Tips on Packing for Business Travel

From the 2009 hit “Up in the Air,” George Clooney plays a regular flyer who is just a couple of trips away from making it in the elite 10 million kilometers club.

As a corporate “downsizer,” his entire life revolves around airport terminals and resort suites because he crisscrosses the nation as a business coach providing motivational speeches about the best way to rid yourself of possessions and relationships which are holding you down. To put it differently, how to pack light.

For business travellers who spend one-to-two-thirds of this year on the road, understanding how to pack efficiently and effectively for trips is an essential skill. As Clooney’s character, that travels 270 days per year, says, the distinction between needing to check a bag in and fitting everything into a carry-on is a week’s worth of time spent waiting in line.

While he hasn’t quite reached the 10 million milers club, Quora user Jeffrey Davis is also a frequent flier whose regular trips abroad as a Senior VP and General Manager at Evonik have educated him the best strategies to pack for almost any business trip.

Summarized below are a number of business travel packaging hacks adopted from Davis’ Quora thread.

  1. Ditch the colours: Black is your friend. It matches everything. Johnny Cash was a visionary. I’ve yet to listen to the compelling logic for any sock colour other than black. 1 pair of black jeans, two black t-shirts, and business attire will get you through a long trip.
  2. Never check your bag. Ever. Never check your luggage in, even if you are travelling somewhere for a few months. When travelling use a roll-aboard that fits in the overhead. The decreased hassle of not having to wait for luggage, being the first person through customs, rather than dealing with the nightmare of lost luggage will make you a carry-on traveller. A suit is a suit: 2 is sufficient. Wear one on the airplane using a t-shirt or casual blouse, and pack the other. Also find a pair of exercise shoes which can be casual touring and walking attire. If you are worried about packing the second suit a tip is to turn the jacket inside-out (sleeves get pushed through) and wrap it around softer items such as t-shirts and underwear. This will keep it from creasing.

  1. Do not bother with Ziploc bags. Store your liquids in small containers. Unless you are a chronic alcoholic or have some type of health illness, question the need to choose any liquid that can’t make it through the x-ray unannounced. Save space and take the mini toothpaste they put in your room each night in the hotels.
  2. Splurge on laundry. Look at your trip agenda and be sure you are staying at least two nights in a row in exactly the same hotel at least once in every seven-day window. Even though it’s pricey, resort laundry will get you through. It’s possible to get by on ‘Five of Every’ (five pairs of socks, five undershirts, five pairs of panties, etc.) almost indefinitely if you buy into the Hotel Laundry philosophy.
  3. Use back-saving bag. A roll-aboard with a hook that holds your briefcase counterbalanced so that you could literally cruise a mile through an airport with just a fingertip pressure is a shoulder and back saver.
  4. Test your batteries in everything. Know the ability of your batteries in your rechargeables (shavers, cameras, iPods, etc.). You may be surprised by how long of a trip you can create without bringing the charger if you leave home with a full charge.
  5. Always bring backups. Have a high-resolution scan of your driver’s licence, passport, visas, and credit cards on the SD card of your smartphone or in your computer HD. It is a lifesaver if you ever lose anything.

So whether you are a representative from a small business coaching company or the CEO of a retail chain, knowing how to pack for your trip can ease a lot of stress.