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  • Pamela Neferkara

Be a Baller When You Travel

You’ve done the work, aced the interview and gotten the job. Next? Your first business trip! During my 30+ years in corporate America, I have traveled to 39 of 50 states and internationally across Western Europe, Africa, China and Japan. There is an art and a science to traveling for business and I’m here to break it down for you!


Technology is your friend

There is no excuse for not understanding your company’s travel policy and your work starts there. Search the company employee website or ask someone for a copy, read it and follow it. Don’t lose your job because of some minor irregularity on an expense report.


Secondly, there are a ton of apps to make travel life easier. Every major airline app makes checking in and tracking bags a breeze. A few more favorites:


The Weather Channel: Look up the forecast before you go so you look smart AND cute

Gate Guru: Be the first on the team to find the healthiest options in most airports in the US

Uber and Lyft: As women, especially if traveling alone, it’s just smart to have a car waiting when you need it.

London Tube/Paris Metro/NYC Subway: if visiting a major city, have a plan B for getting to and fro

Open Table or Resy: build your foodie cred and have reservations set before you leave

Priority Pass: have an American Express platinum card? You’re in...lounges in major airports across the globe

Google Maps: navigate on foot, by public transport or car anywhere in the world.


Artful Travel

Once you’re on the way, remember this is a business trip, not vacation. Work is your priority: be sure you are prepared and have any materials you need. Back up important documents to a USB stick and carry on anything that has to be there on time in case your luggage is delayed.


Keep your wardrobe business-like: smart causal while traveling, sensible, comfortable shoes and modest outfits (which doesn’t have to equal boring!). This is not the time to break out the sparkles unless there is a formal affair on the agenda! Dress like you’re heading to the office unless you’ve been notified that the dress code is different.


Pack Like a Baller

Carry-on bags are shrinking, but you should be able to pack for a 4 day business trip without having to check luggage. My strategy for those who know what’s up:


//Coordinate your wardrobe so items do double duty. I always start with a simple combination: black and white in winter, white and tan in summer. Then I add a pop color or animal print with a couple items such as a scarf, cute shirt or tank to keep things stylish.

//You should be able to travel with three pairs of shoes: sneakers, a pair of stylish flats (ballet flats or sandals in summer) and a small heel (pumps, kitten heels or strappy sandal). Wear the sneakers or stylish flats on the plane, so you only have to pack two pair. [Sidenote: This is NOT the time to wear brand new shoes. Trust me; traveling with a blister is not cute at all...]

//Slip a pair of inexpensive flip flops in your bag. You never know if you’ll have to run down to the lobby or maybe have a spare minute to hang by the pool

//Always pack a warm layer: a sweater in winter, scarf or light jacket in summer. Planes are chilly and, in a pinch, you have an instant pillow.

//Never leave home without Ziploc bags; grab 2 or 3 gallon sized. Essential for anything wet, dirty laundry or liquids you may have purchased along the way.

//My toiletry case is always packed. Collect travel or sample sizes of your favorite cosmetics, lotions and potions over time so you’re never without.

//A small cosmetics case doubles as a clutch for evening events especially if it’s from your favorite luxury brand. If not, find something in classic black.

//Keep jewelry simple and interchangeable: swap your earrings, add a bold bracelet and work that business-like black sheath dress in the evening with a pair of heels.

//Always bring workout clothes. Limit yourself to one pair of leggings, a workout top and sports bra, wash in the sink and dry overnight (hotel shampoo works perfectly wells as laundry detergent...no need to bring your own.)

//I’m in love with packing cubes. They make it easy to find items quickly, help reduce wrinkles and can save space. Check Amazon for inexpensive options.


Details, Details

Always be early! Get to the airport with plenty of time to spare; be at all events and meetings ahead of time. Travel is stressful enough for everyone; don’t be the person holding up the team or worse, a client.


Be social, but don’t go overboard. This isn’t the time to get drunk with your colleagues, no matter how much they may plead with you. If you can’t handle your liquor, then don’t even go there. Don’t shut down the bar; get enough rest so you can be on point the next day.


Maintain your workout routine when you travel. It reduces stress and keeps you healthy. Call ahead or check the hotel website to learn more about their facilities. No hotel gym? Check if your home gym has a local branch or call the Y about a day pass. Or throw on your sneakers and go for a walk or run. It's a great way to see a new city.


Would you love to see more? Fly in a day or two early or stay a day or two later to explore on your own time and dime. Business travel can take you to some incredible places and you should take advantage of it! Often, hotels will extend your stay at the company or conference rate...much more affordable than booking on your own.


When done well, business travel can expand your horizons and give you a chance to shine in a new environment. Make the most of every moment!

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