Traveling in general can be stressful, but traveling for business can be downright overwhelming. Between managing your itinerary and meeting schedule, remembering specific clothes to wear, and making sure you have all the supplies you need, it can be pretty easy to forget something. I’ve gotten the opportunity to travel for work on multiple occasions, and have gotten my travel routine down to a science. Hopefully these quick tips will help you on your next trip!

Create a packing list

This step might seem like a little much, but I promise you won’t regret it. During the week before your trip, start making a list of all work-related items you need to bring with you. For me, that’s typically my laptop & charger, product samples, presentation items, and some photography equipment. Make sure to double check with your boss or supervisor throughout the week to see if there’s anything you left out. On your last day in the office before you leave, go through your list and make sure you take everything with you.

Once you get home, take a minute to sit down and think about what activities you will be doing while on your trip. Who are you going to be meeting with? Are there any nice dinners you will be attending? Is there anything specific work-related clothing items you need to bring? Start making a list of everything you want to pack. I like to color-code items as “during work”, “after work”, and as “general.” Keeping them categorized helps me to make sure I have clothes for everything we might be doing on our trip. 

Hint: Remember to bring an extra charger if possible, you don’t want to run out of battery because the only one you brought shorted out.

Flats… always

There is nothing worse than having sore and cramping feet because you only brought cute heels to wear. Always pack flats, and if possible, bring them with you when you leave your hotel. That pair of stilettos might totally complete your outfit, but they are not worth the blisters if you are walking 5 blocks to get to dinner with your coworkers. I always make sure to pack a professional pair of flats and a more casual pair. This way you a have a few options for any time of the day!

Hint: Always pack a couple of bandaids as well, if your shoes give you blisters they’re going to come in handy.

Bring your own hangers

When I get to my hotel room, the first thing I do is hang up all of the clothes that I packed. This way all the wrinkles can fall out over time and you can spend less time ironing. Typically, hotels will have four to six hangers available for you. When you’re gone for a few days and have two outfits per day, that’s nowhere near enough. If you have room in your suitcase, bring enough hangers for every item of clothing you packed. Doing this will help to keep you organized. It will also make the re-packing process a lot easier. As you wear items, unhang them and put them back in your suitcase so you’re not scrambling the morning of your flight.

Hint: If you’re in a pinch, hang clothes in the bathroom while you’re taking a shower. The steam from the shower will help release some of the wrinkles.

Bring your own hair dryer

Yes, they’re bulky and kind of a nuisance to pack- but you’ll thank me for this. When you’re traveling to meet a new client, or meeting with your company’s CEO, you always want to put your best foot forward. Showing up with damp hair is very unprofessional. In fact, it makes it seem like you didn’t care enough to take the time to get ready. Most times, hotels have hair dryers in their rooms. If not, you can get them from the concierge, but let’s just be real here, those teeny little hair dryers do not get the job done. Especially if you have long or thick hair. Bringing one from home that you’re used to using means you’ll know exactly how long it’ll take to dry your hair in the morning. It will even help you plan your day better!

Hint: You can get folding hair dryers to help you save space in your luggage, and some even have retractable cords.

Keep track of your receipts

Most times, your company will reimburse you for meals, cab/Uber rides, and hotel expenses. I like to keep every single receipt, even for personal purchases, just to make sure I don’t accidentally throw an important one away. Designate a space in your purse or laptop case to keep your receipts while you’re out. Make sure to put them there right when you pay for things so you don’t lose them. When you get back to the hotel you can paperclip them all together and store them in a place you will remember. I like to keep mine clipped together in my work binder, so I know where they are when I get back to the office. If you have downtime during your trip, or when you’re waiting at the airport for your flight home, take out a pen and write on each receipt what it was for. This will help you organize your purchases and decide what was business-related, and what was just for you. Believe me, your accounting department will thank you for this.

Carry on all important business-related items

Am I the only one who gets anxiety after checking a bag? I’m always worried that something will happen, my bag will get lost. I make sure to pack my carry-on with things that I know I will need to conduct business while on my trip. My laptop, any paperwork I’ll need, and any presentation materials are always the first things I pack when I’m going out of town. Most times, I’ll even skip on packing some toiletries in my carry on just to make sure I’ll have enough room for the things I know I’ll need. If there is a company shirt you’ll need, make sure to pack that, too. You don’t want to show up to a meeting and be the only one out of dress code because your luggage was lost.

Pack light

Even though you might have to pack six outfits for only three days, try your hardest to pack light. Bring shoes you can wear with multiple outfits and jackets that go with everything. Pack heavier items in your carry-on, and wear the shoes that will take up the most space in your suitcase to the airport. If you like to work out while on the road- leave the five pound weights at home. Opt for resistance bands instead or make use of the hotel’s fitness center. Keep the large hairspray and shampoo bottles to a minimum by picking up travel sizes at the salon before you go. No one wants to pay for oversized luggage – especially your company.

The final and most important tip… relax.

Most business-related trips are not going to be to third world countries. If you forget something, it’s okay! There’s a good chance there will be a Walgreens or CVS within walking distance from your hotel. If you forget your toothbrush, you can always buy one when you get there. I speak from experience, forgetting your makeup bag is not the end of the world. Yes, it might be inconvenient, but it’s not worth stressing out over things that can easily be replaced.

Sheridan M