How I Pack

I want to start by saying that I am definitely not an expert on packing for a work trip. But I will say this - I can always fit my stuff in a carry-on, I can pack 30 minutes before I leave for the airport and not forget anything, and I almost always have the items I need to be ready for whatever comes my way. There have been 2-3 times in the last three years where I've had to buy something while I'm traveling, but this is usually because of unanticipated weather (storms), damage (an item ripping or a big spill I can't fix), or a last-minute travel change (adding a day or destination). 

I'm going to make an effort to show you what I take on these trips, as you'll start to notice some patterns and tips that I probably can't point out all in one post. But this should be a good start. 

Here are my travel tips for work trips (these apply to personal trips, too): 

1. Start with the items you need. This could be a dress for a wedding you're attending. Or work polos and bottoms to wear in a tradeshow booth. Or it could be a favorite new pair of colored shorts you can't wait to show off at the beach. This week, I needed 4 days of booth wear, so I took 2 skirts, 2 pairs of pants, and 4 black polos. I took complementary tank tops for the days I would be wearing pants. 

2. Plan for bordering activities. This could be an outfit that can easily go from the plane to your first meeting. Or a shirt to change into at the end of a day in the booth. Or a top that goes well with your shorts or with a skirt for a day-to-night look. For this trip, I grabbed a few tops that could go with the skirts and slacks, or with jeans, white pants, or a maxi skirt. 

3. Grab a couple of extras. You never know if you're going to spill, or the weather will take a change, or you just plain don't want to wear what you planned for. Bring a few extra tops or bottoms to round out the wardrobe. Don't forget to bring a couple of cardigans or blazers to help with changes in weather. I also recommend bringing one item nicer than you'll need, just in case. This week, I wanted a couple of long-sleeve options that could be layered, and an uber-casual t-shirt in case I would have time to change for the flight home. I also grabbed a scarf for cold flights. I also grabbed both a gray and a camel cardigan, knowing they could go with anything. Last, I threw in a couple of dresses, which I didn't think I'd need, but were nice to have just in case.

4. Accessorize. I recommend bringing a few pieces that can be worn with many outfits. I typically bring a few gold necklaces and my gold watch so that I have some layering options (or I can wear them alone), and a bigger, bolder piece to amp up an otherwise simple outfit. I bring shoes that can go with multiple outfits - so they are typically neutral colors and styles. This week, I grabbed a white statement necklace, some gold necklaces, and my nude heels, nude flats, black flats, and a pair of sandals. 

5. The stuff that goes with me every time. I travel with a bikini and cover-up, and workout clothes, no matter where I'm going. You never know where you'll encounter a hot tub, have some free time to get in a scenic run in a new city, or even better—have time to lay by the pool for a few hours in the morning with your laptop, squeezing in some work & vitamin D. Typical swim/workout clothes & shoes below. 

6. Roll, don't fold, when you pack, and unpack right when you get there. This is a trick I learned years ago and it makes SUCH a difference. You can fit more, clothes don't get so wrinkled, and you can layer the stuff you know you'll wear first on top of the stuff that is less important. Unpacking and hanging stuff up saves time on ironing and digging through your suitcase each day. Here are some photos of that process from past trips. 

I'll be sure to share more photos & tips in the future. Any specific questions? Would love to hear your packing struggles or thoughts - definitely something I have more than enough experience with!
Posted on June 10, 2013 .