Monday, June 19, 2017

The Traveling Business Law Prof: Part II - What and How to Pack

Hola de la Ciudad de Mexico.  I arrived in Mexico City for the Law and Society Association conference yesterday to get acclimated and take some personal time to see the city.  Today, I carry forward the theme I posted on last week: packing for conference travel.  Last week, I shared my prepacking strategy.  This week, I will offer some parameters for packing for the actual trip, using the trip I am on now as an example.  This is what I was working toward (and achieved).


I noted in my post last week that I almost always travel with one carry on duffle-like bag (soft-sider) and one tote bag that holds, among other things, my handbag for the trip.  That is what I chose for this trip!  The main advantage is that I do not have to check bags.  I had a tight connection yesterday in Atlanta, and my grab-and-go luggage helped me to make that connection with time to spare.

To quote the Talking Heads, " . . . you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?"

Let's begin with the things I packed in the blue soft-sider.  I started by considering what I plan do on the trip.  For this trip, I have four days of conference proceedings (for which I will dress up) and three days of walking/sight-seeing.  I also plan to attend at least two yoga classes and have to teach Barbri in Nashville on my way home.  I next consider the climate.  I am in one place almost the whole time, and the weather is forecasted to be pretty consistent--mid-eighties (Fahrenheit) during the day and mid-fifties in the evenings.  Chances of rain are slim most days, but higher at the end of the week.  Here's what I chose to pack:

A three-piece coordinated suit set: skirt, cropped trousers, and jacket
9 shirts/blouses (6 tank tops--3 with shelf bras--and 3 wrinkle-resistant long-sleeved button-downs)
1 pair of reversible yoga shorts
1 pair of reversible dance/yoga leggings
PJs (undershirt tank top and boxers)
1 light rain jacket
1 French terrycloth embellished sweatshirt
Appropriate underwear items (gals, you can PM me for details, if you'd like)
2 extra pairs of earrings
1 necklace
1 pair of pumps
1 pair of fold-up flats
1 pair of sneakers
1 pair of flip-flops
1 traveling yoga mat

[Addendum:  I forgot to add that I also packed a printed silk scarf and a printed cotton bandana scarf!  I almost always travel with a scarf or two to accessorize outfits and make them look different when I am reusing the same basic suit pieces.]

Less the prepacked items, the rain jacket, the jewelry, the scarves, and what I wore on the plane, here's what it all looked like (footwear shown separately):

BLPBPacking1        BLPBPacking3

The yoga mat presents a bit of a packing issue, since it only fits in the soft-sider on the diagonal.  So, I needed to plan a packing strategy that used as well as possible the space under and over that diagonal.  I employed two different strategies in my packing to handle that issue.  First, for the area under the high end of the yoga mat, I stretched out the trousers and the skirt (both made with highly wrinkle-resistant fabrics) and put the dressier shirts (three tank tops and the three button-downs) on the top (as you can see at left in the picture at left above, if you look carefully).  I then folded the trouser/skirt over on top to bundle the shirts inside.  That looked like this:


The bundle fit well under the yoga mat.  I employed a similar approach for the space on top of the low end of the mat by folding the yoga shorts around the casual tank tops.  The gaps sound the yoga mat were then filled with underwear, PJs, scarves, and rain jacket, all rolled.  (I note that Greg Shill also recommended rolling clothing in his comment to last week's post.  I am a fan of that approach.)  Even with the prepacked items and my Barbri binder (which I need to travel with, unfortunately, since I have to lecture in Nashville before returning home and did not depart from there), there was room to spare at the top of the soft-sider.

The tote is a simpler affair to pack.  Again, I packed for function.  The basic tote contents included (apart from my prepacked pouches):

My computer
A zip-lock file folder containing the materials for the work I am doing on the trip and some pens and highlighters
2 magazines
1 Envirosax roll-up reusable nylon tote (which I use for my map, travel guide, and water bottle on walking days)
Snacks (2 snack bars, a package of notes, a package of dried fruits and seeds, gum, fruit candies, a small pouch of peanut butter)
My cross-body handbag (packed with a wallet, sunglasses, and a business card holder)

The resulting packed tote bag looked like this:


I should note that the weight of each bag was manageable, even for a small person like me.

