16 Essential Packing Tips for Business Travelers
Any business traveler who spends a significant time on the road knows that every second not spent planning a business trip or being on one is precious.
Thus, packing light, as well as efficiently and effectively, is imperative.
Frequent fliers and business travelers shared their top tips and tricks on packing smart for business travel on Quora, and we've cherry-picked the best ones.
1. Ditch colors
Pack one color palette, and ideally a dark one. Not only do you not have to worry about matching, dark colors will hide stains better.
2. Keep a go-bag
You never know whether you'll have to jump on a plane for a last-minute meeting, so it's best to be prepared with a go-bag of essentials. Instead of packing and unpacking your toiletries over and over again, while chasing around the apartment unplugging cables, have a bag with TSA-friendly 3.4-ounce bottles of toiletries, as well as an extra set of cables and chargers for your devices at the ready.
3. Pack a soft carry-on bag to avoid checking it
Obviously savvy business travelers will do anything to avoid checking bags, but no one is safe from overzealous gate attendants forcing them to check bags at the gate. Packing a squishy carry-on just might stop that from happening. While it may seem counter-intuitive, seeing as you don't want to wrinkle your business attire, a malleable carry-on means that you're probably going to be able to smush it into the overhead bin no matter what, and are therefore less likely to have it taken from you at the gate. These EZSTAX on Kickstarter — essentially plastic folders for your clothes — might help keep things wrinkle free, even in the squishiest bag.
Not convinced? Buy this "perfect"-size carry-on, which will fit every airline's size requirements.
4. Weigh your bag at home
Check your airline's carry-on size and weight limitations as they vary between airlines, and make sure your bag is in the clear before you get to the airport.
5. Pack no more than two suits
For men, two suits should be enough, and for women, two blazers with a matching pair of pants and a skirt. One can be worn on the plane with a more casual shirt or tee, the other packed.
6. Know how to pack a suit without wrinkling it
A tip for minimizing creases and wrinkles in a packed suit is to turn the jacket inside out and wrap it around soft items like T-shirts, as wrapping it around something else means that it will bend less, and wrinkles are less likely to set. Should you be bringing a second belt, use it to keep your shirt collar in shape by rolling it inside the collar.
Here are more tips on how to pack a suit.
7. Plan to do laundry
If you're looking at a longer business trip, avoid checking a bag by planning your hotel stays so that you're staying in the same hotel for at least two nights in a row once every week or so.
That way you'll be able to have the hotel do your laundry — while often expensive, it means you can get away with only bringing two suits, and maybe five of everything else, like shirts, pairs of socks and underwear. Even better, hotel laundry comes back perfectly folded, so you can literally pack everything as is.
8. Pack by weight: from the heaviest items at the bottom to the lightest on top
Put the heaviest items at the bottom, near the wheels of a suitcase, to keep your bag balanced, then stack lighter clothing on top. This way heavy items won't crush and wrinkle those underneath, and the lighter items stay a little more wrinkle free.
9. Avoid wrinkles with plastic dry cleaning bags and wrinkle-free clothing
Wrinkle free clothing can be a godsend: Jos. A. Bank makes a line of wrinkle-free dress shirts, called the Traveler's Collection that allows you to stay presentable even when living out of a suitcase. Alternatively, pack some of your more wrinkle-prone items into dry cleaning bags: should items get jostled they'll just slide around the plastic rather than get creased.
10. Use shoes for extra space
Shoes hide some untapped space: fill them up with rolled-up socks, underwear or toiletries to use that space, as well as to help preserve your shoe's shape.
11. Roll your clothing
If you must pack more than two suits and five of everything else, roll your clothing rather than fold it.
This maximizes space and minimizes wrinkling, allowing you to pack more clothes in your carry-on. Take it to the next level by using space-compressible plastic bags and push excess air out of clothes for even more space.
12. Test your batteries
Know how long the juice of all of your devices will last — in some cases, charging devices fully before a trip means you won't need to pack a charger.
Even better, bring a rechargable phone case, like the Mophie.
13. Bring a power strip
You'll make new friends around the crowded outlets at the airport, and will be able to charge everything you need in your hotel room, as hotel rooms are notorious for not having enough outlets.
14. Bring backups
Bring scans of your passport, driver's license and credit cards, or keep photos of them on your phone. Should anything get lost or stolen, the process of getting items back, canceling cards and requesting news ones will be infinitely faster. In the same vein, always have an extra copy of your work materials or presentation, just in case.
15. Reduce, reduce, reduce
Empty your briefcase and go-bag regularly, and question absolutely everything you keep in them. If you barely use something, don't schlep it across the world.
16. Settle in
Should you travel to the same place regularly, and stay at the same hotel a lot, see whether they will let you leave some stuff in their luggage room (this works better at high end hotels). Often they will allow you to hang up some of your clothes until next time, and even leave toiletries, like normal sized shampoo and conditioner. This will save you both time packing and space in your bag.
Lydia Dallett contributed to a previous version of this story.