Whether your job requires frequent business travel or just the occasional overnight stay, keeping a list handy of what to pack will help you save time and minimize stress.
Even though most major airlines now charge a separate fee to check your bag, it might be worth it. Airports are big and overhead compartments on airplanes fill up quickly. Business travel is stressful enough without the additional worries associated with lugging your bag through security and to the gate only to find out that the overhead compartment above your seat is already full and that your bag is being put in the back of the plane. Relax, check your bag, and consider it a worthwhile investment in you and your travel sanity.
Whether you plan to wear pants or skirts while traveling for business, pick one basic color for your bottoms (black, brown or blue) and stick with it. This consistency will eliminate the need for multiple pairs of shoes and belts in different colors. Dark colors are preferable as they don't show travel wear, tear, and dirt as easily.
Jacket or Blazer
Choose a basic, solid-color jacket or blazer that matches your basic bottoms color scheme.
Tops, Blouses, and Sweaters
Choose prints and solids that coordinate with your basic bottoms color scheme.
A Travel Outfit
If your travel days are long, consider packing a comfortable travel outfit and comfortable shoes for the trip home.
Bring a maximum of one to two pairs of shoes. Select a style and heel height that will work with your basic wardrobe selections described above. If you'll be doing a lot of walking while on your business trip, choose comfort over style.
Underwear and Socks
Pack enough for each day of your trip, plus two extra pairs of each. You never know when you might want to change clothes or just freshen up a bit.
Consider a pajama top style that buttons down the front so it can double as a robe. Most robes are bulky and take up too much valuable space in your suitcase.
Pack one lightweight, quick-dry exercise outfit. Wash it out in the sink after each exercise session and hang it to dry.
Pack shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, facial cleanser, toothpaste, toothbrush, a razor, and make-up in resealable plastic bags or a toiletry bag. If you're traveling by air and not planning to check your bag, keep travel restrictions in mind. All liquids and gels must be smaller than three ounces and must be packed in quart-size plastic bags. Pack these bags in an outside pocket or on the top of your suitcase since you'll need to remove them as you go through security checkpoints.
Place airline reservations, hotel confirmations, and rental car confirmations in a separate folder for quick and easy reference. If you have these items on your phone or tablet, then bookmark the sites or flag the email confirmations for quick access.
If you're traveling by air, make sure your laptop or tablet is easily accessible since you'll need to remove it from your briefcase as you go through security. Don't forget your power cords and thumb drives.
Cell Phone Charger
Pack both a wall charger and a portable charger or power bank in case you need to charge your phone but don't have an outlet. Bring a car charger if you're traveling by car or will be renting one at your final destination.
Pack pens, pencils, paper clips, sticky pads, and notepads. Don't take an entire office supply store with you in your briefcase—just what you will actually need for your trip.
Replenish your supply of business cards before each business trip. You never know who you will meet.
10" x 13" Envelopes for Expense Receipts
As you drop each receipt into your envelope, make a note on the front that includes the date, expense amount, and the reason for the expense. Doing this will help you save time when you submit your expense report and ensure you can easily find all of your receipts.
While most female travelers prefer to carry a purse in addition to a briefcase, the general rule of thumb for business travel is to carry a small purse with minimal contents. Pack your ID, wallet, gum or mints, a small make-up bag, phone, and any medications you need.
Small Travel Umbrella
Pack this in the outside pocket of your suitcase so it's accessible in the event it is raining when you arrive.