By Barbara Glanz.
As a Certified Speaking Professional, I travel at least 100 days a year. Consequently, I’ve learned a few things about negotiating the potentially unfriendly skies these days. It’s wonderful to travel to exciting cities and to experience exotic culture and restful havens; but you need to be prepared.
Buy the lightest possible luggage you can. The average suitcase weighs from 12 to 15 pounds, so that leaves you only about 35 pounds to fill in order not to have to pay a penalty. I use a large duffle bag, which is by far the lightest option, for my work materials, workout clothes and cosmetics.
Because I am a professional speaker, I need to take “presenting” clothes as well as casual things for evening, so I need a molded suitcase for these items. My preference is a brand called Heys. Their largest suitcase weighs only 11 pounds, the lightest I have ever found, and it has held up well even through international travel. (I only plan to get about one year from my bags, so if they make it beyond that, I am thrilled!) Bed, Bath and Beyond has a very inexpensive hand-held scale that you can use to check the weight of each bag ahead so that you have no surprises when you get to airport check-in.
I have never learned to travel light! Fortunately, I am a Gold Medallion on Delta, so I get three bags of 70 pounds each free. HOORAY! However, I do have some packing tips. I keep an extra set of all my medications (which I carry onto the plane), cosmetics, a spare curling iron and hair dryer (I never rely on the hotels to have these as they are essential to my looking good) and toiletries already in my suitcase so that I never have to worry about packing those.
I have shoe bags and molded forms to stick in my shoes and I fill my tennis shoes with pairs of socks. I buy mostly knits and clothes that pack well such as Chico’s for casual and St. John for dress and presentations. A basic black pant and top, dress, or skirt and tank with several different jackets help save space and always look appropriate. I pack everything in plastic cleaning bags to help them stay wrinkle free. Many professional travelers recommend those special bags that are airtight and save a great deal of space in one’s suitcase.
Health On The Road
On the plane, I rely on two products Airborne, which you can get at any drugstore, and a product from New Zealand for longer flights called “No Jet Lag” (www.nojetlag.com). The latter is a little mint that you chew every two hours. It is miraculous. Even on a 28-hour flight home from South Africa several years ago, neither my daughter nor I had jet lag.
I also carry antibiotic hand cream everywhere and a Z-pak from my doctor just in case I do get ill on the road. I drink lots of water and take daily vitamins, and I always get a flu shot. Be sure to wash your hands often on the plane and walk around every hour.
I also carry a stretch band and a tennis ball. Each morning on the road, I do 15 minutes of stretching exercises and 100 sit-ups with the tennis ball between my knees. This helps to keep me limber and gets my metabolism going even if I do not have time to do more of a workout. I always pack a swimsuit and goggles, tennis shoes and shorts and tee-shirt in case I have time to work out. After a long day with clients, I am not excited about going down to a hotel fitness center late at night all by myself. Instead, I spend time with my stretch bands in the room.
I recently bought a sound machine to carry on the road and I also take a fire hood in case of emergency. If you travel frequently, there is a wonderful service called Med Jet Assist which will airlift you from anywhere in the world to your choice of a hospital. The fee the last time I checked was around $100 a year, a bargain for peace of mind.
Have a photo ID or passport with you. Check with your state to see if you can get a free photo ID that is a duplicate of your driver’s license so you do not have to worry about losing your license when you are traveling.
I always dress well when I travel (no jeans). I am treated with much more respect, I often get upgraded, and if they were to lose my bags, I still have something I could wear to speak.
Keep ID inside of each bag as well as on the outside. If your suitcase is black, have some distinguishing feature such as a colored ribbon tied on it, stickers or a bright band around the bag. That helps keep anyone else from mistaking your bag for theirs.
Travel has gotten harder since 9/11. But, if you are well-prepared, you’ll discover great joy in new experiences that you could never imagine at home.