In the movie Up in the Air, we see George Clooney play a seasoned business traveler who spends more than 250 days a year on the road, collecting miles and miles until he reaches the exclusive 10-million miles club. In one sequence, we see him prepare and pack his bag in a quick, efficient manner. Everything’s in place. He knows exactly what to pack for business trips and how. There are more items in his luggage than in his closets and drawers.

Your business trip starts the moment you need to pack your bag. What to pack for business trips? That’s a dreaded question. Therefore, knowing what to pack is an essential skill for any business traveler who spends dozens of days on the road. You don’t want to waste valuable time you could enjoy with friends and family.

Planning is key. Before you start packing, ask yourself a few basic questions. How long is the trip? Does the agenda also include casual events like dinners or networking parties? Do you have time for a workout? What’s the weather like?

Man ready to pack for business trips

Here’s a number of basic rules to facilitate packing for a business trip.

Hand luggage only. Always

This is business travel 101. Business trips usually last less than one week, so there’s no reason for not traveling light. When you have to fly for work, always avoid checking your bag. You will save plenty of time at the airport (35 minutes per flight, according to Clooney’s character) and avoid the nightmare of losing your luggage.

Stay packed

If you travel for business several times a year, why don’t you keep at hand a few essential items? For example, you can prepare a second set of toiletries. This way, you can store liquids, creams and gels in travel-sized containers, under 100ml, which can be taken onboard, after passing the security checkpoint.

Write down a checklist

How many times you’ve been in a taxi on your way to the airport and realized you forgot your business cards in the office? Plan ahead and write down a checklist. Now only you’ll avoid forgetting essential items, but also you’ll pack much quicker. You can even prepare a list of what you will wear each day.

Mix and match

You have to overcome the idea of repeat wears. It can be done: just get over it. it’s easier than you think to have a few different outfits, using limited pieces of clothing. Build yourself a capsule wardrobe, choosing neutral colors and versatile items you can combine in a variety of looks. Don’t pick new and untested pieces to avoid last minute surprises.

Roll or fold

Some people roll, some people fold. Thanks to the hundreds of videos, tutorials, and hacks circulating on the internet, the way to pack clothes into a suitcase is almost an art. While folding is preferred for items that easily wrinkle, tightly rolling certain items, like t-shirts, tank tops, and certain sweaters can save some space in your suitcase. Remember to fill shoes with small items like socks and belts. Your shoes will stay firm and you will save space.

Think twice

This can be a difficult one. Reevaluate everything you pack for business trips. You really need to avoid the ‘what if I need this’ thought. Leave behind any non-essential item. Think what you didn’t use during your previous trip and don’t pack it this time.

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