Monday, 29 June 2009

Packing tips from a trainer

By Tiffany Childs, Training Consultant at Maven Training

For a while now our Marketing Manager Joanna has been hassling me to write something for the Maven blog. To be fair Joanna would say she was “encouraging” me, I perhaps would have labelled it “harassing” me, so hassling seems a fair compromise. The trouble I always faced was what to write about?

I have sat on the proverbial fence debating whether to write an in-depth but hard hitting review of one of the latest release books relating to Change Management or whether perhaps to tackle the issues faced by women in the world of Project Management. But each time I sat down to type the inspiration was not quite there.

Well my inspiration has finally struck. As part of a Maven Train-the-Trainer session last weekend I succumbed to being interviewed about some of the key changes and benefits of the new PRINCE2:2009 for vox-pops material that was being collated. This got me thinking about the sort of probing questions I am normally asked by people about my role as a Trainer.

Besides the standard questions about how I decided to be a trainer, what courses I deliver, what my delegates are like etc, one of the most common questions people hurl in my direction is whether I have any tips on packing.

Yes, you read right – one of the most common questions people ask me is whether I can advise them on how to miraculously convert 36kg of checked in luggage into 7kg of on board baggage. The first time I was asked this by a close friend I nearly fell off my chair. But it turns out they were serious.

As a trainer working for Maven – which has a large market share and a diverse client base – I do travel within the UK and Europe frequently. I manage to pack and repack my bags at lighting speed; have never missed a plane or train; have never forgotten any essential course materials; and always make sure that I pack light enough to manage public transport. This is no mean feat when you consider that I carry around a projector and straightening irons as part of my luggage!

So I figured that as we were coming into the peak of the Summer travel season Joanna might be OK with me writing up a few lines where I share some of the travel tips that I have passed on to others. I’m hoping that my reputation as a bit of an odd-ball Trainer that sometimes get sidetracked debating strange topics (I once spent 20 minutes during a PRINCE2 course explaining my experience of building a mud brick house) will give me enough eccentricity brownie points for this to be published…
So here’s my top 7 travelling tips – do with them what you may:

1. Don’t be a fool, use a planning tool: One of the most important things to know when travelling is where the relevant places are, how long it is going to take you to get there and how you can get there. Sounds simple right? Well it is if you use the planning tools available to you, such as Transport for London, National Rail, BAA, The AA, Google Maps etc. Remember to access these prior to travelling, print them out and keep two copies – one for your check-in luggage, another for the bag you will have on you at all times when travelling.

2. Pack tight, pack light: I used to scoff at the saying “everything including the kitchen sink” until I saw how some people packed. Remember – you are not running away to get married! You will be home in a day/week/fortnight (delete as appropriate). Pack lots of underwear, 2- 3 sets of shoes and some clothes you can mix and match so it looks like you are wearing different outfits. Oh, and when it comes to rolling vs. folding I don’t think one is better than the other (see my note re steam below). Whatever makes you pack tighter is better!

3. Convert me! Power and money: The heading says it all really. Have you got cash? Is it in the right currency? What about a power adapter? Is it the right socket and voltage?

4. All those pretty bits of paper: The dreaded “P” word (Paperwork)! As a minimum you will need tickets, but also potentially a passport and relevant visas. If in doubt check ahead what the requirements are.

5. Check and check again: Related to the point above, I would suggest that you check what you have packed just before you do the last zipping up of your bag. Even better, have a pre-prepared list so each time you pack you don’t have to strain your brain but simply cross check against a pre-existing list. Martha Stewart, eat your heart out!

6. Make yourself at home: Unpacking when you get there can make you feel more organised, save you time scrabbling around your suitcase looking for that elusive sock and make sure your clothes are as crush-free as possible. I promise you, it’s worth the 5 minutes you invest in it.

7. The power of steam: Linking to my point above, as part of your unpacking any items that are looking a little crinkled after your trip may benefit for a little steam treatment. Hang them on clothes hangers and place them around the bathroom. Close the door and have a hot shower, allowing the hot water to keep running for 5 minutes after you have finished. Keep the bathroom door shut for roughly 20 minutes after you have turned the shower off to ensure maximum benefits and voila! Your clothes should look refreshed and crinkle-free!

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