Hancock Tower view, Chicago
View from The Sofitel, my favorite Chicago hotel

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for business travel gained from a lifetime on the road:

Invest in the best luggage you can afford. It will last longer and convey an image of success.

Buy a set of Nalgene 1-3oz travel bottles and a sturdy 1 quart clear cosmetic case or a supply of zip lock bags.

Plot the outfits you will need for meetings and events. If you’re seeing different clients you can get away with fewer outfits than if you are spending multiple days with the same group at a conference or trade show.

Check your corporate travel policy if there is one, or ask fellow employees if there are any suggested price ranges for hotels, meal per diems, transportation charges.

Check Tripadvisor for assistance with hotels, and the Tripadvisor and Chowhound forums for restaurants.

List everything you need to bring with you and determine what is best carried and what is best shipped in advance. Bring anything you need for meetings the day of arrival with you.

If I’m shipping literature for meetings to hotels and space permits, I will throw in my Ziploc containing liquids, double wrapped in plastic.

Be sure to bring extra business cards and product samples on the plane with you, if space permits. You never know who you’ll meet in the airport or on the flight.

Join the frequent flier and hotel affinity programs for your chosen airline and accommodations to start earning points from day one.

Bring copies of all flight, hotel, car rental and restaurant/event reservations confirmations.

Enter all meetings in your Smartphone, with contact numbers for the people you’re meeting. Have a paper backup – especially if you frequently forget to charge your phone.

Pack a large envelope for receipts. Keep a list of all cash you spend on tips, meals and items not paid for with credit cards.

Have a great time and be sure to check out the city if your schedule allows.


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