Holiday travel insanity is upon us. Brace yourselves. Or at least arm yourself with the following tips from powerful and incredible women in business to lessen the misery this travel season.
If you're lucky, travel is a great part of your career. The ability to move seamlessly, well with the aspiration of seamlessness and jet between locations allows us to do business faster and better than ever before. But here's the problem; travel is really overwhelming. Especially this time of year, with heightened security, and with everyone trying to get home at the exact same time.
From figuring out where and how and when to book flights to which luggage works when you're running to a gate to the right shoes for any environment that also work at a board meeting. I recently relocated to Los Angeles, and was forced to think about how I move around for both business and pleasure. Booking flights is overwhelming, because airlines are tricky and expensive and the pain.
Here's a problem: the majority of travel advice, particularly for business, is aimed at men. When googling "best doppkit" there were no articles aimed at women business travelers, only men. The ten best doppkits for men didn't consider pockets for makeup or tampons or hairspray.
I look at some women in business who seem to jet from location to location effortlessly, as if they have some sort of amazing formula in their head (and some of them genuinely do, as I will share). Since everything from the right travel pillow to the right time to fly to the perfect pants that don't wrinkle can be a lot to handle, I figured that I would pull a group of women entrepreneurs and leaders that I knew to ask them what their favorite travel products hacks for lack of a better term, and other insider knowledge would help me, and thus you, travel like a boss.
Goo, Gone. (Toiletries)
Toiletries are the worst. I have toiletries that have toiletries. And TSA makes it very difficult for you to carry your products through security. I diligently pour my shampoos and conditioners and hair spray and gel and toner and facewash into smaller containers. Or I'll put large size ones in my bag which means I have to check things. Not smart.
You have a few options here - the first is to buy smaller versions of your favorite products. Now most beauty brands offer regulation-sized versions of your favorite masks and beyond.
Garance Franke-Ruta of Yahoo has her own strategy for when your shampoo gets all over your underwear (every. damn. time). "Use Glad ziplock baggies with the little zipper (of variable sizes, depending on the length of the trip). One for makeup/contacts. One for things that could leak and can be leaked on. One for things that likely won't leak but still need to be taken out for screening. Then throw the bags away once home and use new ones for the next trip, so you're never dealing with a gross dopkit/spill residue/even the scent of incipient mildew."
You don't even have to use the traditional packaging here - Margit Detweiler uses contact cases for face creams, and Talia Borodin will ask for samples from a Sephora or beyond for her travels. Sometimes the doppkits on board the flight are the best - the mens, that is, because they're often bigger and more durable. Be sure to ask for both, says Amelia Showalter.
Airport 101: Secrets from the Best of the Best
Friend and general queen of badassery Cindy Gallop is always galavanting in an airport lounge while I am twisted in a corner near the gate using an outlet. Her secret swagger? Priority pass: www.prioritypass.com. Transit hotels are another great insider tip via Showalter. Many major airports have one next to or even inside of the airport, and they don't advertise but many do short term or even hourly rates. If you're connecting through a red-eye or need a few hours of sleep it beats sleeping on the floor.
Airline and Hotel Rewards
I never know which airline to pick - to accumulate miles or be a person who gets an upgrade. I'm doing it wrong. According to Marci Harris, if you want an upgrade your best bet, "American usually has good offers. A little OneWorld status goes a long way on USAirways, have gotten more upgrades there than any other. Virgin is just so awesome.. look for specials to upgrade to Gold, but their Main Cabin is like another airline's Economy Plus."
You also shouldn't lose hope when boarding - sometimes you can get a last minute upgrade...while you're on the plane. "Once I board a plane (early because of my airline status) I look at the mobile app for open seats and grab any better ones - while they are upgrading folks at the desk last minute prime seats often open up, " said Jalak Jobanputra.
One of the most important elements now of travel is bringing your gadgets and especially your chargers. One thing to remember - if you've forgotten a phone charger - there's a strong chance the hotel you're staying in will have a lost and found with one already in it. You have the basics like noise-canceling headphones and audiobooks, but for international travel, there are some important things to note. Buy Apple adapters - it's far easier to just be able to use your regular chargers. You CAN in fact access Netflix in Europe, but you need to sign up for a VPN service, she said. Always change your cell phone plan to international temporarily, and turn off all apps that use data (photos or google maps will drain your data in a second).
Feeling like you can be on track - whether it's with your expenses or your packing - can make you feel better about traveling overall. Road-warrior Anthea Watson-Strong of Google has it down to a science: itineraries in Tripit, loyalty cards and numbers in lastpass, and copies of all important cards and documents, from insurance to drivers license in Google Documents.
Maybe we can't all reach that level of systematic travel mastery, but at least you can stop wiping spilled shampoo from the bottom of your suitcase for the tenth time.