Packing and Travel Tips to Become a True Road Warrior

Packing and Travel Tips to Become  a True Road Warrior

I don’t have time to do fancy folding or play Jenga with my luggage. I travel a lot and most of the time I am not in a hotel long enough to unpack my suitcase. I need to get into the hotel, peel off what I have been traveling in, switch to new stage clothes, then sleep, then travel clothes again – sometimes without ever seeing the sun or reaching the other side of the hotel room. Here are some easy tips that can help you when you are on the road for a LONG time.

Before you can apply any of my easy tips, you first need to inventory yourself. You may have needs that I don’t. What do you need to do to stay sane?

Here is what I grapple with every time I leave home…

  1. Depression
  2. Body image issues
  3. Projects that MUST be worked on
  4. Downtime
  5. Conference calls
  6. Food, friends, dogs, laundry

For me, to remain the healthiest while on the road for LONG periods of time, I need conversations that aren’t paid for – you know what I mean – talking to people that you actually want to talk to. To stay connected I lean heavily on:

  1. Skype calls with friends, family, mastermind members
  2. Mailing people presents I find along my travels
  3. Surprising folks while I am magically in town to catch their 5K
  4. Book clubs to keep me reading and not always working

One time, I landed in Salt Lake City and Ty Bennett, CSP, recognized me and quickly gave me the address to his Chapter. He left early to fly out and I got to crash and have lunch with other speakers – nice surprises happen to me, too! I also need to be strategic and really pay attention to where I am at, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically,

  1. Exercise
  2. Snacks/food choices
  3. Have I seen the sun? Touched grass? Smelled a flower?
  4. Work time/Downtime balance

I know you may be expecting folding tips – but this stuff is really important when traveling for LONG periods at a time. You also have to think about those you left behind.  My partner and I schedule phone dates daily so that we aren’t interrupting each other. I also schedule phone dates with friends and other speakers. Also, I really appreciate the random reach out – Judson Laipply, CSP, is the best at this – he just calls when he can and it usually works – and it always makes me smile. I also send letters (actually paper, stamps, and envelope-type letters) home along my journey.

Remember, there is a difference between being a fire hose and a soaker hose. Their life has continued in your absence… soaker hose… we learned this in therapy – you are welcome. I also recommend, you and your significant others, reading For Better or For Worse. It helped me hear what was being said to me over and over again in a way that saved my relationship and my business.

Time and jet lag are also popular questions I get. To be honest, I cheat and just try and live on east coast time no matter where I am. I technically live in California, but the majority of the work I do is on the east coast. This is just easier for me. Here are a few other tips you might find more do-able.

  1. Sleep with them; eat with them.
  2. 3:00 a.m. wake-up calls no matter what time zone feel the same.
  3. Make a routine and stick to it.

My actual packing tips start with how to pack LESS and get more out of it, not folding, ironing, stuffing, stacking, tips. I tried all of the usual tips and eventually realized that I have one consistent packing problem… I pack too much crap. So this is what I do now before every trip.

Get a piece of paper and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are you doing on this trip?
  • How many days are you in the same place?
  • How many work days? Off days?
  • Any side trips? (brother’s birthday party, meet-up, vacation, etc.)
  • What is the weather you are likely to be dealing with?
  • How many travel days? Days off?

Then pick two colors. This works for men and women. Pick two colors and stick to them. You will have a lot more choices and variables to work with if they all match each other. I am a rebel so I also pack one thing that is totally not one of these colors – usually a thin shirt or an accessory just so I can throw a tantrum in my hotel and wear something that is different. Once you figure out your colors, then pick an outfit that is the bulkiest and wear that on the plane. Even better is to pack that outfit, that way you always have extra room in your suitcase.

I start with shoes first when actually putting things in my suitcase. Based on what I am going to be doing on this trip, I pick the shoes that fit the color choices and put them at the bottom of the suitcase. I have really big feet and lots of foot problems, so I need to rotate shoes often. Then there is the next layer of sorts of all the little stuff I always forget. Fill in all of the nooks and crannies with your pajamas, under garments, workout clothes, and extra pairs of socks. Some other items that are needed that may go in my suitcase or in my carry-on:

  • Notepad, travel plans, book
  • Workshop supplies/product
  • Lucky charm
  • Toiletries/ vitamins/medicine/ toothbrush
  • Electronics/chargers/GPS
  • Business cards
  • Tote bag
  • Water bottle
  • Glasses (3)
  • Neck pillow

Once there is a solid bottom layer then you start packing clothing. For shirts that need ironing and button downs, I like a packing envelope. They are really easy to fold several shirts in one and then they are protected and flat – much easier to pack than rolling clothing. If you keep to your color choices, you really only need one dressy, one casual, one short sleeve, one long sleeve, one under layer, and one over layer, and you can mix and match based on preference, weather, and formality. Once you make your choices fold them like you typically would and make one pile and put on top on the base/bottom of your suitcase. This should not take up more than 1//3 of the area in your suitcase. For your bottoms, pick out slacks, pants, shorts, skirts, dresses, etc., that also align with your color choices. Fold as you typically would and place the one pile on top of the bottom layer next to shirt/top pile. This can take up the middle 1/3 of your suitcase. I usually have about six inches of 1/4 of the suitcase left towards the top of the roller bag. I put my toiletries in this area for easy access during security.

Look and see what didn’t fit. Do you really need it? Can you wear it or bring it with you on the plane? If so, no problem. If not, then what does that item need to replace inside of your suitcase? You can’t take everything with you. Just take what you need. Pay attention to the areas that you neglect, over pack, forget, and turn to. Listening to these patterns will help you pack right and be a real road warrior.

Jessica Pettitt

Jessica Pettitt

Diversity Consultant and Facilitator at I am… Social Justice
Jessica Pettitt, CSP, has stirred up conversations that matter for the past 15 years on topics that your grandmother recommended avoiding. She also challenges others to be Good Enough Now.
Jessica Pettitt
Jessica Pettitt
Jessica Pettitt