Top 3 Business Travel Packing Tips

Packing for a business trip can be hard, especially the first few times. It’s easy to bring all the things, plus shoes to match, and just check your11-21-14-1 bag. In some circumstances it makes sense to check your bag, but for the typical 3-4 day trip there is no reason! It wastes so much time, and airlines don’t exactly have a reputation for caring well for people’s belongings. So if you’re a recovering overpacker, here are a few tips to get you on your way to a well packed bag.

  1. Pack mix and match outfits. On my first business trip I took four separate outfits, each with a matching pair of shoes. No surprise I couldn’t lift my bag into the overhead bin! Now I pack using a capsule wardrobe as my plan, meaning that all of my pieces can be worn together for an almost unlimited number of combinations. Here is an example of my summer capsule wardrobe, and here is an example of a fall casual capsule wardrobe from Putting Me Together.
  2. Decant your toiletries into the smallest possible container. On that infamous first business trip half of my suitcase was taken up by all of my clothes; the other half was taken up by my enormous toiletry kit. Now I can pack all of my liquids into a quart size plastic bag for a three week trip! (I could probably do it longer but that’s the longest I’ve tried for.) I use 3.4 oz refillable bottles for my shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion. Everything else goes in spare contact lens cases.
  3. Only bring three pairs of shoes, including the pair on your feet. Plan your outfits ahead of time and be smart about what shoes you bring, and it’s easy to stick to only three pairs. For my last several trips I’ve actually only brought two pairs—a pair of flats and a pair of boots. That’s all you really need this time of year!

Lady Light Travel wrote a great post yesterday about common packing advice that’s actually kind of terrible. For the most part I agree with her take on things (although for business trips I will always be Team Rollaboard!).

Readers, what are your favorite packing tips for business travel?


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  1. I actually started using a rolling bag for work because I had to carry heavy paperwork (multiple reams). That said, the rolling bag has hidden backpack straps I can deploy as needed.
    And thank you for the mention!

  2. While GoToobs are a great invention, they are quite heavy when filled. I use them now at home, not on trips.

  3. My husband works all over the country so he is very good at packing his suitcase. I, one the other hand, am not. I can never seem to fit everything that I need into my luggage and it is really annoying. I am thinking about looking into custom bags and see if I can get something that will work for me. I will definitely try to use these tips in my next packing endeavor , thanks for sharing.

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