Leading a busy company? It’s possible that you will be packing for a business trip soon. After factoring in urgent client meetings and the Global Business Travel Association’s projected this years U.S. travel spending of $310.2 billion. With travel hitting record levels, rising 6.2 percent year over year, it is a fact that more leaders are on the go. To that end, and after running through many airports, I am sharing a Wall Street Journal video with clever tips along with my own list of nine packing strategies that can help you prepare for the next trip:
1. Look ahead
Is this a business trip that dictates that you will dress to impress? Or will you be visiting operational sites where business casual clothing is the order of the day? As your itinerary comes together, make a schedule of your days and evenings, and next to each activity note potential outfits – including shoes and accessories. This will help you determine your clothing needs for the trip.
2. The list
In a Fodor’s survey, 29% of respondents said they make lists at least one week before a trip. Looking for a standard list? Check out Knock Knock’s clever ‘Pack This!’ notepads (online and at Amazon) that I use for each trip. Remember, lists can be used at least twice – once to pack and once to repack at the end of your trip. This way you’ll be sure to take everything you’ve brought with you. Including the phone and computer chargers!
3. From point a to point b
Remember, you have to get there from here. A powerful reminder, for everyone (myself included), who loves fashion and large suitcases.
Further, if there’s one thing that can turn a pack rat into a minimalist, it’s a business trip spent lugging everything you’ve packed over long distances. Consider how you’re getting to your destination and how you’ll be getting around once you arrive. Packing light is less critical on trips when you’re driving with your colleagues and staying in one place than when you’re flying on an airplane and moving around once you land.
4. Looking good
It goes without saying that you should never leave on a trip without broken-in (polished) shoes. Similarly, don’t run out and buy a new wardrobe. You will probably want to wear each item you bring several times during your trip, so you’re better off with clothing you know and love – clothes that are comfortable and make you feel good.
5. It is a custom
Local dress codes should be factored into your wardrobe. In some resort areas, an anything-goes attitude applies, whereas in others many restaurants frown on diners with flip flops or those wearing shorts, bathing suits, or even T-shirts. Going abroad? In many places, traditions of dress differ from North America; check with your destination’s concierge or consult a good guidebook. A dignified look goes a long way: think skirts below the knee or trousers and shirts that cover shoulders and elbows. Also, make an effort not to look like a tourist and you will decrease the probability of entering harm’s way (e.g., getting mugged, an expensive taxi ride that is unnecessary, et al.,). Blending in can also improve the probability of locals striking up a conversation with you.
6. Do the math
You can pack fewer items if you will be staying in one place long enough to have laundry and dry cleaning done during your trip (good packing tips for businessmen). You’ll have to pack more if you’ll be moving at a dead run for most of your journey, changing hotels every day, or if you don’t trust the quality of the local laundries and dry cleaners to handle the clothes that you choose to take.
7. One look
Stick to one basic wardrobe look – a favorite that is urban chic. Also sporty casual – if a visit to an operations site is on the agenda.
In either case, choose clothes that you can wear at least twice in a week. When all your tops go with all your bottoms and all your bottoms work with all your shoes, mixing and matching can yield plenty of fresh looks; just add scarves and jewelry for women and additional ties along with a lightweight sweater or blazer for men (e.g., for a week’s trip, you should look smashing with three bottoms, four or five tops, a sweater, and a jacket that can be worn alone or over the sweater).
8. Colors and practicality are key
Similarly, try to build your wardrobe around just two or three complementary colors, preferably two neutrals and one accent, such as black, white, and light brown. If everything goes together, you’ll get more mileage out of fewer pieces. Remember that prints and dark colors do not show spots and soil as quickly. Think black T-shirts rather than white ones and apply this to pants as well.
As much as is possible, pack items that are lightweight, wrinkle resistant, worth repeating – wrinkle resistant, compact, and washable. Slimmer silhouettes, for instance, will generally pack tighter than flared or ruffled looks. Clothes made of fabric with built-in wrinkles tend to travel beautifully, while lightweight linen creases to the point you will not want to wear it. Try this simple wrinkling test: Intentionally fold a piece of fabric between your fingers for a couple of minutes. If it refuses to crease, it will probably come out of your suitcase looking fresh. Another important tip: use tissue paper and dry cleaning bags when packing your most important outfits.
9. Sunny and 70 degrees
Start checking the temperatures for your destination a week before your trip. Having current weather information allows you to revise your packing list appropriately and to consider buying sunscreen, insect repellent, pack layers (a favorite tip of mine), or whatever else you may need for the weather. If rain is in the forecast, avoid suede finishes and opt for easy to clean boots, heels, or loafers. Be sure to consider the humidity level which could translate into packing hair clips or hats.
Before your next business trip: start a list 7 days in advance (if possible), check the weather of the destination, and you will leave for the trip with fewer wardrobe headaches. Are you already a good packer? Share your number one tip with a newer colleague or family member – before they take off on their next trip and set aside a few minutes to look at this WSJ video with Scott McCartney and learn his favorite travel tips. The one tip involving the shoe and a passport – is a favorite.