In today’s fast-paced professional world, business trips can spring up unexpectedly — whether it’s a conference, job interview, or company meeting. When it comes to packing, it’s key to strike a delicate balance between casual and professional attire, and ensure you’ve got all your tech gadgets and essential documents in hand. We surveyed over 1,000 U.S. travelers and found that 73% of Millennials share they’ve taken advantage of the “bleisure” or “workcation” travel trend, while 54% of American travelers overall admit they have combined leisure travel with business trips.
Whether you’re bound for the bustling city of Manhattan, the tech buzz of San Francisco, or the glitz of Las Vegas, packing right can be a bit of a puzzle. If you’re not quite sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. Read on for a comprehensive business trip packing list that includes what to pack in your carry-on, other work travel essentials, and appropriate business attire.
Work Trip Packing List Overview
Before we go into more detail on what to pack for a work trip, here’s a quick overview of everything you need to set yourself up for success.
Passport or ID
Tablet or e-reader
Reusable water bottle
Medications or prescriptions
Casual weather-appropriate clothing
Appropriate business attire for work events
Notebook and pen
Tile tracker, AirTag, or similar
Carry-On Packing List for Any Work Trip
Now that we’ve covered the most important business travel essentials above, let’s go over what you should always bring in your carry-on bag. When traveling for work, one thing that you should always keep in mind is to always be prepared, so if you’re also taking check-in luggage with you, we highly recommend putting a Tile tracker, AirTag, or similar tracking device on it in case it gets lost.
One set of business casual clothing. On the topic of always being prepared, in the event that your check-in luggage is delayed or lost, it’s in your best interest to pack one set of business casual clothing that you can wear to grab coffee, to a work event, or to dinner. This should include a top, bottoms, undergarments, and socks. It should also be appropriate for whatever you have on tap within the first 48 hours of your trip, just in case.
Laptop and charger. Having both of these handy is ideal in case you need to work or access important documents during the flight or at the airport.
Work-related materials. Any documents or materials required for your business meetings or presentations should be kept safely by your side.
Reusable water bottle. Although you’ll need to empty your water bottle before going through airport security, most airports have water refill stations near your gate. Having a reusable water bottle allows you to save money on single-use water bottles throughout your entire work trip while doing your part to be as eco-friendly as possible.
Noise-canceling headphones with an aux cord. Spare yourself from enduring a flight of hearing people coughing or kids crying. Be sure to bring noise-canceling headphones with an aux cord. An aux cord is very useful for planes that include individual TVs with every seat, so you don’t need to purchase a single-use set of headphones from the flight crew.
A tablet, e-reader, or book. You can’t always guarantee that your seat will have a TV, so to be prepared, bring your own tablet or e-reader so you have something to keep you busy during your flight. If you don’t have a tablet or e-reader accessible to you, you can opt for a book you’ve been meaning to read.
Power bank and charging cable. It’s always safer to charge your phone using your own personal power bank rather than using an outlet at an airport. Make sure your power bank is fully charged before your flight, and don’t forget to pack it.
Toiletries and medications. This should include a toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes, lip balm, deodorant, and hand sanitizer so you can easily freshen up no matter how long your flight is. You can store your medications in the same place as well so they’re easily accessible. If you’re bringing prescription medications, be sure to keep them in the original containers with your name on them.
Jacket. If you’re not planning to wear a jacket on the flight, then you should still pack one in your carry-on. Flights can get chilly, so a jacket can either be worn or used as a blanket.
Snacks. Pack your favorite snacks to curb hunger on your flight and prevent yourself from spending on overpriced airplane food. Consider healthy snacks like granola bars, dried fruit, jerky, or crackers. Be mindful of bringing nuts in case someone in your row has a nut allergy.
Travel pillow and eye mask. For comfort and rest during a long flight, a travel pillow and eye mask will help you get as much sleep as possible, especially if you’re taking a red eye!
Because you’re carrying important items with you, it’s also important to bring a luggage lock if your carry-on bag doesn’t have one built-in already.
Other Work Travel Essentials
Whether you’re jetting off to meet clients, attending conferences, or collaborating with colleagues in a different country, having the right essentials at your disposal can make all the difference. If you’re unsure about what to pack on a business trip, check out these other travel essentials that can help make your work trip experience more seamless.
