitely have a few extra (and varied) snacks for this trips.

Wear primer. Maybe this is not the most important thing. But when I’m putting my makeup on at 4am to fly to Phoenix and go straight to the office for an all day meeting, I want to make sure it’s still there at the end of the day!

Take care of yourself. Trips like this can be brutal. Self-care is so important when you’re running frantically! Catnaps on planes are nice when they happen, but nothing replaces a good night’s sleep. Use a white noise app to block out distracting ambient noise at the hotel. Also, keep Emergen-C on hand for a quick energy and immune system boost. Finally, make sure to eat real meals when you can!

Readers, how often do you go on a multi-leg trip? Any suggestions for getting through it in one piece?


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  1. I do a lot of this type of travel. If you have a multi leg trip coming try to book it all on one airline to avoid issues with connections at different terminals. It can also make it more difficult to pick seat assignments and/or check bags at times if you use a travel agent and they put it all on one reservations. Try to get separate reservations for each airline involved if not part of a single alliance.
    Try to have airport lounge access if possible. Even if your layovers are tight you can go in to use the nicer restrooms and get a snack on the run.
    Avoid fast absorbing carbs like candy, sugared soda, etc. It will sap your energy late in the day as your blood sugar goes crazy.
    If you don’t have noise cancelling headphones bring a cheap pair of ear plugs to give you rest from the noise pollution.
    Try to avoid alcohol (even the night before). It will just wear you down.
    Even if tempted don’t book connections that are tighter than an hour. An hour is 30 minutes in the airport if nothing is late, delayed, etc. before your next boarding time. I like 1 1/2 hours minimum at airports like DFW, ORD, etc.
    I agree with bringing snacks. More than likely you won’t have time to eat properly.
    Of course don’t check a bag if at all possible.
    As a guy I don’t worry about makeup and clothing will depend on the clients or offices being visited but try to dress comfortable with looser fitting clothes when possible.
    They other item I like to bring on hardcore days is a travel battery to recharge my phone. You may not have time or have access to power. I hate carrying the weight but it can be a lifesaver.

  2. This doesn’t apply specifically to multi-leg trips, but I think it’s still relevant. Since I’m flying internationally in a few days, it just occurred to me to wonder how you manage to prevent getting sick with all that flying. Being cooped up with so many strangers, some of whom are almost certainly carrying cold germs, for hours at a time used to make me sick almost every time I flew.

    A busy schedule can lower your immune system, particularly if you aren’t eating and sleeping as well as usual. I know you carry Emergen-C, but that is for after the fact. Do you take any preventive measures?

    I rarely get sick anymore since I started eating an orange every day, sometimes every other day. Even sharing a tiny room with my sister for all of the three weeks or so that she had the cold from hell, I didn’t catch it. Now, when I fly, I eat TWO oranges – the day I fly, the day before and the day after. The one time I didn’t do it, I got sick.

  3. I have been on bi-weekly, six-leg trips for just over six years. I always stay at the same hotel chain ans use the same car rental company – even on just a one-off trip with multi-legs, it helps for sanity and consistency (less to think about when you know the drill).

    The biggest thing I started doing 2 years ago to help myself, was so keep a note of short bullets for myself to look at when I woke up and to keep on-track during the trip – I got to keeping it short and funny:

    – Good Morning! You’re in OKC (in case you’re still out of it and unsure)
    – First meeting at 10am (if you make it downstairs by 8am you can have a 30 min bfast and check emails)
    -Fill up the rental car on the way to the last meeting as you have to race to return it and get to the airport, right after!

    I adopted this from a colleague who talk me in-office to leave myself similar notes for the nezt work day – and it has worked just as great for me on trips. I mean, why not do all the thinking ahead for yourself, rather than try to when you first wake up ans haven’t even had your coffee yet.

    I’ve noticed when I do this for myself the night before when I’m still in full alert mode, that I catch a lot of things to remind myself of and make life easier that I never would first thing in the morning LOL

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