Packing for a business trip involves careful consideration and planning. With your aim to look professional, stay organised, and not forget anything important — it is imperative to keep your luggage light and easy to carry. These packing tips and strategies reveal how you can pack like a pro and travel light for any business trip!

business packing

Plan AheadBefore you begin packing, take a look at your trip itinerary, make a list of what you’ll need to bring and stick to it. Besides checking the weather for an up-to-date forecast, be sure to get familiar with your destination’s dress code. When in doubt, it’s always best to dress conservatively, and keep the standards for international business attire top of mind. Even if you work in an industry where casual dress is the norm (like, IT or graphic design) it may not be the norm in the country you’re visiting. For example, work attire in Dubai tends to be quite formal, and women should dress modestly, covering shoulders, upper arms and knees.
Be Carry-on SavvyFlight delays, cancelled connections, lost luggage…bottom line: if you don’t check bags, there’s less room for errors. However, packing for today’s overhead bin reality can be easier said than done as more and more travellers take carry-on. In addition to double checking your airline’s requirements, a lot of luggage styles waste space in favour of aesthetics, which is why a duffel bag or rolling duffel bag is recommended as a viable alternative to a rolling suitcase. Why? If your flight is full and you’re not among the first on the plane, a flexible bag can fit into any odd space available between roller bags in the overhead bins.

To keep your possessions in place and wrinkle-free, there are several strategies you can employ to help provide structure and organization if needed —including the use of packing cubes and mesh bags. And don’t forget those cliplock bags — they’re not only an economical way to pack clothing but are great for protecting and also waterproofing items such as toiletries as well.

Mix and Match: As your goal is NOT to check luggage, stick with a neutral colour scheme and basic clothing styles. The key is to bring pieces that you can easily mix, match and layer to create a variety of different outfits. In fact, you can easily get by with 10 pieces of clothing whether it be for 2 days or 2 weeks. Consider this rule of thumb for a versatile clothing capsule: 3 bottoms (2 dressy, 1 casual) + 5 tops + 2 jackets = 10. Optional: Dress and/or suit for women, suit for men. Consider wearing your suit on the plane to prevent it from getting rumpled; otherwise contact your airline to see if they can hang your garment bag up in the cabin. If placing a jacket in the overhead bin then fold it inside itself so the lining becomes a protective covering.

As far as shoes go try to pack a maximum of 3 pairs — one dressy and one smart casual (and the optional jogger). And instead of packing joggers for your on-the-road workouts, wear them on the plane if appropriate or check with your hotel to see if they have a workout gear lending program.

Use statement jewellery to change your look and add interest or colour to your basic palette without sacrificing much luggage space.

Roll it or Fold it: Now that you’ve decided which clothes to pack, it’s time to figure out how to pack them. There are two main schools of thought when it comes to efficient and wrinkle-free packing: Roll or Flat. Choose which one works best for you. And don’t forget the cliplock bags which are the perfect storage for both of these techniques as they are not only protect your clothing and keep it organized in categories but you can also expel air to give you more space in your case!

Go easy on accessories: Plain and simple – if you’re not prepared to lose it, don’t bring it! If jewellery is your thing, bring a few inexpensive or costume items and if applicable, consider wearing a fake diamond dress ring. For instant polish and flair without a whole lot of effort, a gorgeous scarf in a bright color should do the trick.

Don’t go powerless (literally): If travelling overseas be sure to pack a universal adapter kit. Anyone who has felt the panic of realizing they brought the wrong plug converter just as their phone or computer dies won’t make this same mistake twice. You can also consult sites like Countryplug and they’ll show you what type of electrical voltage and which type(s) of plugs and outlets are used at your destination.

Secure Your Electronics: Before you pack your laptop bag or briefcase, be sure to check your company’s policy on travelling with electronic equipment. For example, some companies ask their employees to take loaner laptops or tablets that are free of company-sensitive information. Your IT department may also want to take a look at your devices before you pack them – ensuring devices can be locked with PINs or passwords, loading encryption software, and sharing tips for secure wireless Internet connectivity are just a few things they may want to do.

Note: Along with medications, electronics are on the “do not check” list if you decide to check your luggage. Read Smart Traveler’s full list of things you should always leave out of your checked bag.

Ship ahead or print onsite: With many airlines restricting and/or charging for additional bags, bringing presentation materials and other important business documents as checked luggage can be expensive. It also runs the risk of your materials arriving damaged…or not arriving at all. The solution? Talk to your employer about printing your materials once you arrive (don’t forget your USB drive!) or shipping materials to your hotel ahead of time. Whichever option you choose, contact your hotel or business contacts to plan ahead and sort out the details.

I hope you can use some of these tips to pack light and travel stress free on your next business trip.

Safe Travels!