7 Hacks for Business Travel (and a Busy Life)

“Mom, where are you flying to?”

When I am in the midst of my speaking travel season, I usually follow that question not with an answer, but with a scramble to check the notes my executive assistant, Tracey (yes, she is amazing and no, you can’t have her), placed in my schedule letting me know what’s next.

And while I am never 100% sure where I am going, I have accumulated a few killer hacks for travel that have made being a road warrior less stressful and more enjoyable. Here’s a few of my favorites. Add yours in the comments and you could win a travel battery pack for wireless charging on the go from me!

NUMBER 1: That little battery bar slowly running down to zero… there is nothing worse than seeing your phone die while you are stuck on a plane with no ability to charge it. How will you order an Uber? Or check to see if the client emailed you back when you land? After too many times in this scenario, I put together my travel power kit that stays with my trusty carry-on suitcase. It includes:

One Battery Pack for charging my cell phone on the go (comment below with your own travel hack so you can win your own) A small power strip so if you find that one plug at your gate that is already in use, you can share it. Also useful if you want to multi-charge devices with the one plug you find working in your hotel room or need to use that plug that is impossible to reach behind the bed. (Been there, done that.)

A calendar reminder the night before my trip to charge all my devices for the road.

NUMBER 2: Founder’s Card. If you travel more than 6 times a year, this card is so worth it. First, it gets you instant Gold Status in Hilton and Marriott hotels, which means free Club Level Access, giving you free breakfast each day and an impressive place to meet clients, vendors, or partners while on the road. But it also has discounts on many travel programs, let alone all the other discounts. Some of the ones I use most: 6-month free trial to Clear (see #3 for more on that), free trial to Private Plane company Jet Smarter, and discounts on many travel brands such as Hertz, Jet Blue, and Virgin America.To check out all of the deals, join here and use my VIP Promo Code FCKIM735 for an annual rate of $495 (vs. the standard rate of $595), valid through February 6, 2018.

NUMBER 3: TSA Pre-Check and Clear. If you fly at all and haven’t gotten TSA Pre-Check yet, you are MISSING out. The Tall One/my husband still hasn’t gotten his so a few times recently, I’ve gone through Pre-Check and he’s gone through the regular line (What can I say? I hate taking off my shoes at the airport. Love can only go so far when it comes to germs.) He was in his Security line for more than 30 minutes longer than me. When you get Pre-Check it lasts 5 years, is only $85 and so, so worth it. I also have Clear which in some airports (Atlanta especially) can be another big time saver, even faster than Pre-Check. You just need to scan your fingerprint and ID and you are good to go. You can get a 6-month free membership to Clear with your Founder’s Card (see above link to check it out).

NUMBER 4: Carry-On, My Friend. Want to save the most time and hassle while traveling? Carry-on only. Unless I am traveling with the kiddos or I have to bring supplies for an event, I am 100% carrying on, even for a week’s travel. There is much debate on whether folding or rolling fits more… but not here. Rolling has always let me fit more than a week’s worth of clothes in one tiny bag and prevents wrinkling. My other packing secrets are small cubes for toiletries and makeup that I always keep packed for travel, saving a lot of time packing and unpacking, and a large tote as my personal carry-on. This fits my laptop bag, a purse, and more so I can bring a lot more than “one personal item,” but it still only counts as one. Plus, then I am not shoving my nice purse or laptop bag under the seat in front unprotected.My travel brand of choice is Tumi. Yes, it is more expensive, but these bags have held up for YEARS and thousands and thousands of miles. The investment is definitely worth it.The two bags I use most:

Mansion Carry All

International Carry On

Hamilton Leather Brief (for the gentlemen)

NUMBER 5: Eat Well. I am on the road too often to use it as an excuse to not eat right, unless I want to end up on “My 600-Pound Life.” Two secrets for keeping on track while traveling are:

a) Bring my meal with me for enjoying on the plane: While beverages aren’t allowed through security, food is. I found a small cooler bag that fits in my purse or carry-on easily and I pack it with a flat ice pack. Inside I’ll pack a salad and chicken or shrimp, silverware, and a favorite tea bag to enjoy on the plane. This way while everyone else around me in first class is munching away on some savory dish, I have my own meal to enjoy.This may seem like a lot of work, but there’s something about setting the stage for healthy eating in Leg One of the trip that is the encouragement I need to keep it going once I hit my destination.

