Pack Like a Professional

A reader writes…

Hi Anita,

I am heading on a business trip next week and need a few pointers on how to make air travel and transportation as carefree and easy as possible. I feel like I am always super stressed out before leaving and I am in need of some help from the expert herself.

Woman TravelingTraveling, whether it is for business or pleasure, can be stressful to prepare for. I find myself running around my house searching everywhere for my missing sock or my go-to purple blouse just to realize that in my fury I had already packed it in my bag. Or on the flip side, you think you are as prepared as you could possibly be and you get to the hotel to find that you left one of your dress shoes on your bed or your cell phone charger still plugged into the wall. Either way, packing and preparing for a trip can be difficult and daunting. I have compiled a short list of items that any prepared professional should have while traveling and still be able to carry it all on the plane.

Before you leave the office, you will want to make what I call a “Traveling Survival Kit.”

  • Nothing makes you look more unprepared and unprofessional than arriving with no business cards. Grab yourself a box to bring with you. It may seem like much more than you need, but you never know when you may meet that once-in-a-lifetime contact.
  • Slip a notepad and several pens into your bag. This will come in handy when you meet someone and need to leave yourself important notes to remember them by. It also opens up the opportunity to help a potential client out of a pinch. Bonus points for you!
  • Breath mints will keep you fresh and stench-free on the plane, after your morning coffee, and after a garlic-rich dinner you have enjoyed. I can’t think of anything more off-putting than bad breath when you first meet a person.
  • Keep yourself clean and healthy with a handy bottle of hand sanitizer. While traveling and networking, you are interacting with a lot of people. Colds and illnesses thrive in these types of environments, and sickness can spread like wildfire. I suggest grabbing a small bottle of sanitizer, under 3.4 fluid ounces to comply with TSA regulations, and applying it at least every 30 minutes. Better safe than sorry.
  • Bring a few disposable name badges or, if you can, find the plastic name tag holders and print a professional tag for yourself. These may come in handy if you arrive at a conference and they forgot to print you one or if on the off-chance you forget yours in a hotel room or lose it at dinner the night before.

Before you leave your house…

  • Double-check that you have your government-issued identification, 2 credit cards, $50 cash, and your itinerary. If you don’t have your ID, I would say you might just forget about the rest of the list. Driver’s licenses and state identification cards work when traveling domestically. Passports are needed when traveling outside of the United States.
  • Depending on the length of your stay, I suggest that you bring clothing for each day plus two additional shirts. I know I have made a few food mistakes through the day and wished I had a shirt to change into. For men, bring at Suitcasesleast one pair of professional pants and a jacket. For women, bring a skirt and jacket combo or dress pants and a professional top. Be sure to pack at the most 2 pairs of shoes, one for professional outings and the other that are more on the comfortable side. Ladies, I know we love our shoes and would bring the whole closet with us if we could, but refrain. Save the space and the weight for other things. Don’t forget your socks!
  • Never forget your cell phone and laptop chargers. For many of us, these are our professional lifelines. Don’t find yourself writing a proposal 15 minutes before it’s due to find you have 5 minutes of battery left and no charger.
  • Visit your local drugstore and make your way to the travel-size aisle. With the TSA regulations, you can buy almost anything in 3.4 fluid ounces or less — tooth brush, tooth paste, shaving cream, cotton swabs, band-aids, deodorant, and mouthwash, to name a few.

I hope this list of items and pointers will help you travel safe, efficiently, and without any last-minute packing emergencies.

Readers, what are you “must have” items for when you travel? Is there an airline you think better caters to business travelers? What about hotel?

Safe Travels,


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lynwood Milderberger
    Jan 10, 2013 @ 01:57:14

    i always do some business travel at least once a week from time to time. i always do some air travel.;

    Please do check out our new blog site
    <img src=" “>


  2. Adalberto
    Dec 17, 2012 @ 14:32:16

    Hit me up im lost lol seriously please


  3. jsw12
    Dec 12, 2012 @ 07:15:34

    I’m off to India in January, and have started thinking seriously about my packing already. I normally take too much stuff wherever I go, and I’m determined to carry less this time. Travelling light is more liberating and somehow reassuring: lugging a sizeable bag makes you feel like you are moving out of your home for the long-term and is therefore stress-inducing.


  4. redirectingchaos
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 14:41:38

    Thanks for writing this! There was a lot of good information about traveling for business in it.

    I’d like to add another tip: always pack at least a clean pair of underwear in your carry on. If you have the room, put in a whole outfit. This way, if the airline loses your luggage, you’ll have something to change into the next day.


  5. Varena Smith
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 09:36:11

    Because my husband loves to travel, often last minute, I have learned a few tips to keep my sanity & make it easier to “grab & go”. Under my bathroom sink, I have a set of stacking baskets filled with:. I purchased several small travel size containers that I keep filled with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, gentle detergent for handwashing personal items on the road, and my specialized skin care products. I have wrapped each container with colored electrical tape & marked with Sharpie marker as to the contents. I also keep a couple zip lock baggies – one with cotton balls & Q-tips, one with a spare tooth brush and the travel size toothpaste & floss I get twice a year from the dentist. I also keep travel-size hair spray & shave gel under there and bag them in zip-loc baggies to prevent leakage in my suitcase.

    When I pack, because of security regulations, I usually wear slip-on, slip-off shoes for ease when going through check-points. The shoes I pack, I fill with small personal items like socks, belts, undergarments or work-out clothes, so that no space is wasted. I find it helpful to roll pressed clothing – I gently fold it in half lengthwise & then gently roll. It minimizes wrinkles, especially if I unpack & hang it up promptly when I arrive.


Leave a Reply

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


Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
%d bloggers like this: