4 Travel Luxuries I Can’t Live Without

Have you ever noticed how those “business travel hacks” and “how to pack a suitcase” listicles always seem to feature a pic of George Clooney from “Up in the Air?” They are written by dudes, or with dudes in mind, and miss a few important things that have made my life of frequent travel much more pleasant. I’ve got nothing against George, but this article is a Clooney-free zone.

Every year, I deliver 60-80 presentations, and some months, I’m away more than I’m at home. I’m sick of the minimalist, masculinist approach to travel: Take one pair of shoes and roll clothes as tightly as possible to save space. Instead, here are four little travel luxuries that have helped me love my life on the road.

1. A big-ass suitcase

I prefer to travel with a larger suitcases because I can pack more stuff. (Bonus: I stay out of the fight for overhead bin space.) I know, I know, this flies in the face of advice from the “when in doubt, leave it out” school of thought from frequent travelers.

As a frequent flyer, it’s a luxury to pack more than the bare minimum number of outfits and to have an extra pair of my favorite shoes in tow (especially since I have a habit of leaving heels in rental cars.) Then at 4 a.m., when I’m packing to leave a hotel room, I can bypass the “roll everything up neatly” method of packing, and use the time-saving “stuff it all in” method instead.

Travel tip: Pack lots of shake-out-and-go stretchy dresses. I hate ironing with a passion, especially with dodgy hotel irons.

2. Style Saver cap

You could say I’m “blessed” to have a lot of hair, but the reality of managing wild, curly hair is that there’s so darn much of it. Taming it myself is pretty much out of the question unless I have a couple hours to spare (though I got an undercut last year which made it much easier.)

Typically, I place my hair into the hands of a trained professional and get a blowout before a speaking engagement. But now that I have multiple, back-to-back engagements in a week (which is a great problem to have), it’s next to impossible to get my hair done before each one.

Sadly, there’s no blowout that can survive the wreckage caused by an ill-fitting shower cap, so I was thrilled to discover the Style Saver cap, an oversized cap with a thick, snug band that stays in place. Full Disclosure: When I came across the Style Saver, whose company’s tagline is: “You’ve invested the time and money into great hair—don’t let it go down the drain,” I begged to test a sample, which they kindly sent.

Travel tip: I loved the cap so much that I bought another one for $20. Now I have one for home and one exclusively for travel so there’s no risk of leaving home without it.

3. Dry shampoo

This brings me to the Style Saver cap’s partner in crime, dry shampoo. Can we all agree that dry shampoo is the best invention since…oh, who am I kidding? It’s the best invention ever. Fact: Early versions of dry shampoo were made from clay, similar to that found in cat litter, and until a few years ago that’s what it felt like on your head. But they’ve dramatically improved, and I’m not ashamed to publicly admit that I frequently use it to make a good blowout last an entire week.

The only problem is that most of them are aerosols, and at four or five ounces, are too big to pack for travel. So my go-to product is Bumble and Bumble’s two-ounce Prêt‑à‑Powder Shampoo. Though pricey at $38, it has a subtle scent I like and has lasted for over a year. I’ve heard good things about Dove, too.

Travel Tip: To avoid getting it on your clothes, apply dry shampoo at bedtime and give your hair a good brushing out in the morning.

4. Whispersync

It’s much more difficult to get riled up by the many little hassles of business travel when you’re immersed in a good book. Amazon’s Whispersync for Voice–a free app that lets you switch between reading and listening to a book without interruption–is an indulgence that has improved my life immeasurably.

If I’m enjoying a book, I will buy it for my Kindle and grab the audiobook on Audible. That way, I can read in the airport or on a plane, then switch to the audiobook on my iPhone after I pick up my rental car. If the Kindle’s on Wi-Fi, they synch seamlessly and I can pick up where I left off, but if not, it’s pretty easy to skip forward to the correct chapter.

More travel tips

Here are a few more of my favorite travel tips:

• Bring a pearly, frosty or glittery nail polish, like Sephora’s Already Famous, with a shimmer that hides touch-ups better than a sleek crème polish.

• Keep a toiletry bag packed at all times. Even if that means buying duplicates of items such as make-up, it’s worth it not to scramble at the last minute and forget your toothbrush.

• Keep a basket full of favorite travel-sized toiletries, so you only have to stock up once or twice a year.

• Save beverage vouchers from your frequent flyer program to treat a kind fellow traveler, like the person who moves to a middle seat so a toddler, her mom and her grandma can sit together.

What are your best tips for business travel?

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Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is founding editor of BeLeaderly.com. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

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