The same day American Airlines alerted me that I had reached Executive Platinum status, Hulu suggested the movie Up in the Air in my queue. Despite the creepiness of it, that evening I did as the streaming giant suggested and watched George Clooney in all his traveling glory.
I admit, I felt a unique sense of giddiness watching Clooney sail through security, because, as a professional speaker, I spend a lot of time packing for the road.
If you are using a Mac for your slides, more important than bringing a power cord is bringing an adapter.
Officially called a dongle, this critical piece of tech equipment translates information from your modern computer into a language the antiquated AV equipment in many hotel ballrooms and boardrooms can understand.
I have two different dongles: VGA and HDMI. I don't know what the difference is, but I do know if I show up for a presentation and don't have the dongles, there is a good chance I won't be able to use my slides. Now, I never leave home without them.
2. A shredded pillowcase
It was the morning of a presentation, and my hotel room had turned into a battle zone--me and the ancient hotel iron versus the impossible crease in my dress. I eventually called the front desk, and the manager came to the rescue. With a thick Russian accent and determination, she yanked a pillowcase off the bed, tore it in half, and used it to ease the crease out without the rusty iron ruining the delicate fabric.
That pillowcase scrap is still in my suitcase for future wrinkle wars.
3. Anti-nausea medication
Whether it's food poisoning or the flu, an upset stomach can take even the best presenters down. After a particularly ugly incident, I always keep a supply of stomach soothers in my bag.
4. A USB
Moments before a presentation for 1,200 people, the AV crew realized they didn't have my slides (though I had sent them a link in advance) and couldn't download them in time. Fortunately, I had a USB with everything on it.
The cloud is a wonderful thing, but if a tech storm is brewing, it's best to have a hard copy in hand.
5. A clicker
Officially known as a wireless presenter remote, this is the device that connects to your computer so you can advance your slides from the front of the room.
Often the venue or AV department will have a clicker you can use, and in my early days of presenting, I used whatever was around. But because the clicker was always different, I would constantly have to look down to make sure I was hitting the right button, disconnecting from my audience with each new slide.
Now I travel with my own, familiar clicker and can effortlessly advance through a presentation, greatly enhancing the audience's experience.
To keep my slides from being boring, I have my decks professionally designed, and my designer uses fonts that aren't standard and often don't display properly on others' computers.
If you decide to get fancy with your deck, always have your unique fonts handy so they can be installed on any computer and your text will display properly on the screen.
7. Ruby slippers
Hotel carpet weirds me out.
I have a pair of red-sequined slippers in my suitcase to put on as soon as I take my street shoes off. Dorothy was right: There's no place like home (that includes carpet).
Clearly, this tip isn't for everyone, but women, take heed. Though your cycle might be as predictable as the hands on a clock, stress does crazy things to your body. After a particularly stressful presentation, my monthly guest showed up two weeks early. Scrambling to find supplies while on the road and without a car can be tricky. Now, I always carry one with me, just in case.
If we ever happen to meet in the TSA PreCheck line, you won't need an X-ray to know what's in my bag. No matter what your airline status, these eight things in your suitcase will set you up for a smooth trip.