Could I get away with packing a lot less for an 8-day trip like this?  Yes.  Again, if I didn't choose to dress up, if I skip the yoga practices, if I did hand laundry or was willing to commit in advance to wearing shirts for more than one day--all of those things would decrease the number of items I would need to bring.  But this trip, I feel very comfortable, so far, with what I assembled and packed.

 A colleague offering similar advice on Facebook recently offered these great tips that I have used in other travel:

1. Use only fast-drying, breathable, easily washable synthetic fabrics for all clothes. 
2. Be willing to wash things in the sink -- takes about 5 min a day if you use the right fabrics.

I am mostly a cotton and silk kind of gal, but I admit that well-chosen synthetics can be the way to go.  My three-piece suit combo for this trip and many of my yoga clothes fit into that category.  Natural fabric jerseys also can work the same magic.  In fact, the same colleague recommended Diane Von Furstenberg silk wrap dresses for dressier conference packing.  And I can recommend Anne Fontaine cotton jersey blouses (two of which, from past seasons, are on this trip with me).  These are pricier items (although one can catch good sales, which is what I try to do), but they really come in handy and look great.

To close, I will offer a quick footnote on other types of luggage I have used and mostly abandoned.  Greg Shill mentioned in his comment last week that he uses a garment bag-type backpack.  I had never seen that sucker before.   Looks pretty cool.  I used to use a garment-bag suitcase of a similar size, but I have learned about myself that I like to have more space and flexibility in, and less stuff built into, my travel bags.  This is a very personal thing, imv.  I also do not commonly use a backpack for longer trips like the one I am on now.  But I do use one sometimes for a shorter trip or a trip during which I am not engaged in any dress-up activities.  I have a heavy leather backpack (which I also used for carrying my books when I taught in study abroad programs) and a simple light one that holds my laptop.

Again, leave suggestions and thoughts in the comments.  And I will once more offer apologies to my male readers for the parts of this post that do not directly relate to them.  But perhaps even those parts will inspire some new thinking!  Also, let me know what, if anything, more you would like to see me cover on conference packing.  At the least, I will plan to do a post-script after I return home on the 27th on how well the choices I made work out in the end.









Conferences, Joan Heminway, Travel | Permalink


Thanks, Joan! I enjoyed these and admire how efficiently you were able to pack for such a big trip. Without presuming to know your needs, I wonder if the large Barbri binder could be delivered in advance? I could see wanting it for prep or to be surer of its safety, but that might be an idea depending on one's needs. Btw, I don't think there should be concern about the relevance of your advice to male readers; the advice is universal, with minor tweaks possible based on personal preferences (whether gender-related or other).

Here are a few more of my travel hacks, particularly for conferences. They have a tech bias, and some overlap with your excellent suggestions:

