The key to a successful business trip is to keep it simple. That means packing just one, lightweight bag that you can slip into the overhead compartment, allowing you a quick exit to prepare for your meeting. While this may sound easy enough, the packing of suits and other bulky items required for a business trip can prove challenging.
Here are nine tried and tested tricks for intelligent business trip packing:
1: Choose the right bag
The aim when buying a carry-on bag is to choose one that is as large as you can get without risking airline limits. As a general rule, most major airlines allow for a bag that is 22” x 13” x 9”, so aim for as close to that as possible.
A popular style of bag is the rolling suitcase, which essentially is a scaled down version of a large suitcase. While this can work ok most of the time, folding broad jackets can prove difficult so – depending on your wardrobe options – this style may not be your best choice. If you find packing your items is hard work, a military-style duffle bag, a small hanger bag, or large messenger bag could be another option worth exploring.
No matter which style of bag you opt for, it’s essential it gives a good first impression. A business trip bag should look professional and sophisticated, with popular colours being charcoal or black.
2: Pack versatile pieces
It’s perfectly acceptable to wear the same jacket while travelling, but the rest of your wardrobe should be mixed up for each separate occasion. This doesn’t have two mean packing entirely new outfits, however, as choosing just a few versatile items can see you mix and match well enough to disguise your reworn wear.
Versatile items include:
Black or grey suit pants: Suit pants can quickly be dressed down with a lightweight sports jacket or casual shirt.
Loafers: Loafers or topsiders are great for casual occasions, and are a smarter option than tennis shoes or sandals which can look too casual. Black oxfords are easy to wear on the plane.
Accessories: Neckties, jewellery, pocket squares, belts, scarves and cufflinks are simple ways to change the appearance of the same outfit.
Lightweight layers: A thin silk shirt or a lightweight windbreaker can keep out the chill but won’t take up too much room.
3: Pack efficiently
Shoes at the bottom is always the best place to start when packing, as they are your least flexible items. You can also fill your shoes with small items, such as belts, ties and socks, and not only will this take advantage of every space but they will also help keep the shape of your shoes.
Don’t be afraid to roll your clothes. Rolling is undoubtedly the easiest way to fit more into your suitcase and, if folded and rolled correctly, very few creases will be visible. For shirts, fold vertically, then roll loosely.
Wear your bulkiest items on the plane.
4: Be smart the moment you leave your door
If you’re not going to be travelling for too long, dress smartly when travelling to provide yourself with another office appropriate outfit on arrival. This also ensures you’ll be looking at your best should you bump into anyone at the airport.
5: Plan your stay
Before you go, get a good understanding of the activities you will be doing on your business trip. That way you can plan your outfits and pack only what you need.
6: Purchase a Kindle
If you know you’ll be spending some time by yourself in a hotel room, it’s good to pack a few good books. The problem is, books take up space you can’t afford to lose. Instead, purchase a Kindle and you’ll have thousands of books at your fingertips.
7: Use mail
The post office can be your best friend when your meeting requires lots of paperwork, so get organised and mail copies ahead of time. If attending a trade show, only bring back what you require straight away and post any non-urgent items.
8: Minimise toiletries
Your hair will survive a few days of hotel shampoo, and can be tied up instead of straightened. Any other liquids not provided by your hotel can be poured into smaller perfume bottles to save lugging full-size bottles along.
9: Find apps that make life easy
Instead of carting the laptop, iPad and smartphone, do it all with one. Today’s apps make business trips easy, and rid the need for multiple gadgets. You can also leave the camera behind and settle for your phone camera for a few days.