1. Get a carry-on-sized rolling bag that you can attach another bag to.
Instead of a cute weekend bag — which are heavy and impractical. This rolling bag has a strap that you can attach another small tote to.
2. If you need a bag big enough to check, get a lightweight yet sturdy rolling bag.
Most airlines’ heavy baggage fees kick in at 50 pounds, and you don’t want too many of those pounds to be taken up by your suitcase. Try to find a suitcase that weighs around 10 pounds, and remember: Most airlines will refuse altogether to check a bag that is over 70 pounds.
3. Though in general, you should try to not check a bag. But if you have to, make sure to pack some clothes in your carry-on.
I suggest a couple pairs of underwear, a T-shirt, and a pair of socks. Other good items to bring in your carry-on: makeup wipes (I prefer the Neutrogena kind) and/or blotting wipes, dry shampoo, a toothbrush, some basic makeup (lip gloss, concealer, and mascara are my go-tos), and a travel-sized tube of toothpaste.
4. If you bring a garment bag on the plane, the flight attendants will usually let you store it in the closet.
Even if you’re in coach. (Just ask nicely.) If I’m going to a fancy event, I like to bring my dress in a garment bag instead of trusting myself to iron it successfully in the hotel, but YMMV on this one.
5. Put your travel-size stuff in a quart-sized Ziploc bag (even though they might not force you to take it out).
And bring extras. And don’t bring anything over 3.4 ounces, or you will get busted, and DEFINITELY put your shampoo/conditioner/anything potentially leaky in bags and make sure they are tightly sealed.
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6. If you think your bag is overweight, your best bet is to try to check it curbside.
They are often more sympathetic to pleading, especially with a nice tip included. (You should tip anyway, though.) But be aware: Most airlines will only let you do curbside check-in up to an hour before your flight, so don’t be late.
7. Wear your bulkiest shoes on the plane.
But also, don’t overpack shoes; you probably need fewer pairs than you think. I usually pack (comfortable) heels, flats, running shoes, and a pair of Toms, and I wear ankle boots on the plane.
8. Get TSA Pre and Global Entry.
I got TSA Pre and Global Entry a few months ago and they are the BEST THINGS EVER. Anyone can apply for Global Entry (which allows you to skip the huge passport control lines when you come back to the U.S.) and if you’re accepted you also get TSA Pre, which means you don’t have to take off your shoes or take your laptop out of your bag when you go through security, AND you get to go in the special super-fast security line, AND you don’t have to go through the scary scanner where the TSA agents can see you naked.
9. You must be loyal to one airline.
If you travel a lot, you probably don’t need me to tell you that you should try to be loyal to one airline, but it bears repeating because it is JUST SO IMPORTANT. Not just because you are more likely to get upgrades if you get “status” on an airline, but because status often also comes with loads of other perks that make frequent travel slightly more bearable. I can’t tell you which airline to choose but I would advise you to think about 1. where you’ll be flying to and from most often, and which airline flies that route nonstop, and 2. where else that airline flies nonstop from your home airport, because you’ll want to use those frequent flier miles to go somewhere fun at SOME point.
10. Wear a scarf on the plane.
It can double as a wrap/blanket if things get chilly (and they usually do).
11. Remove your rings and bracelets when you get on board.
And most important, take that hair elastic off your wrist! Your fingers will swell thanks to cabin pressure, and you don’t want to be wearing anything constricting.
12. Wear leggings.
I feel that if you’re on a long flight (3+ hours) and you don’t have to go straight to a meeting or the office, leggings and a hoodie or long cardigan on the plane is the way to go. There are definitely some ladies who disagree with this — partly because most of the men on business trips are always in suits — but for long flights, I just don’t want to be constricted. I do draw the line, however, at tracksuits. No tracksuits, unless you are Snooki.
13. Pack layers and clothes that all coordinate.
That is, don’t pack six completely different outfits. My profession is relatively casual, so I usually pack a couple pairs of skinny jeans (one blue, one black) and maybe one other pair of pants or a skirt, plus a few silk shirts, camisoles, and a cardigan. But I can wear almost any of the shirts with any of the bottoms, etc. If you have to wear suits, just switch up the shirts/accessories.
14. Bring your own tampons.
The ones in foreign countries often don’t have strings, which, yeah. A couple women I know recommend the Diva Cup in general, but particularly for travel (I can’t speak from experience here).
15. Get a gel manicure before you leave.
That way you don’t have to worry about your nails while you’re away. Gels do kind of ruin your nails, though, so if you travel a ton, switch it up occasionally with nude polish or something light like Essie Ballet Slippers.
16. Bring an eye mask and earplugs.
You never know how loud or how bright the hotel will be, and particularly if you’re changing time zones it’s really important to get a good night’s sleep.
17. Don’t drink on the plane.
I know, it’s so tempting (especially if you’re in business class!), but 1. it dehydrates you and 2. you will be groggy when you land. And if you’re drinking to try to fall asleep, just know that drunk sleep is never ever good sleep.
18. Bring your own snacks.
They’re healthier and cheaper than anything you’ll get at the airport. I prefer fruit, Kind bars, and baby carrots. Also, bring an empty water bottle that you can fill up at a water fountain once you get past security.
19. Invest in a lightweight but sturdy mini-umbrella.
Weather! It’s unpredictable.
20. Invest in a high-quality travel hair dryer.
Make sure to get one that runs on dual voltage so you can bring it abroad. Hotel hair dryers are notoriously inconsistent and there’s nothing worse than having to give a presentation or go to a big meeting with crappy looking hair.
21. Invest in a travel clothes steamer.
But also bring along some travel-sized Downey wrinkle releaser.
22. Invest in good noise-canceling headphones.
They are flight life-changers. I bit the bullet and bought the (expensive) Bose ones and I love them.
24. Bring a small bag (that closes) for dirty clothes.
My mom got me one that has a drawstring. (Hotels usually have plastic ones in the closet if you forget yours — don’t worry, you don’t have to actually use the super-expensive hotel laundry service.)
25. Know which hotel toiletries you like.
And which you don’t. I usually hate hotel shampoo, so I bring my own, but I am almost always fine with hotel body wash.
26. Give your house a quick cleanup before you leave.
There’s no better feeling than coming home to a nice clean house after an exhausting, sometimes lonely business trip. It doesn’t have to be a DEEP clean, but: Wash and put away dishes, take out the trash, make your bed, put away laundry, throw out any food that will go bad (or take it with you), and water your plants. For maximum coziness, wash your sheets right before you leave.
27. Take the batteries out of your vibrator unless you want it quietly buzzing in the overhead bin or as it goes around on the carousel.
You DID bring your vibrator, right?
Many thanks to the traveling ladies of BuzzFeed for their help!