Before I became a full-time travel writer and blogger, I spent close to ten years as a corporate road warrior—often staying in two to three hotels a week as I hopped from city-to-city to meet clients. Friends would commiserate on how difficult living out of a suitcase must be. I never felt that way.
On the contrary, I found it exhilarating to travel for work. I fell in love with cities I wouldn’t have visited otherwise—hello, Birmingham and Little Rock! I also tasted authentic regional cuisine from the source—Lowcountry cooking holds a special place in my heart.
I made business travel work by removing the inconvenience of living out of a suitcase. I wasn’t about to let the “hassle” of travel prevent me from doing what I loved. Thus, I employed technology and an adherence to strategic planning to make living out of a suitcase easy. Here are my best business travel packing tips.
Never Check Luggage
Yes, your company may reimburse for checked baggage fees, but you’re losing valuable time both standing in line to check your luggage before your flight and waiting around baggage claim after. That’s time better spent with your family prior to leaving or in your destination upon arrival. Everything you need should pack into a roller carry-on and a laptop bag.
Pro tip: Make sure you chose a laptop bag that can slip over your luggage handle for easier airport maneuverability.
Magazines, books, newspapers and business documents consume a lot of weight and space. All can be eliminated from your load through technology. You can access everything you need to read through your laptop or smart phone. I even recommend leaving your Kindle or tablet at home as anything you are reading on those devices synchronizes to your phone. For business documents, either ship them to your destination or upload them to services like FedEx Office for local printing.
Pro tip: Upload the address for all destinations, including restaurant picks and local printing services, to TripIt so they’re organized along with the rest of your travel plans.
Layer Your Suitcase
I layer my outfits according to what I need with the soonest on top and the latest on the bottom. For example, if I’m leaving early in the morning, I’m already in my business suit. The top layer will then be my casual, eveningwear. Next, I pack my pajamas followed by tomorrow’s business clothes. If it’s a one-night trip, then my business clothes consist of only a dress shirt and a tie, as I’ll re-wear the suit. If I’m traveling for more than one day, I continue to follow the layering process.
As multiple outfits in a day can get bulky, plan to re-wear items. I only ever pack one pair of jeans. For the few hours at night that I’m in them, they can be re-worn. Color coordinating allows me to eliminate an extra belt and pair of shoes. The maximum pairs of shoes you should pack is two—a pair for working out and a pair for work. One pair can double for evenings out.
Pro tip: Plan ahead, know the weather, and determine what type of clothes you need.
Keep the Essentials Packed
If you’re a frequent business traveler, consider keeping your toiletries packed at all times. I use a small toiletries bag for all non-liquid items that I pack in my roller bag. Any liquid items go in a Ziploc bag, which I pack in the same compartment as my laptop so I only have to unzip one compartment in the airport security line.
Pro tip: Sign up for TSA Pre-Check to avoid removing liquids from your carry-on.
I employed these four packing techniques in the name of efficiency for years. They saved me precious hours waiting in lines and helped me to enjoy the travel side of business travel.