12 Guerilla Secrets for Hardcore Road Warriors

When traveling for business, your absolute top responsibility is to be in the best possible mindset for your meeting or presentation.

Ready to see how I do it? Buckle your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen… This list is about to depart.

1. Never confuse business travel with tourism. Hardcore business travelers need a different plan of attack. Your success depends upon your ability to arrive on time, in top form, with little room for error. The stakes are higher. You must fascinate your client, or you will fail– and that requires planning and focus. Read on.

2Your meeting begins from the moment you leave your house. Treat all business travel with respect and care, because it can make or break the result of your meeting. An almost-missed flight can take a toll on your ability to focus and to be your best.

Last year I flew 125,000 domestic miles on Delta. This earned me the coveted Diamond status. They sent me a luggage tag that’s actually metal, and — ouch! — it’s actually sharp. So while it looks cool, it’s rather hazardous.

3. Decisions create stress, and stress ruins confidence. If you need to be in a confident frame of mind, avoid having to make any decisions that will create any sort of uncertainty in your mind. This can include big decisions (whether or not to hire someone) or small decisions (how to get from hotel to meeting location). Remember: Your job is to keep yourself in the right frame of mind so you can captivate your listeners.

4. Figure out what your body needs to be most productive, and then prioritize that. For me, sleep is precious. I do not do redeye flights under any circumstances. Ever. (Unless I’m traveling internationally, in which case there’s Ambien involved.) This is not a matter of personal preference; it’s simply a fact that my productivity directly links to my sleep. Of course, for you, sleep might not be the “must-have,” but exercise or meditation might be. Find what works for your body, and then give your body what it needs.

5. Find your carry-on formula. Experiment with different ways to carry your bags, to find what requires the least effort for you. Me, I always check my main bag, because it’s a hassle lug a suitcase through the airport and worry about liquid size. Here’s a quick video of my system:


6. You have a finite amount of energy while traveling. Your energy level is like a gas tank. It’s your responsibility to conserve your energy for its best and highest use. Spend it wisely, because once your exhausted, it’s hard to get back into top form. Plan each step of your travel so that you can stress as little as possible about the travel itself, which will conserve your mental energy, your trip’s ultimate goal.

7. During intense travel, the so-called “luxuries” are not luxuries. They are insurance policies. Find services that allow you to shortcut waiting and exhaustion. If you travel seriously for work, you need professional-grade tools. My favorites: Clear Pass (shaving off 15 – 30 minutes wait time in many airports), Starwood Amex (1.25 points earned per dollar spent), and Cinnabon (just because).

8. Assume a 20% failure rate. Flights are cancelled. Taxis don’t show up. GPS is rarely accurate within office parks. Take all this into account. I usually book 2 flights to an event, so that if one is cancelled, I can still make it on time. And on that note… For absolute essentials, carry backups of backups. I travel with 2 power cords (one in my carry-on, one in suitcase). Why? Because if one gets lost or breaks, it kills my work. Put the presentation on a thumb drive, and, upload it to Dropbox or some such. For critical meetings, I’ve been known to fly with 2 laptops.

9. Pick a travel uniform. Identify what’s most comfortable for you in your travel, so you don’t have to invest mental energy in even thinking about it. My friend Jeffrey Hayzlett does the same thing. He packs 3 pairs of underwear, 3 pairs of socks, etc. Having a very consistent set of travel clothes eliminates a whole category of uncertain (see above: “Decisions create stress”).

10. Master the art and science of packing. Some people enjoy packing, but I find it stressful, its rife with potential mistakes of forgetting something or worrying about what’s needed. I avoid the whole mess altogether by keeping a set of toiletries and accessories in my suitcase at all times, so that I only need to think about what I’ll wear at the location (see above: “Pick a travel uniform”).

11. Prevent a wardrobe faux pas by including alternatives. You might anticipate that your event is “business casual,” when in fact there is nothing casual about it. It might be unseasonably cold that day, or unexpectedly conservative. I always pack a couple of options, in case things need to step it up a notch in any direction.

12. TSA considers peanut butter and yogurt to be “liquids” when going through security. Okay, this might not be life-changing news. But if  you’re bored in the security line and looking for an entertaining diversion, try quizzing your TSA official about other semi-solid substances. For instance, “Is pudding a liquid? How about strained peas?”

On that last one… hey, at least if you lose your bag or your flight is delayed… you can have a little fun with TSA!


fascinate your social media followers! Just cut-n-paste these handy prefabricated posts for Twitter or Facebook:

12 Guerilla Secrets for Hardcore Road Warriors by @SallyHogshead » bit.ly/WfAzqd

A dozen road warrior tips from @SallyHogshead » bit.ly/WfAzqd

How to please the travel gods: 12 tips from @SallyHogshead » bit.ly/WfAzqd

Never confuse business travel with tourism! » bit.ly/WfAzqd by @SallyHogshead

TSA considers peanut butter a “liquid” (and other travel tips by @SallyHogshead) bit.ly/WfAzqd

Master the art and science of packing with @SallyHogshead » bit.ly/WfAzqd

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Okay, your turn! Tell me, what is your favorite business travel tip?


  1. Great article Sally. I’d add an airline club as a must have if you are traveling for business. I think as a diamond you get SkyClub access for free. As a Silver I have to buy it and it’s worth every penny of the cost. A quiet professional place to relax or get work done. 