Travel adapter. If you’re traveling internationally, you should bring a universal travel adapter with you to ensure that you can charge your devices in different countries with varying power outlet types. Not only does it prevent your electronics from getting damaged, but it can save you time dealing with the added inconvenience of incompatible plugs.
Stain remover pen. A stain remover pen can be a lifesaver for keeping your clothing looking clean and professional, which is important for business meetings and events.
Prescription eyewear. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, it’s crucial to bring these with you. Business presentations, reading materials, and navigating unfamiliar places are all easier when you can see clearly!
Umbrella. An umbrella ensures you’re prepared for unexpected weather changes, helping you arrive at meetings looking presentable. If you’re staying in a hotel, you can call ahead to see if they provide umbrellas for guests. Otherwise, you should pack one to avoid spending on something you likely already have at home.
Gym clothes. This is totally optional, but if you’re someone who exercises regularly and your hotel has a gym, it wouldn’t hurt to get a workout in while you’re away.
Sunglasses. Also an optional item, but often a game changer — sunglasses are nice to have while you’re going on coffee walks with a colleague or taking a casual team photo under the bright sun. You never want to be the only person in the photo with your eyes closed.
Appropriate Business Trip Attire
Business attire has evolved over the last few years, and you may be wondering what’s appropriate to wear on your work trip. If you’re not sure what clothes to pack, you should always reach out to your Human Resources (HR) department or manager for what they suggest, as it can depend on each company or event. A good question to ask is: is the dress code business formal, business casual, smart casual, or casual? Overall, here’s what we suggest to pack in terms of work travel outfits.
Travel Essentials for Men
Business attire for those who identify as males can range from suits and a tie to a clean button-up and slacks. Here are some examples of appropriate work attire based on industry-standard dress codes.
Business formal: A full suit, tie, dress shirt, and dress shoes with less flashy colors. Think black, blue, or gray suits with black or brown shoes. For outerwear, consider an overcoat or trench coat.
Business casual: This is similar to business formal attire but with more flexibility on color and pattern choices. Neck ties can be optional in some cases, but check with your HR department or ask your co-workers what they’re wearing, too.
Smart casual: Well-fitted jeans, slacks, chinos, or casual trousers with an ironed button-up, polo, collared shirt, knitwear, or blazer. Dress shoes aren’t necessary, so you can opt for loafers, leather shoes, or clean sneakers.
Casual: Well-fitted jeans, casual shirts, and sneakers are acceptable but you should still ensure that your clothes look tidy and are free of stains. Sweaters or denim jackets without flashy branding can be acceptable.
Additionally, here are other items men should definitely pack for a work trip to look as presentable as possible:
Hair gel or pomade
Travel Essentials for Women
Although women don’t usually wear ties, most of the attire that applies to men can also be worn by women — or those who identify as female — as it’s more widely accepted for ladies to also wear pants, slacks, and tailored suits to business events. Similar to the above, here are industry-standard dress codes for women at corporate events.
Business formal: A pantsuit or skirt suit and tights with a blouse and closed-toe shoes or heels. Opt for more neutral and muted tones rather than flashy colors, too.
Business casual: A tailored dress, skirt, or pants with a coordinated blouse or top. If you opt for a dress or skirt, consider wearing tights under and ensuring that your skirt or dress falls right above the knees or shins — think “midi” cuts. Closed-toe heels or flats are acceptable.
Smart casual: Comfortable, yet stylish attire, which can include jeans, skirts, dresses, or slacks paired with blouses, sweaters, or more relaxed tops. Flats, heels, boots, or fashionable sneakers can be worn.
Casual: Casual jeans, tops, or dresses along with sneakers, stylish sandals, or comfortable footwear are fine. Nevertheless, avoid distressed clothing or anything too revealing.
Here are other things to include in a business travel packing list for women to maintain a fresh appearance:
Hair styling tools or products
Get the Comforts of Home on Your Work Trip
If you found this business trip checklist helpful, be sure to run through the list from top to bottom twice when you pack your bags to make sure you have everything you need. And if you made it to the bottom of this article, that probably means you’re getting ready for a business trip soon. If you are, and your company hasn’t booked your accommodations yet, you can browse VacationRenter’s inventory for comfortable places to rest your head that offer the comforts of home — no matter where you’re headed.
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