I have traveled all over the world on business -but in economy, and have gotten pretty good at packing. Most of what I know has been learned the hard way, so I have decided to share some of these hard earned life lessons. Or –feel free to disregard – I always like a good laugh at the airport.
Lesson one. Travel light and bring your carry on with you. Once I was giving a three day seminar on an island resort and decided to check my bag at the airport. Naturally, I went to the Bahamas, and my bag went to Houston. This quickly brings me to the next lesson.
Lesson two. When traveling on business, don’t dress like a slob. That same trip, I had decided it would be comfy to wear unattractive gym pants and a sweater. They didn’t even match. What was I thinking? Not much apparently, though in my defense, I had to get up at 3 AM to catch the flight and had forgotten to select an outfit the night before. (Yes, mom was right about that one too.) I landed, realized that my bag was A.W.O.L., and panicked at the thought of having to present to senior members of a company looking like I fell off a bus. I asked the cab driver if we could stop at a Gap or something on the way and he (laughingly) said that the only chance I had at clothing was the airport gift shop. It was 95 degrees, and I believe I already mentioned that I was in a thick, now sweaty, sweater. So to the gift shop I went, changed in the back seat, and presented to the group in an “I heart Bahamas” tee. Ever have a nightmare like that? I still do…
Lesson three. Don’t be a slob on the return trip either. I hate to beat a dead horse, but I have yet a third point involving those same stupid sweat pants. I should really get rid of them but now they have sentimental value. I was taking a shuttle from D.C. after a quick trip for an Embassy party the night before. I had dressed appropriately for my arrival and for the gala, but decided that since it was 7 AM on a Saturday, I could take it easy on the return flight home. Sure – that was when I spotted a senior VP of my company in the terminal. Rather, he spotted me. He was looking like a million bucks in Armani. I had tried to duck and cover…awkward.
Lesson four. You do not need all that stuff. I’m not usually sexist (against myself), but in airport security lines, I follow men who look like they travel a lot. When stuck behind an amateurish traveler, male or female, I cringe at the number of shoes, make up bags, and stuff that I am sure looks great on, but never goes back in the suitcase properly. Often this is a woman – I want to grab her by the shoulders and say, “Hey Gloria Steinem! Stop setting back the movement! ” She probably wouldn’t know who Gloria Steinem is, and that would make my head pop off. Women want to be taken seriously and yet I still see women teetering through the terminals in spike heels and pencil skirts, basically the equivalent of bound feet and a full body corset, slowing everyone behind them down.
Lesson five (Ladies). Be a modern business woman. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with a health issue that forces me to travel with a shoe box sized piece of medical equipment. I felt at a loss, less feminine and broken somehow. I also had to incorporate this change into my travel routine. It was tough, but I now pack in a way that is color coded, navy and grey, brown and cream, or black and red, and I still make trips around the world with one small suitcase. It is not all the extras that make me a woman. It is the attitude and confidence I possess. I wear nice clothes, make up, and heels. No one thinks less of me because I do not lug around all my material possessions. In fact, I am fabulous enough without them, and I encourage others to be too.