Compact cooler of choice:

MIER Portable Thermal Insulated Cooler Bag Mini Lunch Bag for Kids, Black

b) Instacart is my Skinny BFF. I use the grocery delivery service Instacart whenever I travel to get “eat right” essentials, like sparkling water, fruit, and veggies delivered right to the hotel. And if my room doesn’t have a refrigerator, I just ask for one and they always have one to give. This has been a game changer for comfort and health on the road. Warning though, Instacart can get a bit addictive… ask me how I know. Although I am not willing to go beyond the “admitting I have a problem” stage for this one…

NUMBER 6: The Suite Life. When attending conferences, I always try to upgrade to a suite so we have a place to host clients and partners for meetings and evening gatherings. Some of my strongest client relationships and friendships have come from hosting these gatherings. And while hosting, instead of paying the overpriced hotel fees for food and drink delivery, I’ll use Instacart to get a few cheese plates, nuts, and fruit platters… and Wine.com to have wine shipped ahead of time via Wine.com.Doing this literally saves 100s and 100s of dollars and is easier than trying to find a drink-worthy bottle of wine at most hotels. Plus, there is something delicious about hosting a gathering, then when everyone leaves, just crawling into bed.

NUMBER 7: Gift the kids. I have two little ones who have grown up with me on the road, yet they still don’t love it. To make my travel a bit more fun for them (and frankly ease some of my traveling parent guilt), I make monthly runs to the dollar store and stock up on fun activities and surprises for them. I then hide each around the house with a note or joke for each day I’m gone and when I call home to check in on them each night, they go on a scavenger hunt to find their treasures. It costs very little, but gives them a fun treat to enjoy when I’m on the road, and activities to keep them busy.

Do you have a favorite travel tip? Add yours in the comments and you could win a travel battery pack for wireless charging on the go from me!

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26 Responses
  1. For lighter packing, when possible, wear your heaviest items (in layers) jeans, boots, sweaters, etc to save room in your luggage!

    1. Kim Walsh Phillips

      And to save from any “heavy baggage” fees. Great idea!

    1. Kim Walsh Phillips

      Happy you enjoyed it, Kathy. Thanks for reading!

  2. I keep a packing list in Evernote where I just check off each item I might possibly need to pack as I pack it. Even if it’s an item I don’t always need (like a swimsuit in February in South Carolina), it’s on the list, so that when we head to the beach in the summer, I don’t forget it! Even if it’s not going on this trip, I just check it off. So far, this hasn’t failed me!

    1. Kim Walsh Phillips

      No need to reinvent the wheel, right? Great idea, Crystal!

  3. Your tips are great — especially #4, carry-on only saves loads of time. The other travel tip that’s meaningful for me is to pack your own satin pillowcase. Pop it onto the hotel’s pillow. It will feel more like home, and you won’t need to worry about any lack of freshness on the hotel pillow.

    1. Kim Walsh Phillips

      Great idea and it doesn’t take up a lot of space. Perfect!

  4. Kathy

    Thanks, Kim! My favorite three travel hacks are 1: bring an empty water bottle to fill on the other side of security so you’re not wasting plastic or money; 2) add & download a new podcast stream so you’re excited to travel, and 3) always ask for a hotel room away from an elevator so that you don’t constantly hear the *ding* and people talking loudly at all hours.

