I've taken hundreds and hundreds of trips from 2007-2011, all over the world, including South America, New Zealand, and all over Europe, too. Most of these trips are fast, two day affairs, where I am down on the first day and back in the afternoon of the second. I've gotten to be a bit of a champion in traveling light, fast, and ready. Here are a few tips from that.
1. Tech tips
Bring a small power strip. I use Monster's Outlets to Go with a USB charger. First, most hotels lack enough plugs for your tech gear. Second, at airports, it's an instant "friendmaker" because you can turn that one contested outlet into 3. Third, it gives you a USB port to charge from, and most tech lets you charge to USB now.
If you're a speaker/presenter, bring your own VGA adapter. I'm stunned how few people do. If you're a real pro, bring two. Ditto extra batteries for your clicker. Ditto your clicker.
Bring the least gear you can. Most of us overpack our tech. You probably won't do that extra whatever it is you needed the other thing for. An iPad is enough for most business travelers these days. If you haven't given it a thought, take another look. Can't live without a keyboard? Pack a wireless bluetooth keyboard, and use it when necessary.
2. Packing your bag
Everyone overpacks. It's amazing. You need one pair of underpants per day, unless you're prone to accidents. You need one pair of socks or nylons per day, and maybe a spare for your exercise clothes. You need one business outfit per day, and then one non-business outfit that you can probably stretch for a few days. One pair of jeans can be worn three times in a row without any fuss. Pack a few T-shirts or polo shirts or whatever the T-shirt equivalent is for a woman.
Shoes. You need a pair of work shoes, and a pair of casual shoes. That's it. You might even get by with the same pair, depending on how comfy your casual pair are.
3. Airplane tips
I like getting to the airport early. I ask the people at the ticketing counter whether the good food is before or after the security line, and then I usually have a nice little meal before hopping on a plane. I get a drink before boarding the plane, so that I'm not at the mercy of the drink cart. I often pack almonds as a snack, so that I'm not obligated to peanuts or pretzels. As for seat preference, it's up to you.
I used to wait until final boarding to get on the plane, but unless your bag is small enough to go under the seat in front of you, this isn't as fun any longer. People tend to over pack the bins, and then your luggage will get checked and won't be available until you go through the whole baggage claim process.
As far as whether you prefer aisle or window, I prefer window because I'm big and it lets me moosh my broad shoulders against the window instead of letting every person getting up and the drink cart smash them. Again, this is your preference.
4. Hotel tips
If you bring a big smile and a sense of humor to your first check-in at the front desk, things almost always go better for you. My favorite line to the person working the desk is, "Could I get a room with a view of nothing and maybe a lot of loud noise nearby?" This has almost always amounted to me getting an amazing room (sometimes even a suite) with a great view. Know why? Because if everyone else treats them like jerk functionaries, and you're the one person who treats them like you see them, you win.
Never drink the in-room coffee. It's not great. The machine is rarely well cleaned. In fact, avoid most of it. Ask the front desk, ask where the local drug store or market is, and swing by there. Pick up water, nuts, and whatever other snacks you want. It will always save you the loot. (Okay, if you're eating off someone else's expenses, you can justify just eating the mini bar.)
5. Upon returning
Do your expense report right away. If you're your own boss, file them for your accountant. Whatever. If you don't, you almost never get it done in a timely fashion and it makes a mess. Oh, and don't bring goofy airport gifts back for the kids. If you've got your kids conditioned to expect gifts when you travel, stock up on something interesting and good at Target or WalMart and keep them in your trunk in a nondescript bag. It's less money and it's usually more interesting. Kids don't really want to play with the goofy jet toy you get at the airport anyway.
What else? What did I miss? Any great advice? Log in and leave a message.