Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Girl's Guide to Business Trips

So I just got back from tagging along on another trip with my Boss and realized I really need to jot all this down. It has taken me 2 years of random business trips and I still forget things but I’d like to think I’ve mostly got it down to an art at this point. Here is my set of tips when packing and going on business trips. I’ll be adding to this as time goes on as well.

Pack Light
The last thing you want to be doing is carrying fourteen bags to and forth and trying to find things in them. For anything up to a week I try to stick to two bags. A backpack for entertainment/schoolbooks/laptop and a carry-on bag for clothing.

First Aid Kit
Invest in a small first aid kit. Business trips often involve a lot of walking/moving and especially for you ladies in flats/heels it can’t hurt to have band aids always at hand. I bought mine for $3 at target and it fits nicely in luggage/purses. For nights out I just take out what I need and put it in a clutch.

I cannot stress the importance of this. If you know me you realize that me and limited clothing options don’t go together. I’m the idiot who packs four bags worth before I realize I have to carry it all and reconsider but I’ve found a way around it. Plan outfits in advance. Also plan to mix up outfits so you can take less clothing. For example for a one week trip I would pack 2 pairs of dress pants (for business), 1 pair jeans (for going out for leisure) and a couple nice skirts or dresses (for going out to dinner, I’ve found that business dinners with the people I work tend to be some seriously high scale places). Then I pack a few blouses. A good plan is to get giant zip locks and pack every outfit in advance complete with jewelry/underwear/etc.
As far as shoes go you really only need one pair. I try to always have a pair of shorter heels that can go casual or dressy. For me this is a pair of booties that I can hide under pants or wear with a dress it really goes both ways and I can actually walk in them. I made the mistake a year ago of bringing actual heels (or to be precise stilettos) to a conference. I couldn’t walk correctly the next day, there is little chance to go back and change or if there is there are other things you could be doing. If you really want also bring a pair of comfy shoes for walking around to change into (i.e. converse or something).

Ladies as far as makeup goes you only need 2 small bags of essentials; you don’t have room for an entire cart. I choose one look for the week that I can play up or down and plan for that. For me this is foundation, powder, mascara, 3 eye shadow palettes in nude colors, and eyeliner, the second bag is for my brushes. Both of these aren’t very large. Pick one or 2 hair products you can’t function without, my hair gets crazy frizzy if I’m anywhere near humidity so I bring a frizz/nutrition spray and that’s about it. If you have curly hair include mouse as well. NOTE: if you’re doing carry on put it in a sealed zip lock bag and check the amount you can take. You can get minis of most products at places like Target or Drug Stores. Deodorant. DON’t FORGET IT. There’s nothing worse than going to shake someone’s hand and realizing they have BO. Toothbrush, you can get one from the hotel but they are cheap and you want your teeth all nice and sparkly for smiling at folk.
I always choose one heat styling tool. Either my hair is straight or curly that week and I can do other things with it too but I usually just pick one and bring it.
And last but not least if you even think you may need them bring Tampons/pads. Especially in engineering where there are few females around, it may be hard to find tampons in the middle of a huge conference where you have no idea where the bathrooms may even be. One doesn’t take up much space and u can keep it in your bag.
If you wear contacts get a travel sized container of solution.

Things You Can Leave Behind
Toothpaste, soap, shampoo, hangers you can get from the hotel. Water etc. you can get always get somewhere; it’s too much of a bother to carry. If you’re doing carry on you won’t be able to take it anyways.
Nail polish, etc. Ladies either don’t do your nails or get them French manicured, there is nothing worse than chipped nails and you don’t want to be constantly fixing them. Plus it looks unprofessional, either go with a neutral you can’t notice even if it chips or go au natural.

Always leave room in your bag
Whether this is for souvenirs, swag bags, etc. I always buy my sister a coffee mug from the places I visit so I have to leave room for that and occasionally I get random swag at events I need to store away.

Plane bag
Pack Snacks, entertainment (for me this is a book or magazine for when I can’t have electronics on). IPod/IPhone/headphones, boarding pass, wallet and ID. This is really all you need, don’t weigh yourself down. Oh and sunglasses/glasses.

Everyday Bag
I take with me 2 purses on trips. One is a cross body bag, big enough to fit what’s needed but that can’t be stolen easily off my person. I put all the important things in the clutch I bring and put it inside with everything else around it. That way, when its dinner time and all I really need is my wallet, I pull the clutch out and am ready to go.
For daytime: First Aid Kit or band aids, mints (for after lunch when you need to speak with folk), mirror (smudgy makeup or bits in your teeth not attractive), powder for touchups, snack (I always get hungry when I’m nervous), phone, wallet (NOTE: on trips always carry a bit of cash for emergencies, I rarely carry cash but I’ve found this is super helpful), building map, notepad (or just use your phone although if you’re in seminars this may be seen as rude since it looks like you’re on your phone, I usually just bring my ipad), pain killers (ladies you know why). Do not forget glasses if you wear them.
Night: painkillers, digestive supplements if you need them, wallet (cash for a cab although most take card now, card, ID), etc.

Let me know if I missed anything or if you have any questions.


N. Riazi


  1. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with extra information? It is extremely helpful for me.....:)
    Engineering Company

  2. I've had a decent amount of practice in packing/planning for trips, so in general I don't have a huge problem with packing. However, as I am still what most people would consider a recent engineering graduate, I haven't had too much experience with the whole business-trip aspect of packing. I think that your post reiterates a lot of what my general packing experiences have been, but focuses them for the working professional, so I like that. In my mind, the only thing I would add is: never wear a skirt or dress. My post is mostly about how it's a bad idea to wear a dress/skirt to work, but I know from experience that touring a plant or walking around at a conference all day in a pencil skirt and heels is so exhausting, painful and simply impractical. In that case, your tip about a first aid kit and bandaids would have come really in handy. I wish I had thought about it prior to my trip.

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