How To Easily Travel As A Busy Professional

Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed right before traveling?

If so, I can completely relate.

For years, I struggled with being able to properly prepare myself for traveling to conferences, competitions, and whatnot.

Now, I have a system that works, and I am so excited to share it with you. I hope you’re ready to learn how to easily travel as a busy professional.

Hello! My name is Drew DuBoff, and I am the Chief Career Coach over at DrewDuBoff.com.

Here’s a little bit about me:

I’ve completed three study abroad programs in Germany/France, Portugal, and England. I’ve also traveled to conferences in Orlando, Anaheim, Washington, D.C., and Louisville to compete in career and technical student organizations.

Let’s dive into my foolproof system!

Organize Everything The Night Before

Organization is so crucial, especially if you are traveling abroad.

The most important items to pack are:

  • Passport
  • Plane/Bus/Train ticket
  • Money
  • Change of clothes
  • Chargers

Let’s break these down further.

Passport

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Not only do you have to pack your passport in an easy to access place, but you have to make sure your passport is still valid.

If you travel often, as I do, then it’s VERY easy to forget about checking for this.

In fact, I recently had my passport expire, and if my mother hadn’t noticed that, I would have been screwed.

Note: for you to travel to some countries, your passport has to be valid for 6 months.

There is nothing worse than arriving at an airport for an important conference and being rejected by the TSA.

Luckily, that hasn’t happened to me.

I like to keep my passport in a zippered, interior pocket of my carry-on bag (which is usually a backpack).

This makes it difficult to steal, but if you do lose it, here’s what to do.

Plane/Bus/Train Ticket

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Asian woman waiting train at train station for travel.

Your passport can only get you so far. You need the actual ticket, too.

Printing your ticket in advance is essential to your success. Frantically worrying about it the morning of is not great for your stress level or your ease of travel.

As a busy professional, we have enough to worry about. This shouldn’t be one of those things.

If you have a confirmation number as a part of your ticket, make sure you keep that in an easy to access place.

You might need that for checking in.

If they supply you with a QR code, keep the PDF they sent you saved on your mobile device so you can easily pull it up.

You could get kicked off without it.

That’s why you should never delete the confirmation email they send you. You could be erasing important information necessary to your travel.

I always love printing any confirmation details immediately after receiving them or forwarding them to a trusted family member or friend for them to do it.

It’s a major hassle having to recall these details.

Money

Not all places accept credit/debit cards, so having some cash on you is a must.

You shouldn’t keep all your cash in one place, either. That’s a rookie travel mistake I see all too often.

I like to keep some in my wallet, carry-on bag, and checked bag.

If you are traveling abroad, you need to purchase their currency in advance. I always do that at Triple AAA, but any bank with international relations will suffice.

Airport exchange machines will rip you off on conversion rates, so take the time and do this beforehand.

The length of your stay will determine how much to take out, but I tend to take a smaller amount of cash and put the rest on my card.

Make sure you let your credit card provider know you are traveling abroad. If not, your purchases could be denied and that would suck.

Set a reminder on your phone for this.

Change Of Clothes

In the event that your checked bag gets lost during travel, you need to have a change of clothes.

This also includes things like basic hygiene products, a comb, deodorant, etc.

This is especially important on flights when you have one or more layovers.

Put these items in your carry-on bag, but make sure their sizes follow the specifications of the company you are traveling with.

Chargers

I’d be lying if I said I could survive without technology.

I require all my electronic devices at any conference, so bringing chargers is a must.

In the U.S., this is simple. All you have to do is remember to pluck the charger from the outlet in your wall and put it in your carry-on bag.

However, when traveling abroad, this process gets more complicated.

When I traveled to England this past summer, I knew they used a different outlet plug.

But, I neglected to double-check that I had the right converter. So, I ended up expediting an order from Amazon’s warehouse in Dusseldorf so my phone and computer didn’t die.

Don’t make the mistake that I did.

Even if you have an all-inclusive charger from a prior trip, check that all of the pieces are still on there.

In my case, the part that converted the plug to the English version had gone missing.

As soon as you find out the country you are traveling to, verify that you have the right charger or purchase one (or two or three, depending on how many devices you are bringing).

Traveling On A Plane

There are a few more things to be aware of when traveling on a plane. This is more than just tips on how to pack your bag for airline travel.

Since we’re all in a rush when we go to the airport, it’s important to know how to get through the security line quickly.

Even when you arrive a few hours early just to be safe, you don’t want to get held up.

Remember, they have the liberty of checking any bag or person they deem to be suspicious, regardless if there is anything worthwhile or not.

So, how do we make this process easier? 

The goal is to not get stopped by security. That’s the secret to traveling as a busy professional.

To do this, I abide by the following rules:

  • Never put liquids in your carry-on bag
  • Know what to take off of you in advance
  • Have your travel documents ready to go

Let’s go a little deeper.

Never Put Liquids In Your Carry-On Bag

Before you think I’m contradicting myself with my earlier statement about a change of clothes, know that I don’t keep any liquids in my bag.

Consider finding some non-liquid alternatives to your favorite hygiene products or live with not brushing your teeth for one day.

I’ve been screwed too many times before with things I thought wouldn’t sound off any alarms.

When I was leaving Germany, I had four little 1 oz containers of authentic Dijon mustard from when I was in France. They were unopened, still in their original packaging.

I got stopped by security for that—for mustard.

Luckily, they didn’t confiscate it because it fits within the airline guidelines, but I still am hesitant to put any liquids in my carry-on bag.

