In my latest attempt to go get the world, I left my cushy job and became the first salaried employee of a fledgling start-up. Part of my responsibilities in the new job involve traveling to meet clients and potential investors. But as a new company, we don’t really have a travel budget. This was a huge change for me! In my previous job, I stayed at very nice hotels and ordered room service or went out for nice dinners, all on an expense account. But at the new place, I am aware of our burn rate down to the penny, and fancy hotels and room service are definitely not part of the plan.
All the same, my team at the new company had a commitment to do an on-camera interview in Houston, and we were planning to fly down there from Ohio. Did I mention I am the only female on the team? Well, my teammates, whom I fondly call “the boys,” were all down with roughing it in a discount hotel and “dining” at Hooters. I obliged, and showed how much of a good sport I was by making the reservations.
We get to Houston, have beers and wings at the bar as planned, and turn in. I’m even pleasantly surprised that the accommodations don’t gross me out, so I manage to sleep pretty well and wake up the next morning with plenty of time to do my hair and makeup for the videotaping.
I toddle off to the bathroom and–uh oh. Where’s the shampoo? There’s no shampoo and no conditioner in the bathroom. And OMG, there isn’t a hair dryer, either.
As a veteran business traveler, I don’t panic and just call the front desk to ask for the essentials.
The clerk tells me, “Sure, we have some shampoo.” Problem solved. In the spirit of the no-frills hotel, he tells me I can come pick it up myself. OK, I say, I’ll come right down and pick it up with the hair dryer. I swear he busted a gut trying not to laugh directly into the phone.
“We don’t have hair dryers here.”
“Well, what good is shampoo without a hair dryer?” I blurt out, a level of panic starting to rise. I hang up the phone and start on Plan B.
“No problem. I’ll just hop in the rental car and go buy them,” I think to myself. Then I see the time and remember the horror known as Houston rush hour. I move on to Plan C.
I search in my bag and find dry shampoo and a hair band. Bingo! A little spritz here and there, a good brush through, pop in the hairband, and done.
I recently watched the interview and am not too proud to admit that the dry shampoo saved me from looking like a hot-mess that day. Now, I never leave home without it, even if I’m staying at a four-star in Maui.
I hope you don’t ever get stuck like I did in Houston, but just in case you do, here’s my list of travel essentials that can help you perform your own epic save!
- Dry Shampoo. I like the Not Your Mother’s mini bottle. If you find yourself in a real pinch, you can use talcum powder (if you have light hair) or—no kidding—cocoa powder (if you have dark hair). Just make sure to brush it all the way out. Also, try out different products. Coarse hair can handle heavier products that finer hair cannot.
- Vaseline. Perfect for lips, hang nails, and removing eye make-up.
- Sheet face masks. Airplane air dries out the skin, so I try to wear one of these every night while traveling to stay fresh.
- Mini brush. Always keep one of these in your carry-on bag. This has pulled me through many times when I’ve forgotten my regular-sized one.
- Beef jerky (or Clif Bars for non-meat eaters). Perfect little snack that is quite filling if you don’t have time for breakfast, need a meal between flights, or you get to the hotel too late for room service. (You can tell I have experienced all of these scenarios!)
- Keratin leave-in conditioner. Sometimes the hotel shampoo and conditioner (when provided) can dry my hair. I love this little bottle to help hydrate and allow a brush to run through my hair much easier!