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As you start to travel almost every week, your business trip packing list will become routine. You might find yourself packing for your corporate trip in less than fifteen minutes! When trying to create my packing list for a work trip, I consider what items I will pack for personal travel as well. My work trip packing list is similar to my regular travel packing list, just the types of clothes that I bring will change. If you travel frequently enough, you might find it helpful to keep some items permanently in your suitcase, and only repack your clothing every week.
Building a Packing List for a Work Trip
Since I travel on a weekly basis, this Ultimate Business Trip Packing List is broken up by the following:
- Essentials left in my suitcase each week
- Items refreshed each week
- What’s in my laptop bag
- What I expect at the hotel
Packing Essentials for a Business Trip
If you travel for work frequently enough, it may make sense to have “doubles” of your toiletries, so you do not have to include them on your business trip packing list and pack them every single week. I keep the following items in my suitcase at all times:
Umbrella // It is a good habit to check the weather before you start packing, but I have a small travel umbrella that I leave in my suitcase at all times, just in case. If you have an outer pocket on your bag, I would recommend leaving the umbrella in that pocket for easy access.
Toiletries // I keep travel-sized bottles of all of my usual toiletries in my suitcase at all times. This includes small bottles of: shampoo, conditioner, face wash, make-up remover, lotion. I then refill these every few weeks as needed. In addition I will keep a double of my toothbrush, toothpaste, cotton balls, deodorant, hairbrush and hair ties, and razor so that I do not need to repack these each week. As a woman, I also keep tampons and pads in my suitcase at all times.
Spare phone charger // I have a habit of leaving my phone chargers behind at home or at the office, and I have accidentally traveled without a phone charger before! Now, I always leave an extra phone charger in my bag, just in case.
Laundry Bag // My Away Bigger Carry-On suitcase came with a laundry bag inside, and I use this to keep my dirty clothes separate from the clean clothes I have not worn yet. I would recommend bringing some type of reusable bag to use as a laundry bag in your suitcase, so you can keep dirty underwear and socks at minimum separate from your work clothes.
All of my toiletries on my business trip packing list are travel sized, so that I do not have to worry about checking a bag. I keep shower items (shampoo, conditioner, face wash) in a separate plastic bag from my remaining items, so that when I am fast to unpack after arriving at the hotel. I use this TSA-approved clear toiletry bag to keep my items organized.
Refreshed Each Week While Traveling for Work
When I am traveling for work, I always bring enough clothes for the number of days that I am traveling, plus one extra day. You never know when you will spill something on your shirt, or you get stranded somewhere overnight! If I was traveling for work Monday through Thursday (3 nights), and I dressed business professional and wore a suit on the plane there, then I would pack in my suitcase:
4 Button-Up Tops // I primarily wear Express Portofino Shirts to work. I like these tops because you can wear them with a blazer, without a jacket, and even out to dinner in the evening. They are very versatile, and a staple in my work uniform. I always pack one extra shirt than days I am traveling – if I am staying 3 nights, I will pack 4 shirts to have one as a back-up.
2 Work Bottoms (Pants or Skirt) // If you include the dress pants that I wear on the plane, I would typically pack two additional bottoms to rotate between. I will bring additional bottoms that coordinate with my blazers for the week. For example, if I am wearing a black blazer, I would choose black bottoms. Navy blazer, navy bottoms.
1 Additional Blazer // Some people can get away with only bringing one blazer (worn on the plane) with them during the week, especially if you only wear your blazer while traveling but then take it off during the day while working. I personally like to bring a blazer to rotate between, and as a back-up in case I spill something on my other blazer.
1 Pair of Jeans, No Holes // It is a good idea to bring a pair of casual pants for when you are going to a team dinner or running errands after work. Occasionally I will wear my work pants to dinner as well, so I do not feel a need to bring more than one pair of casual pants. I opt for no holes or tears, to remain slightly more professional.
1 Pair of Heels // Assuming I already wore a pair of heels on my travel day to the client, I will bring an additional pair of heels to rotate between. I find that if I try to wear the same pair of heels everyday for a week, that they will start to smell.
1 Pair of Casual Shoes (Sandals or Flats) // It’s a good idea to bring a pair of casual shoes, for both team dinners or walking around the hotel. If you need to run down to the front desk, it’s a bit awkward to do so in pajamas and heels.
4 Pairs of Underwear // Always bring an extra pair, just in case!
4 Pairs of No-Show Socks // Whether you need no-shoe socks for your heels or dress socks for your shoes, don’t forget to pack your socks in your suitcase.
1 Set of Pajamas // You will not want to sleep in your dress clothes at night; don’t forget to pack a set of pajamas in your suitcase. My pajamas are usually a free firm shirt and a pair of shorts!
Work-out Clothes // I don’t typically work out during the week while I am traveling, but I threw this on the list so that you do not forget. It is a good idea to work out on the road, but you will need to find extra space to fit your work-out shoes and clothes. It’s possible, though!
