How to pack for a business trip

It is not a secret that what you will pack into your suitcase will make your trip pleasant or will turn it into a nightmare. In this post, you will find all the ideas on how to pack for a business trip, in a nutshell.

I’ve spent some time collecting the knowledge on what is important in the topic of packaging. What I’ve learned comes from my experience and practice. I also browsed all available content on the internet, starting from blogs through specialized sites and literature, ending on YouTube videos to collect the necessary information and packaging life hacks. In this post, I’ve put all these things together. Feel free to go through the ultimate, step-by-step guide on how to pack for a business trip.

If you want to go quick or you are looking for something specific, use links below to navigate:

  1. Suitcase selection – the strategies and gear review
  2. How to prepare the list of things to take with you
  3. Pack your suitcase in the most effective way
  4. Secure your luggage

First Things First – suitcases and bags

The primary question is – for how long you are going to travel?

Your answer to this question will determine the size and quantity of your luggage.

So, for short, two days trip within your country or continent, one carry-on item should be enough. Usually, you are allowed to take one bag and some small backpack or a handbag (even in a low-cost airline). All the “difficult to pack” and oversized things like a suit, jacket or shoes wear on yourself.

For long-haul trips which last about a week or more, you can take a checked bag with a carry-on laptop bag. Above luggage set is a good idea only when you have a direct flight to your destination. In case of connecting flights, it is highly recommended to have one checked bag and one carry-on bag. It’s because your bag can get lost (or as it is nicely called, mishandled).

U.S. Department of Transportation statistics on mishandled baggage for 2016 year says that in on average 2,59 per 1000 passengers reports mishandling,

The trick is that your carry-on bag should contain a kind of life-saving kit which will enable you to survive at least 2 days without your main suitcase. It can take them some time to find and bring you back your luggage. Then you will appreciate what you packed into your rescue pack. It will save you a lot of time that you would spend on visiting shops to buy socks, pants, and other necessary stuff.

The other approach is to not check your bag and pack all in the carry-on. I never do this but I’ve seen some hints from people who are saying that they never check their bags, even if they go to China for four weeks. The arguments are that you never have to wait for a bag, you are the first guy through customs, and you will never deal with lost luggage topic.

My travel gear

Let me share with you my favorite combo for domestic flights:

  • B-Lite 3 – bigger laptop bag which is the perfect carry-on bag
  • Backpack

and for intercontinental ones:

  • B-Lite 3
  • Samsonite Base Boost (78 x 48 x 31) – Pretty simple but survives a lot 🙂 I always try to keep my suitcase filled in about 70-80% to save some space for souvenirs or unexpected shopping
  • Small sports backpack – to fit in all the necessary stuff which you should keep in a reach of a hand during your flight (yes – window seats…)

A backpack is a great solution but it has to be small (ski backpacks are pretty good for that). I put there all the things which I always want to have with me like documents, sunglasses, cap and scarf in winter, all the wires, chargers, and electronics like power bank, tablet or e-book reader – see the details in the chapter below.

The packaging list

Ok, now when you know how many pieces of luggage you will take with you it’s time to start with filling the bags with your belongings. This part of how to pack for a business trip guide is crucial – you need to list things which you will take with you. Why is it crucial? First, this step will allow you to not forget about anything important and in case of for example lost luggage or robbery, you will have a ready list of items which were in your bag for lost and found office or insurance company.

The best way to start with the list is to do it in the application for your smartphone. This will make the task a lot easier for you.

You can pick one of listed below (or check the enhanced list in my article about best flight apps):

  • Google Keep – my personal favorite. It’s free, easy to use and available on all your devices
  • Evernote – similar functionality but with more possibilities. It’s free but you can extend your account to get additional features
  • PackPoint – Android version of travel packing list application. Free and easy to use.
  • PackPoint – for iOS user

The example list in Google Keep can look like this:

Packaging list in Google Keep

Trust me – you will do it once and you will use it forever. It’s a really easy solution to tick items confirming that it is in the bag now.

Check before start

Before you will start to prepare the list (or update it) check:

  • What is the weather in your destination and transfer locations? My choice is AccuWeather app – it’s free and accurate.
  • Your itinerary and agenda. Are there any meetings or events requiring special dress? This should indicate your packing choices in terms of clothes.
  • Check the maximum allowed weight of checked bag in your travel class

Ok, now you can start to make your own packaging list. Below you can find mine which I use for years and it works each time very good.

