5 Tips to Becoming a Conference Travel Ninja

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-By Joe Bahgat

Bahgat is a practicing attorney focusing on Internet, media, and intellectual property litigation, and is passionate about the ways technology is forcing change upon an industry and culture so resistant to it. Having cut his teeth as a professional musician on the NYC jazz scene for a decade before becoming a lawyer, Joe uses his prior experience and knowledge of the entertainment industry to advise clients on both sides of the infringement table, as well as in media and IP transactions & licensing. As a lawyer, Joe has represented internationally renowned recording artists & composers, and has represented and litigated against MLB, NFL, and NCAA Division I athletes. After earning his juris doctor from The Ohio State University, Joe clerked for the Honorable G. Gary Tyack at the Tenth District Court of Appeals of Ohio, and then went on to join his father’s law practice to create the firm Bahgat & Bahgat. In 2011, Joe moved back to the East Coast and co-founded Hubcity Law Group in New Brunswick, NJ.

Inasmuch as Joe can be considered a certified Mac junkie and gadget geek, he is also a volunteer firefighter, father of two, practices Brazilian jiujitsu, and likes working on Jeeps, motorcycles, and bicycles (but prefers to wear gloves to keep his hands from looking like a grease monkey). Joe also blogs at www.internetontrial.com, and you can follow his Twitter feed @j0eybagodonuts or email him joe@hubcitylawgroup.com.

Joe is a member of the ABA TECHSHOW 2015 Planning Board. At ABA TECHSHOW 2015 he will be presenting co-presenting “Introducing Your iPad into Your iPractice” Thursday, April 16 8:30-9:30 AM and “60 iOS Apps in 60 Minutes” Saturday, April 18 9:45-10:45 AM.


1. Sign up for a membership/subscription to Amazon Prime.

You’re probably thinking, “what does Amazon dot com have to do with smart travel?” The answer is, very little, but since today you’re leaving for TECHSHOW in about a week, if you need to buy any last-minute travel tools or accessories, Amazon Prime will get them to you with free two-day shipping. That leaves you plenty of time to finish reading this, make your own list(s), and order from Amazon in time to get your items before your trip to Chicago.

Even if you didn’t need to order stuff for your trip next week, Amazon Prime is a no brainer. For $99/year you get unlimited, free two-day shipping. Not two business days; two days. Even on the weekends, if you order on Friday, your mailman will make a special trip to your house sometime on Sunday, just to deliver your stuff from Amazon. Amazon Prime also comes with several other benefits, such as free cloud storage, free streaming music & Prime movies, and access to free Kindle books.

2. Make a plan.

Don’t wait until the night before, and start throwing random stuff into a suitcase. Make a list ahead of time. There are apps for this, but seriously, don’t waste your time or money. Use a piece of paper (gasp!), or better yet, create a note in Evernote, using the convenient check-boxes. Before you can make your plan, however, you have to make a choice—whether you’re a business travel pro, or not—also known as whether or not you check your luggage. Post-9/11 air travel restrictions prohibit you from bringing many common items onboard in your carry-on luggage, so if you don’t want to check luggage (something to which you should aspire), you need to make that decision before you make your plan. If you’re conflicted, consider this:

Most people check luggage for one of two reasons: a) they’re lazy, and don’t want to carry their bags through the airport; or b) they pack too much stuff. If you’re lazy, don’t be. Consider it exercise. If you’ve got too much stuff, that’s generally a solvable problem. Most people can’t manage two small bags because they don’t pack efficiently. Taking some tips from a flight attendant, rolling your clothes saves a bunch of space and prevents wrinkles, too. Combine that with packing cubes, and you’ll have an incredibly well-organized and efficiently-packed suitcase. http://bahg.at/1ybFOQe. Now that you’ve decided you’re not lazy, and will not be unprepared, let’s talk about how to fit everything you need for your trip into your carry-on luggage.

3. Choose your suitcase; design your system.

Obviously, this is a big one (well, actually it can’t be too big, or you won’t be allowed to carry it onboard). Every airline has size restrictions for carry-on luggage, but in general, the limit for domestic carry-on bags is 22”. Do some research. I use this bag from Tom Bihn, because it works for me. Your mileage may vary (pun intended). In other words, you need to find a bag that fits your needs. There are so many bags to choose from, and no shortage of blogs and gear reviews http://bahg.at/1ybH4To.

Once you decide on a bag, you can build your system into it. Your system is just a fancy name to describe your packing strategy and routine. There are companies such as Flight 001, Eagle Creek, Timbuk2, and Tom Bihn, which specialize in making accessories that are specifically designed for modern-day air travel. Each of these companies has its own series of packing & organizer cubes, pouches, kits, and sacks. Jump online, and you can read user reviews, and watch YouTube videos demonstrating many of these products. A good set of packing cubes is a game changer. Once you have that system down, you’ll cut your packing time in half, and eliminate virtually all of the stress & anxiety that’s associated with packing. To see how, check out this video of a guy packing for a two-week trip to Japan, bringing only a carry-on bag and a smaller messenger-type bag.

4. Cut the cord.

Not literally. This is a relatively small detail, but when done right, it can have a profound impact on the time you spend packing, not to mention the peace of mind you’ll get from knowing you didn’t leave behind any plug, charger, adapter, speaker, or wire that you need to be comfortable while you’re away. If you travel often, consider keeping a second set of all the cables & adapters that you use all the time. Then keep those all together as a set, in a single organizer cube, or using something like these Grid-It organizers. If you’re bringing your Macbook, this device called the PowerPlay will make it a cinch to pack the necessary power brick. It’s also a good idea to bring some sort of TSA-approved multi-tool, and throw it in with these gadget accessories, because you never know when you might need a random screwdriver or bottle opener, while in the air, or in your hotel room. This Pocketmonkey gadget is perfect for that.

5. Tame your toiletries.

By now you know the drill—the 3-1-1 rule for liquids & gels. I found this to be the single biggest challenge to overcoming my dependence on checking luggage. I’ve tried hoarding sample packets of my favorite grooming products, but that’s not a realistic fix for the problem because you end up spending too much time digging through it all and counting out what you need for your trip. On the other hand, it’s a pain in the arse to mess with transferring shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, etc. into travel size containers, and if you succeed nonetheless, then you have to pick and choose what makes the trip, and what gets left behind. Not anymore. Enter GoToob. These soft-sided, no-drip, spill proof containers are made of soft silicone, so you can fit a lot more into a quart-size bag. Get a couple sets of GoToob bottles, fill ‘em up with your must-have grooming products, and keep them packed in a carrying bag/case all the time. That way you’re always ready to go on a trip.

The rest is up to you. Don’t forget that you can make the most out of what’s in your carry-on luggage, and also save valuable space, by strategically planning what to wear to the airport. For example, if you want to bring a heavier jacket or sweater, don’t pack it; wear it. The same goes for shoes or boots. Pack a pair of lightweight, collapsible sneakers to wear to the gym. They will take up much less space in your bag than a nice pair of dress shoes. Don’t forget to bring plenty of antibacterial wipes to use during your trip, and once you check in to the hotel. After you drop your bags in your room, head to a nearby drug store and buy a couple of liter size bottles of water. You don’t want to shortchange your health because you have a moral problem with paying $7 for a bottle of water that costs $.35 at Costco.

Safe travels!