For a working mom, business travel can be stressful. Whether your job requires frequent business travel or just the occasional overnight stay, keeping a list handy of what to pack will save you time and minimize your stress.
Clothing - What to Pack
- Basic Bottoms - whether you plan to wear pants or skirts while traveling for business, pick one basic color (black, brown or blue) and stick with it. This consistency will eliminate the need for multiple pairs of shoes and belts in different colors. Dark colors are preferable as they don't show travel wear, tear and dirt as easily.
- Jacket or Blazer - choose a basic, solid-color jacket or blazer that matches your basic bottoms color scheme.
- Tops, blouses and sweaters - choose prints and solids that coordinate with your basic bottoms color scheme.
- Shoes - bring a maximum of one to two pairs of shoes. Select a style and heel height that will work with your basic wardrobe selections described above. If you'll be doing a lot of walking while on your business trip, choose comfort over style.
- Underwear and socks - pack enough for each day of your trip plus two extra pairs of each. You never know when you might want to change clothes or just freshen up a bit.
- Pajamas - consider a pajama top style that buttons down the front so it can double as a robe. Most robes are bulky and take up too much valuable space in your suitcase.
- Workout clothes - pack one lightweight, quick-dry exercise outfit. Wash it out in the sink after each exercise session and hang it to dry.
- Toiletries - shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, facial cleanser, toothpaste, toothbrush, razor and make-up. Pack in resealable plastic bags. If you are traveling by air and not planning to check your bag, keep travel restrictions in mind. All liquids and gels must be smaller than 3 ounces and must be packed in quart-size plastic bags. Pack these bags in an outside pocket or on top in your suitcase as they will need to be removed as you go through security checkpoints.
Briefcase - What to Pack
- Travel Documents - airline reservations, hotel confirmations and rental car confirmations. Place these documents in a separate folder for quick and easy reference.
- Business Files and Documents - those you will need for client visits or business meetings. Bring as many as possible in an electronic rather than hard-copy format.
- Laptop - if you are traveling by air, make sure your laptop is easily accessible as you will need to remove it from your briefcase as you go through security.
- Computer Equipment - power cords, thumb drives and disks.
- Cell phone charger - pack both your wall and your car charger if you are either traveling by car or will be renting one at your final destination.
- Office supplies - pens, pencils, paper clips, sticky pads and notepads. Don't take an entire office supply store with you in your briefcase - just what you will actually need for your trip.
- Business cards - replenish your supply of business cards before each business trip. You'd be surprised how many business travelers reach their destination only to realize they left their business cards behind.
- 10" x 13" Envelope - for receipts that need to be expensed. As you drop each receipt into your envelope, make a note on the front that includes date, expense amount and reason for expense. Doing this will make filling out your expense report upon your return much easier.
Your Purse - What to Pack
While most female travelers prefer to carry a purse in addition to a briefcase, the general rule of thumb for business travel is to carry a small purse with minimal contents.
- Identification - driver's license or passport.
- Wallet - consider a smaller wallet with only those items you will need for the trip (driver's license, debit card, personal or business credit card and some cash). Leave everything else at home. Not only will you reduce your risk from loss or theft, you'll also significantly lighten your purse load.
- Gum or Mints
- Small make-up bag - with compact and lipstick. There is no need to carry your entire make-up drawer in your purse when traveling.
- Medications - carry any prescription medications with you. Also include over-the-counter pain relievers and antacids.
Business Travel - What Not to Pack
- Travel Alarm - most hotel rooms are equipped with alarm clocks. Additionally, most cell phones have an alarm clock function that can be used while traveling.
- Hair Dryer - most hotel rooms are equipped with hair dryers, or they are available at the front desk.
- Extra Jewelry - wear basic jewelry that will coordinate with all of your outfits (basic silver hoops or pearls and a basic necklace) and leave your extra jewelry at home.
It's the little things...
- Small Travel Umbrella - pack it in the outside pocket of your suitcase so it's accessible in the event it is raining when you arrive.
- Travel Outfit - if your travel days are long, consider packing a comfortable travel outfit and comfortable shoes for the trip home.
- Check your Bag - even though most major airlines now charge a separate fee to check your bag, it might be worth it. Airports are big and overhead compartments on airplanes fill up quickly. Business travel is stressful enough without the additional worries associated with lugging your bag through security and to the gate only to find out that the overhead compartment above your seat is already full and that your bag is being put in the back of the plane. Relax, check your bag and consider the $25 a worthwhile investment in you and your travel sanity.