Many business travelers are on the road so frequently that packing for the next trip merely involves swapping out clean clothes for the dirty laundry. After awhile it gets to be uninspiring rote – a place for anything and everything in its place.
But just because you’ve done it that way a hundred times doesn’t mean there’s not a better way, ideas, strategies and techniques you can adopt to make the chore easier on yourself.
Herewith we offer some of our suggestions, many taken from your comments on our Business Traveler forum.
1 BE CHOOSY – AND REALISTIC
Pack only what you really need. While the notion of having different outfits for each day may seem appealing, it’s an idea that will weigh you down. Every ounce counts, especially when airlines charge for what you take on board. Don’t forget the little stuff; jewelry, sunglasses and, gentlemen, maybe a tie or two.
To minimize the number of separate clothing items you have to take, avoid packing bright colors and jazzy prints – stick to neutrals, black and white. Also consider utility: versatile choices and smart casual attire can suffice in most situations.
Pack outfits chronologically. Think about your itinerary, with your first day’s clothes placed at the top and your last day’s at the bottom to save disturbing your careful folding.
2 FOLD (PROPERLY)
You’d be surprised how many ways there are to pack a shirt. Learn to do it like a pro and your clothes will thank you. To avoid creases and costly hotel shirt pressing charges, most travelers prefer rolling – rather than folding – clothes in the suitcase. This keeps them wrinkle-free and smooth for when you hang them in the hotel closet. Louis Vuitton’s Art of Packing video series provides several helpful tutorials.
Travel with clothes made of crease-free fabric to minimize ironing. Cotton-poly blend fabric dries much faster than pure cotton, so pack clothes and underwear of this material if you need to wash them, especially on longer trips. Also take along travel size packets of laundry detergent.
Pack a few wire clothes hangers. They take up virtually no space and allow you to hang items after handwashing, and employ the “shower-steam-ironing” technique to take care of stubborn creases. The hotel hangers often only have the little nubs at the top for use in the closet (i.e., no hooks) or are of an unsuitable shape or material.
3 STAY IN CHARGE
Save yourself the trouble of untangling wires by securing them individually with cable ties, and packing them in an easy-to-carry pouch. Choose flat cables if they’re available – they considerably lessen the frustration of snarled cords. If checking in a suitcase, keep your laptop and smartphone charger with you in your carryon bag to avoid losing them.
While on the topic of chargers, it is good to keep all of these bundled together and stored in a compact case. An old airline amenity bag usually works quite well. This is best kept in carryon luggage, as it’s easier to find all the chargers you need when on the road.
Major hotels around the world often have universal sockets in the rooms or squirrel away adapters in the closet. But you can’t count on that everywhere you go. When the only power outlets are of the local type, you can be out of luck. So it’s best to travel with an international adapter, preferably one with USB ports, for added convenience and flexibility.
4 USE SHOE BAGS Shoes are always a tricky item to pack, especially for ladies. A pair of smart casual flats are a must, and if the weather is cold at your destination and you have to bring boots, a space-saving tactic is to wear these in flight. If you have to pack shoes anyway, don’t let the area inside go to waste – use it to store socks, belts and handkerchiefs.
Never allow your shoes to have direct contact with your clothes, they’re just not clean. Use lightweight, nylon shoe bags to keep them separate – the socks, belts, etc., will keep them from being crushed.
5 ORGANIZE TOILETRIES
Also have a standard travel toiletries bag already packed that you use every time. An old amenity kit works well for this too. If traveling with carryon luggage only, place you toiletry kit at the top or in an outer compartment so you can easily access it at security.
Stocking up on clear plastic bags for your liquids in advance of arriving at the airport will keep you from having to do it under pressure. Make sure bottle tops are tightly screwed – spills could ruin your trip. Carrying a few extra plastic bags won’t hurt – they take up practically no space and can be used to stow underwear and socks.
Remember to include eye drops, moisturizer, chewing gum and small bottles of Kaopectate, antihistamines, aspirin and whatever other necessities you lack on the road. If you’re carrying prescription drugs TSA recommends you place these items in your carry-on in the event that you need immediate access.
6 USE A TRAVEL WALLET
Although many airlines now offer mobile boarding passes, it is important to have all your paperwork, emergency credit card, passport, itinerary and other print-outs in a place where they will not get crumpled or lost.
You can’t always rely on being able to retrieve important numbers from your smartphone or tablet. Carry a separate card with your personal information, including your home contacts, plus local contact names and numbers, and any medical needs, if applicable. Also don’t forget to bring a photocopy of your passport signature/photo page. It can help expedite the process of replacing a lost or stolen passport.
And remember, in-flight thieves are actually more common that you might think, so it is not a bad idea to split your money and hide it in different compartments of your carryon, or even consider a money belt so that you don’t have to stow it away under the seat in front of you or the overhead while you sleep.
7 MAKE A LIST, CHECK IT TWICE
We’ve all been there – the last minute travel decision means throwing stuff into the suitcase and rushing to catch the plane. It’s times like these when you’ll be glad to have a go-to standard checklist that you use on every trip.
Don’t try to keep it in your head; write it down and stick it in your travel wallet. Add items to it when you think of them. This will minimize time crunch and space waste, as well as any packing faux pas that might arise on your trip.