If you want to be happy, buy experiences, not things. And you know what they say: at least half of success is just showing up. For me, these two ideas have often intersected during business travel. Throwing a few things in a suitcase (I'm a notoriously light packer) and then setting off into the somewhat unknown always energizes me and helps me revisit my life with improved perspective.
And while I'd rather spend the bulk of my money and energy on the experiences and relationships that travel brings, I've learned through experience that there are at least a few creature comforts well worth investing in.
Here are eight things to help you stay organized and focused during your flight.
1. A classy fanny pack
Wait, before you click away, I'm not talking about the monstrosities of the 90s (shudder). Last year, a friend of mine got evacuated from an airport on her way to a speaking engagement. She had to drop her large purse and carry on and run. Getting her passport, credit cards and other valuable documents back afterwards was a nightmare. It got me thinking.
As a woman on the other side of 35, I couldn't bring myself to strap on a typical fanny pack. And while I did find some inexpensive options that weren't hideous, when I found Montreal-based Holdur, which hand makes chic-but-functional fanny packs that convert into clutches and cross-body bags, it was an answer to a prayer. It's a great way to keep your ultra-valuables on your person, so you won't be stranded in a foreign city without vital documentation or access to funds.
2. Keep shirts wrinkle-free with garment folders.
Have you ever wished your shirts stayed crisp and clean? Regular packing cubes do an amazing job at keeping you organized, but Eagle Creek's garment folders take it to the next level. They're like Spanx for your carry-on!
I like this particular model because it comes with a folding board, so you get a neat stack of clothes in minutes. Then the garment folder secures and compresses your shirts, so they stay wrinkle-free and you can squish your clothes down and have room for toys and books flying home after a conference.
3. A travel iron for the perfectionists
If attention to detail is your middle name, then the Collar Perfect travel iron is for you. You can use it to press clothes stuffed in the overhead bin. Smaller and more versatile than your typical travel iron, you can even stick it in your purse for touch ups on the go.
4. A battery pack that charges everything
One of my favourite ways to make friends on a long flight is to let them charge their devices on my monster charging pack. There are plenty of models out there, but I've been happy with the MAXOAK 50000mAh 6 Port because it lets me simultaneously charge both my phone and laptop and still have room to share.
It's compact, lightweight and the number of times you can charge your devices before having to recharge the pack itself is mind-boggling (I believe it lets you charge an iPhone 6 plus 11 times though my personal best has been 6 times over a long weekend so far).
I suspect I'm the only woman on the professional speaking circuit who doesn't love shopping for shoes. Sigh. It makes my image consultant girlfriends cringe but I'd live in my minimalist Vibrams or SoftMocs if I could. So when I found ShoeCandy, a company created by women entrepreneurs for women entrepreneurs, I was smitten. ShoeCandy lets you design your own shoe, so you pack one single pair of (comfy!) shoes that you can dress up to look like an entire wardrobe!
ShoeCandy has saved me money, space (both at home and in my suitcase) and interestingly, even my shoe shopping-obsessed girlfriends love them because they find it easy to justify the purchase because of how many pairs of shoes a single pair represents.
So there you go. I'd love to hear what you consider essential during business travel - leave me a comment below.