morning, e-mailed Sally A. Brown. I leave for Africa
tomorrow to climb Mount Kilimanjaro! Not every business
traveler has such exotic destinations as the director of a travel
club, but all of us have our own mountains to climb before getting
on that plane.
On the one hand, traveling for business is a major league hassle.
In addition to getting the work aspect of the trip arranged,
theres the home front. Whos going to watch the kids?
Clean the kitty litter? Water the plants? The household part
never gets easier, and everyones situation is unique (not
to mention constantly changing). In the office, theres
everything from the crucial (whos going to make decisions
for you while youre gone) to the mundane (changing the
voice mail message).
But, on the other hand, its a break with routine. You
dont have to fix dinner or bring in the mail. Somebody
else makes the bed and worries about the dust bunnies in the
corners. Your hotel room is all your own, with room service
a touch-tone away. Sigh!
Sally Brown, whos been to 120 countries in her 25 years
with Ambassadair, says she never loses her zest for business
travel. Tomorrow I leave for Kenya and Tanzania,and I
am as excited as if it was my first trip. Marilyn Olsen,
who logged thousands of airline miles doing public relations
for a chain of retirement communities, looked forward to the
chance to catch up on her reading, curling up in a quiet hotel
room with a good book. Cheryl Carter-Shotts, managing director
of Americans for African Adoption, just tries to keep her mind
in focus more on that later.
three Indianapolis women travel with suitcases they can schlep
themselves. My luggage is definitely on wheels,
Sally says. I check my suitcase so that I only have my
carry-on with me for long flights. Olsen also likes
wheels on her checked bag, and has stopped trying to take everything
on the plane with her in a carry-on that needed six pro
wrestlers to stuff it into the overhead compartment.
Its essential to have a good book — preferably disposable.
One friend of mine buys a thick paperback novel at a second
hand store, then she tears off and discards the chapters as
she finished them. Another way to lighten your load is to leave
the book behind when youre done reading it for another
traveler to enjoy. Theres never anything good on
television in hotel rooms, Olsen said. And
a book is great to hide behind when somebodys bothering
you on the plane.
water bottle is crucial for in-flight hydration (not to mention
refreshment during endless waits in airports). Brown adds a
granola bar for a snack to her carry-on as well as a wash cloth
for a quick face-refresher. Carter-Shotts' carry-on includes
my camera and laptop, along with my prescriptions and
makeup, plus one set of clean underwear and a book.
travelers have similar traveling wardrobes (look around you
in the airport lounge if you dont believe me). Brown finds
that mixing and matching with khaki and black works for her.
Olsen swears by black Tencel knit separates, which wear
like cast iron and take up little room in the suitcase.
I also wear black when traveling: it doesnt show wrinkles
or dirt, everything matches and you dont stand out in
a crowd. When in Africa, Carter-Shotts' wears non-gold or non-silver-appearing
earrings, non-fancy eye glasses, cheap wedding band, no diamonds,
nothing that looks expensive.
key piece of my travel outfit is a black blazer with inside
zippered pockets. Thats where my passport, credit cards,
extra cash and other essentials go. Several years ago I lost
my wallet (lifted from my purse on a crowded bus) in Munich,
Germany, and had to go through the hassle of replacing everything
in it. Never again. Now my wallet has only my walk around
money and one credit card.
of which, the photocopy machine is a business travelers
best friend. Copy your passport, credit cards and airplane tickets,
and stash the copies in your suitcase. Copy your crucial presentation
documents so you can put one set in your suitcase and the other
in your carry-on bag. Copy your itinerary and hand out extras
to your boss, significant other, children and parents.
debris is a persistent dilemma. I keep paperwork
for business trips to a minimum, Brown said. In
the states, I do carry my cell phone as well as my laptop. It
makes communication so much easier. I have a zippered
case with a small stapler, paper clips, tape and such that I
stash in my suitcase, and if Im driving Ill take
my laptop. I hate the extra weight in my carry-on when Im
Other "must haves" for Brown include her running shoes
and workout clothes. I exercise an hour a day and there
is no exception when I am traveling. You can always do a lot
of stretching and yoga in the hotel room or go for a swim in
you rent a car, take the time to note the make, color and license
plate number. You will forget which car in the lot is
yours, said Olsen.Especially if its
the third rental in a marathon business trip.
recommends taking small gifts for people with whom youll
be working closely on the trip. I like to bring something particularly
Indianapolis — the Robert Indiana LOVE
paperweight from the Indianapolis Museum of Art, for example,
or a box of K.P. Singh note cards with sketches of local landmarks.
about money? With ATM machines just about everywhere, you can
get what you need when you need it. Brown says, I'll carry
a couple hundred dollars, often splitting it to carry half in
my waist pack and the other half in my backpack. Olsen
counsels leaving inessential cards at home (do you really need
that Nordstroms charge card in London?). Cheryl still
relies on cash, hidden in several places on my body. There
are no ATMs in the parts of Africa I go to — I'm lucky if a
bank is still standing. I take only $100 bills, as new as possible because
the black market will not exchange torn, worn or dirty bills
and the exchange rate for less than $100 is horrible.
for Carter-Schotts need for mental focus on her business travel.
Because of her work, she journeys through some of the most dangerous
territory in the world. What does she need? Truly, common
sense and, hopefully, a rested brain — so I don't make mistakes.
She means things like not taking dirt roads in third world countries
to avoid buried land mines, and knowing when to wear a bulletproof
vest. I don't need it for Ethiopia, but I like to have
it with me in Liberia and Sierra Leone.