If you travel solo for business, sometimes the most efficient and effective trip starts with the first flight out in the morning and ends with the last flight coming home that same day.
In a normal month, I usually take 2 or 3 day trips, and I’ve learned how to make my life more comfortable when I do. Since all airlines allow a carryon and one smaller item, I always ditch my purse and take my briefcase instead. My briefcase easily accommodates my day planner and my wallet, and the night before I leave, I always ensure that whatever items I need such as business cards, my business name tag, and my various cell phone requirements are in it. It is easy to forget those critical items in the morning.
And this is my Public Service Announcement for a critical cell phone accessory – the earpiece. If you don’t have a hands-free earpiece for your phone, get one before you go on any business trip, and make sure it is fully charged up before you leave if it is wireless. The reason is simple – many cities and states have different laws regarding cell phone use while driving, and you don’t want to be caught unaware. Plus, it is just safer all the way around. When your cell phone is glued to your ear, you are not as aware of your environment; you take for granted that you are “on the phone” like you would if you were in your office or at home. If you have a headset, you are looking forward and maintaining an awareness of your environment, which is definitely a safer solo travel bet.
Another item that I find to be highly beneficial is a backpack that is made to carry my laptop, which is my larger carryon item. First, the backpack offers extra cargo space if I get items from my meetings or if I want to take my travel pillow (a solo travel must in my opinion), and second, it is just an easier way to haul all that stuff! A backpack is also much more “back healthy” when used appropriately. Yes, you will feel like a collegiate imposter if you’ve not carried a backpack since 1990, and you may get mistaken for less than an expert traveler at the airport because of it, but trust me, it is well worth it.
I always take a phone charger with me, even if it is just for the day. If a flight is delayed or I end up spending more time on the phone than I anticipated, I never have to worry about my battery getting low in my phone. I also make sure that I pack lip balm, a small travel lotion and natural tears in my Ziploc baggie of liquids, gels and creams. Flying is very drying to your eyes and skin, so take care of them when you go up.
My last critical item for a day trip is a small emergency kit – some of the items for which will need to be in your Ziploc. A small tube of Neosporin and a few adhesive bandages will get you through little cuts and scrapes as they happen, and they can happen a lot when you are traveling. Also take along a small bottle of your pain reliever of choice. Female travelers may also want to include an emergency 1-day stash of tampons or pads, because airports are notorious for unreliable vending machines, and buying them from the airport gift shop in a pinch will force you to pay two to three times as much.
Having this type of emergency kit, as well as the other day trip essentials, can also help fellow solo travelers who may not be as well-prepared!