What to pack for Business Trips

I’ve recently been on several overnight trips for interviews and such, which have meant that I had to pack a carry-on in a sensible way. After a particularly stressful three-day trip, I think I have it down (at least for myself).

And since I’m guessing there are some other people out there who might also be in this situation, I thought I’d share some info. Having had very little experience with business travel before the last two months, there’s definitely been a very steep learning curve. Some trial, some error and a lot of shit-shit-shit-I-need-to-buy-another-shirt type of situations.

As a woman, I have to not only bring clothes and shoes but also makeup, my skincare routine and if I stay longer, a hair straightener. All of that needs to fit into a carry-on (I’d recommend a check-in luggage only if you stay longer than a week, or need to bring special equipment).

In the picture above you can see all the things I packed for a three day, two-night trip. The weather was very sunny, 20-30°C and the dress code was business casual. I packed two trousers (black and grey), four shirts (2 white fancy t-shirts, 1 black t-shirt, 1 sleeveless top), one long sleeve for breakfast in the morning, PJs, underwear for 5 days. The big greyish case in the bottom right corner is a Muji toiletries case that can be hung up (a lifesaver), the small black case above it housed my jewellery and the light grey one that’s half cut off, contained all of my makeup.

I ended up wearing all of my clothes except the second white t-shirt, which I packed in case I spilt something or it ended up being colder on day three than anticipated. Both trousers wear the same model from Uniqlo, which due to the elastic waist are super comfortable and fit beautifully. The black t-shirt was the same model as one of the white ones, which is another handy rule: if you find some business clothing item that you like to wear, looks good and is comfortable, buy it in all available colours that you like (and maybe even buy it twice). Since the shirts are also available in grey and a light pink, I will buy those too.

The dark blue bag in the lower middle contained a pair of navy loafers which were a lifesaver. I wore nice sneakers throughout the four days and being able to wear something lighter in the mornings and evenings really helped by feet from dying. Another lifesaver was my Muji packing cube (size S). Stuffing all of my shirts, underwear and socks into that meant much less digging around, and less creasing (I also folded everything after the KonMari method to fit things in more easily).

To give packing a bit of structure, I have a few rules:

  • One pair of trousers/skirt per two days
  • One shirt per day (especially in summer, in winter you can get away with repeating, but I have found that I get never as sweaty as I do in business wear, so I tend to overpack here)
  • Alternatively, one dress per two days if you layer. If you need/want to make an impression, one dress per day.
  • (That said if the event is longer than four days you can definitely repeat clothing.)
  • Enough underwear to survive if stranded at the airport
  • One pair of comfortable shoes for lounging.
  • Pack your skincare routine. Yes if it’s just for one day you might be fine, but I guarantee you, after a stressful day there is nothing better than taking those few minutes to really calm you down.
  • Minimal makeup. You will be wearing the same thing every day because you are too tired to make an effort by day two.
  • Wear monochrome. Why? Because it will be less obvious that you repeated something and things tend to fit together colour wise if all you packed is white-grey-black.

There are tons of videos out there on how to pack, what to pack and carry-on vs check-in luggage so I won’t bother you with that. Next week I’ll talk about how travelling has helped me find my everyday makeup.
Is there anything you discovered when travelling for business that made packing easier for you?

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