Tips for regular business travel(46 Posts)
I need to travel (usually domestically) fairly regularly with work; about once every 4-6 weeks and for 3-5 days each time.
I find it really disruptive each time, having to think about what to take and cramming work clothes, gym gear, shoes and toiletries into a small carry-on suitcase.
I am working on creating a dedicated toiletries bag so that I can just leave that in my carry-on case for each trip. Not having to sort out toiletries each time should give me one less thing to sort out.
Does anyone have some good tips on how to tackle this that you can share?
When I travelled for work, I used to do what you mentioned about having a toiletry bag already kitted out with everything so I didn't need to pack it each time. I could never bring myself to duplicate my make-up due to the cost though.
I used to have to dress smartly and didn't want to ruin my suit jackets by packing them, so I had a suit jacket that would go with different dress/skirt/trousers, so I'd travel in the jacket/trousers then pack the dress/skirt so I could wear that. I found dresses good as it's only one thing to pack. I also had a few 'go to' pieces of workwear which didn't crease much so I always took those so I didn't have to waste time ironing in hotel rooms. Also, one pair of shoes - wore them to travel in so don't have to pack any shoes apart from trainers.
I think travelling is a pain, but think the more you do it the easier it gets - have you only recently started having to travel for your job?
I travel a lot for work, and have a dedicated bag for toiletries (apart from makeup). In fact I have two - a longer stay one and a 1-2 nights one where everything liquid fits in a clear plastic bag for hand luggage.
I travel in my trainers, and take one pair of shoes for work - possibly two if its a weeks trip.
All of my work wear is based on black, and I do a lot of the 2 black dresses plus 3 coloured cardigans type packing, or 1 suit jacket, 1 dress, 1 skirt, + trousers. I have lots of pants so can always easily throw in enough, will take 1 gym outfit (plus I'll wear my running socks with trainers so can recycle them to gym), wear 1 bra, pack another if going for more than 2 nights. 1 outfit for evenings unless I know I'll be doing something specific.
It does get easier the longer you do it, and you start buying clothes that work for travelling and where everything sort of goes together.
In fact I need to go and pack for this weeks trip now - it'll take less than 15 minutes though.
YY to dedicated travel toiletries in a bag. Also cut down liquids as much as you can when travelling hand luggage with things like cleansing wipes for your face, Lush bars for shampoo/conditioner and so on.
I have a 'flat' handbag that I can pack in my case something like this and then I take a laptop type bag as my other hand baggage, you can cram a suprising amount of stuff in one of those. That way I have a smaller handbag I can use on nights out etc.
Also depending on your job think about if you can cut down files/paperwork etc. I used to have big A4 spiral notebooks (my job involves a lot of writing) but now take all my notes on my iPad using Notetaker HD which gives me pdfs of the pages and is really easy to organise. Ditto Kindle not paperbacks and magazines on Zinio on the iPad
Gym stuff is the killer I find, either travel in trainers or have them as your only shoes in your case. Be honest as well as to if you really will go to the gym. On a 1 or 2 night trip I realised I didn't often go so stopped taking it. I figured the amount of walking you do in airports upped my exercise level as well. If I was really tight on space I'd take swim suit rather than gym stuff and suffer swimming rather than gym.
If you do shopping at airports, look into Fly and Collect from your home airport - better still use the concierge service if they have one. I used to pre-order all my stuf the day before, zoom into WDF, pay for it and then pick it all up on the way back home. One memorable year I managed to do all the Christmas shopping for nearly all my family that way and got it giftwraped too!
I travel endlessly and have done for years. My top tips are:
- dedicated toiletries bag. When things run out replace at the airport (i.e. After security). And everything that you can possibly take in a non liquid form. I use wipes, powder mineral make up, crayon eyeshadow, etc
- I wear a lot of business suits so try and buy 3 piece ones, i.e. A jacket, dress and skirt or trousers and try and get collarless jackets that pack flat.
- Jersey dresses and tops (Hobbs and Phase Eight are good)
- I gave up the gym and now swim when away as cossie takes less space
- Travel in casual clothes that can double for evening.
- Everything on my iPad (notes, books, music, work papers, etc). I've recently been switched to Office 365 which means I don't have to take my laptop any more.
- big squashy handbag (mine is a cavernous M&S Autograph one) plus smaller carry on bag. Carries more and gets through security with less hassle.
- if you don't use it, don't take it next time!
these are great tips - thank you.
yes snowgirl its a fairly recent thing (well, last year or so) that came with a change in my living location.
I often wimp out and book hold luggage but I'm beginning to resent the amount of time spent waiting at luggage reclaim and, to be honest, it's the pre-trip disruption that I really want to rein in.
- My spare toiletly bag also includes makeup. I don't use a lot, so it's not a big expense to spend double, but I really need to paint on my eyebrows and lashes, so really don't want to forget that stuff.
- get extra chargers for your phone/laptop/kindle etc and keep them in the suitcase. If you sometimes travel internationally, also put an adapter there. I have a few dozens of travel adapters because I always, always forget them and had to buy a new one.
- Normally I took an extra outfit in case of any accidents, but my company pays for drycleaning if the trip is more than 3 days. So I will just get the first outfit or 2 dry cleaned and have a spare for the last days.
Oh chargers! Get one of the ones that takes 3 or 4 USB cables, then you only need one 'plug' and assorted cables.
Also make sure you're using the wallet on your phone to the full extent, all my hotel and airline loyalty cards are on there and boarding passess too. It doesn't save much space but saves hassle flicking through paper/cards at check ins. Also I have a separate small purse for my Euros/Dollars that lives in my travel bag so I always have the right currency to hand. Again, not so much space saving as hassle saving (and cost when you end up having to get more euros out because the ones you had are sitting in a drawer somewhere at home).
Some fantastic tips here - thank you all for taking the time to respond.
Katharina extra chargers is a genius idea
rat your helpful comments about suits has made me realise that alot of my prep stress stems from the fact that almost all my office destinations have a smart-casual dress code. Some tending more towards the casual end (often jeans are ok) and others are smarter (smart trousers and blouse). Whilst in theory this should make things easier, it doesn't because I feel I have to prepare for (and take) both options. I suppose this also makes me feel that I need to put more thought into my outfits than just defaulting to a black suit.
Your replies are helping me realise that maybe I should just decide on my own "uniform" that fits all smart-casual scenarios and pack pretty much the same stuff each time. Maybe I should even have certain clothes that are my dedicated "work trip" clothes (or maybe I am trying to justify a shopping trip!!)
My engineers have a smart/casual policy, so when I go to them, I do pretty much have a uniform of a tunic style dress and black opaques. I recently bought some more of these on ebay as they aren't something I'd wear otherwise, so having a few colours for very little is a big advantage.
My 'octopus' charger is one of my best buys - it has 5 different ends on a USB, so I can always charge whatever I have. I favour small compact adaptors vs the big universal ones, and they live in my work bag and suitcase.
My jewellery (obv not the very expensive stuff, but good fake diamonds, necklaces, earrings etc) lives in what was sold as a craft box - lots of little internal dividers so everything stays untangled. Its no thing of beauty but I can sling it in easily.
Packing just now made me realise I keep everything related to travel in one place in the bedroom so I can find it easily - a folding umbrella, a fold up tote bag for emergency shopping or when they make me check in my roll bag and I want to get my laptop out, the not always needed stuff like travel size suncream and treat stuff like face/hair masks
Black jeans or smart blue denim and long sleeved jersey type t-shirts are your friend in that case. Our offices were casual but with varying degrees of smartness depending on location/who I was meeting. I had a wide variety of this type of top. Great for travelling in as well so I could do straight to office after a morning flight.
I wore with either very comfy heeled ankle boots for the smarter offices or skinny jeans and either flats or knee boots for the more relaxed offices. It also meant there was no hassle of extra clothes for evenings either and no creasing either. Also get flesh/nude coloured bras that go underneath everything so you don't need more bras than necessary.
