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How to Pack With Ease for Your Next Business Trip

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How to Pack With Ease for Your Next Business Trip

Business trips are not something we get excited about packing for.

It can often end up being left until the night before where we go through a mild panic about what to put in the suitcase. We know we will get it done, because we’ve always gotten it done in the past, but will we end up with the right clothes at the other end when we pack this way? Do you get home and find that you only wore a few of the pieces you took, yet you carted all of the other clothes around the world? Surely there’s a better way?

Packing for a business trip can start on a good note, a few key pieces come out, suitable for wherever we may be heading. They are the first pieces we think about when imagining ourselves upon arrival. Then it starts getting a little trickier. Is there a method? Most likely not. So how can we navigate this experience so that it is pleasant and easeful?

The first step to a more effective packing experience is to accept that you can’t take everything (there have been plenty of times I’ve tried). This point should be enough to stop you in your tracks when about to reach for the sparkly cocktail dress that you love and may need on a night out, but will you really wear it for a trip mainly focused on pitching to investors?

So, to help with making your packing experience, for any business trip and any destination, a little less stressful and far more practical, here are nine tips to help: 

1. Set aside a time in your iPhone or Android calendar.

Open up the app on your phone and block out an amount of time three days prior to leaving. If you’re someone who gets overwhelmed in the middle of packing; block out two smaller chunks. In this way you can approach packing systematically, firstly putting aside the items you know you will wear a lot and then basing the rest of the items around this. Once you have the first selection, you can then go and edit them if you need and still have enough time in advance to go and buy some pieces that are missing or have things repaired,

2. Be clear about why you are travelling and what to expect at your destination. 

Having guidelines in your mind when packing will stop you from being distracted and trying to add in pieces that will not get worn, for example taking eight dresses when all you really need are two or three that can be worn to multiple types of occasions. Start by researching the destination you are heading to, including the weather and business culture you will be involved in. Write down on a piece of paper the types of situations and events you will find yourself in. And then think about what you will actually wear in each of these situations and write down your outfits as well. Sounds like a lot of work, but it really helps.

3. Shop for anything new two weeks in advance.

Often when packing, we realise we need a certain piece of clothing, perhaps a wrap cardigan for the plane, a jacket that will be trans-seasonal or perhaps a new t-shirt. Take a look at your collection two weeks in advance and think about what you are going to need. If there are any new pieces required go out shopping for them in advance because the last thing you want is to have to try and find something specific at short notice. We end up buying something we don’t like, and we probably will never wear again, which as you know, is something that drives me crazy.

4. Have a method or a process to follow.

Are you a roller or a folder? Rolling items does allow for more space. Personally, I love it, because everything is so compact, but you have to have your own method, and stick to it. This allows for a lot more to fit in if there is consistency. If you’re a folder, fold them as identically as you can to allow for blocks of space in your suitcase. Having a method also includes garment bags and shoe bags and having them ready for the time when you pack. Put each pair of shoes in a shoe bag. It makes things much tidier.

5. Think repeatable outfits.

Work towards a consistent collection of pieces. This means having a simple colour palette of two or three colours. Work out a few key outfits that can be reworked into other looks by interchanging the pieces. Take classic items that can be repeated. A skirt can look dressy one day and casual the next depending on the blouse or t-shirt you put with it. Plan ahead, work out how you will mix and match accordingly. This ensures efficiency with the clothes you choose to pack.

6. Take a signature blazer or jacket.

A signature blazer or jacket can make a casual outfit look polished. It is also a way to transform a classic outfit into one that is suitable for a dinner. If you don’t have a signature blazer think about buying one; especially if you are in a major city like Paris or New York. Think Balmain single-breasted jacket, a Yves Saint Laurent Le Smoking Jacket or Dior Bar Jacket. If these are out of your price range, think about a similar style from a different brand but make sure it is good quality.

7. Think layers with knits, shirts and jackets. 

Take a few key pieces from each category. With knits make sure they are fine and can be worn one over the other. This would be cashmere or superfine merino which allows for maximum warmth and minimum bulk. Take a couple of t-shirts and blouses that can be worn with the knitwear and layered with a jacket for super cold days. If it’s summer in your destination, of course, you will pack without a winter jacket. A signature blazer will suffice if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

8. Take the least pairs of shoes as possible.

I know this can be challenging for us women; however, it can be achieved! Shoes take up a lot of space, and we often end up only wearing one or two pairs yet we take ten pairs. Depending on the weather, take one (maybe two depending on the length of time) pairs of sandals or one pair of boots. Take walking shoes, stylish of course, and some heels that you can walk in. Of course, we all vary in this depending on how much luggage we can take and the events we are going to attend but stick to the principle of taking the least pairs of shoes as possible which means the ones you do take need to work across multiple outfits.

9. Allow for signature pieces. 

Make sure what you take truly represents your business style, don’t take anything you wouldn’t naturally wear at home. In order to achieve this, make sure you take two or three items that can add personality to any of the outfits you wear. This might be a signature wrap or a statement skirt that can be worn day or night with a simpler top. A few key ‘personality’ pieces that fit the environment and culture you will be working in, will make you feel at home in any city.

Avoid the last-minute flurry and be a tranquil and prepared packing expert. Make sure you set aside enough time to create a really satisfying and concise capsule (essential items that can easily be interchanged) collection. The key to travel is packing what you would normally wear including some of your best and most loved pieces. The length of your stay will determine the capacity for what you take, but all in all, you must love what you wear on the plane and when you arrive.

I hope next time you are travelling you try some of my tips and see if it makes the experience both before you leave and after you arrive, that little bit easier. 

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