  5. Airport Valet Parking
    Valet park at the airport is such a comfort. Getting off to a good start is hard when stressed trying to find a close parking place and then having to lug your luggage all across the parking lot or garage to the check in desk to start your travels. At arrival after your trip, remembering where your parking ticket is and where you parked your car is quite annoying when you are just dying to get off your feet and into your bed at home. Valet parking is quite nice. At my airport, I secure and pay for it all on line and I drive up to their stand close to the check in desk and give them the car key/fob. When returning, you step outside of baggage claim and are greeted by a representative who has just pulled your car up and has it either warm or the AC blowing to ease your drive home. It is a bit more expensive but so worth it and with groupon, I find deals and pay as much as I would for regular parking. Thanks Kim for your tips!

    1. Kim Walsh Phillips

      Totally worth it to pay a little more for peace of mind. Thanks Janet!


    I have 2 suitcases repacked. One for warm weather conferences. One for cold weather conferences. I never wear those clothes or use those toiletries any other time. When I get home, I wash everything & repack. Ready to go!

    1. Kim Walsh Phillips

      That’s so smart and probably makes the days leading up to traveling much less chaotic. Thanks Brooklynn!

  7. Hi Kim,

    Great Travel Hacks! I do most of them but I did pick up a couple that were new to me.

    I’ll definitely give Instacart a try for sure.

    Bringing food to eat on the plane is a must! It is very difficult to find healthy choices in an airport or on a plane. Plus it also costs top dollar.

    Something new that I started doing lately is taking a Lyft to and from the airport. (You need to do the math but if you are not too far away from the airport it really makes sense) In most cases it saves me a lot of money and I don’t have to worry about leaving my car at the airport. Last year I came back to a cracked windshield!

    Oh, and in case you are wondering, they do pick you up at any hour both at home and at the airport. One important note though, be sure that Lyft (or Uber) is allowed to pick up at the airport where you need the ride. We had one situation where they were not allowed to pick up at the airport after returning from Italy and ended up having to take a cab to the tune of $200!

    There is a work around if you find that they can not pick up at the airport you are at. Just hop a hotel shuttle (or cab) to a nearby hotel and call them to pick you up there.

    Another hack that has worked very well many times is reserving a rental car at a remote location instead of at the airport. This has saved hundreds of dollars! For example, a rental car at the Phoenix airport was almost $500 this past October. There were several remote locations to choose from so we rented the car from one of them and it was less than $200 for the same timeframe! How did we get there you ask? Lyft, of course! It was less than $5 for the Lyft ride to get there! *Note: check the hours of operation for any remote location. They are not open 24/7 like they are at the airports.

    Hope these are helpful to all our fellow travelers.


    1. Kim Walsh Phillips

      Great, idea hopping on a hotel shuttle. You are full of money-saving tips, Sally! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Hey Kim — as a road warrior myself these are great tips! Particularly using Instacart! Also Clear is so worth it! Finally, Ameican Express Business Platinum is worth it as well. ….even though it costs about the same as The Founder’s Card, it has lots of extra perks including a companion air travel ticket once a year that is worth it! Also access to airport lounges hotel upgrades, a discount to sign up for Clear, to name a few.
    Happy traveling!

    1. Kim Walsh Phillips

      Spoken like a true road warrior. Thanks for sharing, JoAnne!

  9. Great tips! (And sorry I’ll miss you at T&C this year — hopefully, next year!) I used to travel a TON and always carry a Pashmina. First, it’s COLD on planes (and in hotel conference rooms) so even if the OUTSIDE weather is hotter than the surface of the sun, added warmth is always needed on planes. Second, it’s a “clothing” item so you don’t have to stuff it into your bag to get through TSA.

  10. Tarannum Khatib

    Making sure to keep well hydrated as dehydration on a journey could cause serious energy dip.

  11. I think this is an informative post and it is very beneficial and knowledgeable. Therefore, I would like to thank you for the endeavors that you have made in writing this article. All the content is absolutely well-researched. Thanks.

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