10 Packing Tips for Business Travel, by Jo Karnaghan

Jo KPacking for a business trip is a bit different to working out what to wear to work each morning.  The need to prepare ahead, without knowing exact weather forecasts, and sometimes not even knowing all your itinerary details and who you will be meeting with are part of the deal.

Here are my packing principles to make sure I take the minimum but make the maximum impact:

  1. I leave the more masculine tailoring at home.  Pinstripes and crisp cotton shirts are limiting for evening functions, weekend downtime etc.  Instead I take a suite of basic skirts, pants and jackets that work well in the daytime with a soft blouse or Tshirt underneath, then transition easily into evening wear with a quick change of jewellery and some minor changes.
  1. Manifattura dressA little black dress can be your best friend.  It doesn’t have to be black, really any classic block colour in a sensible style can also be dressed up and down for evenings.
  1. You don’t need a jacket every day.  A cardigan can still look professional teamed correctly, and with the right shoes, right grooming and that professional confidence.
  1. Colour is OK.  Packing everything black is easy, but let’s face it, also boring.  Think about neutrals as a base and choose toning (but not matching) colours to go with them.
  1. Don’t think in outfits.  You will end up packing far too much.  Instead think in terms of a capsule wardrobe – everything in your bag needs to go with at least three quarters of everything else, otherwise don’t pack it.  You’ll take less, and actually have more to wear (I promise!)
  1. Accessorise, accessorise, accessorise.  A couple of carefully chosen scarves, necklaces or earrings can make any outfit look different and take you further.
  1. Limit yourself to two pairs of shoes.  If you’re like me, this is hard, but choose carefully, leave the towering power heels at home and pack something a bit more comfortable.
  1. Work out gear.  Do you really need it?  Don’t take it “just in case” you have time.  Chances are you won’t.  Do lots of walking, use the stairs wherever you can, and if you must do some strengthening work buy a set of resistance bands.  You will save a ton of space and weight in your bag.
  1. Three sets of underwear is plenty.  Use hotel shampoo to wash them (you don’t need special travel wash) each night.  While cotton is more hygienic, for travel, go for lace and synthetics that will dry much quicker.Pack 1
  1. With a combination of three cardigans/sweaters, a classic feminine jacket, three blouses/Tshirts, three bottoms, one dress and two pairs of shoes I can fit all my travel wardrobe into one carry on size bag with room to spare.  I can travel for weeks at a time.  Add in a classic trenchcoat and I’m ready for anything.

Jo Karnaghan has spent the last 25 years travelling in Europe, during which time she has honed her travel philosophy of frugal but first class. Her dream is to be able to travel in Europe fulltime, and to always turn left upon boarding the plane.  She is currently writing her first book (on travel of course).  Jo believes the best parts of any trip are often those that cost nothing.  When she is not writing, planning or thinking about travel, Jo has a busy career as a medical practitioner, wife and mother, and student of French.  She lives in Sydney, Australia.  Jo is the author of the popular blog www.frugalfirstclasstravel.com and can also be found on Twitter @jokarnaghan1 and Facebook at www.facebook.com/frugalfirstclasstravel

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12 thoughts on “10 Packing Tips for Business Travel, by Jo Karnaghan

    • Carolyn says:

      I agree, neutral works well with navy and black, too, something I picked up from the French. I can’t say I am a no heels convert but I take cute ballerinas/flatties and a handbag big enough to get my heels in.

  1. Christina Fee says:

    Really useful tips. I also find that “less is more” on the jewellery front. I take one fairly simple, understated but elegant set, i.e. bracelet, necklace & earrings that go with all my day wear (and my watch) and then a couple of ‘statement’ or costume pieces with a bit of sparkle, (e.g. a subtle but striking pair of dangly earrings) to give a different look for the evening.

  2. Tara says:

    “Don’t think in outfits.” – That is probably the best advice anyone can use for traveling for a long period of time. I tend to over pack because I’m thinking about outfits from day to day. Pack pieces that are versatile and work with a lot of other pieces.

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