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.

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:

Swissgear Granada Rolling Case – big enough to carry the laptop and 2 days essentials of clothing and toilettes

Swissgear Granada Rolling Case

Sling backpack – I just love this one. It’s small that you can always keep it with you during the take-off and landing and on the other hand you can keep there all your electronics, cords, chargers, books/ebook readers and phones.

How to pack for a business trip - Swissgear sling backpack
My Swissgear Sling Backpack

and for intercontinental ones:

Swissgear Granada Rolling Case

Samsonite Omni Pc Hardside Spinner – I always try to keep my suitcase filled in about 70-80% to save some space for souvenirs or unexpected shopping so this bag is more than enough for a week business travel.

It’s light and durable as made from resistant plastic – polycarbonate. It has TSA lock and that would be all from the add-ons. Simple and durable piece of luggage.

How to pack for a business trip - Samsonite omni

Sling backpack – again, to fit in all the necessary stuff which you should keep in a reach of a hand during your flight (yes – window seats…)

A sling backpack is a great solution. 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.

Regarding hand luggage – it’s important to keep in mind that there is no standard size for this luggage and your carry on can be accepted on board in one airline, and on the other it will to big. I did deep study on that. You can check my article on universal carry on bag size – how to pick the hand luggage that will fit to all airlines carry on limits.

The Packing 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 You Go

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. This will determine what you should take with you. 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.

CategoryItemsPack to
Documents and moneyTravel wallet with credit cards and cash in local currenciesBackpack
Documents and moneyPassport and ID – check visas, make photosBackpack
Documents and moneyBadge from your companyCarry- on
Documents and moneyKeys from homeCarry- on
ElectronicsLaptop from workCarry- on
ElectronicsCell phonesBackpack
ElectronicsSmartphone and laptop chargers and adaptersBackpack
ElectronicsTablet, Ebook readerBackpack
ClothingShirts and trousersBag
ClothingT-Shirts and sweatpantsBag
ClothingComfortable outfit for the planeCarry- on
ClothingSlippersCarry- on
ClothingSwimming TrunksBag
ClothingSunglasses and sunglasses caseBackpack
ClothingSpare shoesBag
ClothingEmpty tote for laundryBag
Clothing depending on weather checkSweaterBag
Clothing depending on weather checkJacket with cap, scarf etc.Carry- on
OthersMedicines which you needCarry- on
OthersGlucometerCarry- on
OthersPersonal items, toiletries, and cosmetics (think about dry shampoo or talcum powder)Bag
Others1,5 liter of waterBag
OthersTravel pillow and penBackpack

Packing Tips and Handful Accessories

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

Travel Wallet

Travel Wallet is 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.

How to pack for a business trip - travel wallet

Backup the Documents

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.

Check your Visa

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 a very late flight. Just to prevent from waking up your family you should have the keys with you. Another thing is that you probably reached airport with your car, so it would be good to have keys with you. Therefore my advice:

Never, ever put your car keys to the checked in luggage. In case it will be mishandled, you will have to other options that to take the taxi and later come back for your car. If the airport is far away, this could be a pain in the …


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 should get familiar with VPN apps. To know a little bit more about that, check my article on best VPN for China.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

Headphones with noise canceling feature 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.
If you want to get rid of headaches after long-haul flights, then noise-canceling headphones are must-have in your luggage. That’s why I’m using Bose QuietComfort 25 – cancels the noise perfectly and keeps you relaxed even on long flights.

If you want to get rid of headaches after long-haul flights, then noise-canceling headphones are must-have in your luggage. That’s why I’m using Bose QuietComfort 25 – cancels the noise perfectly and keeps you relaxed even on long flights.

Sockets Adapter

There are 14 types of sockets around the world and because of that, the socket adapter is a must-have gear of each traveler.

First, 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 with you.

I use Pac2Go adapter – it has sliding plugs for US, EU, UK and AU with an 8 hole input socket. This is compatible with every 2 and 3 prong plugs on the world.

best gifts for travelers - Pac2Go

Wardrobe and Clothes

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: Canva

How to pack for a business trip - pintrest
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