Business Trip Packing List Checklist

Are you looking to put together a packing list for your upcoming business trip and don’t know where to start? My friend Georgie has travelled all over the world to attend work conferences and helped me put together this checklist. Multiple trips a year from her hometown in London to places such as Sydney, San Franciso and Sao Paolo has certainly helped her learn a thing or two. Here are her best tips:

Outfits/clothes

Do you have to pack light?

Very often you’ll have to pack light as your company won’t want to pay for checked luggage or you might have to take leaflets/stand materials/merch in your suitcase with you. So you have to really plan your outfits. For example, take one or two pairs of trousers with a range of tops that go with both, or several lightweight dresses.

Will you be able to iron your clothes?

Be mindful that your hotel might not have an iron, so ideally you want to take clothes that don’t crease too easily. Even if you do have an iron, you might need to start networking as soon as you arrive, or spend those precious extra 5 minutes in bed in the morning! If space is not an issue, you could also take a portable clothes steamer.

Don’t stress about looking ‘smart enough’

One piece of advice I want to give is just to try not to stress too much about whether you look smart or dressed up enough. This worried me for ages until I realised that a decent pair of trousers (Monki or Stradivarius have very nice ones for women) with a plain/patterned t-shirt is enough. Sure, if being super trendy gives you a confidence boost, then use it to your advantage, but for me, I need to feel comfortable to feel confident. Also, I didn’t want to spend loads of cash on new work clothes every time a conference came around, so I tried to use what I already had and dress it up a little bit.

Don’t forget the basics!

Also, if you have a dress or skirt that you plan to wear with tights – don’t forget the tights!

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How to Make a List of the Outfits You Need to Take

For some reason, outfits are often the hardest part of any packing list.

Every time I go away for work, I make a list of things I need to remember in the notes in my phone. I think about the schedule for each day and then I write it out in my phone so that I know what outfits I need to take with me

For example:

  • Conference day outfit (x3)
  • Evening networking casual (x2)
  • Gala dinner outfit (x1)
  • Travel day (x1)
  • Conference shoes
  • Evening heels
  • Pants (x4)
  • ShampooConditioneretc. etc.

Footwear

I cannot stress the importance of comfortable footwear when you’re attending a conference! Depending on the event, you may be sat down in sessions all day, but if you’re exhibiting, there’s a big chance you’ll be on your feet all day. I survived on the cheapest black flats that cut into the back of my heel and offered no cushioning for my sole (or should that be soul… haha).

Then one day after traipsing around a big expo hall in Boston for 5 days, I just said F IT and invested in a comfy, soft faux leather pair of black moccasins. They didn’t break the bank – I literally just got them from New Look – but the difference on my feet was incredible. They became my “conference shoes” and still live in a special place in my wardrobe for when events come around. They are also nice enough that I can go from day to evening networking without feeling like I’m too dressed down.

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Toiletries

This is pretty self-explanatory… obviously, you should pack all the moisturisers, lotions and make-up that you’d normally take on holiday. Some tips:

  • Buy a travel-size shampoo, conditioner and shower gel in refillable bottles. Then use and refill for every event. You might end up with a weird mix of different stuff, but you can easily get by with that for a few days. Also, while the bottles look diddy, they’ll definitely last you a week.

Take a shower cap with you. If you’re out networking the night before, you’ll want to maximise your sleep in the morning and not wash your hair. Having a shower cap means you can roll out of bed, shove it on, and have a quick, hot shower to revive yourself.

  • If you’ve got a new pair of shoes with you, take plasters just in case.
  • If your period is on its way, you might find it more comfortable to take your usual sanitary products with you so that when the moment strikes, you have something familiar, rather than having to go to a foreign pharmacy and mime blood dripping from your front bottom.
  • Take paracetamol/ibuprofen/any other relevant pain relief. Days are long and headaches can develop very easily in dry, air-conditioned rooms. Plus there’s every chance a networking reception will move onto somewhere else meaning you’ll be nursing a hangover in the morning.
  • Want to pack light? Try these minimalist toiletries tips

Don’t panic if you forget anything!

If you’re sat on the plane/train and you suddenly realise you forgot something (toothpaste! deodorant!) try not to panic. Your hotel might have something for you – even if what you need isn’t provided in your room, some hotels have toiletries stashed away for just in case situations. I have used hotel-brand deodorant and toothpaste before and yes, while it wasn’t my first choice, I got by.