1. Global Entry (which includes TSA precheck). Free with Chase Sapphire Reserve and some other cards. I keep a running list of where the TSA line is at each airport/terminal so I know where to hop into the terminal.
2. PriorityPass membership. Gives you free access to about 1,000 airport clubs worldwide. Also free w/CSR.
3. car2go membership: And of course Uber and Lyft.
4. Transit passes to the city I am going to, if I have any already. I generally make sure to take transit at least once whenever I go to a city of over, say, 250k people. I'll also look at whether they have bikeshare. (Those who've seen my twitter timeline will not be surprised by this.)
5. Eyemask (widely available) and earplugs. For the latter, I like Dubs:
6. Cell phone battery case. I like Mophie. Try for 2500 mah or higher.
7. Long (6') charging cable.
8. Nomad Lightning-to-USB charging keychain (admittedly overkill when combined with the above, but small and helps in a pinch. I don't use the Mophie when not traveling): There are droid versions.
9. Noise-cancelling headphones. I like and have had the Bose QuietComforts for four years.
10. Apple Earpods. The QC's are too big and block out too much unless you're actually on the plane/train. Earpods give you maximum mobility, esp. when schlepping bags.
11. Amtrak: if taking the train from Penn Station, this will add years to your life: If boarding in Boston, there's no direct equivalent, so depart from Back Bay if possible (no officious queuing procedure). Alas nothing to be done in DC. Quiet car always.
12. For the trip, breathable, water-resistant pants that have some stretch, as Joan recommended. Here's a men's pair I like:
13. Dufl will manage a business outfit for you and deliver it wherever you tell them. Haven't used it.
14. More modestly, you can send a bag on ahead for about the same price as checking it, maybe a bit more. Haven't done it, but seems particularly useful if planning a multi-leg trip. Here's one service:
15. If you forget something at home or the hotel/Airbnb, Shyp will run over, pack it up, and ship it to you. Haven't used it, but a friend has and highly recommends it.

Posted by: Greg Shill | Jun 19, 2017 12:42:32 PM

Amazing, Greg. You have my respect and have me beat on the electronics (although I am likely to say more about that in a subsequent post) and transit issues (which I am great with in the United States, but not abroad). I also have Global Entry. It's the best. But I have not indulged in the Sapphire and Platinum cards yet. Maybe you could say a word about that (or volunteer to guest post on it!) since my Global Entry will expire in a few years and I will need to assess benefits of the cards with this in mine. I am generally a no-fee credit card kind of person, although I have made an exception to that rule for my airline card.

As for the Barbri binder, I considered shipping it. But the Nashville area hotel in which I am staying over night is one at which I do not necessarily trust the efficiency of services of this kind, based on a prior experience. Otherwise, I love the hotel. I suppose I could've shipped the binder to my son instead . . . . Something to consider that your comment just triggered.

I do not do masks and earplugs. Frankly, I haven't found a need for them. But I may. So I will take recommendations in that regard under advisement.

Thanks for all these tips and hacks. Great stuff. You ROCK!

Posted by: joanheminway | Jun 19, 2017 4:06:47 PM

Thanks, Joan! You're kind to indulge my travel eccentricities. I'm impressed you were able to bring so much for such different environments in such small bags. Very good work!

Transit abroad can be challenging, not least because you may not have cell service (making it harder to use Google Maps) and subway ticket machines often accept only coins or chip-and-pin credit cards (you may not have local coins yet, and US chip cards won't work because they lack pins). I try to download some maps, including local Google Maps transit maps, in advance, which helps even if imperfectly. With cellular off and wifi on, your phone can locate you decently well in a city by bouncing off of wi-fi signals, even though you are not connecting. I have never gotten an international data package, but that's an option as well.

Chase Sapphire Reserve is the best card I have ever had. It has a hefty annual fee but that is rebated back to you almost in full via various credits. I am honored for the guest post invitation, but can't sum up the benefits better than the Points Guy. Here he explains Reserve and Preferred:

Can't wait to see the next installment! Travel efficiency is something I prioritize maybe more than is sensible.

Posted by: Greg Shill | Jun 20, 2017 9:09:01 AM

Again, Greg, many thanks. I also have found keeping wifi on in foreign countries is helpful. I was even able to connect at a luxury hotel in Shanghai--and get on Facebook briefly!

Transportation systems in different countries are baffling--surprisingly non-transparent, imv. True of the U.S. systems for foreigners, too. Some standardization, especially as to mass transit, would be super, imv. But even shared vans and taxis are not operated the same way in and within countries. Go figure. Some of it is driven by regulation, some by custom. Tough to navigate (pun intended), nevertheless.

I am a dedicated fan and user of TripAdvisor. It often helps answer my questions when I am traveling to a new place. I also have gotten good information on hotels and sights there.

More when I next pick this up! I appreciate you continuing to offer your wisdom.

Posted by: joanheminway | Jun 20, 2017 9:16:53 AM

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