It should come as no surprise that I am often on the road (if it is a surprise to you, you clearly have not been paying attention). However, I was not always the “wise traveller” that I am today. When I first started, I had no idea how to rent a car, I did not know how to get through security quickly, and I did not even know how to pack properly. When I look back at it now, what are some of the things that I wish I would have known before my first business trip?
I want to make sure that I impart some of my garnered wisdom onto you by sharing these different factors about my experiences as a business traveller.
1. I Wish Someone Had Explained Car Rentals
When I first started, I did not know anything about my company’s policies about car rentals. I did not know the rental car policies, and as a result, I decided to opt for the fuel and insurance option – both of which go against my company’s policies about car rentals. I ended up almost having to pay for these out of pocket, and the finance group at my job ended up chastising me pretty harshly when I put in my expenses. So check out our top 11 car rental hacks.
2. I Wish Someone Had Explained Toiletries
I brought so many toiletries on my first trip that it was almost criminal. If airport security had pulled me out of a line-up, they would have busted me for toiletry smuggling, I'm sure that's crime in some countries! I took with me a full-size lotion, 3 types of medicine (all just in case), body washes, conditioner, and shampoo – and this was just for two days in a city hotel an hour flight away. I was giving up valuable suitcase space because of the amount of toiletries that I had brought with me. Nowadays I just bring some minor and personal toiletries that can easily fit into my carry-on and rely on in hotel provisions - certainly for short trips.
3. I Wish I Had Been Told About Carry On (Avoiding Check In)
For any seasoned business traveller the goal is always 'carry on' only, and how I wish I'd been told that on my first trip. I remember the first time that I checked my bags, because I knew I was not going to be able to fit my luggage into the overhead bin. No big deal right? I will just get my bag on the way out.
When my bag was literally the last one out of the plane, I ended up causing a 45 minute wait for 8 of my more experienced colleagues. Now the number 1 objective is to do only carry-on, and I am happier for it. For some last minute packing tips check out this article.
4. I Wish I'd Been Told No-One Cares What You Wear
I really wish I would have known that I did not need a different outfit for every day that I was going on my business trip. It is perfectly OK to wear something more than once during your trip. I packed a different outfit for each day, including different shoes. I was almost unable to lift my suitcase when I started travelling. If you wear the same navy or grey pants twice in a weeklong trip, chances are that no one is going to notice.
5. I Wish I Had Been Told About Security Checks
It still shames me to say it, but when I first started travelling, I was one of those people who held up the security line constantly. I would not have problems with my ticket or my ID, but I would forget about the things in my pocket and the laptop I was carrying with me. It is easy enough to be prepared if you know exactly what people are going to be asking about. Nowadays, I make sure that I prepare fully before I even get to the line and here are 6 tips to getting through international airports smoothly.
Bradley McGowan is a US based freelance writer, extensive traveller and a regular contributor to The Wise Traveller.