My ultimate business trip packing tips

Last week, as I was walking from one investor meeting to the next in Boston with one of my female clients, she very kindly complimented me on my dress, and we started chatting about how important it was to have an easy business trip wardrobe that works well for travel and formal meetings.

So it got me thinking about writing a post with all the tips for easy business travel that I've accumulated over the years, one that is meant as an easy guide for all the business trip newbies out there, and which hopefully will take the stress of packing and travelling away and leave you to focus on how to get the best out of your meetings abroad.

1) Say no to checked-in luggage
The golden rule of business travel: plan to travel with a carry-on wheelie only, no check-in luggage please. This is particularly important if you're going to be city-hopping away from home for a few days. I once went on a "roadshow" throughout Asia with a client who had to check in his suitcase every evening, and then we all had to wait for it to appear on the luggage belt, talk about a mood-dampener!

2) Pick two dresses and one suit for work, and some comfy clothes for travel
Usually I tend to rely on a mix of suits and day-to-evening dresses, so for a trip of say three days I'd pack a couple of dresses and a suit. Top-wise it's smarter to go for soft jersey tops (not tee-shirts!!) than stiff shirts which will look crumpled after a few hours in the suitcase. Remember each culture has a different approach to corporate attire, for example in Japan it's best to wear trousers as some of the tables are really low and you don't want people to stare at your knees (or, heavens forbid, thighs...) whilst enjoying dinner. By the way, there's an interesting read about different dress codes on the Conde Nast website, here. If in doubt, stay on the slightly conservative side. For the trip and any down-time, you need a pair of skinny jeans or leggings plus a flowy shirt (Equipment, Vince...) or a soft cashmere jumper, plus a large cashmere shawl, which doubles up as a blanket for the plane.Remember to try and keep everything in the same colour scheme, it will be easier to mix and match.

3) Two pairs of shoes, three max
Shoes is a key component of my style, as you know, but shoes take precious space. I suggest two pairs. A pair of slip-on flat shoes are perfect for travel and to whiz through airport security without having to go barefoot, and they will keep you comfortable no matter how many hours you sit on the plane, especially if, like me, your legs tend to swell (a bit, ok a lot)! Then a pair of classic medium heeled pumps for meetings, my favourites are usually by Jimmy Choo, Rupert Sanderson or Christian Louboutin; leave the 5-inchers at home, they will look ridiculous as you run around from meeting to meeting. Ok, if you have an important evening do post meetings I think you may want to fit a bonus pair in your suitcase... but that's just me, the shoe-obsessed.

4) One big tote is all the bag you'll need
For business trips, forget your heirloom Chanel chain bag, bring a tote bag that can fit your files, a laptop, an ipad, and of course all your personal knick-knacks. Go for a classic shape and a neutral colour, and remember your bag will go through security belts and up in overhead racks, so you may want to stick to a dark neutral colour...

5) No, you do not need to pack half your bathroom
Believe it or not, most hotels will have a pretty big selection of toiletries, so I tend to pack only my absolute must-haves, such as my shampoo and conditioner, my skincare (divided into little spare lens cases) and my make-up. Body lotion is typically the same wherever you go and if your hair has just been massacred by the 10-hour flight, nothing gets it back into shape like an overnight mask using the average hotel conditioner. I never need more than the allowed mini plastic pouch that you are now allowed through security.

6) Plan to read, a lot
All I'll say without getting too heated up is flights get delayed, fact. Combine this with the fact that movies on board are changed no more frequently than monthly and you're contemplating lots and lots of hours of boredom. To give you an idea, so far in September, I've spent more than 60 hours on airplanes. I love my Kindle for the anonymity it gives me: nobody needs to know if I'm reading the latest novel or a brilliant thriller. I also take all the latest research papers I've not read in the previous week, and a magazine or two to keep me entertained. As a rule for day trips, I read work on the way out, and whatever I want on the way back to unwind. On long-hauls, it's a mix really.

7) Don't forget
Chargers, underwear, tights (two extra pairs are a must) pyjamas, glasses, a little pouch with your essential meds, even if just painkillers... make sure you have these on hand when you're packing, this way you won't forget!

There you have it, my list of tips to make business trip packing easy! What are yours? Anything I missed?


cewek said...

Lol at t-shits! Yes I am acting like my (US) shoe size...

Pam said...

I love lens cases, too, for packing small amounts of products. Great post!

A Little Slice Of said...

Great post! I travel a little for work, nowhere near as much as you, and can't agree more on dresses and jersey tops. The last thing you want to be doing is ironing in your hotel room!!

LittleS said...

@cewek, so so sorry, I wrote this blog post late the other day and didn't proof read properly! xx

@Pam, I knew it wasn't just me with the lens cases! Hugs.

@Alittlesliceof, totally agree on the ironing. Sometimes I hang a dress in the bathroom whilst I'm having a shower to get rid of any wrinkles, but that's it! xoxo

Anonymous said...

Loving what you are wearing here...can you share where your lovely clothes are from B.

LittleS said...

Hi B. these are actually from a business trip to Madrid post I wrote a while back, check it out here with all the details of the outfit: http://www.thelilacpages.com/2011/10/thursday-in-madrid-importance-of-light.html

madeco said...

Thanks for the tips ! My own advice is to take samples for beauty products when you're travelling; I made a special post last days on my blog ont this topic; have a nice week !

Pam said...

LittleS, I've even gone so far as to take a pair of garden shears and cut a lens case in HALF when I only needed one tiny container. Talk about anal-retentive on the packing issue! Carry on! Hugs to you, too.

PS I hope we get to hear about Little Monsieur's Halloween costume this year, too. :D

Pam said...

Rather counter to the pack-light concept but I found a bit of a l-o-o-p-h-o-** in the US's liquid's rule, may be helpful to others in some way: prescription medications don't count toward your liquid quota (the zip-lock bag or 3-ounce/100ml(?) rule). Prescriptions go in a separate bag. I have a prescription cream that can be used for face and body, so I use that. Also, contact-lens preparations count as prescription. :) Don't have to have Rx labels. That's what the rules say.