What to Pack for a Business Trip

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I came thiiiiiiissss close to being stranded in Miami on Wednesday night. We got to the airport with plenty of time (like 2ish hours – a rarity for me), only to find that my flight was delayed 4 hours due to a mechanical issue. But no fret, I travel frequently (for work and for play), so I went to the lounge to kill time with my colleagues. We finally went back to the gate (now at hour #6 of being in the airport) to find that our plane had been further delayed due to storms in Dallas… another hour. And then we finally boarded, only to be delayed another 1.5 hours on the runway due to air traffic control issues.

You’re probably reading this summary of my Wednesday and biting off your fingernails with stress. Roughly 7 hours in an airport and then 2 hours on the runway, making me get home well after midnight?

Well, friends, I wasn’t stressed. Not in the slightest. My secret? I know how to pack for a business trip.

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Seriously: I credit my expert business travel packing skills with why I’m able to stay so calm after a long day of delays.

Just think about it.

First off, as far as I’m concerned, there’s little to nothing I can do when I’m experiencing rolling delays. I can’t control the weather, I neither know how to fix nor fly a plane, and I don’t have the kind of money to call up an emergency private jet on the spot. Or ever for that matter tbh. So I’m kinda stuck and forced to make the best of it.

Second – and here’s where my ability to pack for a business trip comes into play – if my flight gets canceled and I’m forced to fly out another day, I’m fine. I have everything I need. I have a spare outfit in the event of being diverted for a night. And I can easily grab my carry-on and switch to a different flight with a moment’s notice.

Did you catch that? Probably not. I’m suuuuuper subtle, I know.

When thinking about what to pack for a business trip, you need to focus on what you NEED. I recommend always packing a spare outfit (just in case!). And – for the love of all that is holy – please pack everything you need for business travel in a carry-on bag.

As an example, here’s what I would pack for a business trip lasting 4 days:

  • 1 work-appropriate dress
  • 4 blouses
  • 1-2 pairs of slacks (maybe a pair of jeans) + 1 skirt
  • 1 sweater (likely would bring 2 in the winter)
  • 1 blazer (likely would also bring a coat in the winter)
  • 2 workout outfits (2 sports bras + 2 shirts + 2 leggings + 2 socks)
  • 1 pair of heels + 1 pair of flats (wear one, pack the other)
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 2 sets of pajamas
  • 2 bras + underwear for the trip (duh)
  • toiletry kit

I can fit all of that in my Calpak carry-on bag (mine broke last week so I’m hesitant to recommend them, but I’ve heard great things about Away bags!). I also bring a handbag which is large enough to fit my laptop, iPad, and a few other necessities.

You also might have noticed that I technically have 7 outfits packed: 5 work looks and 2 workout outfits. Truth be told, I hardly ever find the time to work out on a work trip. Those extra outfits are really there to ensure that I won’t run out of clothes in the event I get stuck somewhere.

Sure, I’d like to get my butt to the gym. But you’d know what I’d like more? Not going home naked on a work trip. That’s always nice.

So had I ended up stranded last night, I would’ve been fine. It was a one-night trip, but I had still packed 2 extra outfits, just in case.

PS if you’re interested in learning more about my travel tips, I recommend checking out this post on how to plan an international vacation and this post on my in-flight skincare routine for long flights. You can also always check out my work-ready outfits by clicking here.