Checklist for Business Trips

My first business trip at my post-college job in NYC was to glamorous Los Angeles. The hotel, located next to a prestigious Hollywood theatre, was supposedly frequented by celebrities; I was excited. My boss had directed me to fly alone to LAX and join him at our meeting. Dressed in a suit that morning in my apartment, I went through my check list several times. I had packed everything.

Except shoes. Of course I was wearing shoes, the rubber Nike flip flops I put on when I got out of bed. I just didn’t have footwear acceptable for any business meeting conducted off the beach. This dilemma first occurred to me at about 30,000 feet, making the plane ride fairly stressful. By time I arrived in L.A., I still didn’t have a plan (this was before mobile phones) but grabbed a cab and headed toward the meeting. As a shoe store came into view, I all but jumped from the moving vehicle while throwing money in the direction of the driver. The shoes were dreadful but I got to my meeting on time.

I can’t imagine others could be as clueless as I was that morning, but I thought it worthwhile to lay out a few pointers for taking your first business trips.

Checklist (liquids in a quart bag, ID, boarding pass, cash, credit card, phone charger)
Yes, Canada is a foreign country. I forgot my passport once going to Toronto and talked my way in. Not sure if I could repeat that performance. I also arrived at the airport for a trip to London with my baby’s passport, not mine. Even if you’re junior, it doesn’t hurt to offer to pick up the tab for a taxi or other joint expenses. Have cash and a credit card on hand.
Clothes (extra underwear, contact solution, meds) I’ve been grounded overnight both by weather and unfinished business at out of town meetings. Extra underwear, socks or hose don’t take up much room when packing.
Might come in handy (reading material, headache and allergy medicine, gum, notepad) Assume you’re going to sit on the tarmac for an extra two hours when you’re packing something to read. Some airports don’t sell gum, so make sure to have it with you. Ever got a sinus headache or allergy attack in the middle of a flight? It’s good to have the solution at hand. Remember you will want to have an electronic device or notepad to take notes in any of your meetings.
Have easily accessible ($1 bills for tipping, hotel address, meeting address, contacts) You should tip hotel employees who hail you a cab, carry your bags and bring a requested item to your room. Generally one or two dollars each is appropriate, more if the task is bigger. And don’t forget to have the address of where you’re going and the numbers of your business contacts easily accessible.
Make your checked bag distinguishable. Who knew that someone else had a cute black and grey patterned roller bag just like mine? One trip it went home with another traveler and I didn’t get it back for a day. I’ve since put a red name tag on it.
Game day performance. As a junior employee, don’t make your associates wait for you in the hotel or office lobby. Similarly, as you’re packing think about the ease of moving through a city or an airport with colleagues. You may also need to factor in the hauling of presentation materials along with your bag.

Have fun on your trip, or at least come back with some great travel stories.