How to Pack for a Work Trip

assorted clothes

If, like me, you travel for work, I’d bet good money that you’ve also stared into an empty suitcase the night before a trip struggling to decide what to pack, stressing about forgetting something important, and wondering how close you are to that pesky airline weight limit. You can probably relate to feeling like your wardrobe has become an overwhelming sea of options and know all to well the stress of simultaneously trying to pack light while leaving yourself enough options.

What will the weather be like, will it be hot or cold? How formal is the venue? How many days will I be away? These are some basic questions I ask to help bring some focus to my packing list.

If you’re in need of a little packing support, here are some tips that will make the whole process easier!

Check The Itinerary

This may seem like an obvious step but check the itinerary before you start packing. If there’s a walking tour on the schedule, it makes more sense to pack comfortable shoes and keep the stilettos at home. Going to a conference with an awards dinner? Make sure to pack a fancier outfit. Google your hotel and find out if there’s a gym or pool you might want to utilize. This way, if you feel like a workout, you’ll have a pair of sneakers or a swimsuit ready to go.

Who’s Going

Who’s going to be at your meetings helps determine how formal you need to dress. For a team-bonding retreat, a pair of black jeans and a nice knit sweater will do the trick. If you’re meeting with potential clients or senior management, you might spruce up your look, keeping the knit sweater but swapping out jeans for a pair of black trousers.

Keep It Simple

For overnight trips, avoid over-packing by bringing items that are interchangeable and can be worn more than once. A basic trouser or skirt in a neutral color like black or navy is the perfect base, easily transformed into different looks by swapping out tops with different colors, prints or textures. Other basics I like to bring on work trips are a grey cardigan and a white shell tank. Because of their simplicity, these basics are easy to layer and spruce up with a bit of jewelry or colorful scarf. Once you’ve settled on clothes, select one pair of shoes that goes with every outfit (gym sneakers being the exception) to save on space.

Layers Are Your Friend

Even if you’ve checked the weather, you never know if an office is going to have an overactive air conditioner or if you’re going to end up in a stuffy conference room. I’ve once wore I’ve worn a chunky turtleneck and quickly regretted it once the temperature spiked and I turned into a sweaty mess. Layers are your friend. Start with a basic layer like a sleeveless tank or short sleeve shirt and add a cardigan or kimono, topping off the ensemble with a scarf for maximum layering options. As long as your base layer is work appropriate, you can add or subtract layers as needed throughout the day to feel comfortable and still look professional.

Focus On The Fit

Avoid anything that requires a lot of tugging to keep in the right place like a shirt with a neckline that droops throughout the day or a skirt that always seems to ride up. Trying to look like you’ve just come from the set of Suits is not worth the constant paranoia that comes with clothes that don’t fit right. Feel more confident and ready to crush your next meeting with clothes that aren’t too short or tight and hit in all the right places.

Got any other tips for packing for a work trip? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!


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