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 Cindy in this month’s ALHI Insider. Read Part 1: Robert Heard's packing tips.


Cindy Villa’s 23 years as a meeting planner at Transamerica has made her a packing pro at work travel. To ensure she is equipped for any situation, Villa almost always checks her bag at the airport. The type of trip—like a larger business conference or incentive group meet-up—determines what she brings.

“I always start by using my meeting agenda to pack for each days’ affairs,” said Villa, who is also based in Texas. “I will put together a business outfit and evening outfit that would include all accessories. I bundle each outfit together so there is no second guessing what goes with what once I arrive.”

To avoid delays and ensure your luggage arrives at your final destination, Villa recommends dropping your bag at the counter no less than an hour before the flight. “This helps to ensure plenty of time to get your bag loaded, especially if they are working with reduced staffing,” she said. “I also always bring some type of outfit in my rolling carry-on so it gives me a backup plan should my bag get delayed.”

She almost always checks her bag at the airport, but a backup outfit in her carry-on provides peace of mind.

How Cindy Travels

Review your schedule and note any themed events that require specific outfits.

“Also, a good best practice is to bring things that can be paired with other items in case you need to switch things up: basic pair of slacks that can go with several tops for a backup option. Look for items that pack well and can be rolled to prevent wrinkles.”

Tuck everything in neatly.

“Stuff your shoes with smaller items that take up bag space. I love packing cubes to keep things organized in my suitcase. It helps keep small items well-contained while traveling.”

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Keep your carry-on luggage organized.

“I have a small travel bag for my carry-on where I keep my earbuds, charger, a power pack and any connectors I regularly use. I love my Bose headphones for longer trips and Apple earbuds for shorter trips.”

Stock up on small toiletries.

“Create a bathroom bag with all your must-have items you need in small containers and keep this ready and filled at all times. This eliminates large full-size items that add weight, and it’s always ready.”

Carry on your favorite healthy snacks.

“That’s so you are not tempted to hit up the Hudson in the airport and load up on bad choices.”

Minimize what you lug around the airport, a strategy that may help you figure out what you don’t need.

“If you carry a handbag, convert to a small handbag that will easily fit in your work bag carry-on.”

Bring your laptop and electronic bag—and any valuable jewelry—on the plane.

“You don’t want to be separated.”   

Invest in meeting planner shoes.

Villa likes Crocs-branded flats. “This is a nice comfortable shoe that you can put on for those long walks to the convention center, working in the event on-site office or after a long evening and the close of an event when you’re ready to relax a bit.”


Part 1: Robert Heard's packing tips.