I've been working as a Project Manager for over four years now, but next week will only be the second time I'll have to travel for a Lean Event. After under packing last time to Raleigh (where we got a 20 miles radius power outage and snow), I've decided to make a list and not repeat my errors.
Here are a few tips for packing for a Lean / Kaizen Event:
- Adjust dress code accordingly: This is not your usual conference trip, you'll probably not be comfy wearing a suit and dress shoes (or a dress and heels) when following the production from step to step. Depending on your industry, you may get dirty (dusty in my case) or have to respect some standards (closed / safety shoes...).
- Review dress code with other participants beforehand: Everyone doesn't have the same definition of casual... I shown up in jeans, polo and Converse shoes to my last Lean Event when my colleague was in dress pants and shoes and a shirt. This time I've double checked that we'll be on the same page. Also, having a dress code similar to the on-site team you'll be working with will help you blend in and create a sense of team.
- Keep temperature in mind: And not only outside temp, but also the facility's! Warehouses full of paper tend to be cooler than outside, except in the middle of summer when they're warmer than outside. If your industry involve strict temp control, cooking, cooling, etc. you want to be ready.
- Make a list: It doesn't need to be fancy (or written), but having a list of what you want to travel with prevents you from forgetting things. Also, going over it a few time will help you spot the items you missed in that list. If you put your list in your suitcase before closing it, you'll be able to make sure you didn't forget anything when packing to go back home.
- Choose the right luggage size: Obviously, if you plan on a carry on only, your suitcase size must fit requirements. I know I'll check in a bag, so I'll have to make sure my belongings are not crushed neither lost in a suitcase of the wrong size. I'll put everything I need on my bed and then decide with suitcase I need.
- Pack extras: If you're a Lean aficionado like me, you'll probably try to pack as efficiently as possible. But after a day walking the ground, you'll be happy to find a clean, dry pair of socks and a change of shoes.
- Pack day and night outfits: Chances are you'll meet with your colleagues after hours, either to continue working or to relax. And even if you don't, you'll be happy to find clean and comfy clothes for the evening.
- Plan for the unplanned: I always have on me the basic meds in small quantity (pain and stomach meds, but also asthma and allergy meds), some band aids, gums, hair ties, tissues, lip balm, lint roller...
- Choose your method: Some like to fold, some to roll. I've tried packing cubes: very efficient but not wrinkle free. I've also tried to fold my clothes and putting them in a vacuum bag (obviously keeping air inside) and though it takes space in your bag, it was very effective. I'll try to roll this time (jeans mainly) and using the cubes for tops.
- Prevent spills: I've bought some travel size products (tooth paste, dry shampoo) and some travel containers (to bring my own shampoo, conditioner, etc.). I also travel with some of my routine items (hair brush, make up...). I'll make sure they are closed tightly and will use a waterproof and spill-proof bag. That way, there shouldn't be any accident.
- Be strategic with make up: I usually use a lot of brushes and different products when I put make up on every day. When I travel, I like to bring a fluid foundation, an eye brow gel, a cream eye shadow, a mascara, a blusher and a brush. If I'm fancy, I'll add an eye liner pencil or an eye shadow palette and a couple of brushes. Usually, the team I'm working with is essentially made of men who don't care about my make up so I aim for the bare minimum amount to feel confident.
- Working out or not working out, that is the question: I'll be working on routing, sitting in a room all day next week. Because I want to give myself an opportunity to stretch my legs and burn some energy in the evening, I'll bring yoga pants, a few shirts and runners. I'll wear my runners to travel and during evenings, the rest won't take much space.
- Think about laundry: Add a big plastic bag to collect laundry during your stay and sorting your clothes coming back home easy. You can also steal the hotel laundry bag and turn it inside out so there's no confusion.
- Don't forget work essentials: Power cords and plug adapter are too often forgotten. Try to put them in your suitcase (unless it's too heavy and your carry on bag is half empty). Also, copy on your computer files you know you'll need and print time stamp / waste walk templates if needed.
- Print travel documents: I always have a printed version of my plane ticket, hotel reservation, car rental and any other key document (address of location, agenda if training...). I also have pictures of my passport and ID on my phone in case I loose anything.
- Pack the right way: Shoes on the bottom of the suitcase, clothes on top, making full use of the pockets. If you gather / prep first and pack last, you should't need to add any last minute item that'll ruin your whole organization.
When I arrive to my hotel, I like to unpack right away (including toiletries), because it make the generic hotel room feel more homey. It also help preventing wrinkle in your clothes. Just make sure you limit the number of places you spread your belongings in so you'll repack quickly and easily.
And finally, I like to leave my house clean before I travel, even though I can be in a laundry frenzy beforehand. That way, coming back feels much better!