Monday, May 03, 2010

What’s in Your Backpack?

After countless press tours, conferences, and events where I’m not only responsible for my own well-being but that of my traveling roadshow colleagues, I picked up a thing or two about road warrioring. “Be prepared” being the motto of the savvy pr professional, my colleagues joke that I’m better than a boy scout.

Here is a collection of ten of my favorite/best travel tips. Some of them are specifically geared toward female business travelers, but most will work for everyone. The following items are in my backpack at all times. Just in case…

1. Peekaboo, I can’t see you. Bring an eyepillow. You never know when you’ll end up in a hotel room with a neon sign directly in front of your window. It also comes in handy during long flights where the person next to you is reading and you want to sleep.

2. La la la, I can’t hear you. It is not the small child’s fault for screaming during the entire flight. It is your fault for being unprepared. Do not leave home without at least two pair of earplugs. If you are going to Vegas and have early morning meetings, earplugs are the difference between a sound night of sleep and staying up all night - people scream in the hallways at all hours for no apparent reason.

3. Tea Party. The tea in hotels (even fancy hotels) simply sucks. Travel with a few of your favorite bags. Oftentimes a nice cup of tea can make the difference between a good day and a bad day.

4. Be your own Starbucks. Carry a coffee sleeve and one of those green coffee stoppers from Starbucks. They come in handy if you end up getting coffee from a place that doesn’t stock those things.

5. Be your own RiteAid/Walgreens/CVS/Duane Reed. Pack a coughdrop. Just one. Pack two Dayquil. And at least four Benedryl. If you or your spokesperson goes into a coughing fit in a press briefing, you’ll be ready – it’s easy enough to buy more if you need them. If you or your spokesperson gets a cold on the plane, the Dayquil may save you from rescheduling a full day of meetings – that stuff is amazing. The Benedryl is the most fantastic of all. It’s intended for allergies and does a bang up job as an anti-histamine. But what the label doesn’t tell you is that if you’re stuck in an unfamiliar time zone, it’ll help you sleep with minimal side effects and no Ambien hangover.

6. Meal in bar form. You should always have at least one granola bar in your bag and at least one piece of gum. A spokesperson with low blood sugar will make your life miserable. And garlic breath is not an effective message delivery vehicle.

7. These lips were made for talking. Chapstick is a modern miracle. It does not matter if it is winter or summer, your lips will be chapped after three days of meetings.

8. Summertime and the livin’s easy. Bring flip flops on every trip, even if you’re going someplace cold. After a day in work shoes, no matter how comfortable, you’ll enjoy walking around the hotel in them. And if you find out those new shoes aren’t quite as comfortable after you’ve walked the length of Manhattan in ‘em, you can always throw them in your backpack, use the flip flops to hike across the city, and change back in the elevator. No one will ever be the wiser.

9. Oops, I did it again. Those little tiny sewing kits they have in most hotels? Take one and put it in your backpack. It doesn’t take up any space and if you lose a button, split your pants, or get your sweater caught on a turnstile, you’ll be glad it’s there.

10. Cousin It stand-in. Bring a hairtie and at least two barrettes no matter the length or style of your hair. Cute as your hair may be when at home, humidity is a wondrous thing. You can suffer through the frizz or pull it all back in a tight bun and let it down again once you’re safely inside.

Photo credits:
Cute kid with the wild hair.