Road Rules – Rule 21

Pack Backward.

Who: Keith Haines (, executive vice president, Colonial Patterns Inc.


Home Base: Kansas City, Missouri

Mileage: 5,000 miles a year

Favorite Destination: The Caribbean

Don’t Leave Home Without It: A power strip, a spare extension cord, and a roll of Velcro

“I don’t travel that far or that often: I do two or three trade shows a year. But carefully packing my luggage and our display booth is one of the most important things that I can do to make those trips easier and speedier. A 20-foot booth can take three hours to set up and two hours to tear down. So at the end of a show, we pack our booth as we are taking it down. That way, the parts come out of the boxes in the order in which we need to set them up. You want your booth to look as nice as possible, but you also want to get in and out fast — especially when you need to catch a plane home.”

“We always pack our toolbox, our lights, our electrical cords, and our packing tape last. When you’re setting up, you don’t want to have to dig through several boxes to find tape or clips to hold your booth’s panels together.”


“We also think about how we ship our stuff back home. A few years ago, I forgot to bring labels, so I had to cut our address off of unused order forms in order to prepare the boxes for shipping. Now I keep a folder of preprinted mailing labels in my toolbox at all times.”

“Even though most business travelers use those wheeled suitcases, I stand by my old fold-down suitcase. I can usually get by with that and a carry-on. I just grab the suits that I need for a four-day show straight from the closet and put them in the suitcase. When I get to the hotel, I don’t even have to unpack; I just hang up the clothes, and I’m ready to go. They come out with few wrinkles, so I don’t have to spend time ironing in the morning.”