How to pack a suit in a roller bag

One of the banes of travel for me has traditionally been the garment bag, which has been a royal pain in the butt. It’s large and unwieldy, it fits poorly in overhead compartments, and it gets jostled and crushed so much in the travel process that the garments inside don’t arrive any less wrinkled. I figured there had to be another way to get your clothing from point A to point B without arriving looking like a refugee from Wrinklestan, and I found one after asking YouTube from the folks at PackingLight.com. Check out this method! I managed to get 4 days of business clothes (including 2 suits and 3 dress shirts) to San Francisco and needed almost no straightening or ironing when I arrived.

How to pack a bag with a lot of clothing:

How to add a suit on top and make it arrive in decent condition:

Give it a try – I did and I’m sold on the method now.


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9 amusing travel hacks

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As someone who travels more often than I’d like, I do occasionally pick up useful little tips and tricks for making life on the road more tolerable. Here are a random assortment.

1. Hotel coffee. Treat it like a teabag. Read this post for the full details!

2. Forgot toothpaste? Or, if you’re cheap like me and refuse to pay (at some hotels) $9 for a wafer-thin packet of toothpaste, take a hefty pinch of salt or 2 paper salt packets from a fast food restaurant and dissolve them in 1/8th cup of warm water. Brush with this heavy saltwater solution in your mouth and it will clean your teeth and reduce bad breath surprisingly well. It’s not a substitute for proper dental care at home, but on the road it works in a pinch.

3. Shower with the bathroom door open if privacy permits. Most hotels use a forced air system of some kind for heating and cooling, which tends to dry out the room air quickly. In the humid summer, this is wonderful, but at other times of the year, this can lead to nosebleeds. If privacy and decency permit, shower with the bathroom door open so that the moist vapor gets into the room. If you can’t do that, then soak a large bath towel with water and drape it over one of the metal luggage racks for the evening, ideally placed near where the air blows into the room. If you’re really desperate for some humidity, run the in-room coffee maker with the lid off and with just plain water a few times.

4. Sign up for every frequent traveler program available. Even if you don’t have a ton of points, just having a membership number can get you an occasional upgrade if the hotel is far below capacity.

5. Always, always, ALWAYS travel with good manners and etiquette. Treating the hotel staff with kindness is not only the right thing to do, but occasionally you benefit from it, too.

6. If you’re concerned about safety, aim to book for the second floor. The first floor/ground level is too easy to break into. Above the third floor and you might not survive if you jump. From the second floor, you’re probably going to sprain or break something when you land, but you’ll likely survive and you’ll get out quickly in case of a fire with exits blocked. And for goodness sake, know where the fire exits are on your floor.

7. Got lousy water at your hotel? Get some ice from the ice machine. In addition to cooling down the water (thus reducing its apparent taste, because cold numbs the tongue), many ice machines have a water filter built into them, so if you load up a glass packed full of ice with some warm tap water, you should get a nice, balanced glass of water that’s cool to drink and cleaner than straight tap.

8. Suck at ironing? If you’ve got at least 4 hours between arrival and when you’re supposed to be presentable, load up the in-room iron with water. Unless it’s a super cheap model, it has a spray function that works like a mister, even if the iron isn’t plugged in. Mist down your suit or formal clothes with a fine mist all over to relax the fabric, then hang to dry. Works even better if you can hang clothes near where the air vent is blowing.

9. Have to practice your talk? Bring an HDMI cable. Many rooms have nice flat screen TVs that you can hook your laptop into and practice your presentations as though you were on-stage.

What are your favorite travel hacks? Leave them in the comments!


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Never make this professional speaking mistake!

4:45 AM, January 21. The alarm shouted its usual cheerful “WAKE UP” to me in my hotel room, urging me to get out of bed in time to get to the airport for my flight home. I groggily packed the remaining bits and pieces of my luggage and stumbled downstairs to the taxi stand for a cab back to Hartsfield Airport. The weather forecast in Boston said heavy snow, which might mean some delays. I stepped out into the foggy, rainy Atlanta morning and headed for the airport, expecting to be home right around 1 PM, plenty of time to enjoy the day.

