The other day I was leaving my Toronto office space when I spotted an acquaintance who works for a company on another floor of the Toronto Star Building. He was dressed in a pair of jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt under a spring windbreaker jacket. He was dragging behind him a very large suitcase and a slightly smaller travel bag. From the way he was dressed and the amount of luggage he had, I assumed he was going on a vacation, so I asked him where he was traveling to. He then told me he was was heading out on a two-day business trip. I wanted to ask him if he may have over-packed and under-dressed.
This got me thinking about some advice I have often read regarding how and what you should pack for a business trip. First off, you should choose luggage that is a size or two smaller than what you believe you need. If you can get what you need into a smaller case, you can avoid having to check it in and take it on as personal, carry-on luggage.
Things to pack
- One pair of underwear and socks for each day you will be away.
- Consider taking one less shirt and one less pair of trousers than you believe you will need.
- If appropriate, take a sports jacket instead of a full suit – that is, one less item to worry about.
- Consider shirts and trousers that are neutral colours to maximize mixing and matching.
- Pick up some travel-size toiletries and use a zip-lock plastic bag instead of a toiletry bag.
- If there is enough room, you should take along a pair of shoes that can be used for non-business activities.
Since you are trying to get your luggage to be your carry-on, consider an even smaller bag to use as a briefcase or a large laptop carrying case. Use that smaller bag or briefcase to take along all the important things you will need for conducting business, as well as things you will need to have access to while on route.
While actually on route, you want to dress comfortably, but still look appropriate for business. You never know who you are going to run into at the airport or when checking into your hotel, as they might be your next customer! One of the best ways of looking professional while still being comfortable is by wearing a cotton oxford button-up shirt, a pair of khakis or casual non-wrinkle trousers and a non-wrinkle sports jacket. One more important item to consider buying is a pair of comfortable dress shoes that are slip-on. This will make getting through airport security much easier when they have you remove your shoes and you have to quickly put them back on again.