Make-up Case // My make-up case contains all of my daily-wear make-up, and since I use the same make-up on the weekends I will repack this each week. Depending on your routine, it may make sense to have doubles of your make-up on your business trip packing list as well
Hair Dryer // You may be fine with the hotel hair dryer, however I have been working on improving my hair maintenance. I recently invested in the T3 Featherweight Compact hair dryer – it is so fast at drying my hair, and it is great for traveling. This hair dryer came with a dust bag and the hair dryer folds in half, for easier packing.
Jewelry // Depending on the level of formality, I might bring my jewelry case while traveling. I prefer studs or small hoops for a professional look, and might bring a few necklaces and bracelets to rotate between.
I also have developed a wardrobe that will work for both the work day and the evening. The shirts or blouses that I bring are usually convertible and fine for dinner in the evening. However, if you are wearing nicer shirts or dresses during the day, you may also want to consider packing casual tops for the evening as well.
My Laptop Bag Necessities
My biggest fear is leaving my laptop charger at home. Most of these items are always in my work bag and travel with me even to the office, but I wanted to go ahead and include on the packing list for work trips here.
Work Laptop & Charger // Make sure that you bring your work computer! It’s difficult to get anything done without your laptop and you do not want to waste time waiting on it to be shipped. The single most important thing for you to bring is your computer.
Wireless Mouse // You can order a cheap mouse off Amazon for less than $10, and you can bring it on the road to increase your efficiency. I always opt for colors other than black, so that it does not get mixed up with anyone else’s belongings.
Headphones // I love my AirPods as they are great for taking calls, but any type of headphones are a good idea to keep in your work bag. You may have to take phone calls or watch videos in a conference room with your colleagues, and it is much easier to take these calls hands-free.
Phone Charger // I leave a phone charger in my work bag as well, so that I can charge my phone on the go. Especially if you are wasting time at the airport, it is important to keep your phone charger so you can contact coworkers when you land, or call an Uber if necessary.
Office/Client Access Badge // If you have been traveling to a client for a while, you likely received some sort of access badge to get into their building. You do not want to have to bother your client to get another badge assigned to you, or go through the hassle of speaking to security each time. If you have an access badge, make sure to leave it in your work bag so you do not forget it.
Pens & a Notepad // Even though we primarily use our computers these days, you may need to jot down client notes while your computer is loading, or draw out a sketch to explain an idea. It is a good idea to leave pens and a notepad in your bag at all times, so you never have to worry about asking your coworker to borrow one.
Gum // Especially after a long flight or lunch, you will want fresh breath over the course of your work trip. Make sure to pack some gum in your laptop bag, so that you always feel fresh.
These items are always in my bag, so I will usually have them on my work trip as well. You never realize how badly you miss your wireless mouse until the day that you accidentally leave it at home!
Packing for a conference? Check out our post on What to Pack for a Business Conference.
Hotel Expectations During a Business Trip
There are a few items that I do not have on my packing list for work trips, because I expect my hotel to have them. If you are not picky about your toiletries like shampoo or conditioner, it would be much easier to just use the hotel versions rather than worrying about leaks in your suitcase. These items include:
Hand Lotion // I am picky for my face, but not for the rest of my body when it comes to lotion. It’s one less bottle that I have to pack, so I do expect to be able to use the hand lotion available in the hotel room.
Water Bottles // You typically get free water bottles with Marriott Platinum! It is greener to bring your own reusable water bottle, however I will admit I do not usually remember to. I do expect that there will be water in my hotel room, or at least easily accessible in the hotel, when I arrive.
Iron // One day, I do hope to invest in a portable steamer. For now however, I do expect an iron in the hotel room so that I can iron my clothes. I like to unpack the night that I arrive at the hotel, and I iron all of my clothes for the week at once. It can be difficult to iron all of your clothes the first night since you are likely tired from traveling, but you will thank yourself later in the week.
Towels // I know some consultants are particular and prefer to bring their own towels, rather than using those available at the hotel. I, however, expect towels in the hotel and will gladly use those.
The single most important thing to bring on your business trip, honestly, is your work laptop. If you need toiletries that aren’t found in your hotel room, you can often call the front desk and they can bring additional toiletries to you. I ran out of toothpaste and forgot to re-pack it, and fortunately the hotel always has toothpaste packets to offer. Everything else, you can buy on the road.
Packing Your Suitcase for a Business Trip
When packing my suitcase for a work trip, 50% of my suitcase will be clothing. I use three packing cubes that fit in the compression compartment of my suitcase – one cube for my blazers and pants, one cube for shirts, and one cube for underwear.
If you liked the Ultimate Business Trip Packing List, you can download a free pdf checklist below. If there’s anything missing from this packing list, let us know in the comments below.