4 Packing Myths Debunked

a group of colorful bottlesA few weeks ago I was on a business trip eating dinner with a colleague, and the conversation turned to packing. “I see all of these people traveling with their little carry-ons, and I can’t figure out for the life of me how they fit everything they need in there! Where do their shoes go? What about their toiletries??” she asked me, exasperated. She was certain that anyone who fit their toiletries into a small kit was leaving a lot at home.

She’s not the only one who has come to me over the years with common misconceptions about packing for work trips. Here are 4 myths about business travel packing—and the accompanying truths.

Myth #1: You can’t bring all of the toiletries you need in a carry-on.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard this I would be a rich lady! I do not at all feel deprived in the toiletry department on business trips, and I *always* carry-on my suitcase. In fact, there are times when I don’t use everything I bring! The secret is to make a list of what you need, and decant anything that’s not already very small.

Myth #2: Capsule wardrobes are always boring and all black.

This is definitely, positively not true! If you black is your go-to more power to you, but it’s not the only option. I wear my LBD as much as the next girl, but I really, truly love color. My favorite capsule is built around blue and mustard, with teal accents.

Myth #3: I have to check my bag because I need too many pairs of shoes.

Now, this is a hard conversation to have with some people. But for a typical 4-5 day business trip you can easily get by with 3 pairs of shoes: two in your suitcase and one on your feet (including workout shoes—sorry!). You can choose neutrals or colors that coordinate with your capsule.

Myth #4: I can’t fit workout clothes for five days into my carry-on.

Wearing the same workout clothes every day for a week can get a bit, well, icky. But there are ways around that! One solution I’ve found is to bring a small (3 oz) bottle of handwashing detergent and make sure my workout clothes are quick drying. After my workout I wash them quickly in the sink and let them dry overnight. If it’s going to be very humid I bring two sets, just in case they need extra time to dry.

Do you need help figuring out what to pack for your next business trip? Check out Road Warriorette’s Business Travel Packing Guide for Women!

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Readers, do you have any burning packing questions? Sound off in the comments!


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  1. These tips are so great. I have learned each over the years.

    Regarding the capsule wardrobe point, to expand on your idea, using three colors as a base can work really well. This idea and the shoes are a more difficult proposition when a formal event is part o the trip, however. That always throws a wrench in the works on multiple levels.

    Most workout clothes are pretty compact. So, I do bring two sets for longer trips. In a pinch, if I forget to decant or pack a small bit of hand-wash detergent, I have used a hotel body wash or even shampoo. Not optimal, but not as icky as re-wearing smelly clothing.

    I am sure there are more myths out there to debunk. I will think on that! But thanks, as always, for al the great tips.

  2. Patagonia makes the perfect quick dry workout shorts called “Baggies”. They are available in Men’s & Women’s sizes and will dry overnight in as little as 4 hours.

  3. I always bring one full set of workout clothes per day, but still have no problem fitting stuff into my carry on. If it’s a long trip of 7 days or more, I just make it a point to pack smaller than usual workout clothes (e.g., shorts or very thin capris that fold up small rather than thicker leggings). I would be too nervous about the potential for skin infections if I re-wore sweaty workout clothes without putting them through the washing machine.

    On the shoe front, I wear a pair of flats to travel, pack a pair of heels, and pack a pair of sneakers. Both the flats and the heels can always be worn with every outfit – so I usually alternate between weeks of black, brown, and gray, and plan my outfits accordingly.

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