10 small things you can do to make travelling for work suck less


Travelling for work can be a bit of a love-hate relationship. It certainly is for me. For one thing, it puts pressure on our family when I’m away. However, since I have to deliver my training all around the country it’s not really optional.

Here are 10 small things I do every time I travel that make it better for me. They aren’t in any particular order:

  1. Take a backpack instead of a laptop/messenger bag: I learned this off a friend of mine. I have a pretty cool laptop/messenger bag. It’s the perfect gadget bag actually. However, even the best messenger bag is never exactly hands free. I can slot mine through the handles of my suitcase, but I’ve found that a sturdy backpack, preferably one with a built in laptop sleeve is better. It really is hands free and there’s no mucking around with a heavy laptop bag flopping around my neck.
  2. Always wash hands: This is something that we all know but we sometimes forget. I’m really conscious of this since I got really sick at the end of last year. It only takes a short amount of time and it can save you a lot of trouble. So be a clean freak…!
  3. Charge all devices: When you travel you are often at the mercy of things that you can’t control. Like the weather. Or aircraft engineering problems. Having access to mobile internet and phone is my lifeline in situations like this. And because I’ve been caught out a few times now I always make a point of always charging all my devices whenever I can. At a pinch I can always charge my iPhone directly from my Macbook even if the Mac is not plugged in.
  4. Get an approved car charger: I’m pretty sure that I toasted my iPhone 5 by using a cheap and nasty car charger. I think the unregulated power spikes destroyed the battery. I’m being a lot more careful with my iPhone 5S. I bought a more expensive TomTom charger and I only use it when I need to. However, iPhones being what they are offer some pretty crappy battery life, especially when you’re using the GPS and running a podcast or listening to an audio book for a couple of hours. There’s nothing more anxiety inducing than a flat battery on your multi-purpose computer phone in the middle of nowhere when you need to make a call or send an email.
  5. Listen to podcasts: Podcasts are awesome and they are free. The production quality on some podcasts is amazing. I’ve listened to hours and hours of high quality podcasts now both driving and flying. It keeps me up-to-date with topics I’m interested in, and it gives me something to do when I can’t do anything else.
  6. Listen to audio books: This is similar to podcasts obviously. However, there is just some content available in audio book format that you’ll never find for free in podcasts. One example might include the latest version of a cool novel you haven’t got time to read. I signed up with audible.com a few years ago and feel I’ve got great value.
  7. Suitcase with four wheels: You can buy suitcases with two or four wheels on the bottom. I’ve travelled extensively with my four wheeled suitcases. You can push a four wheeled suitcase as well as pull it. This is important if you ever have kids to manage at the same time. But there are other advantages.
  8. Pack each day’s clothes: Usually, I’m, away for 1 – 3 days at a time if I’m travelling for work. I flat pack the exact clothes I need for each day I’m away in their own packing cells. This means I don’t take anything extra. I always take the same stuff and I don’t have to think about it when I’m packing. The individual packing cells mean I don’t have to think about what I’m wearing on any particular day.
  9. Wear a uniform: My uniform is typically jeans and hoody plus jacket to match the season for travelling. It’s comfortable and low stress. When I’m working it’s usually an ALEC branded shirt plus dress pants. I wear comfortable shoes for driving or flying and pack some more dressy shoes for work. I don’t take anything extra.
  10. Stay in touch with loved ones: Between Find My Friends, Instagram, Facebook, Facetime, and mobile phone calls I can stay in touch with my family while I’m away. I can chat with my kids online and see what they’re up to, for example, if they post photographs for me. This is important for keeping us all feeling happy and well.

That’s it… Did I miss anything? Feel like sharing what you do? Let me know in the comments.

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

5 thoughts

  1. Enlightening. You do seem to be that ‘ever organised’ guy.

    Two comments. First – tell me where to get one of those messenger bags (?). I’m sold.

    Second – I wash my hands like I’m OCD on steroids. But… have spent this week pleading for death with a bad cold/flu thing. I think it’s a combination of a busy schedule (Dunedin, Christchurch, Auckland, Christchurch) and subsequent lack of sleep. Meeting lots of people. And being exposed to each towns specific brand of oggy spoggy (‘bug’ in scientific terms). Plus, as a contractor “you no work, you no get paid”.

    Just thinking about the 6 degrees of separation concept (two in NZ). How many people do I need to meet in a week to be exposed to every cold strain in NZ? Now there’s a good numeracy problem.

    1. Actually, same here on just keeping the bugs at bay. OCD hand washing just stops only so much… I blame my kids.

      Perhaps I need to do a separate post on which are the most badass gadget bags versus backpacks versus duffles versus suitcases… I have a thing about luggage.

  2. Simon, I feel like he has a vendetta against me personally. Damn mutants.

    Graeme – let your compulsive love of bags loose on the public. Do the post.

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