With 462 million domestic business trips each year in the US alone, most professionals will find themselves traveling for work sooner or later in their career.
If you’re flying among the jet-setters already, or if you anticipate traveling for business anytime soon, you may be spending some time thinking about packing your bags for business travel: what you need to bring, what you want to bring–how you can possibly fit everything into your suitcase!
Packing for a business trip can be a stressful chore–but to make things a little easier and to help you remember everything you’ll need, we’ve compiled this ultimate packing checklist! Grab your suitcase and read on.
1. A Travel Outfit
Even though you can probably be trusted to dress yourself the morning of your business trip, it’s usually worth the reminder to dress smartly–and to pack comfortable travel clothes for the trip back.
Step into a pair of shoes that are good for those long airport hikes, and include a comfortable pair of pants. Try to include layers in your travel outfit in case things get cold or hot mid-trip.
2. Outfits for Each Day
Again, we trust you’ll remember to get dressed each morning of your business trip. But one of the most important elements of your packing checklist is to pay close attention to the clothes you tuck into your suitcase.
Look at your business itinerary for each day. Plan ahead of time exactly what you plan to wear for every day of your trip. Remember, you won’t have the option of heading back to your closet to choose a new outfit, so it’s important to lay out specific, well-planned clothes.
3. An Extra Pair of Shoes
It’s no secret: When it comes to packing for a trip, shoes are just one big hassle. Unfortunately, most business trip itineraries will require you to wear them. It’s important to be smart about the extra shoes you choose to pack.
Ideally, you’ll be able to get through your trip with the shoes you wear for traveling and one extra pair tucked away in your bag. Coordinate your extra pair of shoes with the outfits you pack; make sure the shoes you choose are simple and versatile, so you’re sure to have a pair for every outfit.
Sleeping away from your own bed can be tough, but when on a business trip, a good night’s sleep is more important than ever. Packing a comfortable pair of your own pajamas is a great way to make that hotel bed feel a little more like home.
Pick a light, well-fitting pair of pajamas–but feel free to ditch the robe and slippers. Pack a warm pair of socks; many hotels will actually have robes hanging for guests’ use.
Okay, okay–this may seem like another obvious point. But there’s no more surefire way to throw your day out of sorts than by neglecting to bring along all of your toiletries when you leave for a business trip.
Especially if you travel a lot, it may be a good idea to stock a bag of toiletries specifically for keeping in your suitcase–that way it’s always around when you need it. Don’t forget to tuck your makeup bag and hair products in your suitcase, too!
6. Briefcase or Satchel
Whether or not you’ve committed to the briefcase lifestyle for normal days at the office, you may want to seriously consider hopping on board when it comes to business travel. A briefcase or satchel can serve as a sort of mobile office, keeping your documents and electronics together and on your person.
Most airlines allow a personal item on flights, so you can just sling your briefcase over your shoulder and have total access to it throughout your trip.
Speaking of briefcases and carrying electronics–be sure to stow every charger you may need into your bag while packing. When traveling for business, there are few things worse than finding yourself with a dying battery.
You may want to invest in extra travel-chargers that can stay in your briefcase or satchel all the time, so you’re never without a charge. Either way, make sure your chargers make it into your bag so you don’t find yourself spending $60 for a new phone charger in the airport shop!
8. Office Supplies
Remember how we talked about your briefcase acting as a sort of mobile office while you’re out on business? Well, you can’t forget to keep that mobile office stocked for your business trip!
You can probably anticipate the sorts of supplies you’ll need over the course of your trip. Pack sticky notes, a notepad, pens, paper–the essentials. Even with your electronics and chargers, there should be plenty of room in your briefcase or satchel for stowing the necessary office supplies.
9. Business Cards
Okay, so this may seem like a…small thing to pack. But the impact of remembering is a big one! Before you leave, be sure to stock up on business cards.
If you’re out on a business trip, chances are, one of your major goals is to network. You’re traveling all that way; should be spreading your business and contact info to everyone you meet!
10. Expense Document Envelopes
This may seem like another minor point to make, but remembering to bring along envelopes for filing away your expense documents may be a crucial point of organization and peace of mind for you on your trip.
Use a 10×13 envelope so all of your receipts and other documents are sure to fit, and bring along a marker or pen so you’re prepared to take detailed notes of each of the documents you place into the envelope. When your trip is over and it’s time to turn in your expense reports, you’ll be glad you brought this little tool along!
Want More Tips on Packing for Your Business Trip?
Traveling for business can be a great experience and an awesome way to shake things up at work–and the experience is usually a whole lot better when you can come prepared with a well-packed bag.
For more packing tips and suggestions to help you travel smart, check out our page!