Packing for business requires careful consideration and planning. Whether you are embarking on your first or hundredth business trip, it can be a challenge. Some of my clients find it more challenging to pack for a 3-4 day work trip than a family vacation.
Before you begin pulling items out of your closet – Check your itinerary, look at the weather forecast, and make sure you know the dress code. If you are traveling to another country check what the etiquette is for clothing. There is a lot to consider when packing a carry-on.
YOUR BUSINESS TRIP PACKING LIST
If your trip or your dress code requires a suit, pick a neutral such as a navy or gray that will mix with your other items. A patterned suit is a great option, too. You can pair the jacket with a solid colored pair of dress pants, a skirt, or a dress. And, the pants can be worn again with a button down, top, or cardigan.
If your travel plans require a less formal feel, you are always safe with a blazer. It’s a key staple item for women and men, and can be layered over separates (or a dress) and then removed later for dinner with clients or colleagues. I also like a blazer because it can act as your jacket if the temps are cooler outside or the air is freezing at your conference/meeting(s).
If you need to dress up, and a suit is not required – I would recommend a sport coat/blazer. It will give you a ton of versatility and work well with dress pants and jeans.
A cardigan is a great staple that will extend your outfits and give you an added layer. It’s also an alternative if a blazer/suit is not required.
I love dresses. They are one-piece wonders and can easily be taken from day to night. If your trip is longer than a few days you are safe to get multiple uses out of this one piece with an added layer – a cardigan, or a blazer. Switch out your jewelry at night and you have a whole new look.
If you have a regional meeting or conference, pay attention to the itinerary. More than likely you will have one night during your business trip where you will need to wear a cocktail dress. Pack the right undergarments, shoes, and jewelry to go with your ensemble. Steer clear of anything short, plunging necklines, or high slits.
Here are some guidelines for how many tops and bottoms you should bring on a 4-day work trip: Two pairs of bottoms ( two pairs of dress pants or one pair of dress pants and one skirt) and two-three tops/dress shirts. This may vary depending on any additional activities or events you have to attend.
Break out your nice denim. Save your jeans that have holes or that are faded for home. You are always safe with dark denim that fits you well. Depending on the event you might want to add a blazer/sportcoat or cardigan.
Shoes are a problem because they are bulky. I recommend one pair of dress shoes, loafers/flats, and a pair of sneakers (if you plan on working out). Bring an extra pair of dress shoes/heels if you will be walking a ton or on your feet a lot (at a convention). Rotate your shoes, so your feet get a break.
To keep your accessories to a minimum, I would bring a statement necklace to dress up an outfit. A pair of chandelier earrings or a cuff bracelet work well, too. For your everyday jewelry choose items that will play well with your ensembles.
The key to traveling for business is having transitional pieces that can be dressed down and dressed up. That way you won’t worry about putting outfits together when you arrive. Download your free business packing checklist (for men and women) that also includes an outfit chart, and more tips for outfit planning, in the box below.