For toiletries, I have got a few 'multitasking' things. Eve Lom cleanser, which comes in a small travel sized pot. It just needs a cloth to take it off, so I use the hotel flannels to save having to take a cloth. Removes the need for taking eye make up remover, toner, cotton wool etc
You can leave it on for longer to work as a mask as well!
Elemis marine cream moisturiser which removes the need for eye cream
I've got a little bottles of my favourite shampoo and conditioner which I take if I don't know if the hotel has freebies, but if I'm going to a hotel that provides it, I don't bother.
I've got a dedicated make up bag which has got my things that are running out. So when a mascara, foundation etc gets towards the end of its life, it goes into the travel kit. Partly so it's no great loss if I lose it/leave it on a plane, and partly because they are tried and tested, so I'm not going to be stuck away with a foundation that is slightly the wrong colour and no means of getting to a shop for a repalcement.
Clothes: Wool doesn't crease, or the creases don't show. Dresses with sleeves plus a scarf look smart enough to not need a jacket on top.
Don't know what your style is, but I like M&S, Hobbs and Uniqlo for work dresses.
I have a pair of stunt shoes in a neutral beige/brown which have a mid heel and are really comfy. They are the only shoes I bring with me
Gym stuff: I've got black Nike trainers which double up as casual shoes to wear out in the evenings, then I've got leggings and tops that I can wear twice without them stinking but which will wash really easily in the shower and dry very quickly if I'm going to have more than 2 workouts.
1 or 2 pairs of black jeans, a couple of neutral tops and cardigans and some floaty scarfs, and I'm good for a week away.
I have a small ziplock bag full of medicines (painkillers, anti-diarhoea tablets, cystitis sachets, thrush cream, throat sweets and indigestion tablet etc), plasters and a couple of dressings out of their boxes. Take a photo of dosage instructions on box and keep on your phone. They take up very little space like this and just live in my bag until they are needed. Though this makes me sound like a total business travel hypochondriac (I'm not!) its made me a very popular woman when business colleagues have gone down with all sorts of usually plane related illnesses half an hour before giving a presentation. When you are in a new place or in an emergency its really handy to have the basics to hand.
Other things that have just popped to mind:
- if you travel regularly to the same place, get your company to book you into the same hotel each time. That way you know what you are getting for things like toiletries and can leave things out as appropriate
- I've realised that I have a bit of a travel uniform of smart jeans and a stripy jacket made from a sort of heavy jersey that doesn't crease etc
- yes yes yes on octopus chargers/adapters. I have a multi plug with two USB points which is ace and an apple cable that lives in my wasbag
- if you want to take something, think whether it multitasks or whether you have an alternative that will. E.g. I have some smart shoes that manage to go with smart jeans and suit dresses (R&B Casanovas).
- and most importantly, I have an emergency plastic cork screw that I stole from a hotel years ago. Bloody godsend when the day is just too awful and you get a carpet picnic in the local supermarket as you can't be arsed to go down for dinner.
CMOT I am due to attend a conf in May where there are likely to be giveaways like the Octopus you mentioned. Ill make sure to look out for one. Thanks.
rock like the idea of a separate Euro/USD purse fro when I go further afield. Also the phone wallet. And you have reminded me that my work has an app that I can use for taking photos of expenses to lessen the hassle of expense claims on my return.
Also love the idea of black jeans. They can probably work for most smart-casual offices (dressed up or down with shirt or jumper and jewellery). I need to get a new pair of jeans anyway so I will invest in a decent pair. Any particular recommendations (totally going off-thread now!)
spare you are a genius with the black trainer idea! I hate traveling in "workout" trainers (unless to the US!) yet cant bear to dedicate luggage space to them either. Black trainers would absolutely solve this problem (and will also take me back to my 6th form days in Newcastle when black trainer were all the rage). Love it!
cakey a simple but great idea about the ziplock bag for meds etc.
I am so pleased I asked - I am getting some great advice here!
My top tip is to get a big-ish duty free bag - I always keep one packed in the outside pocket of my carry-on case.
You can put your handbag into it when you are boarding - means you can use all the space in your carry-on and have and "extra" bag.
I love the one about keeping a big duty free bag and transferring your gear to that!
