OK so I mentioned last week that I made a deal with the devil (i.e. Mr SFH) not to buy anything fashion related for the whole month of March … Oh God kill me now! Given my predicament The Weekly Wrap is on hiatus for a spell and Sunday night posts will be anything but “What I Bought” for a little while. So you may have gathered that I travel to Melbourne a bit for work. Mostly these are quick overnighters and over the years I have honed the fine art of planning and packing. Read on for my top tips …
Let’s Get Social!
(At least) Three Weeks Ahead:
- Choose your dates to travel. Avoid major events like the plague. Flights and accommodation will fill up quickly and the city will be busy. No one wants to deal with hordes of tourists if they can help it!
- Check availability. Only applies to any ‘must see’ people to make sure you can align your schedules. If not go back to step 1!
- Sort Your Travel Documentation. Visas and passports if it is International. Photo ID if domestic, I never get to go International for work but I can imagine if I was a glamorous European I may be able to cover 3 countries in an overnight trip. Easily! Just don’t make me go Contiki lol.
- Book your flight. Do this as far in advance as you can. Choose your seat at the same time rather than when you check in to give you more options given they reserve most of the good spots for their platinum frequent flyers and the lay person has to snap up what is left! My tips on seat selection? Choose the aisle for easy access, window if you have to but never the middle! Avoid exit rows. You may get a little extra room but you have to put EVERYTHING in the overhead locker which just isn’t convenient, particularly if you haven’t managed to snag an aisle seat. Get as close to the exit as you can for a hasty retreat. Virgin unload front and back so this doesn’t always mean at the pointy end of the plane.
- Book your accommodation. If you are like me and have a favourite place to stay do this as far in advance as possible to avoid disappointment. Most large corporates have affiliations with major hotels but these are often limited to a certain number of rooms per night so while the hotel might still have availability your discount rates might not be honoured. This is especially important for conferences where you know a large number of people from your company will be going. Get in before they do!
- Join Loyalty Programs. Love a freebie? One of the easiest ways to get something for free for frequent travelers. Three of my favourites are Velocity, Qantas Frequent Flyer and Crown Signature Club. Most are free but if there is a charge make sure you think you will get that value back relatively quickly. I have flown all over the USA with my QFF points including a business class trip home from LA. Link your credit card for maximum earnings.
- Book your business meetings. Try to give yourself a reasonable amount of time between arriving and your first meeting of the day. Typically my flight lands in Melbourne around 9am and I usually get to the office at around 10am but I try never to book the first meeting until 10.30am. This allows me to meet and greet, settle in, grab a drink and freshen up. Try to allow a 15 minute gap between each meeting to allow for overruns and ‘travel time’. Try to cluster meetings in the same building and on the same floor. Book the most important meetings in the morning of the first day or on the second day. When you wake up at 4.30am by 3.30pm you will be flagging and not at your best. Plan for this!
- Arrange Social Catch Ups. If you travel to one place regularly no doubt you will have friends or business colleagues that you would like to catch up with socially. It’s never fun eating on your own so locking these in is (almost!) as important as getting the work done. Make sure the venue you chose is appropriate so that you can wear you work clothes straight from the office alleviating the need to pack another outfit.
- Check the Weather Forecast. Make sure you check both the city you are departing as well as the city you are arriving in. Despite being relatively close distance wise you can sometimes experience distinctly different weather. Sydney and Melbourne are only 715 klms (445 m) apart as the crow flies but often a world apart in weather and mostly Sydney comes out the winner. Choose what you are going to wear on both days. Ideally choose items that can do double duty on both days but have a back up in case of unforeseen circumstances.
- Check in online the night before and get the boarding pass sent to your phone rather than printing it. Better for the environment and one less thing to carry 🙂
- Book Your Taxi. If your like me and are required by company policy to book the cheapest, non-changeable flight of the day allow yourself plenty of time to get there. You don’t want to miss the plane after all.
- Pack. (see below for more details).
- Layout Tomorrow’s Outfit. If your partner will be sleeping when you get up do this in the en-suite to avoid disturbing them. If you have underfloor heating this has the added bonus of making your clothes toasty and warm in winter.
- Shower. Last thing before you go to bed rather than in the morning. You don’t want to have to get up any earlier than you have to!
- Set double Alarms. This is one day that you do not want to be late. Planes do not wait!
- Early To Bed. I wish I could practice what I preach here but it never seems to happen!
