What you Need for Business Travel
I have come to see packing as something between an art and a science and when you do it well it saves time. Instead of giving you the undisputed business packing checklist I want to cover what works for me and why so you can make your own pack this list.
Let’s acknowledge that there is nothing more frustrating that forgetting an important item especially since business trips can already be stressful.
You can type up and print out your business trip packing list or just create it in your phone’s notepad so use again and again for similar trips. The first time you forget to bring socks, or a belt or phone charger you are going to become a packing list convert I promise you.
When I pack for a business trip I like to think of it in separate segments to make the planning and organization simpler so that’s what you will see below.
- The Suitcase: For a longer trip this may be a large checked bag, but for shorter trips I highly recommend a carry on. Packing in a carry-on you don’t have to worry about your bag being lost right before that big meeting.
- Laptop Bag – Backpack: Other than the obvious item in this bag, I use this as the place for anything I need to have handy. Anything that needs to be available to me during the before, during or directly after a flight I put in here.
- Toiletry Bag: As we have covered in other posts, I prefer to pack this a separate bag that can be put in my suitcase or backpack (depending on the travel). Although these are the smallest items they can be the ones that most de-rail your trip if forgotten.
- Travel Clothes: Start your trip in comfort and that will lead to a more relaxed mindset so you can focus on the task at hand.
Traveling, even in the comfort of first class or business class is tiring and stressful so dress to make your day easier. If you don’t have those perks then what you wear is even more important.
I like to focus on comfortable jeans, shorts or pants and for the ladies the same or legging/yoga pants. Wear a fairly loose fitting comfortable top because you are going to be doing a lot of moving, bending and adjusting during the day. Check your high high heels into your suitcase and opt for more practical shoes.
For travel I like to wear shoes that are easy to get on and off in security and during the flight when I stretch my legs out. The plane can be very chilly no matter the weather so having an extra sweater or sweatshirt handy can really save the day.
The idea is to ensure that you are comfortable enough that you don’t forget the whole reason you are on the business trip.
What you pack in your suitcase is the core of what you will have available to you during your trip. It is no fun when you need to make an emergency trip in a strange city to the mall or a local H&M for something that you don’t really need but you forgot so you need right now.
In an effort to not forget anything, the natural correction is to over pack which literally and figuratively weighs you down. Instead of throwing half your closet in your suitcase focus on your packing checklist so you only pack what you need.
What falls into this category clearly depends on what type of meeting(s) you have planned so do your homework in advance. Pack combinations that can be interchanged without anyone realizing and it does a couple of important things for your business travel.
This provides you flexibility so in the event that you spill on a shirt, or tie or snag your jacket you aren’t running out to make a last second purchase. Secondly it also allows you to pack less items and re-use them without anyone realizing.
If you have 4 days of meetings that require a suit and you can swap your shirt and/or shoes nobody is going to realize you wore the same two suits over those days.
You want to make sure that your business travel packing list has enough shoes, but not too many. These are your single largest items, and can quickly eat up space. Packing an extra pair you don’t need might mean you have to leave an extra pair of jeans and shirt, or that you have to leave your gym clothes at home.
This hard for me to accept because I have been guilty of bringing an extra pair I don’t end up wearing and I was kicking myself later when I ran out of t-shirts.
When I pack extra pair of size 13’s, I have to make some real decisions about what not to bring. My default has become to find a comfortable cross trainer that I can wear out to lunch with jeans as well as to the gym. I wear these ones on the plane and I pack another pair of dress shoes.
For longer trips with a checked back I add a nicer pair of sneakers as well. I can dress up the business clothes with shirt and socks and I have more options available. Your shoe decisions are key, so be wise and be harsh with your choices!
Picture yourself getting ready to walk out for your meeting but you realize you forgot something… Chances are it was the belt that goes with your suit or pants, your favorite watch or the tie or handbag that you knew would make a statement. Accessories are what I always tend to forget so double check that they are on your pack list.
A great way to get over jet lag and to keep yourself focused during business travel is to hit the gym. But you can’t do that if you don’t bring your clothes. Don’t give yourself the excuse by not packing what you need.
Space for Gifts
If you have family or friends at home they might want at least a small gift, so make sure to either leave some space, or to pack a bag that fits in a suitcase pocket. If you’re checking your suitcase then between your laptop bag and this small bag you will have no issues.
Laptop Bag – Backpack Items
What I choose to put in this bag will help set the tone for my trip, and whether or not I have to start of buying overpriced items in the airport. We sometimes forget how reliant we are on our technology so when you pack it make sure you have what you need to make it work.
- Laptop and Charger – This seems basic, but many times I have been preparing for travel, and I am working the night before on my computer. Forgetting to pack your charger is very easy.
- Power Pack– Many places have a spot for you to plug in your phone but not everyone does so carry a charged power pack with you. You might end up being the stranger that comes to the rescue for someone else.
- Phone Charger– Duh you need a phone charger, but we all forget them very often. Put it on the checklist.
- Tablet – Give yourself some entertainment and a way to easily watch the movies the airline offers.
- Pens – No service, no charge, no problem have some pens packed in your bag.
- Notebook – I never travel without my notebook because when I am traveling it is even more important to keep my thoughts clear and to stay on point.
- Business Cards – No brainer but we forget them
- Travel Documents – This might be a passport, itinerary, reservation info, or conference directions. (Again, in case technology fails)
- Emergency Credit Cards – Just in case you lose your wallet or leave your card at the restaurant.
- Pillow/Eye Mask – Get there rested!
- Headset – I’m not an Airpods person but whatever works for you, pack it.
This includes your toothpaste and toothbrush, as well as your razor and shaving cream. Razor burn doesn’t help anyone. Deodorant is an absolute must, because nobody wants to be the stinky one in the room.
Some of us also need a comb or brush as well as hair product. If you take medication or vitamins don’t forge those. For the ladies I know you don’t want to be running to buy makeup right before a big presentation so include it on the list. The checklist is all about saving time, as well as unnecessary stress.
Great to Have
You probably won’t freak out if you don’t have one of these, but they will make you more comfortable and thus more likely to kill it on your business trips. It’s always nice to smell nice so I like to pack my cologne and I recommend bringing your own cologne or perfume. If you have specific hair requirements, you might want to bring your own shampoo and conditioner (in the travel size of course).
Do yourself a favor and take 5 minutes to create your own list so that you don’t have that travel blunder that casts a shadow on your next business trip. We forget how annoying those small packing mistakes are until we are dealing with the results of one. Now go out there and kick some butt!!