We’ve all been there: A conference to attend, the alarm didn’t ring, and you got to the airport late. After jumping frantically out of the cab, you have to drag your heavy luggage.
Off you go sprinting through the endless hallways and security points of the O’Hare airport –yes, one of the biggest in America–.
By the way, you’re wearing very uncomfortable shoes and a heavy coat that makes you sweat. Over and over, you curse yourself for bringing so much luggage...Dreadful, right?
The fact is many of us spend a long time on the road, especially when doing business. And many of us have no idea how to pack lightly to avoid these tragic situations.
So if you are a frequent business traveler, or you just want to travel more comfortably and in style, read the following advice on how to pack your essentials. Are you ready to take off?
Essentials for a Short Business Trip
- One suit (charcoal, medium gray or navy blue)
- One blazer
- One pair of chinos or slacks
- Three shirts (two button-down shirts and a more casual shirt)
- Two pairs of shoes
- Three pairs of underwear
- Three pairs of socks
- Three pocket squares
- Two ties
- Two belts (to match the shoes)
- One light sweater
- One pajama
- One watch
- A pair of sunglasses
- Toiletries and personal care items
Dear fellow traveler: The most important thing is to bring essential, interchangeable pieces. This means basic and classic styles pieces, in solid and easy to match colors like blue, white, grey, brown with little or no patterns.
For example, bring a suit in gray or navy blue. Actually, your quintessential suit to travel is a hopsack weave suit (basket weave texture).
It doesn’t wrinkle as much and is easy to wear as separates (the jacket with other slacks and pants with other jackets).
This type of classic suit will be easier to combine with your button-down shirts in solid colors or with small patterns.
To have a different look for each day of your trip, bring several ties and pocket squares.
These accessories don’t take much space plus they will give you a memorable and fun look, different from the uniforms/suits other colleagues will probably be wearing.
A laid-back welcome party? Time to pull out your casual wear. Bring a blazer, a pair of slacks and a more casual shirt.
Again, the jacket of your suit can be used with a more casual slack and shirt, so you will have two formalish looks.
If you bring a light sweater to wear with slacks and a casual shirt, you’ll have an additional look for a happy hour with colleagues.
For shoes, the best options are black Oxfords and bordeaux Derbies. You can wear a pair, and bring the other inside your luggage. Black shoes will match everything and they will be perfect for formal meetings.
Bordeaux Derbies are versatile and comfortable. Also, bordeaux is a very nice and unique color which goes pretty much with any outfit. Remember to match your shoes with a belt.
And don’t forget a shoehorn to avoid damaging your shoes.
For underwear and socks, the advice is a little different. You must bring a pair for each day, unless you have laundry services in your hotel.
Also, don’t go to bed naked or just in underwear, so be sure to bring a pajama. You never know who will come knocking at your door!
Bring a Dopp Kit with your toiletries and personal care items. And don’t underestimate the power of a nice watch and a pair of sunglasses. They will always give a smart touch to your looks.
Finally, if you have time to go to the gym, or visit the pool, bring exercise clothing, sneakers and swimming trunks in dark colors. Who said hot tubs are not a good place to do business?
Packing Your Luggage
Now that we know the essentials, let’s get to the packing part. For this, the best way to go is to get carry-on luggage with wheels and zipped compartments.
First, having a carry-on will save you time, since you don’t have to claim your bag.
Second, since it is a sturdy bag, it will keep everything in place and you will avoid creasing your clothes.
Third, on top of your bag, you can carry an extra piece of luggage such as a briefcase with your laptop and documents.
In one compartment of your luggage, you can pack the most delicate pieces like the suit, pants, and shirts.
In the second compartment, you can put other things you can easily fold or roll, like ties, pocket squares, and underwear, together with your shoes and personal care items.
How to Pack a Suit?
One of the most delicate pieces you will be carrying is your suit. You want to make sure it looks pretty neat, as you don’t want to be ironing at your hotel prior to a meeting.
Watch here some easy-to-follow instructions on how to pack a suit to prevent wrinkling.
How to Pack a Shirt?
Assuming you’re wearing cotton shirts (which you should btw), you already know they are comfortable and crisp BUT they also wrinkle just by looking at them.
To prevent this, click here to see a tutorial on how to fold your shirt the right way.
Other Packing Tips
Usually, one of the items which will occupy more room will be your shoes. Also, they could stain other pieces of clothing if they are a bit dirty.
To solve these two problems, you can first, roll up your socks and underwear and put them inside shoes. This way you will save some space. Secondly, put your shoes in a dust bag to avoid your clothes getting stained.
For your personal care items, make sure you get travel size bottles or buy small containers where you can repack your favorite products.
To avoid any spilling, put your items in a zip-lock bag, and then in your Dopp Kit. This will also help you when you go through security.
You don’t want to be holding up the line while you try to find all the liquids you are carrying in your bag.
A business trip is a great place to make new connections. That’s why you don’t want to waste any time figuring out what to wear or trying to clean your clothes because something spilled in your bag.
Remember: Interchangeable, basic pieces are your best friends, and accessories like ties or pocket squares can create a whole new look for each day.
Finally, get all your batteries recharged, bring a nice pair of headphones in case you have a baby crying on the plane, and always make a list of all the documents and objects you might need for your upcoming trip.
Suit, shirts, slacks, ties and pocket squares are from SuitSupply. Check their great catalog here!
Underwear, pajamas, and socks are from UNIQLO. Check out their website here!
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