Business Travel 101: Packing the Suitcase

Business Travel 101 is a weekly series about making that first business trip as easy and successful as possible. Packing, security, comfort, and etiquette are all factors that, with a little planning, can contribute to a smooth and efficient trip. If you think of a topic I should include, email me at

One of the easiest way to facilitate smooth travel? Not checking your suitcase. Not only will you avoid checked-baggage fees, but you will save time at the front and back ends of your trip. It will also force you to streamline your packing list.

First, let’s discuss the suitcase itself. Key features to look for:

  • A bag that will fit US (and ideally European) guidelines for carrying on.
  • Light, yet sturdy.
  • Good pockets.
  • Quality construction.
  • Easy to navigate in crowded airports.

A few brands that I like are Ogio, Briggs & Riley, and Tumi. I know these brands are not inexpensive, but trust me when I say that if you are traveling all of the time, a good bag is worth the investment. I have used the same Ogio bag for four years, week in and week out, and it is still in excellent shape. A great review of top rated brands can be found here. Your suitcase doesn’t have to be pretty (although I have to say I love this one from Tumi, and think it is very pretty) but an identifying feature is helpful so that it stands out in the sea of black.

What to pack for a four day trip (choose your travel clothes from this list):

  • Two bottoms, one comfortable for travel (i.e. slacks and a skirt)
  • Coordinating suit jackets if needed
  • Four tops that coordinate with both of your bottoms
  • At least one light jacket or sweater (unless you need a heavier jacket)
  • No more than three pairs of shoes, including a pair of flip flops
  • Enough undergarments, including socks/hose
  • PJs
  • Something to work out in
  • Toiletries (see my toiletry list here)
  • Chargers (phone, laptop, etc)

Packing tips:

  • I bring my own shampoo/conditioner, because I travel so much if I use whatever random products the hotel puts out my hair gets mad; a couple of great sources are and Sephora.
  • Eagle Creek packing cubes are helpful for the small items (underwear, socks, hose, etc); they will help you save a ton of space.
  • I have three small bags for my toiletries–one for liquids (that gets taken out at security), one for non-liquids (toothbrush, deodorant, etc), and one for make-up. This allows me to fit them in my suitcase wherever they will go instead of taking up a lot of room.
  • Use spare contact lens cases for small amounts of liquids, such as face soap, moisturizer, eye makeup remover, etc.
  • Also check out the Packing and Packing Tips sections.



  1. I use inexpensive plastic pencil boxes to pack delicate things in my suitcase. It’s also great for toiletries that you put in your checked bag (with a ziploc bag around the box). The plastic box is very lightweight, but prevents containers with liquids from being crushed and ruining your clothes.

    Using spare contact cases for small amounts of lotions is brilliant! Thanks.

  2. I always pack extra when going on business trips. With the way flights are nowadays, I have been stuck more than once. The list above is a great list of what to take with you when traveling for business!

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