Packing for Business Travel

Start by selecting the right bag for your trip.

Before you start packing, check the bag requirements for your airline and then stick to carry-on size. This way, should something go awry with your flight schedule or anything else, you’ll have your bag with you. And who wants to risk their bag being lost before a big meeting?

If you absolutely have to check a bag, it should be free.

When you have to bring equipment, supplies, etc. then try to book your flight with an airline like Southwest or JetBlue so you can check your bag for free. Still pack a carry-on with at least one business outfit in case the worst case scenario happens and the airline loses your luggage.

With other airlines, you could try to get your bag (presumably just slightly oversize and overweight) all the way to the gate so when they check it gate-side, it’s free.

Make a packing list and stick to it.

This tip is particularly for the over packers. The best way to break the bad habit is to make a list of essential items for your trip and don’t pack anything else. Categories for your list might include business attire, other clothes (something to wear on the flight, a casual outfit for free time, pajamas), shoes, accessories, toiletries, medicine and electronics.

Cross off items as you pack them and circle the items, like makeup or deodorant, that you may wait until the last second to pack.

Be thoughtful about the clothing you select.

Remember to dress for your industry, dress for your schedule and dress for the weather. Pick 9-10 items that can be mixed and matched. It may not seem like a lot, but you can always do a wash if something gets dirty. Hotel laundry is expensive but a bar of laundry soap isn’t.

It’s easiest to mix and match items when you stick to a simple color palette. For a sleek look, try all black. Don’t forget to pack comfortable shoes (read flats, ladies) because you may be on your feet all day during travel.

Don’t end up with wrinkles.

When you need to travel with delicate clothing, try bringing a garment bag as your carry-on. A flight attendant will usually happily accommodate your bag by hanging it in a closet at the front or back of the plane.

Also try selecting wrinkle-resistant fabrics like wool, lyocell, polyester, cashmere, knit, or spandex (no I don’t mean you should wear athleisure – look for fabric blends containing lycra or elastane). When you have a wrinkle-prone item, call your hotel a few days in advance to ask about a steamer. You can usually get one delivered to your room, but if your hotel doesn’t have a steamer, most rooms come with an iron.

Use all available space when packing.

Start by folding clothing in half and rolling. This will save space and reduce wrinkling. Fold jackets inside out to prevent creases. Store shoes in a shoe bag after stuffing with small items (socks, belts, etc.).

Pack mini toiletries and minimize liquids to get through security fast. It’s also a good idea to seal toiletries in a bag, and then reseal within a second bag, so you don’t have a mess. Charge electronics before you go and pack necessary chargers in a single bag. Small organizational bags will keep luggage tidy.

Do not forget the essentials.

It is really helpful if you keep essentials pre-packed in your suitcase. You should never forget business cards, chargers, a notebook & pen, stationary, band-aids and medicine. Save a soft copy of your documents (ID, passport) by scanning or taking a photo, especially when traveling abroad. Bring a flash drive for presentation materials, and pack a small surge protector if you know you will need to charge multiple electronics.

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