5:40 AM. Getting through security was a breeze – almost too easy. I worry sometimes when someone does NOT check my bag, with all the electronics and wires I carry. I’ve seen what my bags look like on the X-ray scanner, and with all that confusing wiring and sets of devices, you have to be either an expert baggage scanner or you just don’t care about your job to not pull the bag off for inspection.

7:30 AM. Talking with the rest of the team from the conference before they head home to Baltimore. I head for my gate, breathing a sigh of relief that the flight board still says AIRTRAN FL 270 ON-TIME in bright green letters. Time for a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, it’s airport coffee, which is right up there with hotel coffee.

10:00 AM. The usual rush to get on the plane and struggle for overhead space. It’s Tetris with luggage and elbows, but I get seated and get ready to go. So far, so good.

10:30 AM. We push back from the gate and head out onto the runway. Storms wash the field with drenching rains and so many flashes of lightning, it’s like being photographed at an event. We come to a stop and I look out the window. The runway looks like a parking lot, with planes waiting in every direction. That sinking feeling sets in.

The long flight

11:15 AM. The storm intensifies. Lightning is flashing nearly every 3-4 seconds, thunder making the aluminum skin of the plane rattle. We’re still parked. The captain hits the PA to announce that the airfield is closed due to weather.

11:30 AM. The captain says, we’ve got a 2 minute window in which to escape Atlanta’s fierce storm, otherwise we’re going to be here for a while. He says we’re going for it and to buckle up, it’s not going to be an easy ride out.

11:35 AM. Free roller coaster ride with every coach class seat! Ever been in a commercial jet when it feels like the floor just drops out from under you and you fall 4-5 feet in a second? Yeah, that.

11:47 AM. What’s with the faint burning insulation smell?

12:15 PM. What’s with the very not faint burning insulation smell?

12:20 PM. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. A few of you have noticed a funny smell in the cabin, so we’re making an emergency landing at the nearest airport, which is Charlotte, NC.”

The long flight

12:45 PM. Everyone off!

1:30 PM. The gate agent says they’re trying to find the problem and fix it because there are no other planes in the area we could use to resume our flight.

1:46 PM. That’s funny, all the gate agents for Airtran/Southwest disappeared.

2:30 PM: I make friends with a captain who’s dead-heading up to Boston. He checks his internal airline flight schedule (I want that app for my iPhone!) and sees a replacement airplane that’s queued to be sent to Charlotte on the field in Atlanta. That’s good news, but there are still no gate agents to be found.

4 PM: Charlotte is a very nice airport to be stranded in. There’s even a sushi shop. Too bad there aren’t Airtran/Southwest gate agents to tell us what’s happening with our flight.

The long flight

4:35 PM: The Airtran/Southwest gate agents magically reappear to let us know they have heard that our replacement plane is in the air now. Then they vanish again. The off-duty captain says that it left at 4:15, should be in Charlotte at 5, and that there’s plenty of time to catch a beer in the bar and make bets about the next day’s Patriots-Ravens game.

5:19 PM: Boarding the replacement plane.

7:38 PM: Touchdown in Boston! Can’t wait to get home.

7:40 PM: “Uh, ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain speaking. Apparently, there are no free Southwest gates right now. There’s a plane in our gate that’s requested pushback, but they’ll need to be de-iced, so we’ll be waiting for a couple of minutes.” The off duty captain laughs and says, more like 20 minutes.

8:06 PM: Finally off the plane. Off duty captain was right on the money.

9:05 PM: Home, a mere 16 hours after I left the Atlanta hotel. For the record, it’s 18 hours to drive from Atlanta to Boston, so for today, air travel was only slightly faster.

The moral of this story is this: if you are a professional speaker, this story is why you never, ever travel on the day that you speak (unless of course, you’re fabulously wealthy enough to afford your own private jet, which clearly I am not). The air transit system is so unreliable that if you’ve got a professional commitment, bad, bad things can happen to foul that up. Had I been traveling to a venue instead of home, I would have missed it entirely.


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