Surviving extensive traveling for work is an art in itself. I’m sure this is a subject at which consultants can actually beat bankers. Read on for tips to pack the perfect suitcase for business trips.
1. Hand luggage only
First things first. Do you think you can show up at the airport with the same huge suitcase you brought to grandma for the family holiday last year? No way. The trip to the airport won’t be pleasant, and you won’t have time to check in your bag. And if you do, no one will wait for you while you are standing next to the baggage carousel, with an empty look on your face, hoping for nothing less than a miracle.
Use hand luggage only. If you don’t already have a suitcase in the right size, just walk into any travel shop and ask for the largest case accepted by all major airlines. And go for a neutral color. You will thank me later.
2. Make room for presentations
This is later. Hand luggage could have room for quite a lot. That is if you think you are allowed to use your bag for your things only.
If you’re an analyst, expect half of your suitcase to be filled with prints for meetings. They are heavy and bulky. And if they’re fresh from the printer, don’t be shocked if you’re pulled aside at security.
If you are several people in your group carrying the same presentations, always offer to use yours first when you walk into a meeting. Fewer presentations means less to carry, and you won’t have to take them back home again.
3. Carry an extra computer bag
Add extra space by carrying a large bag for your computer as well. It can room so much more than just a PC, and it isn’t included in your “just one piece of carry-on limit”. I often have the carry-on suitcase, one large bag, and one small bag cross shoulder bag.
The last tiny bag is good to keep essentials you need to find quickly.
4. Remember your documents
When it comes to your stuff, let’s start with what is absolutely necessary. Bring your passport, your company credit card, and sometimes even printed tickets.
Some weird airlines won’t approve of mobile tickets, so avoid being sent on a wild goose chase to print at the airport while your colleagues are already through security.
5. Bring extra batteries
Bring your computer, your phones, converters, and chargers, and also remember spare batteries. Batteries and time for charging are very scarce resources on a trip.
Since you often can’t work while traveling, a Kindle is also a life-saver.
6. Pack extra medication in case you have to stay longer
Pack all medication you think you may need, and then add some extra. Yes, birth control pills, I am talking to you! I once only brought just enough pills to get through three days, because those were the only three left.
Big mistake! The trip got extended because of changes in meeting schedules, and I was stuck in a foreign country without a valid prescription. One would think the pharmacists might be helpful, but no. You don’t have time to go to the doctor either, so you’re pretty much fucked if this happens. Make sure it doesn’t.
6. Have a see-through makeup bag
Spare yourself the humiliation of having to repack all your toiletries to fit them into the tiny, plastic bags. Just buy a see-through beauty bag in the same size. I have been stocking up the ones that come with Decleor’s travel sets.
These will obviously be very small and not room much. Since you can’t check in anything, this is all the beauty products you are confined to use, often for a week at a time.
Have ready-filled travel sizes of everything you normally use. I usually have to cut out the least essential parts of my morning routine and end up having to buy hairspray after security every time I travel. Assume the hotels can bring you everything for washing, but not for shaving.
7. Pack a capsule wardrobe
What space is left is now entirely for you and your wardrobe. Try to think out a few alternatives for small capsule wardrobes that will last a week. If I’m gone that long, I usually bring:
- Two long dresses
- One full suit with skirt
- 3-5 tops
- 1 non-matching jacket and skirt that can be mixed with the suit and dresses
- 1 pair of extra pumps
- Underwear and stockings
- Running shoes, tights and some t-shirts
- One comfortable and warm sweater for chilly flights
Try the packing tips from Marie Kondo to save some space. By folding clothes upwards, they are easy to find and easy to sort.
This suitcase is far from full and leaves plenty of room for both presentations and computer.
If I know I will have any spare time after the trip, I may try to fit a pair of jeans or a casual top in there as well. You can always start be wearing one of the outfits the day you leave, so what you have to put into your suitcase isn’t that much.
Packing shouldn’t take long, and if you have a standard set of things you always bring, I would try to have them ready in your suitcase at all times. If I’m coming home from the office around midnight, and the driver is picking me up at 5 AM the next morning, the last thing I want to do is spend 2 hours packing before I can go to sleep.
I will do a longer post on what tips and tricks you can use to survive the trip.