So you landed that new gig and you're getting ready to head out. Here's a handy check list to make sure you have what you need when you relocate on a new project. This is written from a male perspective - not meant to be insensitive to female needs - just not my forte!
This list assumes you'll be driving to you new base location for the first time and then flying out for business trips. Obviously, if you are flying in, this limits you considerably. You'll have TSA restrictions on what you can carry and high airline fees for any extra bags, so modify accordingly. In this case, it may make more sense to mail large items to yourself at new location.
Sure, you can buy a lot of this stuff on site, so if that is your style, go for it. Personally, I like to stick with products I know and like, and I don't like to waste things that might expire back home, so I bring a lot of this stuff with me once I have settled into the new project base.
Whether traveling by car, truck, van, RV, trailer, here is quick checklist to make sure you don't forget important items.
Electronics and Portable Office
- Lap top/tablet/phone with copies of any software certificates or verification numbers, reinstall or recovery disks, full size keyboard, spare battery, lock, laptop or tablet backpack
- Mail forward with any bank deposit stamps, letter head or printed envelopes, copies of passport, social security and credit cards, IDs or drivers licenses, paper checks. Remember, there are still a lot of small towns where modern payment technology is not fully embraced.
- Spare batteries
- Phone and chargers for all devices and hot spot WIFI. Make sure you contacts list is up to date with all new project contacts!
- Power strip with grounded plug and ungrounded adaptor (for those older locations with two prong plugs)
- Portable printer/projector with USB cables
- Actual cash money for incidentals, tips, etc.
- Password file for logins
- Spare pencils and pens, erasers, white out, highlighters, sharpies, white board markers, whiteboard/corkboard/magnet board for project meetings on the fly, etc.
- Project notebook/journal with paper copies of statements of work, RFP/RFQ. I know this is all electronic now, but it is much easier to make notes in the margins of a written document for later revision in electronic format and many are flattened pdfs or images that can't be modified electronically without going back to original source.
- Any special hand tools or devices needed to do your job (for sure a small tool kit with basic screw drivers, pliers, hammer, common wrenches, etc.)
- 3 Hole punch, staplers, paper clips, reading light, pointers, desk lamp or task lighting for those late night sessions.
- 2 drawer file cabinet with hanging folders and labels (for project filing, business and personal receipts, tax papers, clippings, etc.
- Padlock for storage locker. Cable lock for bikes or equipment.
- Two weeks of business and business casual attire (so you can have one at the cleaners for a week and wear the other week).
- Cuff links, tux, shirt hardware if appropriate to your activities
- Belts, ties, daily carry such as pocket knife, wrist electronics, pocket handkerchief, etc.
- Metatarsal boots, dress shoes, sneakers, sandals or flip flops (for hotel/gym/workout/shower use)
- Swim suit, socks, underwear, belts, any special needs clothing, work out clothing, golf course attire
- Pair of work pants and shirt you can get dirty (crawling under vehicle, working on bike or whatever),
- Comfortable PJs or sweats, slippers, robe
- Seasonal clothes (weather appropriate hats, gloves, wool sweaters, long johns, turtle necks, shorts, light linens, etc.)
- Rain gear (wellys, rain coat, umbrella)
- Clothespins, laundry detergent, dish soap, small brush
- Backup alarm clock and night lights.
- Personal toiletries
- Beard or other hair trimmers, waxes, electric toothbrush and charging bases
- Hair dyes or bleaches
- Wash cloth and towel
- TSA friendly tweezers, scissors, nail trimmers
- Wet wipes for personal hygiene
- Any medications or test devices, spare batteries, charging bases
- Any vitamins/supplements/work out powders
- Basic OTC medications for stomach ache, head ache, dry skin, cold and flu, etc.
- Corrective vision or hearing devices.
- Prescription sunglasses or diving masks
- Electronic or physical copy of medical records and your doctor's contact info
- Health insurance card
- Humidifier if going into temps below 40 degrees or upper latitudes
- Fans, bandanas, broad brimmed sun hats, ball caps, shorts and T's if going into temps above 80 degrees or to more equatorial latitudes.
- Healthy snacks (canned foods, fruits and veggies, trail mix or fruit bars)
- Reliable, leak-proof water bottle with filter
- First aid kit with antibiotic ointment, mole skin, band aids, burn jell, chapstick, sunscreen, aloe, arnica gel
- Simple workout gear (jump rope, running shoes, back ball, etc.)
- Sanitizing gel
Vehicle and RV
- Jumper cables, air pump, spare tire and tools, compressed air/tire slime, jack, spare fuses and bulbs
- Winter/summer wiper fluid as appropriate
- Washes and waxes you normally use with chamois and microfiber towels
- Winter kit if needed (tire chains, shovel, salt/sand, deicer)
- Flashlight for night time repairs or signaling
- Maps/atlas (in case cell phone/GPS fails)
- Obviously, make sure service and maintenance is up to date before you leave.
- RV antifreeze
- Spare hoses, hose extensions, and clamps
- Silicone caulk
- Spray lube
- Trailer light adaptors
- Spare generator fuel, fuel cans, propane, solar panels
- Wire connectors, crimping pliers, electrical tape
- Trailer lock and wheel chocks
- Sun shades for wheels and windows
- Portable heater or fan
When you have down time, it's great to be able to pick up something familiar to occupy yourself or to have an "in" to make new friends at the project location. Personally, I like to throw up an ad on Craigslist and find somebody to play music with. So, I bring a saxophone and keyboard with a small amp to my project base camp so I can always practice or find somebody to jam with. It really helps me unwind and get out of my head for awhile. So whatever you're into, don't forget to plan for a little down time and recreation for your body and your brain so you can get back to the business at hand Monday morning.
- Favorite tunes/movies on favorite device with earbuds
- Hiking gear, bicycle and bike lock, helmet
- Sports gear such as golf clubs, rackets, balls, skis, boards, etc. Whatever you like to do, make sure it's handy so you can get out on the trail or mountain or court or water with little preparation. Even a frisbee can get you some exercise and help you meet new friends.
Whether you're into guns or not, the reality is many states are now legalizing open or concealed carry. If you will be working in a sketchy area (and let's face it, a lot of industrial plants, server farms, warehouses, etc. are co-located with gang and other criminal activity) and you plan to carry a firearm for protection you need to be super aware of the state and local laws governing vehicle and personal carry. When traveling with a gun, you may also pass through states that do not have a sense of humor about their firearm laws. Plan accordingly. Obviously, the airport is right out, so if that is your only way into and out of the project, you can only protect yourself with TSA approved devices. Bottom line: know the law where you will be and respect it. If your employer frowns on carrying, respect their wishes and leave it securely locked and hidden in your vehicle. Same for any host family preferences if you're staying with someone else.
- Handgun, ammo, locking storage box for same, holster, cleaning tools, solvents, lube, CC card, range card, practice targets.
- Pepper spray, taser
- Baton, pocket knife, whistle, flashlight
- Make sure 911 works on your cell phone in your area
Niceties and gifts
If you'll be staying in someone's home through an internet service like VRBO or AirBNB, it's nice to bring your host family a gift to let them you know you appreciate their hospitality. I like to bring some home made jam or jelly from my orchard or a garden item. Something small and useful like soap or candles or souvenir from your hometown is also good. Get started on the right foot in your new relationship with a token of your esteem for your new friends.
Long term project work doesn't have to be uncomfortable or lonely. With a little prep work and some basic planning, it can be a lot like living at home but with different scenery and new friends. All it takes is getting into the project warrior mindset!
I'm a road warrior who just missed my flight!