For many business executives, traveling to Europe means a new office in a new country each day. This may mean traveling by car, train, or plane each morning and moving to the next destination that evening. Most women agree that packing light is an absolute essential for business travel in Europe and will save you a lot of time at the baggage claim in airports, as well as packing time at the hotel. You may also find that your hotel room is on the third floor and there is no elevator and no porter. Having to carry a lot of luggage up three flights of stairs is no fun at all. Bring easy-to-carry luggage and not something too bulky. Stick to carry-on luggage if possible, but if you have to check your bags, make sure to pack a few bare necessities in a carry-on in case your luggage gets lost.
Luggage on wheels is helpful. If you are planning to take trains, easy-to-lift luggage will help you with overhead storage. To help lighten your travel load, consider making a list, outlining what you need in detail and what you can discard along the way. The better hotels will usually have a hair dryer, shampoo, soap, and bath gels. You will need to bring some toiletries and an alarm clock, as many hotels don't provide them. Consider bringing sample sizes of beauty products that you can use up along the way. One woman I talked to even discarded her worn or tired garments along the way to create space and lighten her load, plus she had room left room for new purchases.
Packing for Multiple-Country Travel
For an average business trip of one week, most women agree that one suit, (jacket and matching skirt), a coordinating skirt or slacks, and several varied blouses should suffice. If your trip extends to two weeks, then you may want to add a blazer and an additional skirt or a pair of slacks. Combinations of black and white (solids and checks) are popular among businesswomen, as they are easy to match with many colors of blouses. Good walking shoes are essential to manage the cobblestones and train stations, and a leather briefcase can serve as a handbag. Use minimal makeup and jewelry. As one executive commented, "Why would you want to jeopardize your business opportunity by drawing attention to an outfit or look that might make them question your business skills?"
Tips and Pointers
Pack light. Some hotels have no elevators, so you have to be willing to carry your bags up three or four flights.
Stick to carry-on luggage if possible, but if you have to check your bags, make sure to pack a few bare necessities in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost.
Get creative with your business attire. Use pants, skirts, and blazers and suit jackets that can give you a lot of different combinations with the minimum amount of clothing. Change your look with blouses, scarves, and other accessories.
Stick to conservative color schemes, such as grays, navy, black, olive, and brown. Avoid loud colors.
Consider bringing washable silk blouses if you do not think you will have time for dry cleaning in between visits.
Wear comfortable clothes with layers. Many businesses do not have air-conditioning or central heating. The buildings tend to be either very hot in the summer or very cold in the winter.
Bring a raincoat, folding umbrella, and a pair of leather gloves.
Always wear low-heeled leather shoes, as there are lots of cobblestone streets.
Wear neutral hosiery, limited jewelry, and neutral makeup.
If you have reading to do, make copies so that you can discard them should your briefcase get filled with paper. If you have magazines, rip out or copy the articles of interest, and leave the rest behind. Consider mailing home large quantities of business papers collected along the way.
Bring toiletries because some hotels don't stock them.
Bring an alarm clock.
The bathrooms are different all over Europe, as is the toilet tissue. So bring some of that, too, if you are fussy.
Bring a country adapter kit if you have electric items.
Depending on where you are traveling from, the airplane trip to Europe can be very long. If you have to head straight out to a meeting after landing, then consider wearing a comfortable knit pants suit with a T-shirt or sweatshirt instead of your blouse on the plane. This way, you can change in the bathroom in the airplane or in the airport when you get there. If you have the time to change or are not planning a meeting, then a comfortable light sweat suit and comfortable shoes are a possibility. They are light to pack and will come in handy if you have time for an evening walk around some of the local sights.
Always bring coins with you to tip the bathroom attendant when you use the toilet in a restaurant or office building. The attendant will hand you a towel to dry your hands. In formal restaurants the attendant will have various items for guests use, such as hair spray, powder, or perfume. Most countries do not refer to the bathroom as bathroom, but rather the toilet. In general, plan more time to get to where you are going. It is inevitable that you will get lost or experience a delay.
Jet lag can be an issue for many executives when they travel. It affects people differently, and there are many tips and even medication (melatonin) to work through jet lag. The key point is to establish a routine that will work for you. Your body is accustomed to a certain time clock. Long periods in the air, traveling through multiple time zones, and prolonged time in a pressurized airplane in close quarters with many people can affect your digestion and circulation and the way you sleep and eat. Most of the airlines now include some advice in their airline magazines or in-flight videos on how to reduce the stress of jet lag.
Avoid alcohol on the plane, as it is dehydrating and can throw off your sleep cycle.
Eat lightly on the plane and even the night before you fly.
Drink a lot of water, as flying is very dehydrating. Water will help reduce tiredness and headaches that can come with long flights.
Wear loose clothing and try to stretch or walk around a few times while on board to improve your circulation and avoid leg cramps.
Take off your shoes and wear a pair of socks while flying. Your feet will probably swell, and tight shoes will become uncomfortable.
Clogging of the ears during landing is a common problem on long flights.
Chewing gum and yawning may provide relief. Quickly drinking carbonated water may help as well. Another approach is the Valsalva maneuver. You hold your nose and keep your mouth open, while gently blowing out with a few short breaths. This causes the ears to pop. Other recommendations include taking a decongestant
2 hours before you land or using a saline nasal spray 15 minutes before landing.
If you wear contact lenses, bring a spare pair, or extras if you wear disposable, in addition to your glasses! You may find that contacts dry up while you are on board. It is best to take them out for the flight and wear glasses if you can. Otherwise, keep lubricating drops handy, and use them frequently.
Bring a neck pillow (most travel stores carry them) to help you sleep, even if you have a center seat on the plane. Bring sleep masks (most airlines supply these) to create darkness. Keep eye drops, toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, eye cream (there are also rehydrating eye patches), and a face toner in your purse to help you feel refreshed during the flight.
Dealing with Jet Lag
Most women advise that it is important to quickly integrate into the new time zone. That means setting your watch to the correct time, forcing yourself to sleep at night, and keeping yourself awake during daylight hours. Make an effort to adjust to the new bedtimes and meal times in your new country.
Try not to think about what time it is back home. Think in your new country's time zone.
When you arrive, take a long walk or work out in the hotel's facilities. This will help your circulation after a long flight, as well as tire you enough to encourage sleep.
Take a long relaxing bath when you arrive and give yourself a facial. Once relaxed, you will sleep better.