Many event professionals are constantly on the go – they plan meetings around the country (or around the world!) and when they aren’t on-site for a meeting, they are traveling to site visits, going on FAM trips, meeting with clients, or otherwise not necessarily spending too much time at home base. A career in event planning is not for the faint of heart – or the travel weary! Most event professionals have their packing down to a science, but for those who are just starting down this road warrior lifestyle, here are a few suggestions.
Invest in a good suitcase: Your suitcase will take a beating – airport baggage handlers and TSA agents aren’t known for their gentle touch, so invest in a suitcase that can stand up to a lot of handling. I also recommend one with the 360 degree wheels, so you can push it through airports and hotel hallways instead of having to pull it. A color that’s not black or gray is also a good idea so you can easily spot your bag – I have one that is maroon. It’s still professional looking and dark enough to hide dirt, but it also doesn’t look like everyone else’s bag.
Keep a set of toiletries ready to go: I have two sets of extra toiletries – one for quick overnight trips, and one for longer trips. They are almost always packed and ready to go so I can just pop them in the bag. When I come back from a trip I try to replenish everything I used up right away so I don’t have to worry about it the next time I’m packing.
Pack easy-care clothing: Depending on your dress code, you may be able to pack and wear clothing that packs well. Jersey-knit dresses are a favorite of mine because they don’t really wrinkle.
Wrinkle-release is your friend: I know most hotels have an iron and ironing board (or a laundry service if you’re fancy), but sometimes just spritzing something with some wrinkle release will do the trick for half the effort. Keep a travel-size bottle in your bag.
Layer and accessorize: For ladies, when we travel we don’t have to pack entirely different outfits for each day. I’m a big fan of trying to make as many outfits out of as few pieces as possible to save room in the suitcase. Think of a basic black dress with two different blazers, or a suit but changing out the blouse. If you’re into scarves, that’s another great trick to make an outfit look totally different.
Be realistic with shoe choices: This is one that took me a long time to learn. But when you’re traveling for work as an event professional, you probably don’t need to pack the stilettos. I mean, good for you if you can make that work for you, but comfortable shoes that support you for long days on your feet deserve the space in your suitcase. I’m still searching for the best shoes that are both stylish and comfortable, so if you have suggestions, please let me know.
Plan to stay active: If you travel pretty regularly you will want to try to stay active and keep up with your regular fitness plan, even on the road. Luckily most hotels have nice gym facilities or a pool to use, so if you plan on taking advantage, be sure to pack workout clothes and shoes. Or if running is your thing (it’s definitely not mine) ask the concierge or front desk for safe running routes. Personally, I don’t love to use extra space in my suitcase for bulky sneakers, so I try to do workouts in my room sans shoes, such as yoga or pilates. You can find a ton of videos online or on YouTube. Hyatt hotels now offer free yoga mats to borrow during your stay, or you can invest in yoga foot wraps so you don’t need the mat.
Pack snacks: If you’re traveling for work you’re probably on an expense account, but I still like to pack snacks from home when I can. You never know when your flight will be delayed and you get to your hotel too late for the restaurant to be open. Packing some fruit or healthy snacks like granola bars can help keep you from gravitating toward unhealthier snacks just because they are the only options.
Event materials: I could do an entire post just on the materials you should be packing for your events, but here are five things that I always pack regardless of the type of event:
- Tape (masking and scotch tape, duct tape sometimes too)
- Safety pins
- Tide-to-go pens
Those are just some things to think about as you get used to traveling more. Don’t forget to also join all the major hotel loyalty programs – be sure to check with your employer on their travel policies first to see if you can accrue your own points – but there are benefits for you and your employer, such as free internet access, free breakfast and last minute room availability. Enjoy your trip!
Written by: Amanda Luppino-Esposito