Travel Logistics for Fun and Profit

I’ve been preparing for a long vacation that will start Friday. Because I enjoy a challenge, the trip will include two countries (Australia and New Zealand) and just about every type of climate this planet offers, from deserts to rain forests to glaciers. How on Earth do you pack for that? And how on Earth does your Heroic Technical Writer plan to relate travel logistics to the job of tech writing? Read on, fearless readers. There is a point to this.

Overlapping Travel Needs

Logistics is, in Bartish language, the art and science of ensuring that you have enough stuff to do whatever you want to do when you need to do it. I have friends and peers who have had to do more traveling than me, so they might do better at packing than me at this; however, I’ve traveled enough for business and pleasure that I should be able to write a coherent, useful blog.

Look for the minimum requirements first

Regardless of where or how long you will be there, you list your minimum requirements to do the things you want or need to do on the trip. Agile developers would call this sort of packing list a “minimum viable product.” Once you’ve established your bare necessities (laptop, pens, underwear), you move on to more variable items.

What will you need more than once?

Outer clothing such as business attire will translate well from one location to another (ladies and gentlemen, some of you might resent it, but your needs can differ). Those bits of clothing will work in multiple locations, across multiple environments, though with varying degrees of comfort. Alas, business fashion doesn’t always take climate into account. If you’re traveling “business casual” (my preference), blue jeans also can work in more than one location (I have yet to work an office where shorts were acceptable unless someone’s coming in on a weekend).

Remember that your needs can be met on site

Sometimes it’s not reasonable to pack for every possible contingency–the airlines do have weight restrictions on luggage, after all–so why pack for a situation that might happen only once? Also, if you find yourself in need of environment or location-appropriate clothing or other items (I’ve forgotten an umbrella more than once), it will be available somewhere in the place you’re visiting, either by borrowing or buying (and then adding it to your business expenses later).

I’ve been developing a packing list for this week’s upcoming trip for several weeks now, based on things I learn about the location I’m visiting, the limitations of my wardrobe, the capacity of my bags, and the realities of buying or cleaning clothes on the road. If you’re in doubt about your needs, at least start by making a list (Master Packing Lists are a real deliverable for delivering hardware in the military logistics world!). Have someone else look at it who has traveled there before. And, again, keeping in mind that you can always adjust on the road…and come back with a great story for why you now own an exotic piece of clothing.

Happy and productive travels, all!

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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