I don't travel with gym trainers - like an earlier poster said I make use of the hotel pool. Or take a vest and leggings and do a YouTube yoga session in your room. You can get travel yoga mats if you're really into this, or just stand on a towel.
I always take 1 extra top and 1 extra set of underwear in case of unforeseen delays, or spillages!
Sign up to all loyalty schemes going, especially if you go to the same places often. LHR even has a loyalty scheme, Heathrow Rewards.
I have a clear plastic zipped wallet with passport, other bits of documentation I need for getting back into the UK, spare daily contact lenses (these don't count as liquids for carry on), a pen, ear plugs, a strip of day & night nurse and Neurofen. It's come in handy more than once.
The other thing that has revolutionised my work travel is packing cubes. One for clothes, one for smalls and gym kit, one for belts, jewellery, and various odds and ends.
If you can get away with an
YES to what Bek said about 1 spare of knickers and a spare top above and beyond what you think you'll need
Black trainers! I'm a runner (and I really love to explore new places during my business trips) and I have I think about a dozen pairs os trainers, but it never occurred to me to get a pair that is also wearable as a casual shoe. Will go look for one. (Trainer buying tip - check also men's trainers. Less pink and you can get their smaller sizes on sale).
For trravelling I have Boden Hampshire trousers. Ponte fabric so very comfy, won't crease and smart enough to wear to a meeting.
Duty free bag is a genius idea if you might end up travelling with an airline who are very strict on their hand luggage.
Great ideas on here, thank you.
YY to building up a separate toiletries bag. Its a good start to replace your key products when they are about half way used, and transfer the half used ones into the travel bag.
The multipoint USB chargers are brilliant. Make sure you get one with sufficient oomph to actually charge your devices, rather than just run them, though. The first one i tried, which i selected because it matched the colour of my iPad, sigh. was not sufficiently powerful.
Another obvious to everyone else point, is to avoid the mentality that I got into, which was to think that any food provided on expenses was also free of any impact on my wellness and weight. Another sigh. Find non-food treats ...
Finally - noooo! Any food consumed while travelling has no calores. Fact!
Agree with much of the advice given so far. For makeup I gravitate towards products that don't require any brushes to apply. Much less faff, and less to pack. Bobbi brown is the master of these types of products but there are lots out there (and cheaper alternatives). Dual use products are also great. Favourite brush-free cosmetics to take for travel are:
- Bobbi brown skin stick foundation
- Bobbi brown face touch up concealer stick
- Bobbi brown pot rouge (creme blush for lips & cheeks)
- Bobbi brown long wear eyeshadow sticks (these don't budge once on)
- Bobbi brown gel eyeliner pencils (no need to sharpen ever)
-YSL babydoll kiss & blush (dual product for lips & cheeks)
- charlotte tilbury brow pencil (great product & has its own brush)
Duty free bag - genius! As is the nude go-with-everything bra idea. Last night I raided the M&S beauty advent calendar (which I was too busy in December to bother with much) for travel-sized beauty supplies. I have ordered packing cubes and made a start on my "meds" ziplock. I am mulling over the merits of various black trainers.
Finally I hear you on the USB charger issue. I think I may need to buy a decent one rather than rely on freebies, which probably lack the oomph to actually charge. And your point about food bought on expenses has identified for me why I sabotage my healthy eating efforts when travelling. So, thank you.
spare & bek I have tended to over-pack on "just in case" items. But you are right - I only really need one spare top and knickers. I will remember this next time.
Katharina I checked out the Boden Hampshire trousers and they get rave reviews. I think they are exactly what I need to straddle the various forms of smart-casual. Great stuff.
Rat YY to the carpet picnic. Sometimes after a long stressful day all I want to do is have a long soak and hide in my hotel room.
I have realised that I need to stop painting my nails on trips. I favour dark varnish on short nails and chips look terrible so I need to take remover. A complete waste of space! Clear varnish only from now on!
Any recommendations for space-saving PJs? At home, I favour white cotton PJs (love White Co PJs) but they seem to take up a lot of space. What do others use?
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