To other people, business trips always sound exciting and exotic, but when they are sprung on you at the last minute, as they so often are, and the itinerary is full of uncertainties, they can be a very stressful experience. Getting your packing right is one of the ways you can mitigate the stress and ensure that you’ll be at the top of your game. You may think that you’ve got far too much preparation to do to spend much time on packing but if you don’t you will certainly regret it, and you’ll waste time trying to put right your packing omissions.
Ideally, you’ll be given a detailed itinerary which will be followed to the letter on your arrival, but we all know that it doesn’t always work like that. Your itinerary might be vague or non-existent, or perhaps the even more annoying you are given a detailed itinerary which is then scrapped or modified out of recognition on arrival. Packing is an exercise in using the information you can rely on, location, duration of stay, and thinking through the possibilities of how the gaps might be filled.
Go through each day and make a list of the sort of clothing you will need: smart, smart casual, casual, recreational. Check the weather forecast for your destination but bear in mind that predictions can be wrong, so a compact umbrella is always a good idea. Temperatures may high during the day but drop significantly in the evening. How much time are you likely to spend outside and how much time will you spend in air-conditioned interiors?
Getting your clothing right is essential. You don’t want to arrive feeling dishevelled, underdressed or overdressed. You don’t want to think that your clothing is inappropriate for the context, either too casual or too formal. If you are confident and comfortable in the clothing that you are wearing you will perform with greater ease and confidence. All of which means careful packing, you need a range of appropriate clothing, and you need clothing which travels well and doesn’t need to be dry cleaned when it comes out of a suitcase before it looks presentable.
Pack outfits rather than just a variety of clothing which you discover on arrival don’t really go together. Give some thought to your footwear. Might you need something sturdy? Even if you don’t anticipate anything rugged underfoot, switching footwear after hours on your feet is an excellent way to keep a spring in your step. If you are a woman, you can use accessories to help you transition from daytime to evening wear or from smart to casual; a switch of lipstick and a change of jewellery can affect a swift transition with minimal effort.
Human beings make judgements on first impressions. In business, your appearance is crucial; that’s why you take the trouble to ensure that your presence is appropriate. Don’t spoil the image by arriving with luggage which is scruffy or conspicuously poor quality. As a businesswoman or man, travel is part of what you do, and the baggage that you use needs to be the quality luggage of an experienced traveller.
Unless your visit is concise, you will almost certainly need a suitcase, but you will also need a bag which you carry on the plane and which you can use during your stay. The leather briefcase is no longer de rigueur, but a leather bag is still the preferred stylish and durable travel companion. Perhaps a handbag, large enough to contain your laptop and documents or a backpack, both of which have the advantage of leaving your hands-free. A leather holdall is a more substantial weekend bag, and if you are travelling without a suitcase, it enables you to pack clothing neatly.
A wash bag or Dopp kit is also an essential way to keep all your toiletries accessible in one place. Expecting the unexpected is a useful survival technique in business, and when you are on a business trip, the unexpected can sometimes mean that your luggage goes missing. To guard against this eventuality, you should ensure that your most valuable possessions, including a change of clothing, are with you in your cabin bag. Make sure that your phone and laptop are fully charged before departure; then if your plane is delayed at least, you will be able to make use of the time.
Make a list of essential items
Once you’ve created this list, you can keep it with your luggage and use it for all future trips. Chargers and adaptor plugs are crucial and difficult and time consuming to source if you forget them. Prescription glasses, sunglasses, medication, passport, tickets, insurance, driving licence and cards are also going to be amongst the items that you can’t do without. If you are not a regular traveller, it might even be worth informing your bank of your destination. You don’t want to discover on arrival that a well-intentioned bank blocks your cards and that you can’t access any cash.
As part of your inventory of essential items, you should also check that your passport is in date and be aware that some countries require that your passport has at least six months before it expires. Ensure that you have checked into any visa requirements and that your travel insurance is adequate. Be aware that if you want the flexibility of being able to hire a car, you will almost certainly need to have a credit card, rather than a bank card, to secure the deposit.
Be aware of the culture which you are visiting
If you are on a business trip you are there to make a good impression, so don’t inadvertently offend because you are unaware of cultural conventions. For example, the Japanese consider sneezing or eating in public rude, and they consider tipping degrading. It makes good business sense to spend a little time familiarizing yourself with the culture to which you are travelling if it is somewhere you have not been before.
It is written by Jamie Rose founder of MAHI Leather, manufacturers of stylish leather bags and satchels that are the perfect accessory for any business trip.