A consultant always packs light and travels right!

This is the first of a new series I’m starting where I remember my old consulting days at Big Technology Consulting Company LLC wistfully. Being a business consultant was interesting work that required a lot of travel. Although my mileage wasn’t as high as some of my peers, I still managed to pick up a few tips along the way. When you’ve got printed presentations, a notebook studded with loose sheets and reminders, a laptop designed for weightlifters, and all the associated accessories that make work work, it’s a lot of stuff to lug. To top it off with the clothes and cruft that you need to live on the road, and that’s even more. After the jump, I’ve got a handy list of travel-tested stuff for you to consider.

Disclaimer: the products I listed here have been well used by me, and I can only wish the companies I mentioned would send me free stuff.  Unfortunately, they didn’t.

The Briefcase

So I got this as a gift, but really any slimmer briefcase (keep it under 4 inches thick) will do. The key is to keep it lean and clear it out regularly. There’s pockets to stuff receipts in, keep your laptop safe, carry around a basic notebook, and keep pens and business cards at hand. I know many of you out there might be tempted to get a backpack, but keep it classy and minimalist; bigger bags just beg for more random crud to be packed, which I’m sure you’ll never use.

The Suitcase

I splurged to get the version back in ‘04, and this one is the updated one. In spite of a few nicks and scratches, it absolutely gets the job done in nearly any situation! Vacations, business trips, and in between, the key thing is that it’s got some expandability, good internal straps to secure sensitive items like a bottle of wine, and a suit storage area that folds up and keeps your jacket and pants neat and generally wrinkle-free.

The Organizers

*zipper sandwich bags – get ‘em anywhere, but keep 2 or 3 tucked inside. It takes no space but will keep you out of the doghouse…er, TSA exam room when it comes to liquids and etc.
*gadget organizers – This product is relatively new, but keeping everything packed as flat as possible gives you a lot of flexibility to layer stuff and compress things in your bag.
*clothes folder – This will keep your shirts’ and pants’ creases neat while you’re running around. Why iron when you can let pressure do the same thing for you?

And the general rule of thumb is this: no matter what, only bring what you can stuff under the seat in front of you and in the overhead bin above you (assuming you’re on an airplane, but the same rule applies for trains and car rentals). Checking in luggage wastes time that you don’t have, and the last thing you need is to envy the fact that your bags made it accidentally to Miami, FL while you’re stuck in Minneapolis, MN!

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