The Secret to Organization When Traveling as a Busy Professional

Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed right before traveling

If so, I can relate.

Here’s a little bit about me:

For years, I have struggled with not being able to properly prepare myself for traveling to DECA conferences, competitions and other events.

I’ve completed three study abroad programs in Germany and France, Portugal and England. I’ve also traveled to conferences in Orlando, Anaheim, Washington, D.C. and Louisville to compete in career and technical student organizations.

Now, I have a system that works, and I am so excited to share it with you. I hope you’re ready to learn how to easily travel as a busy professional.

Let’s dive into how you can stay organized!


Organize Everything The Night Before

Organization is crucial, especially if you are traveling abroad.

The most important items to pack are:

  • Passport
  • Plane, Bus or Train ticket
  • Money
  • Change of clothes
  • Chargers

Let’s break these down further.



Not only do you have to pack your passport in an easy to access place, but you have to make sure your passport is still valid.

Note that you only need your passport for international flights, but if you are flying domestically, make sure your state’s driver’s license is allowable.

If you travel often, as I do, then it’s very easy to forget about checking for this.

In fact, I recently had my passport expire, and if my mother hadn’t noticed, I would have been in a tough spot

Note: for you to travel to some countries, your passport has to be valid for 6 months.

There is nothing worse than arriving at an airport for an important conference and being rejected by the TSA.

I like to keep my passport in a zippered, interior pocket of my carry-on bag (which is usually a backpack). This makes it difficult for others to steal it.


Plane/Bus/Train Ticket

Your passport can only get you so far. You need the actual ticket, too.

If you’re not using your airline’s mobile app, printing your ticket in advance is essential to your success. Frantically worrying about it the morning of is not great for your stress level or your ease of travel.

As a busy professional, we have enough to worry about. This shouldn’t be one of those things.

If you have a confirmation number as a part of your ticket, make sure you keep that in an easy to access place.

You might need that for checking in. If they supply you with a QR code, keep the PDF they sent you saved on your mobile device so you can easily pull it up.

You could get kicked off without it.

That’s why you should never delete the confirmation email they send you. You could be erasing important information necessary for your travel.

I always print any confirmation details immediately after receiving them or forwarding them to a trusted family member or friend for them to do it.

It’s a major hassle having to recall these details.



Not all places accept credit/debit cards, so having some cash on you is a must.

You shouldn’t keep all your cash in one place, either. That’s a rookie travel mistake I see all too often.

I like to keep some in my wallet, carry-on bag and checked bag.

If you are traveling abroad, you need to purchase their currency in advance. I always do that at AAA, but any bank with international relations will suffice.

Airport exchange machines will rip you off on conversion rates, so take the time and do this beforehand.

The length of your stay will determine how much to take out, but I tend to take a smaller amount of cash and put the rest on my card.

Make sure you let your credit or debit card provider know you are traveling abroad. If not, your purchases could be denied.

Set a reminder on your phone for this.


Change Of Clothes

In the event that your checked bag gets lost during travel, you need to have a change of clothes.

This also includes things like basic hygiene products, a comb, deodorant, etc.

This is especially important on flights when you have one or more layovers.

Put these items in your carry-on bag, but make sure their sizes follow the specifications of the company you are traveling with.



I’d be lying if I said I could survive without technology.

I require all my electronic devices at any conference, so bringing chargers is a must.

In the U.S., this is simple. All you have to do is remember to pluck the charger from the outlet in your wall and put it in your carry-on bag.

However, when traveling abroad, this process gets more complicated.

When I traveled to England this past summer, I knew they used a different outlet plug

But, I neglected to double-check that I had the right converter. So, I ended up expediting an order from Amazon’s warehouse in Dusseldorf so my phone and computer didn’t die

Even if you have an all-inclusive charger from a prior trip, check that all of the pieces are still on there.

In my case, the part that converted the plug to the English version had gone missing.

As soon as you find out the country you are traveling to, verify that you have the right charger or purchase one (or two or three, depending on how many devices you are bringing).



Hopefully, this article has helped prepare you for the things you need to pack and stay organized when traveling as a busy professional.

For high school and college students, it’s best to learn how to travel now because you’ll set yourself up with good habits

In this article, we discussed:

  • Passport
  • Plane/Bus/Train ticket
  • Money
  • Change of clothes
  • Chargers

Did we forget anything?

Let us know your travel experiences in the comments below!

Follow Drew on Twitter and Instagram @cdecavpdrew

Categories: Home Page Conference News, Leadership