Tim Foolery

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How to Pack: For a Business Trip/Conference

I don’t travel for work as much as I use to.  Now I find myself logging about 4-8 trips a year for work.  Most of those are for conferences or large group meetings (not small 1 on 1 meetings).  Traditionally when I’m on the road for work I am gone for between 2-4 days, rarely longer and never shorter.

When traveling for work, I only bring my 20″ Tumi Wheeled Carry-On (a/k/a wheelie, roll-a-board, roller board), no matter the length of the trip.  I’ve never been in a situation where “I just wish I’d packed a bigger suitcase”.  How do I do it?  Let’s see if if I can explain it below.

When I’m packing I throw in the standard crap I have to have while traveling like: laptop power power cable, sunglasses and toiletries.  These are always in suitcase no matter if I’m heading to San Diego in July or Minneapolis in January.

I rarely need to wear a suit while traveling, but I always keep a blazer in my bag — just in case I need to “dress it up” a bit.  Traditionally, I’ll either bring a navy or charcoal cashmere blazer which can be paired with slacks for a meeting or jeans for a casual dinner on the town.

Speaking of jeans, I bring one pair of jeans..<period>. No more, no less.  When on the road, like at home, I will wear the same pair of jeans multiple times between washings — some of you out there might be creeped out by this, but in my mind, jeans are meant to be lived in.  Washing them after every use will also strip the dye from the jeans.

I will bring two pairs of slacks for a trip up to three business days.  Once I hit day 4 I will throw in another pair of slacks.  If I have a full day of travel, I’ll just wear a pair of jeans (this is my one pair of jeans — I never pack a pair and wear a pair).  Rewearing slacks is no problem for me — I’m mostly in meeting in comfortable offices, hotels or conference centers.

I will normally bring a dress shirt for each day of the trip.  Unlike the slacks, if I’m on a 3 day trip, I’ll have 3 shirts, but if I’m on a 4 day trip, I’ll probably only bring 3 dress shirts as well.  I can mix and match my shirts and slacks to make for a different look.

I do always wear an undershirt, so if I’m in Atlanta in August I really don’t have to worry about sweaty nastiness if I need to reuse a dress shirt.   I will bring 1-2 polo shirts, for a casual dinner or a cocktail after meetings.

I will bring one undershirt for each day of travel PLUS at least one extra, or maybe two depending on the destination (again, ATL in August will probably have me bring at least two extra undershirts).  Same goes for socks.  Always bring a pair of socks for each day, plus 1-2 extras.

After each day, I always hang up my clothes and if I know I’m rewearing something I’ll either throw it in the bathroom and crank up the shower for a quick wrinkle releasing steam.  I never use hotel laundry services, because I’m usually not there long enough and it’s just not my thing.

The final piece of this puzzle is the shoes, right?  I bring one pair of dress shoes, one pair of casual shoes and always a pair of flip flops.  I will also throw in a pair of swim trunks into my outer suitcase pocket and if the weather is appropriate, I’ll throw a pair of casual khaki shorts in the case as well.  Easy breezy.

I can pack all the above items in my simple 20″ carry on.  Now tell me why you think you need to pack a 22″26″ suitcase on your work trips?  Even if you need to wear a suit every day, you don’t need to bring a different suit for each day, just bring coordinating shirts and ties coupled with a charcoal suit you’ll look clean and fresh every day.  Don’t lug junk around you don’t need.

What size of suitcase you bring with you?  Do you carry on, or do you check?  How many miles has your current suitcase logged?  When purchasing a new suitcase do you go to a big retailer or do you hit a discount shop where you get name brands at a great price?  Is there something that you always include in your suitcase (like me and swim trunks)?  What am I missing that I should add to my suitcase?

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