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How to pack for a business trip
What could be more awkward than arriving at your business destination and realising that your shirts are wrinkled beyond repair, none of your clothes actually match and you've forgotten some important documents? A feeling of being unprepared and appearing unprofessional is the last thing you want, when you're trying to give a good impression of the company you work for.
When taking a business trip, it's important to organise yourself in advance, by thinking about what clothes are essential to take, the other things you may need, and how best to transport your belongings.
This article provides useful tips to help you prepare for a typical business trip, with the objective to, arrive stress-free, focused and equipped; enabling you to be at your best throughout.
What luggage should I take?
Taking two durable, lightweight, and well-made bags (a medium sized and a small), will facilitate a comfortable travelling experience to and from your destination.
A carry-on bag, ideally with wheels, is easiest to work with and avoids injury to your back or shoulder. This also means that once landed, you can escape the airport quickly, as there's no possibility of your luggage being delayed or going missing! If you take a duffel type bag, make sure the handles are sturdy, and only pack enough things that you can carry comfortably. This bag will be used for your change of clothes, shoes, and toiletries etc.
The smaller bag, a rucksack or good-sized handbag, can be utilized for your travel documents (passport, tickets) your phone, wallet, and any entertainment, e.g. a book or tablet.
The size of both bags will limit how much stuff goes inside; check the dimensions allowed by the airline for on craft luggage.
Planning your outfits
Days before you're due to fly out, a week is good enough time, think about what you'll be doing whilst there. Check the weather forecast, to include appropriate clothing, and make an organised list of the different types of outfits you'll require.
Use the itinerary to walk through the trip in your head, for example, upon arrival, will you be going straight to a meeting? In that case, your travelling outfit there will need to be smart. Your list will look something like this:
- travelling outfit x2
- meetings outfit x4
- presentation outfit x2
- dinner & drinks outfit x5 and so on
Consider whether you have appropriate attire to cover the activities. Planning in advance will allow time to buy any last-minute items if needs be, an extra smart shirt or toiletries for instance.
Other things you may need
Will you need any business-related documents? If so, it's best to print-out and prepare these before-hand, don't assume that these can be done at the other end. Would you need an adapter for your electronic goods? If so you can normally pick one of these up from the airport.
Essential items of clothing
Below is a list of essential items that should suffice for a 5-day business trip:
- 2 pairs of black/navy, smart trousers/skirts/dresses; dark colours are perfect for meetings and look good for the evenings out;
- a suit jacket - ideally one that coordinates with an item above;
- 2 or 3 smart shirts, white/light pink/light blue;
- 1 pair of smart black shoes and a comfortable pair, perhaps trainers or flat pumps;
- 1 pair of casual jeans - for any occasion;
- 2 casual tops, to be worn with jeans;
- 1 or 2 belts;
- 1 jumper/cardigan if necessary;
- lots of underwear, socks/tights;
- something comfortable to sleep in, that can also be worn to roam around the hotel; and swim or gym wear if you think you'll have time.
Be flexible, items should be reused and serve more than one purpose. Before packing, you could pre-plan your outfits by trying on combinations; refer to the list you made earlier to assist. This will save time worrying about what looks good with what, and guarantees that your clothes fit well. Take pictures of each outfit to remind yourself when getting dressed.
Packing Tips & Techniques
Clothing should be packed in layers. The first layer is for the bigger items, e.g. suit trousers/skirts. Vertically fold them in half, place the top half of the garment in the suitcase, allowing the legs/bottom half to hang outside of the bag, for now, this is a trick for minimizing wrinkles.
The second layer is for items that you don't mind getting wrinkled; things like your casual tops, underwear, swim/gym wear and comfortable clothing. These items can either be folded and laid flat across the big garments or rolled. Your toiletry bag is included at this layer; as an extra precaution, put your toiletry bag into another plastic bag, so that nothing leaks onto your clothes.
The third layer will be for your smart shirts, and jacket. Ideally, your shirts will be box folded like when you first bought them. If you get your shirts dry cleaned before-hand, you can request to have them folded this way. Facing upwards, cross the jacket arms over each other, across the chest and fold the bottom upwards if necessary, make sure they lay as flat as possible.
Now take the legs/bottoms of your bigger items, and fold them back over everything. Roll up your socks/tights and put them in your shoes or slot them into the gaps along the edges of the bag. Put your shoes in plastic bags, and place them heels up, on top. Your belts can fit along the edges between the bag and your clothes.
Your jumper/cardigan can go into the smaller bag, it will be easier to grab in case you wish to put it on when you arrive. For colder weather, if possible, your coat should close all the way up, and include a hood, therefore no need to pack a scarf or hat.
Packing cubes - space savers:To be super organised, you could use packing cubes; these are basically rectangular shaped containers made out of fabric and zip up. They can be used to pack similar clothing together, e.g. a cube for tops and one for shirts. They're good for maximizing space by keeping clothes compressed, as they stack on top of each other and fit into all available space.
Plan your outfits and pack early to ensure you have everything you need. Avoid packing one outfit per day, you'll end up taking too much. Prepare to, mix and match, rotate and reuse your clothing a couple of times. Having proper business travel insurance will also help to keep your peace of mind, knowing that should your luggage become lost or delayed, you won't need to foot the bill yourself.
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