For the record, as a culinary arts major, mustard is an emulsified condiment, so I’m still confused on how they considered a liquid.

Anyway…

That just goes to show you that what you think is a liquid might be different from what airport security thinks a liquid is.

Always err on the side of caution.

I’ve had a whole container of glasses cleaner taken from me.

Getting something confiscated is not fun. At all.

That’s why anything questionable should be in your checked bag.

Know What To Take Off Of You In Advance

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This may seem a little ambiguous, but allow me to clarify.

Here are the things I’m referencing:

  • Metal objects
  • Shoes
  • Technology

I always take off my belt before getting in the security line. Same thing with my wallet, in case if I have any coins in there.

If you wear any jewelry, men included, make sure you remove that.

That means your watch, necklace, bracelet, etc.

Some airlines are a little more lenient than others regarding this, but this is the foolproof system, remember?

There have only been a few times when I haven’t had to remove my shoes and that was in the little Azorean airport in Portugal.

Otherwise, get used to it.

So, wear shoes that you can easily remove.

I put these into my carry-on bag as well. In case you haven’t noticed, I like to leave a lot of room in my carry-on bag for stuff like this, as well as gifts when coming back.

For technology, your phone needs to not be in your pocket when going through security. You’ll see signs that tell you that you can’t be using it when in line anyway.

For a computer or a tablet, this usually needs to go into a bin by itself.Make sure you grab an extra one at the beginning for this specific purpose.

Have Your Travel Documents Ready To Go

I already established that you should have your passport (or U.S. driver’s license if domestic) and ticket in a location that’s easy to access.

Here’s where this comes in handy.

Before you can actually get to security, you have to wait in a line that’s usually long and then suddenly, they motion for the next person to come up and that person is you.

Don’t get caught off-guard with this.

Take the time that you spend in the line before the TSA check to get organized for this.

That’s when you should be taking out your technology devices and putting everything else in your carry-on bag.

You should also take out your passport and ticket after that so you are ready to go when they call you up.

And, be cheerful. They’re people, too. I’m sure they’d rather be traveling like you, so don’t give them any reason to be suspicious of you.

In case you weren’t already aware, your passport needs to be signed before using it for the first time.

Don’t forget about this.

It’s right there on the page with your beautiful face. A pen is preferable.

Conclusion

We discussed how to easily travel as a busy professional, in case you skipped right to the conclusion.

Don’t worry — I’ll make this easy for you to remember, too.

When organizing prior to your trip, make sure you pack the following items:

  • Passport
  • Plane/Bus/Train ticket
  • Money
  • Change of clothes
  • Chargers

And, if you’re traveling by air, make sure you follow these tips to avoid getting stuck by security:

  • Never put liquids in your carry-on bag
  • Know what to take off of you in advance
  • Have your travel documents ready to go

I hope this article helped you travel! Make sure you let me know in the comments.

And if you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them.

If you ever run into me on your busy travels, make sure you say hi.

About The Author

Travel as Busy Professional Travels with BibiDrew DuBoff is the blogger and chief career coach at DrewDuBoff.com. He is the youngest career coach you’ll meet. Drew helps young professionals ace interviews, lead effectively, and kickstart their careers. After landing his dream job, he knows exactly how to get you there. You can download his FREE eBook, 101 Interview Tips Guaranteed To Get Hired, hereConnect with him on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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34 Comments

  1. Great post with a very good checklist for travelling! I always try to be prepared for the security part of the journey as this is normally the most stressful if things are not in the right place!

    1. Yes, Drew did a great job outlining foolproof travel tips. I’ve done a fair amount of travel myself and these tips were still quite helpful.

  2. You’ve summarised the essential items well. Whenever I went on a trip, I always used to say I need three things “passport, money and tickets”. I guess phone is another essential nowadays but since I rarely go anywhere without it, that wouldn’t be a problem to ‘remember’. Other things such as chargers and a change of clothes can be solved if forgotten… if you’ve remembered money 🙂

  3. Great post Shirley. We really have to pack lot of things while going to travel. And even then sometimes forget some stuff.These are really great things to remember while going for travel. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Very good tips – I had a year where I was all over the world – it was crazy but man was I a good traveler and packer by the end of it!

    1. I used to run an educational testing site and the people I hired had to provide citizenship documentation. Many used their passports for this, and many of those passports were unsigned. 🙂

    1. When I climbed Kilimanjaro, I had every article of summit night clothing packed in my carry on, and wore my regular hiking clothes on the plane. Yes, I was that worried about lost luggage!

  5. Great tips! It’s weird though…many times I’ve gone through airport security at MCO in Orlando and they’ve required shoes to be off. Then there’s been a couple of times I’ve had them off and ready to put on the conveyor belt only to be told “put those back on!” I guess every airport is different depending on what day it is and what mood they’re in. LOL.

    1. Sometimes, they don’t make you–that happened to me once flying out of Louisville the day after a major conference happened. I think they do it to save time 🙂

  6. I’m a big believer in making sure I have a change of clothes in my carry on. Once while doing a 2 1/2 week backpacking trip in Europe, my friend decided to check her backpack. It got lost and we were moving so quickly that it didn’t catch up to her until we were back home!

    1. I traveled to Africa to climb Kilimanjaro and my backpack was my carry on. It had everything I needed to wear for the climb because I knew I would not be able to replace my specific clothing items in Tanzania. I’m so sorry about your friend’s lost backpack but glad it finally caught up to her.

  7. Great tips! Especially for getting through security. I always try to make sure we are prepared to get through security quickly. Drives me a little crazy when the people in front of me aren’t.

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