Have you ever noticed that the shorter your trip, the harder it is to pack? It’s a seemingly strange scenario that actually makes a whole lot of sense if you think about it.
Packing for long trips pretty much means throwing your entire closet into a giant bag that will be checked. Packing for a short trip intended for business purposes, however, is a bit trickier. You have to be strategic with what you pack and what you don’t as it will be in your best interest to save time and pack lightly to accommodate a tight schedule.
Fortunately, savvy business travelers before you have come up with a lot of simple hacks to take some of the pain out of traveling for work. Check out some of my favorites, as a well as a few from online pros below.
1. Always Choose to Carry On
Never ever, ever check your bag on a business trip. It not only wastes your precious pre-meeting time at the baggage carousel, but opens you up to the risk of losing your luggage before a weekend of professional get-togethers as well. Know your dimensions and select a bag that is small enough to carry on.
Antonio from Blue Claw Luggage says in his article on Real Men Style, “Currently, a bag that is 22″ x 13″ x 9″ will meet all major airline’s carry-on maximum limits. This is always subject to change! Always look up major airlines’ current standards before buying new luggage.”
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2. Reevaluate Your Packing Method
If you’re going to fit all of your business meeting must-haves, pajamas, gym clothes, toiletries, shoes, etc. in your bag, you’re going to have to pack efficiently. This could require that you tweak your standard packing protocol a bit.
"Roll instead of folding and use nylon straps to cinch down bulging bags," says Jonathan Deesing, a packing expert for imove.com in an article on USA Today. “If you're serious about squeezing more into less space, consider a luggage cube or a compression bag.”
3. Check Fluids in a Plastic Bag
You may have already known this, but just this past year I was pretty stoked to learn that I can measure the amount of fluids I can carry on with a standard-sized Ziploc bag. Scan your bag and pick out the items that contain liquid. Put them in a Ziploc baggy to make sure they fit. If not, try to decide which items you can do without or buy cheaply at a convenience store when you reach your destination.
4. Don’t Be a Peacock
Colorful clothing takes up too much room. Take out colorful pieces and pack neutrals in their place to save some room. You can mix and match these items with one another so you don’t need to pack multiple complete outfits.
“One pair of black jeans, two black t-shirts, and business attire will get you through a long trip," says Lydia Dallett Editor at Watching America in her article on Business Insider. As you nix your colors, take note of the accessories like jewelry and watches and limit those as well. They take up space in your bag and have a habit of getting lost during trips.
5. Keep Electronics and Business Supplies Handy
Most airlines allow one small carry on in addition to your large carry-on—use this space wisely as well. Be sure you have your laptop, chargers, backup power packs, business cards, etc. in here. Depending on the bag's size, this could also be a great place to store cosmetic bags, mouthwash, mints, etc. to make sure you look your best when you arrive at your first meeting.
6. Consider Trip Length and Reevaluate What You Packed
Here comes the hard part—closing the bag. If you’re having to fight it to zip it, you may want to reconsider what you’ve packed. Consider the length of your trip to help you determine which items you’ll really need. If it’s just a 2 or 3 day trip, you probably don’t need 6 top and bottom options for each event. Plan your outfit for each event carefully and remember what was said in point 4 about mixing and matching neutrals.
Writer’s note: As I was writing this, my sister texted me during her struggle to pack lightly to ask how I’m able to pack my things into a carry on for every trip—no joke.