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Road Warrior 101: Preparing for the Trip

How well you prepare for business travel can go a long way in making your trips better, more fun and bigger successes all around.
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Meetings with investors and customers, as well as industry events, often mean frequent travel for entrepreneurs. Thorough preparation for such trips can go a long way toward making them more successful and enjoyable.

Just recently, a colleague who lives in Santa Barbara arrived at LAX airport at 5 a.m. for a 7 a.m. flight, only to realize he’d left his wallet at home. He went ahead and flew to New York, but the stress made it hard for him to focus during the flight on important meeting preparations.

As a road warrior, I continually try to make traveling easier and maximize my time away from the office. Here are some of my favorite preparation tips:

Invest in duplicates. All road warriors have experienced that sinking feeling when they realize they’ve forgotten a cell phone charger or toiletries bag. It’s worth investing in a duplicate set of chargers for your tech devices and an extra assortment of toiletries that always stay in your travel bag. You won’t worry about forgetting such essentials, plus you’ll save time because you won’t have to repack everything for every trip.

Call ahead and ask. I have a checklist of things I ask hotels for in advance. I’m a triathlete, so I like to get a map of the area and find out if the hotel is connected to a local gym with a spin class and pool. I also ask for a list of the top nearby restaurants and an extra computer monitor in my room. I like to work with two monitors because they increase my efficiency after a long day of advising clients. In more than 2,000 nights of hotel stays, however, only a few hotels have come through with a monitor.

Become a packing minimalist. When was the last time you evaluated the contents of your travel bags? If you’re like many frequent travelers, you probably pack on autopilot and include items you have stopped using. So before the next trip, carefully examine what you pack and eliminate anything that isn’t necessary. You’ll be surprised by how much more quickly you’ll get ready and how much easier it will be to find what you need when you’re on the road. To avoid last-minute stress, I also suggest repacking your travel bag the second everything is washed and folded.

Charge up. Create a checklist of power devices you need on trips and review it a night ahead to make sure they’re all fully charged. I have a designated place in my home office where I charge my travel must-haves. It’s on the same counter as my keys and wallet so I’m sure to grab my charged items before leaving. And the night before returning home, do the same recharging exercise in your hotel room.

Bring workout gear. Using the hotel gym, even if only for 20 minutes, can relieve travel stress, keep you energized and help with jetlag. Always carry a set of workout clothes in case you can find time to exercise, and lay them out when you arrive at your room so you’re ready to roll first thing in the morning.

Be medically prepared. Always travel with a first-aid kit that includes such items as pain relievers, adhesive bandages and cold medicine. Finding a pharmacy on a trip can be difficult and time consuming. At the same time, don’t overdo it. I once went through my luggage and found duplicate stashes of Band-Aids and cotton swabs.

Keep important extras close at hand. Women might want to stash an extra pair of pantyhose in their purses, and men might put a spare tie in their briefcases. Having extras like these can reduce stress if you run into unexpected problems. After spending so many nights on the road, I have sometimes been surprised by what I needed, and when. Also, carry photocopies of your identification and credit cards--and even your passport when traveling abroad. When my passport was stolen in London, for example, I fortunately had a color copy in my suit jacket and was able to get a new one issued within 24 hours.

Make a list -- and check it twice. After my buddy told me about forgetting his wallet at home and having to ask his wife to ship it to him overnight, I showed him my "Packing List." I keep it as a Note on my iPhone, and yes, I still go through it before I leave on every trip.

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