Business Travel Tips from the Woman in the Cockpit

by Rachel Yeomans | March 18th, 2010   
Tagged as: ,

By Halli Mulei

I travel – a lot. Actually I’m international pilot for a major airline. Spending so much time in airports and airplanes, I’ve noticed is that when it comes to traveling for business, certain rules apply. So I wanted to share some tips, a sort of business-travel-checklist.

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General rules:

  • Don’t show up for business travel like you are going on vacation. You are very likely to run into someone from work. A co-worker (or boss) may book the same flight and want to talk about the upcoming meeting. I’ve seen way too many women mortified trying to discuss next year’s forecast wearing ripped jeans and a low-cut shirt.
  • Dress like an important client from out of town is visiting. If you are traveling to a conference, chances are that someone from another department or branch is doing the same. It may be your only opportunity to make a first impression on someone you eventually want to work for or with. There is also always the chance of delays and you may not have time to go to your hotel room before a meeting. Be ready.

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Specifics:

  • Carry a tote bag that closes.  Everyone carries more while traveling. An open tote, papers falling out, tabloids wadded up, just looks disorganized.  Not the impression any of us want to give to our peers.  Invest in a great tote, it will last years.  I love Mulberry’s flap closure tote. 
  • Wear dark clothes. Spills happen, especially during turbulence. As careful as you are, there is the chance that the person next to you will order tomato juice just when it gets bumpy. And a small coffee spill on black pants isn’t the end of the world. On light pants though, you’ll have an issue.

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  • Bring an extra shirt in your carry-on. See above reason. Also, when it comes to your shirt here’s the best place to express your style on a business trip. I like Kate Boggiano’s line because you can have the shirt cut to your specifications.  You can measure yourself or send in an old shirt that fits great. When it comes to fashion, older businessmen aren’t impressed with the latest trends, but they do notice well-tailored clothes.
  • Wear a classic pair of shoes from a designer that fits you. We all need to find the shoes designer that fits us properly. My go-to guy is Stuart Weitzman. Fit is important because you may be running gate-to-gate. Bring the classic pair in nude or black that will look good with everything. Shoes take up the most room in the suitcase so I only bring extra shoes when I have extra room.

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I’m not advocating that you show up looking like Anna Kendrick’s character in Up In The Air. She looked like she raided her mother’s closet. A little of your own style is always a good thing. But the most successful women I know treat the airport like a satellite office, and always dress like it.

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Halli Mulei is an airline pilot flying overseas routes – usually Paris or London. She also owns a boutique in Lincoln Park Chicago and writes for Social Stylists. Her favorite part of flying internationally is watching fashion trends emerge in Europe and forecasting how (or if) they will develop in the US.

4 comments
Jill
Jill

Great blog! These recommendations are spot-on. Before you leave on a business trip, ask yourself this - "Would I be embarrassed to run into a colleague or client in this outfit?" If the answer is "yes," go back and change. I don't care if you're on a 12 hour flight - pyjamas and sheepskin booties are never appropriate for business travel.

Jill
Jill

Great blog! These recommendations are spot-on. Before you leave on a business trip, ask yourself this - "Would I be embarrassed to run into a colleague or client in this outfit?" If the answer is "yes," go back and change. I don't care if you're on a 12 hour flight - pyjamas and sheepskin booties are never appropriate for business travel.