Category Items Pack to
Documents and money Travel wallet with credit cards and cash in local currencies Backpack
Passport and ID – check visas, make photos Backpack
Badge from your company Carry- on
Keys from home Carry- on
Electronics Laptop from work Carry- on
Cell phones Backpack
Smartphone and laptop chargers and adapters Backpack
Tablet, Ebook reader Backpack
Headphones Backpack
Wardrobe Underwear Bag
Shirts and trousers Bag
T-Shirts and sweatpants Bag
Comfortable outfit for the plane Carry- on
Pajamas Bag
Slippers  Carry- on
Swimming Trunks Bag
Sunglasses and sunglasses case Backpack
Spare shoes Bag
Empty tote for laundry Bag
Wardrobe depending on weather check Sweater Bag
Jacket with cap, scarf etc. Carry- on
Others Medicines which you need Carry- on
Glucometer Carry- on
Personal items, toiletries, and cosmetics (think about dry shampoo or talcum powder) Bag
1,5 liter of water Bag
Travel pillow and pen Backpack

Now, I’d like to write a few words about some points from categories:

Documents and money:

  • Travel Wallet – it’s a better alternative to your everyday wallet. For longer trips, you need something that is capacious and designed to keep documents like passports, boarding cards etc. I use DEW Travel Wallet – it has RFID blocking so nobody will read your cards remotely to steal money and it’s waterproof.
  • Check the type of sockets in your destination – on you can find all the types with photos. If it’s different from this in your country, take the right adapter. I use Skross adapters – different types of connectors in one and good quality product.
  • Take a good photo of your passport, visa and credit cards. Keep it with you on your smartphone.  This will save if you will lose it. I recommend copying such details like your hotel booking, contact person phones, emails and whatever it takes to stay in touch in case of any problems occur.
  • Always check your visa if you travel to the countries where the visa is mandatory. Most of the visas are issued for a limited time so it would be bad to know about it at the airport. This is one of my tips for booking flights list – I’d recommend you to read it before you will book next flight.
  • Keys from home – it can happen that you will return with very late flight. Just to prevent from waking up your family you should have the keys with you.


Tablet, Ebook reader – taking the paper version of books or magazines is not effective – it takes a lot of space and requires light to read in the dark. This is different when you use tablets and ebook readers like Kindle.

One remark regarding electronics – if you are going to visit China, keep in mind that the internet access there is limited. To deal with this you can check one of my previous posts on using WhatsApp in China – how to stay connected behind Great Wall.

Headphones – headphones with noise canceling are life-saving equipment during flights. Noise in the cabin during take-off and landing can reach 105 decibels (dB) and can stay around 85 dB during the cruising. 85 dB can cause temporary hearing problems and can devastate your comfort. That’s why I’m using Bose QuietComfort 25 – cancels the noise perfectly and keeps you relaxed even on long flights.


Slippers – have them in your carry-on bag and use during the long flights.

Sunglasses and sunglasses case – if it’s deep winter and very cloudy then leave sunglasses at home and use a sunglasses case to put there your loose wires.

Spare shoes – Cover your shoes with the shoe bag to prevent from dirty shoes touching your clothes.


Medicines – take these which you need, but don’t forget about basic ones: painkillers and medicines for diarrhea.

Among different cosmetics, I always carry in my backpack dry shampoo or talcum powder. My hairs get greasy after 15 hours of traveling and dry shampoo or talcum powder solves the issue is an easy and discrete way.

1,5 liter of water – this can save you in case you will arrive very late and there will be no vending machine in the hotel and no minibar in the room.

Travel pillow – will let you take a nap during flight. Personally, I use the Cabeau Evolution Travel Pillow – it has air circulation vents and shrinks to 1/2 of its size which is good.

Pen – you will need it to fill the immigration documents on the plane.

How to pack for a business trip – effective filling of your suitcase

Now, when the packaging list is ready, we need to collect all the listed items. Try to first collect them around your bags, then put them in the luggage.

Also, a very important thing to remember: never put any valuable things in the checked bag. Ever.  The first reason is that the handling of checked luggage is not that fragile and your valuable things can simply be damaged. The second reason is that you can be robbed. I know a guy who packed in his luggage 500 EUR and of course, in the end, there was no money there and he did not get any remuneration for that.

Please remember – If you are going to take for example your favorite shower gel, wrap it with some additional foil before putting it to your toilet bag – many things can happen with luggage which will result in a bath of your toothbrush (and other stuff) in your shower gel.

Regarding clothes – it’s always better not to fold shirts and jackets horizontally (across the body), but rather fold them vertically so they’re a long, narrow column and then roll them. This prevents deep creases in the middle and lets you fit more of them per packing layer.

Check this video to get the impression on how you can do it:


Ok, now close it and check the weigh if it fits in the limits on your ticket. To do this you can use one of the luggage scales.

We are almost done – the bags are packed and you are ready to go.

But that’s not the end yet.

How to secure the luggage?

You are done with packaging but your luggage still needs some interest on your part. He is screaming – secure me!

Try to use belts called luggage straps. You can pick one of these – it makes much more difficult to get to your suitcase by an unauthorized person and in case your ziplock will fail, your stuff will be still in the suitcase. It’s always good to avoid the view of scattered panties on the luggage pickup conveyor.

Additionally, you can use a padlocks – much cheaper solution. Always better than nothing 🙂

Uff, that was pretty long, isn’t it?

I hope you liked it and with this post, you could find the answer to the question: how to pack for a business trip in the most efficient way?

If you have any comments on how to pack for a business trip or about what I wrote above – please contact me or write in comments.

Featured image source:

Share if you liked it:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *