Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Business packing for backpackers (and others who take pride in minimalist packing)

Well, maybe not so minimalist. I've been experimenting with taking only a carry-on lately. Yes, bag fees are the bane of many the traveler's existence but carrying on does one more thing: it makes for a much less stressful packing experience all together. Thanks goes out to sites like which makes the initial panic of, "Holy batman, what do I start with?" disappear.

My latest conference had me flying on an airline which ends in -an. Ladies and gents, these tickets are cheap for a reason. At this point, though, all the major US airlines are making their way towards Ryan Air status so it's not even worth complaining about anymore.

Regardless, the one thing this airline will do is allow you to gate check for free if you're the last poor fool boarding. Their carry on dimensions recently shrunk to child's backpack size. Unless you're carrying on a coat and nothing else, your bag will probably not fit at all. Be the last one on the plane, especially if you don't mind waiting for that free checked bag to make it's way to baggage claim. Save you $20 for an extra 15 minutes spent talking to strangers about their grandchildren or something.

Oh, I was making a list? Shall we?

One bag business trip list (for a seven day conference)
  • Colors. Coordinate your colors. I chose black because I love irony. Really, though, any shades will do as long as they match. I've done browns, blacks and greys in the past as well and it worked wonderfully.
  • 3 pants (business casual or strict business depending on the code at your ultimate destination). Chances are you're not going to cause a massive disaster on your pants via mustard. If they're black the mustard hides after a quick trip to the water fountain.
  • 3-5 tops. All of which could be used for those, ahem, after hour meetings.
  • Something to sleep in obviously. One set. Heck, want to save room? Sleep in your underthings. Just don't scare your potential roommate with your fantastic looking desk job body. (Note: this has happened to me. It's fun for you but not for the victim.)
  • Underthings. Men and Women: Invest in some good travel underwear. Ladies: Pick one amazing bra and one sports bra.
  • Shoes. I know, obvious right? You want one good pair you can wear for business and funsies. Make sure the next time you pick up a pair of work shoes that they can do double duty. Remember: If they're replacing two pairs of shoes, you might as well spend twice as much for a good pair which functions in multiple ways.
  •  Forget toiletries. If you're going to a conference for work then you're most likely going to a hotel which carries all those "forgotten items" for free. Unless you need a specific product it's a waste of both space and time to carry any shampoo/conditioner/lotion/toothpaste. I've never been to a conference hotel which doesn't offer these replacements. 
If your conference and travel time is shorter than seven days adjust the amount of clothing as needed.

What's your ultimate business travel packing tip?


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