09 JAN 2019: Women in business have come a long way in the last 50 years. I remember way back when my daughter announced in ‘show and tell’ that Mummy worked, Mummy went on airplanes, travelled with men and wore a long gown. My parent interview was immediate!

What did I do? I was a convention coordinator and always needed a long gown for the President’s dinner.

Then there was the night I was sitting in the lobby of the Edmonton Plaza, shuffling through my purse to find my room key. What do you charge? Asked a man who sat down beside me.

“Depends on the job,” was my puzzled response.

Or an evening several years later, relaxing over a drink in Quebec City, when a man slid on the barstool beside me and said: “I know what you are.”

I wondered if I looked that much like the exhausted president of the group I was representing at a conference. I was representing the Ontario Advisory Council on Women’s Issues? “What do you charge?” The man asked.

Today none of the travelling women I spoke to while researching this article mentioned being harassed like that. We discussed packing, appropriate clothes, and loneliness on the road, and things not to forget to take, but not harassment.

Susan Webb is founder and president of Vox International. Ask her what she absolutely must have on a trip and she has a list: Multiple chargers for laptop, cell phone, camera etc.

I take an extension cord when travelling to more exotic locations as plugs never seem to be close to mirrors for hair dryers etc. and you usually need more plugs than they have in the room for all of your techy stuff.

Extra pair of glasses - I have had major disasters breaking prescription glasses when travelling so pack an extra pair of old ones just in case. Good headphones for the plane that are noise cancelling - makes them baby proof.

I pack a small umbrella - you never know, and comfy walking shoes just in case you get some free time.

The best $9.00 I ever spent in a perfume store in the USA was for a small atomizer. Just fill it up with your own perfume instead of packing the bottle. Voila it lasts for at least 2 weeks.

Paula Miller, director of Sales and Marketing at Majestic Resorts in Punta Cana says “Hmmmm. Let me see. A caftan that can double as a beach cover up during the day or dress for dinner. And bring plenty of sunscreen as it is more expensive in destination.”

Clearly, things have changed, and women travelling on business are no longer considered anything unusual. Way back when - most married women weren’t commuting to work - let alone travelling on business.

In 2019 women are travelling like never before, I only wish they’d been doing that when I started on the road. As the late Rene Levesque then premier of Quebec said to me at a Provincial Premiers conference: “It must be lonely in the ladies’ room.”

It sure was.

Gloria Nichols, a US travel agent says “I see women hauling large suitcases to all inclusives. I thought they were bringing gifts but no, they had so many clothes for themselves they couldn’t wear them all. “Tell travel agents to tell their clients, one bottom, and four pretty tops will be perfect for evenings, three cover-ups will get them through the sunny days, and if the hotel provides a dressing robe why would you bring one?”

“I always have my packing cubes. I was introduced to them a couple of years ago and love them.” Says Mary Lynn, franchise owner of Travel Only in Bellville. “With baggage fees and limits I can pack exactly what I need. Most of the time in a carry on. It’s amazing how much you can fit in one of those cubes. I roll everything stick it in a cube then just throw the cube in my suitcase. It’s great.”

If you’re carrying a canvas bag, say the experts I talked to, line the bottom with plastic, just in case your luggage has to sit on wet concrete. And don’t bother with travel irons as most hotels either have an iron in the room or will supply one if you ask. But don’t pack anything that needs ironing.

Everyone had tips for survival on airplanes. If your plane is delayed or cancelled, don’t wait in line at the gate, use your cell phone and call your airline’s toll-free number to rebook.

I only pack enough clothes for seven days, no matter how long I’m traveling for. I find a laundromat, that is easier than hauling a ton of clothes.

I also pack nothing precious, that I’d be upset if lost. Over the years I’ve learned to layer, and always wear my heaviest clothes and boots. When in doubt I leave it out.

Our daughter Jayne has a well-loved sarong from her long-ago trip to Thailand. It does duty as everything from a curtain, to a dress-up outfit, beach coverup, beach towel or tablecloth.

And that’s what we talk about when we’re talking travel.

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Sam Ion

The expert on All Inclusives, Sam delivers up-to-date info on alternate Wednesdays in her column Not Just All Inclusives.

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