Work trips put the busy into business. You need to travel efficiently, have your bags and tech in-hand, and have everything you need in a hurry. While juggling phone calls, itineraries, and TSA the last thing you need is bulk. These pro packing tips for the business professional will keep you going—and even save time to enjoy the airport lounge.
Dressing professionally has some antiquated ideas attached to it. Carrying a suit bag is bulky and not easy for overheads or taxis. You can abide the business dress code without carrying a ton of extra luggage. For women, there is a great space between business professional and business casual. Slacks and blouses can go either way with the addition of a blazer for more corporate attire or a cardigan for casual office environments.
Say no to suits in any traditional sense. Unless required business formal for women, a suit is likely not required in Western countries. They are too well-coordinated to not be obvious. Instead, choose:
Formal exceptions. If you are going to a formal event, a single elegant dress that goes with your everywhere black heels will work. Avoid anything too revealing. No cleavage or plunging necklines. Nothing more than a couple inches above the knee. A scarf or shawl is a perfect way to make your evening more modest.
Ask ahead about dress code. It's that simple for questionable events, dinners, or meetings. Don't bother the VIPs. Usually, the coordinator or assistant is prepared to answer.
Likeliness is that your most important moments will be meetings with separate people. No one will notice that you are wearing the same pair of black slacks. Keep several blouses that are wrinkle resistant.
Choosing a hotel that has amenities like a hair dryer helps keep down your luggage.
Consider making your sleepwear part of your comfy wear. Yoga pants and a couple of tank tops plus a sweater is a perfect way to make travel more comfortable.
Women's business travel has special consideration. We have more stuff and need things to be lighter weight. Our travel bags are specifically engineered for women—plenty of pockets and as practically tough as perfectly pretty.
Pack smarter—and lighter! Keep to a carry-on for any trips 5 days and under. You can take a carry-on and a personal bag on the plane. If you use a backpack, you can sneak in an extra bag by wearing it onto the plane and rolling your bag. Your crossbody handbag won't count.
Lay it all out. Look at your itinerary and lay out what you are going to wear to each occasion. See what you can use more than once, eliminating unnecessary items.
Wrinkle-resistant clothing. For packing business attire, choose wrinkle resistant materials. Avoid dry clean only. Most hotels have a laundry service for last minute messes and emergency pressing. It's costly, though.
Roll your clothes. Instead of breaking out the hotel iron, simply fold clothing into rectangles and tightly roll before putting them in your bag. Look at our tutorial.
Dirty laundry happens. Bring a flat, separate packing bag to separate dirty items. This helps unpacking and keeps your clothing fresh.
Miniature, sample, or travel-sized beauty products can be perfect space-savers. Unlike refillable travel bottles, they are also disposable. You'll likely need that room on your way home.
Simple day-to-night makeup. Having one makeup kit will help economize your gear and routine. Bring a few hair clips to quickly change your look.
Minimal jewelry is best for travel. You don't want to encourage thieves or lose precious items.
Laptop optional? If you aren't working on board and most of your events are social, consider packing your laptop in a sleeve and slipping it in the center of your suitcase.
Cords, converters, and chargers are a pain to forget. Keep them all together in a dedicated 'cord bag'. You can repurpose a cosmetic bag.
Shoes that aren't a pain. It can be tempting to dress to impress with those favorite heels. Business travel is a lot of time on your feet with things in hand. Don't let uncomfortable shoes slow you down. Pick a pair of heels or dress shoes you can comfortably stand or walk in. Dressier wedges and mules can be much more comfortable. Limit it to two pairs of shoes (three if you are committed to the gym). Pack them in between layers of other things (you can bag them if you want). Wear your slip-on, comfy walking shoe on the plane. These can be a little bulkier since they're on your feet. So, stylish boots, loafers, and mules are golden.
Cold weather destinations. If a jacket will be needed, wear it onto the plane instead of crowding your bag. Find a coat that can be worn over your blazer. Bring:
Gym rat on the road? Keeping up with your routine is easier when you prepare ahead. Try and find a lighter shoe (you'll be in the hotel gym, likely). The lighter material tends to pack flatter. Bring a pair of socks for every other day. Bring lighter exercise pants and workout tops to save space.
Don't over book. Time in an airport inspires us to bring every potential distraction. Limit your books. Bring, at most, one book and two magazines. Or, upload some in-flight reading onto your phone, tablet, or laptop.
Multiple bags are not going to work. There is too much chance of forgetting things. You don't want to fumble between briefcases and purses. And, you simply will not have time to change bags. You want a business handbag that will:
An organizer bag is a great solution to keep everything in sight and easily accessible. You can also keep a small pouch or billfold expressly for keeping receipts. You want those reimbursements!
Straight from the office to onboard, the Brett Work It Tote is a great briefcase replacement. Call it business beautiful. It holds your folders, laptop, and has plenty of organizational pockets. Turn any café or corner into an instant office.
For longer trips, add a convenient weekender bag to help keep you organized. The Metro Soft Weekender has crossbody straps to keep it secure. It’s a perfect bag for the airport (no matter how long your layover). Outside pockets are perfect for a magazine and airline tickets. It has special spaces for your cellular phone, laptop, and plenty of room for a good book and your sundry stay-fresh necessities.
In addition to a business handbag, stay organized with the best business travel bags and accessories.
Be sure to have the following in your handbag on you before heading out of your hotel:
A beautiful business card holder is a great conversation starter.
Another indispensable business accessory is a larger folio wallet. With a place for a pen and plenty of pockets you’ll have plenty of space. Never lose a receipt or forget where you put that card.