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Other Essentials

Adapter. You’ll definitely need an adapter if you’re going to a different country.

Second purse/wallet. If you’re going to be spending company money, it’s wise to have a second purse/wallet with you where you can store cash – and most importantly, receipts! – so that when you get back to the office, doing your expenses is a doddle. Far too many times, I’ve not done this and then had to go through different bags, and even bins, to find lost receipts.

Mini hairdryer/mini straighteners. If you travel quite a lot with work, investing in a mini hairdryer and/or straighteners might be worth your while. Most hotels will have a hairdryer (or at least some ancient contraption that blows out warm air), so you might be okay. But having something of your own that you know will work isn’t a bad idea if you like styling your hair.

Water bottle. It’s easy to drink 3 coffees in a row at business events and forget water even exists. Having a bottle with you means you can stay hydrated and not have to use the non-recyclable plastic cups that conferences tend to have.

Something minty. If you’re in for some long days of presentations, I find that having some sugar-free gum or mints on me is a handy way to stay alert during these times. It also freshens up your breath for networking after lunch.

Tote bag. Some conferences will give you one, but others have started cutting down on the stuff they give out in order to reduce their carbon footprint. I usually take my own tote bag as it’s handy to have somewhere to put my water bottle or any flyers / information leaflets I’m given by exhibitors.

Snacks. If you’re someone who gets peckish quite easily, or if you have any rare/unusual dietary requirements, you might find it useful to take your own snacks with you for coffee breaks. While the conference organisers should have your requirements catered for at the big meals, you might struggle during coffee breaks if the nibbles on offer have nuts or dairy in, for example. Having your own cereal bars with you, or finding a local supermarket to get fruit or something else, will mean you’ve got something to eat if you get hungry.

Anything else work-related.

For example, as a journalist, I had to make sure I had my dictaphone with me to record any interviews I was doing. For you, this might be something completely different. Just think ahead at what you need to get out of the trip and ensure you have the right materials with you.

Email access/PDF schedule. If it’s your first time away with work, make sure you have the link to access your emails remotely or download them onto your email app on your phone (although I don’t recommend this as it’s easy to get sucked into checking them when you’re not working!). Also, have a copy of the conference/event schedule to hand, whether that’s a printout or PDF saved to your emails or phone.

Business cards. So you don’t have to spend your plane journey writing out your name, email address and phone number 50 times.

Notebook and pen. There have been several times when I’m rushing through the airport trying to find the WHSmiths to get myself yet another bloody notebook for the event I’m going to. In my head, I know I should just have one notebook for every time I go away for work, but this never seems to go to plan. If you can, try and get this sorted in advance so your travel time is less stressful. And don’t forget your good pen – you know the ones the conference gives away will probably be crap.

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Business Trip Packing List Template

Clothes (activity-dependent)

  • Conference day outfit (x3)
  • Evening networking casual (x2)
  • Gala dinner outfit (x1)
  • Travel day (x1)
  • Conference shoes
  • Evening heels
  • Shoes for travel days/days off
  • Pants (x4) and socks/tights
  • PJs

Toiletries

  • Shampoo/conditioner/body wash
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Shower cap
  • Deodorant
  • Razors
  • Hairspray/hair products
  • Sanitary products
  • Pain medication
  • Makeup and personal items
  • Stain removal stick

Business Trip Essentials:

  • Adapter
  • Second purse/wallet to keep work card and receipts
  • Mini hairdryer/mini straighteners.
  • Notebook
  • Pen and other offices supplies
  • Business cards.
  • Water bottle.
  • Something minty.
  • Tote bag.
  • Snacks.
  • Email access/PDF schedule
  • Anything else work-related ie dictaphone or stand materials

General Travel Essentials:

  • sleep mask/earplugs for light sleepers
  • headphones
  • book/Kindle app
  • Glasses / contact lenses / sunglasses
  • Personal medications
  • Phone, laptop and chargers, camera if necessary
  • Umbrella or rain jacket
  • Waterproof bag or suitcase

Travel Documents:

  • Passport
  • Bank cards (I always travel with an extra just in case)
  • A Travel Card if you have one
  • Flight tickets/boarding pass
  • ID / Visas as necessary
  • Emergency contacts
  • Insurance policy info
  • International driving permit if necessary

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