Updated: Mar 29
Do you travel a ton? The ideal work trip capsule wardrobe wardrobe features items that can be worn in multiple venues, from morning briefings to post-work cocktails.
There are various factors to consider when deciding how to pack for a business trip to be ready for any scenario and employ a travel capsule wardrobe that adapts to various environments along with you.
And remember - for the smoothest trip, you’ll want to try to limit yourself to packing only a carry-on bag.
Recommended Travel Capsule Wardrobe Items
Let’s start with an example of what a travel capsule wardrobe could look like:
2-3 formal shirts
2 pairs of trousers
1 mid layer
2 pairs of shoes
1 blazer or jacket
It may tempt you to pack a bunch of clothes to be ready for any situation, but it’s more worth your while to focus instead on packing versatile clothing. This list is not a strict requirement - a travel capsule wardrobe can vary to suit your needs, but this is a great place to start.
How to Pack for a Business Trip
Now that you’ve got a general idea of what clothes you’ll want to bring, let’s get into the rest of the packing essentials. Beyond the basics that pertain to every trip, what you must take depends on where you’re going, how long you’ll be on the road, and what you will be doing. Each trip’s agenda will of course be different, so make sure that you are tactfully dressing for success. Here are some tips to keep in mind to make sure you have everything you need, while not burdening yourself with too much luggage:
Select Optimal Fabrics
For travel, seek clothing that is resilient. Woolen suits crease less and resist odors better than linen or cotton. Silk undergarments are lightweight, comfortable, and easy to pack. Merino t-shirts and socks are outstanding examples of clothes that are easy to wear on multiple days. By choosing to clothe carefully, you can curate a wardrobe that’s no-fuss, and will look smart even after a long journey.
Maximize Space for Efficiency
Where possible, choose clothing and accessories that are lightweight and packable. That will allow you to pack a smaller bag, which is easier to carry on planes, trains, and taxis. The same rule applies for technology. If you know you’ll be on the go frequently, perhaps invest into a dual tablet-laptop, such as the Surface Pro from Microsoft. This can come in handy and save you space so that you don’t have to take a larger laptop with you as you travel.
Keep it Light
Ideally, your bag will be compact enough to travel easily, but if it’s larger, at least try to keep it lightweight. You don’t want to be exerting too much energy lugging around your bag. Make sure it stays as light as possible so that you can come into meetings off the plane feeling refreshed and ready to roll.
Pack in a Modular Manner
If you’re an organization buff, using travel packing cubes can be a great way to go. Work clothes might go in one cube, while leisure clothes go in another. You could also pack your cables into a small pouch, and your toiletries in another. This makes packing go by faster and will make it easy to find things in your bag. And as we know, staying organized can lead to increased productivity and less stress, so it’ll help put you in a great position to have a successful trip.
Select an Appropriate Bag
For a shorter trip that does not require too many changes of clothes, a smart work messenger bag works well in most situations. You can then carry work items and your clothes all in one place, which will ultimately save you time and keep things efficient. And even if you need more clothing, it’s best to limit yourself to a carry-on bag. This makes travelling easier, quicker, and helps you pass through airports and train stations with ease.
Stick to the liquid limit for toiletries
We should always keep liquids and gels under 3.4 ounces (or 100 milliliters). The last thing you want is to be held up at security with a bottle of face wash that’s just over the limit.
Establish a Flexible Strategy for Tech and Gadgets
As we’ve touched on, it is important to stay as light as possible when you travel. And more often than not, that means taking only essential technology and gadgets along with you for your journey. Ensure that you get in the habit of remembering to take these key items:
Laptop and charger
Notebook (preferably small) and pens
A place for expense receipts (the sleeve of a laptop bag, perhaps)
WiFi hotspot (hopefully this can be your phone)
Breath mints (to stay fresh in meetings)
A micro USB drive (or an account for a seamless and minimalist cloud-based workspace platform like our very own at Kahana, if you prefer to do without the physical drive)
Hand sanitizer (especially these days)
Passport/photo ID and insurance information
And make sure you’re not forgetting your cell phone, charger, and a plug adapter (if necessary). A great way to minimize what you take with you is keeping your itinerary, boarding passes, and any other necessary information (addresses, for example) in digital format - so make sure that your phone is charged!
The Bottom Line
Now you’re prepared to travel like a pro. Choose versatile, durable clothes, pack light, and you’ll be well on your way. In the next post, we’ll dive into more strategies and best practices for smooth sails as you travel.