13 Things Every Business traveller Should Pack In Their Carry-On

luggage suitcase in airport

Photo: Flickr via reinis

As glamorous as it may sound to jet-set across the country, schmooze with clients, and live off room service, just about every business traveller would beg to differ. There are flights to catch, car rentals to book, endless airport security lines to navigate, and, of course, the hassle of keeping tabs on your paper trail along the way (because how else will you get reimbursed?). 

And we haven’t even mentioned the whole living-out-of-a-suitcase factor. Since carry-on bags give business travellers the ultimate mobility factor, we asked a few frequent fliers to help us put together a list of items they would never leave home without. 

Stop paying for airport WiFi and stay connected with your own MiFi hotspot.

Unless you're interested in shelling out up to $12 to use airport WiFi, it's a good idea to invest in a WiFi hotspot of your own.

With its slim, credit card-sized package and simple access to 4G networks, personal MiFi hotspots like the Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE MiFi are a personal favourite of Yahoo! CEO Marissa Meyer and David Rush, co-founder and CEO of Evzdrop.com.

'It is a huge time-saver because you always know you can stay connected regardless of your location,' Rush told BI. 'It also makes meetings efficient and gets you instantly online with a great connection.'

Ditch the pricey GPS navigation system on your rental car and bring your own.

Car rental agencies are notorious for tacking on hidden fees on essential accessories like GPS navigation systems.

Save yourself some cash by bringing your own along (plenty are small enough to fit in your purse or carry-on bag). If you don't already own one, it's simple enough to turn your smartphone into a GPS device all on its own.

Rig up a do-it-yourself smartphone stand for your dashboard, or invest in a ready-made mount for under $30.

Never lose track of boarding passes or expense reports with Lemon and Passbook apps.

The greatest challenge for business travellers is keeping tabs on their own paper trail ---- that includes tickets, boarding passes and, of course, all those receipts.

We recommend putting Passbook and the Lemon.com app to good use.

Passbook is essentially a hub on your smartphone where you can compile all of your boarding passes, tickets, discount cards, and coupons.

And with Lemon, you can easily upload photos of receipts, put together summary reports, track expenses, and search receipts for specific items. When you're back at the office, just print out or email your reports to the right place.

Only pack the personal care items you know your hotel won't offer.

'What not to pack is just as important as knowing what to pack,' said frequent traveller and public relations consultant Lisa Mabe.

'No, you do not need to drag a hairdryer with you, and of course the hotel will have shampoo, soap, et cetera.'

Most front desk attendants will have essentials like stain remover, feminine hygiene products, razors, and tooth brushes on hand for guests. Call in advance to double check.

Breeze past those endless security lines with Trusted traveller status.

The frequent travellers we spoke to raved about the time they have saved since becoming a U.S. Trusted traveller.

In a nutshell, the program ($100 to sign up for five years) is offered through U.S. Customs and Border Protection and gives pre-screened fliers the chance to bypass regular security lines in the U.S. and Canada.

'Nothing beats flying into Dulles on a Friday night and walking through customs and out the door with only a 30 second stop at the Global Entry kiosk,' said Peter Kane, a communications manager for AirPlus International, Inc. 'I've actually high-fived fellow Global Entry travellers as we left customs behind.'

Leave your suitcase at home and opt for a super-efficient carry-on bag.

The $6 billion that U.S. airlines reeled in last year from travel fees alone should be enough to encourage frequent travellers to leave their luggage at home.

'The best investment a cost-conscious business traveller can make is a durable carry on suitcase with wheels that conforms to TSA carry-on size requirements,' said Pete Meyers of budget travel site EuroCheapo.com.

'Tavelers can easily save $50 to $100 per trip segment due to the outrageous cost of checked baggage.'

If you're looking for some ideas, the Travel Channel has an excellent list of bags for business travellers in all price ranges.

Don't waste money on water bottles and purification tablets, and bring a reusable filtration bottle.

'My number one tip is to invest in a water bottle with a filter,' said Talia Salem, a communications rep for PlanetWildlife.

'I have taken this all over the world and it has saved me hundreds of dollars.'

Brand is up to you (there are dozens to choose from online). Salem is a fan of the Camelback Groove ($25) and we're crazy for AquaGear water filtration bottles ($29.99).

They remove 99.99 per cent of tap water contaminants and can save up to 600 plastic bottles over their lifetime.

Pack a small kit with medicines, band aids and first aid essentials.

If you've ever paid $10 for a minuscule bottle of aspirin at an airport kiosk, you'll appreciate this tip.

Stock up on essentials like pain reliever, band aids, vitamins and cough drops before heading out on your flight, and be sure to pack them in your carry-on.

Survive the inevitable weather delay with a spare change of clothes.

Salem learned the hard way to keep a spare set of business attire in her carry-on bag.

'I once had to go straight to a business meeting from the plane even though I was supposed to arrive the day before,' she said.

If you keep a small lint roller on hand, too, you don't have to worry about getting your duds dusty in your bag.

Freshen up on a dime with pocket-sized toothbrushes and facial wipes.

Save time and money at airport coffee shops with instant java packs.

No one expects frequent fliers to recover from a red-eye without a kick of caffeine, but that doesn't have to mean shelling out $5 and waiting in endless lines.

Lee is a huge fan of Starbucks Instant Coffee packets and just about every big coffee brand has their own version of insta-java on grocery store shelves.

Keep a travel mug on hand, and you can easily fill up with a free cup of hot water from just about any airport eatery.

Fuel up with snacks on the go.

Business travellers usually have their meals covered by their employer, but that rarely means getting a blank check to restaurant hop before your flight.

Keep within the confines of your daily food allowance by packing some quick snacks in your carry-on bag or purse.

Trail mix, small sandwiches and protein bars are all filling ways to stay satiated, and throw some fresh fruit and cut veggies in the mix if you're looking to balance things out.

Always keep back-up cell phone and laptop chargers on hand.

It's always nice when airports have charging stations for laptops and cell phones, but it's even nicer (and cheaper) to keep your own chargers on hand for emergencies.

'Make sure you always have a back-up cell phone and computer charger that stays in your suitcase at home and on the road,' said Roy Berger, president of MedjetAssist.

'Forgetting it will not only be expensive but can be very frustrating and time consuming in being able to locate the right kind while away from home.'

You don't need millions to travel like a millionaire.

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