Here’s everything you need (and nothing you don’t!):
While of course you can wear anything you like to travel. These tips on outfit selection will make you life a whole lot easier …
- Avoid Excessive Metal. You do not want to have to take it all off to get through the metal detector. Beware of high heels as many have metal inside them.
- Wear Your Bulky Clothes. Especially coats. These take up massive amounts of room in the suitcase. If its too warm on the plane (rarely as they always feel like an icebox!) just pop it in the overhead locker.
- Choose crease Resistant. Airline seats are cramped and even short flights have the capabilty of turning your expertly ironed shirt into a wrinkled mess.
- Comfort. Avoid anything overly tight or structured. I always try to get a few extra zzz’s on the way down and comfort is key for this.
- Avoid White. Especially important of you are planning to eat/drink on the plane as turbulence has a nasty habit of arriving when you least expect it and white is very unforgiving to spills.
- Transit Shoes. Airports are not compact and there is often a fair bit of distance between gates. No matter how comfy your heels are, chances are you will be much more comfortable in flats, especially if you have to sprint to the gate!
- Totes Rule. This is not the time or the place to show off a cute little clutch. More is definitely more in this case!
- Laptop. Always in the handbag, never the suitcase to allow easy removal at the X-Ray machine.
- Aerosols. Same reason as above. Don’t be one of those people who hold up the queue by having to hunt for these items. You will not be popular.
- Lipstick(s). For quick touch ups on the go.
- Band aids. Always handy. Feet swell on planes so normally comfy shoes can rub and give you painful blisters. Take a couple of sizes.
- Headache Tablets. You never know when you might need these and they take up next to no room!
- Headphones. To take advantage of any in flight entertainment. Get ones with a little pouch to keep cords tidy. Also a great tool to avoid having to get into conversations with annoying seat neighbours.
- Identification. Passport obviously if its overseas. Bonus if you have dual citizenship like I do. Drivers licence is sufficient for most domestic routes. Work ID if applicable.
- Snacks. I always have a muesli bar and sesame snaps on stand by in case the plane food is inedible (often).
- Miscellaneous. Sunglasses, wallet, phone, pens, etc Everything you would normally carry in your bag. But try to pare it back when travelling.
- Pencil Case. For all your bits and pieces. Mine is perma-packed (I have extras so I never have to unpack this), Include: Laptop Charger (I purchased an after market compact version to save space0, phone charger, wireless compact mouse (I hate using the track pad on the laptop), clicker (for presentations), USB stick, extra batteries (for mouse and clicker), Data Card, RAS Token (needed to access my company systems remotely), pen & pencil.
- Cosmetics Case. From left to right, top to bottom. Wash towel, body wash, body lotion, cleanser, toner, moisturiser (decanted into travel tubes), toothbrush (full size don’t skimp here), travel toothpaste, travel hair brush (similar), travel size perfume, tweezers, primer, tinted moisturiser, powder, blush, mascara, eye liner, hair band and bobby pins. I also keep this perma-packed.
- Shoes. Runners for use in the hotel gym (if you are so inclined). If room is really tight in your bag then you can use these as your transit shoes (see above). The one pair of work shoes you are taking. Pack them in their dust bag to protect your clothes.
- Clothes. Gym shorts, gym top, socks, extra work top, extra work pants, underwear (3 pairs and you shouldn’t need an extra bra if you make sure the one you wear to travel down can do double duty) and pyjamas. That’s it! That’s all you need!
- Accessories. Only if you really have to and are not prepared to wear the same ones two days on a row.
- Miscellaneous. Umbrella, hair straighteners etc Whatever you can’t live without. But keep it realistic!
Five Fun Flying Facts:
- The Sydney – Melbourne air route is the fifth busiest in the world (depending on which list you read!). Seriously it’s almost like catching a bus these days with flights every 15 mins during peak times and half hourly after that from both of the major carriers (Qantas & Virgin).
- Every day circa 8.3 million people catch some 93,500 flights. That equates to moving a smidge under the combined population of Sydney (4.7m) and Melbourne (4.2m). Every. Single. Day.
- Statistically the chances of being involved in an air crash are very low. 11 million to 1 in fact so get out there! That said if you do crash the rear of the plane is said to be the safest place to be.
- At cruising altitude and on a clear day you can see for approximately 375 klms. Wow!
- Your taste buds and sense of smell are less sensitive when you fly. Could explain why airline food is largely accused as tasting like crap.