One of the most popular posts ever here on Road Warriorette is a post from 2010 about packing for a four day business trip. My research shows this appears to be the most common length of business trip.
The post was inspired by my aunt and uncle, who have children on both coasts and frequently travel to visit them for a week at a time. They are people who love a bargain, so of course they hate paying baggage fees. Now, this particular conversation happened years ago (wow, seven years ago. That’s mind boggling!) but I have similar conversations with travelers all the time.
Case in point: last week I traveled to California with a co-worker. For a three day trip she checked her bag. Three days! She said that she can’t help it, she has to have an outfit for every possible scenario.
Here’s the thing. I feel like I have have an outfit for every possible scenario–it’s just that one outfit covers multiple scenarios. The same dress with cardigan works for the office, dinner out with colleagues, and the plane-ride home. I sleep in yoga pants and a tank top, which I could also use to work out. You get the idea–packing efficiently doesn’t mean feeling unprepared. It just means being smart about the items you choose.
When you’re first starting out, this can be overwhelming. I get that, so I’ve broken it down into a 4-step system.
Step 1: Figure out the potential situations you will need an outfit for. Write them all down! Some examples from my last four day business trip:
- Travel days
- Days at the office
- Dinner out
- Working out
- Team building activity
Step 2: Write down a generic outfit for each activity. For example:
- Travel days–jeans and comfortable shirt
- Days at the office–slacks, dress, cardigan
- Dinner out–jeans, cardigan
- Working out–yoga pants, tank top
- Sleeping–PJ pants, tank top
- Team building activity–jeans, t-shirt
Step 3: Look for overlap. From the examples above, you can see that the same thing I would wear for a travel day would work for a team building activity. Workout clothes could also work for sleeping. And the right clothes for the office could also work for travel and dinner out.
Step 4: Make your list! For my last four day business trip I brought the following:
- Blue pants
- Purple top
- Blue dress
- Yellow sweater
- Orange sweater
- College tee
- Yoga pants
And I made the following outfits for varying scenarios:
- Blue pants + yellow sweater (travel, work)
- Blue pants + purple top (work, dinner)
- Blue dress (work, dinner)
- Blue dress + orange sweater (work)
- Jeans + college tee (team building activity, added sweater for travel)
- Jeans + purple top (dinner)
- Yoga pants + tank (sleep, yoga)
I also added two pairs of flats (nude and leopard print) that went with all of my outfits. Et voila! I had something to wear for every possible occasion, but was able to fit it all into my carryon with room leftover.
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Readers, what is your packing style? Do you use the same outfits for multiple occasions?
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