Editor’s note: This article first published in the Fall 2022 issue of Beyond the Meeting Room, ALHI’s printed magazine, a luxury lifestyle publication focused on sharing compelling, inspirational and educational stories from beyond the four walls of a meeting room.

We introduce you to Robert Heard and Cindy Villa, two industry pros and frequent flyers with more than 45 years of combined experience in the meeting and event industry who share their top packing tips for traveling. We hear from Robert in this month’s ALHI Insider, and we’ll feature Cindy in the May ALHI Insider.


Robert Heard likes to be prepared—in style. The chief operating officer for American College of Emergency Physicians oversees the organization’s meeting planning, events and education. In his role, the Texas–based executive has to travel at least every two weeks, from San Francisco to Geneva, Switzerland, to connect with members of his organization and safety and hotel officials, attend industry events and visit potential meeting sites. Heard prefers to be dressed correctly for those engagements when he gets off the plane.

“It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed,” Heard said, noting that he learned that lesson the hard way when he arrived at a dinner in New York City wearing a short-sleeve button-up and slacks when everyone else at the table was dressed in sport coats.

That’s why he never checks a bag and prefers to carry on everything he needs to avoid delays. While having the right clothes is important, he emphasizes that one of the most important things you can pack is a good attitude.

How Robert Travels

Always bring your patience, kindness and grace.

“Over the years, travel has gone from exciting to really a hassle. You just never know what you’re going to encounter. Clothes are important, but really your mindset today is a big part of it. I think how you approach travel is so important.”

Always carry ear buds.

“I like to listen to music, watch videos or make calls without bothering fellow passengers.”

Dress comfortably.

“I like to wear jeans and a polo. Airplanes can be so packed and the AC may or may not be working on the plane.”

Ditch the suit and tie and invest in a sport coat.

“It’s so versatile. It saves you in a lot of situations. You could be in a T-shirt and jeans and throw a sport coat over it and be fine in any setting.”

Imported Image

Make a list of events and the attire you’ll need.

“That will help you see how much clothing [items can serve multiple purposes] you need.”

Wait till the night before you leave to pack.

“I find I am less likely to forget essential items that way.”

Get TSA Precheck or a Clear membership.

“They can help take a lot of stress away from the long lines going through security and cut down on wait times.”

Refill essentials.

From toiletries to prescriptions, refill essentials when you return so you’re ready for the next journey. “Aspirin and allergy meds are big ones for me.”


Next month: Hear from Cindy Villa.