    Business travel is not a vacation. :) 

  2. Sally. Thanks for sharing these great tips! As a video professional, I would like to share one tip with you. When shooting video with a phone, make sure your cameraman is shooting in landscape mode instead of protrait since video is usually played that way. Good travels!

  3. LOVE this article! As a frequent traveler I’m always looking for shortcuts and ways to make my life easier. I love the TSA quiz and plan to use that in the future 😉 

  4. Hi,

    Excellent tips!  Thanks for sharing.

    One of my “must haves” is a good book. I read lots of business-type books…except for when I fly.  I like something completely different.  Right now I am reading lots of Brad Thor…


  5. Sally, this list is FABULOUS!! I am a professional organizer and I also travel for business. While I was already doing some of these things, I never considered the big picture. Wow! Thanks. Also GREAT tips for me to pass along to my readers/followers. If you ever need a career change, you have all the makings for a great PO. Nice to have options, isn’t it?


    Best wishes,

    Bettina Blanchard 

    Great tips Sally!
    I travel to many speaking engagements with professionals and students who are expecting a seamless performance every time.  And that’s exactly what they get.  It doesn’t happen by accident; it happens because I’m well-prepared.
    I love your tip about putting your presentation on a thumb drive.  I also use DropBox.  One added note on that, be sure you’ve embedded your fonts into the presentation.  If you don’t embed your fonts and they’re not installed on the computer you end up using, your presentation might not display correctly.
    I also send some advance materials such as posters and signs to advertise my events.  This not only helps with publicity, it’s also one extra thing I don’t have to bring with me.
    I like your extra power cord tip.  Additionally, I always pack both a VSG and HDMI output cable to connect my laptop to projectors.  I bring my own remote clicker and backup batteries too.
    I offer signed copies of my book for sale at events, and it’s important that the books arrive in tip-top shape.  Inside my travel case, I pack my books in “Really Useful Boxes” from OfficeMax.  They fit perfectly.  (Of course, I knew they’d fit perfectly because I measured before I bought the boxes.)
    I can also pre-ship books in advance if there’s enough notice for the event and air travel is involved.  Whenever I ship anything, I always get tracking numbers for added assurance that items have arrived where they were supposed to arrive.
    I’m excited to see some of the other great tips your readers have!

  7. Tripit. Period. By far the best non-human travel companion for me over the last 5 years of business travel. Having all of my travel confirmations and plans organized into one neat little itinerary on my iPhone is priceless.

  8. Rest BEFORE yor get tired and not after. By taking brief naps (10-15 minutes) or simply closing my eyes and resting ahead of time, my battery and my energy and focus stay charged and ready for much longer periods of time.

  9. Great Article Sally!  I especially like the travel uniform concept.  I organize my wardrobe by color weeks, Browns, blues and Blacks.  Travel week one I use the brown clothing and accessories. Week two I pack the blue and drop the brown at the cleaners on the way to the airport.  Week three I pack the black, drop the blues off at the cleaners and pick up the browns for next week when it start all over again.  Takes the stress out of packing and speeds the process. The only decision I am left with is short sleeves or long sleeves, I usually do both, just to be safe.

  10. I always pack a 3:1 outlet splitter.  Outlets are a huge commodity at the airport and always tough to find and when you do there is always someone using them.  The 3:1 splitter gets me two outlets every time, and the comment “that is a great idea to bring with you”

    • That is a great idea.  I love a good win-win!

  11. Once again, great tips Sally!
    Of course, the most important is Cinnabon (with coffee). You have to be able to enjoy yourself while traveling and nothing says “I love me” more than a gooey and delicious delight.

  12. Great article. I always have a travel pillow (for comfort) when sitting by the window and blanket to ward off the cold on a plane. In addition, I try and carry a work book as well as a “fun” one to destress during travel in my carry on. Lastly, I keep a small travel umbrella packed in my suitcase because you never know.

  13. Dear Sally
    The article is so helpful!
    I would add this tip-pack the
    same basic color scheme (for mme that means 
    black dress, shoes, jacket) but make the ooutfit look different with smashing And gorgeous scArves. vEry space saving. Too!

  14. Great tips. I will give an add-on to your extra power cord tip. If you do find yourself missing a charger check with the front desk of the hotel before you run around trying to buy a new one. People always leave these behind and they usually have a good selection behind the desk at your hotel. Ask them first.

  15. 2. Your meeting begins from the moment you leave your house. Treat all business travel with respect and care, because it can make or break the result of your meeting. An almost-missed flight can take a toll on your ability to focus and to be your best.

  16. I’ve been a flight attendant for almost four years and I definitely have the drill down from a flight crew perspective, but it really is fascinating to hear from a  veteran business traveler. 

    Thanks for putting this list together, Sally. You go! 

  17. Great list Sally!

    For those who aren’t water snobs, save some packaging and pack an empty water bottle to fill up (for free) after security.  Also perfect for on-the-go breakfast shakes (just pack powder), or don’t-get-sick Airborne or EmergenC.

  18. Hi Sally,

    Great List! I always carry a short extension cord with 3 sockets. It’s about a foot long. It lives in my briefcase. Better than a splitter because its so small. It’s been so useful at events where there’s only one socket or on a flight delay and you need to charge, pull out your extension cord and make a friend. 

    The other thing I carry is a bag of organic mixed nuts, salt free of course. They even out my hunger pangs and provide steady energy on long days. Far better than anything else I’ve tried.  



  1. Edition Nº 014 | The Girl Who Knows - [...] much? Very useful tips from frequent travel ninja, Sally [...]

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