Even in our post-digital world, there are some physical items you can’t do without – especially on a business trip. Forget your passport and you won’t be getting on your flight. Forget your phone or laptop and you’ll struggle to communicate with your colleagues and clients. Forget important business documents and you could be risking anything from your professional reputation to a client relationship. These are all easy mistakes to make, but you can see how much they would cost your business to put right – and cause you stress in the process.
This handy guide explains how to pack for a business trip – giving you more time to focus on acing your meeting or that big conference you’re presenting at. Here are 10 essential items to include on your packing list for a business trip.
1. Travel documents
The most important item on your business trip packing list is your passport, without which you won’t be able to set foot on an airplane. It’s a good idea to keep all your travel documents – including any airline reservations, hotel confirmations and rental car details – in one safe place. That way, you can access them quickly as soon as you need them, avoiding that moment of panic when you can’t find your boarding pass.
2. Laptop or tablet
Taking a laptop or tablet with you on your trip is a great way to stay productive. Whether you’re reviewing a presentation or typing up post-meeting notes, using a laptop or tablet to work while you’re on the move will really make your travel time count. Whatever electronic devices you find most useful – don’t forget to pack the relevant chargers. Adapters are a must if you’re travelling abroad, so try and pick up one before your trip – it’ll save you time and money compared to buying one at the airport.
Phones are an essential in modern business life. Without one you’ll really struggle to communicate with your colleagues or your client, and they can also help you stay organized. Download a corporate travel app such as CWT To Go™and you’ll be able to sync your phone with your work calendar to give you the reminders you need to stick to your work schedule and travel itinerary.
4. Wi-Fi access
Think about wireless options if you need to work remotely, navigate your way around your destination, or speak to your family back home. Wi-Fi access in hotel rooms is not always free. At certain hotels, in-room internet can come with a heft daily charge, one that’s equivalent to what you might pay in a month with a wireless card. All major phone carriers sell internet cards – and you can also use them across different devices, whereas a hotel’s Wi-Fi will often only cover one device. Alternatively, sign up to CWT Hotel Intel™ and you’ll be able to browse a directory of global hotels and read travelers’ own reviews. This will let you see which hotels rank highest in terms of Wi-Fi options – enabling you to make an informed choice about where to stay.
5. Clothing and accessories
Bring the right clothes. Being armed with the most appropriate jacket, pair of shoes or accessories can make all the difference when you’re preparing for a jam-packed itinerary – and even those spontaneous, last-minute drinks which are great for networking. You’re likely to need to pack a mixture of formal business attire and casual clothing, along with underwear, socks and pajamas. Bear in mind the weather at your destination – if it’s wet and windy, you’ll wish you’d packed a travel umbrella and a raincoat. Remember that toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste might not be provided in your hotel – so bring your own just in case.
6. Wallet or purse
Remembering your wallet or purse is an absolute must. Without it you’ll struggle to pay for anything on your business trip, causing yourself unnecessary headaches. Even if you’re likely be making most of your payments by card, it’s always good to have loose change and small notes for smaller items. As a general rule of thumb, only take what you need, like the cards you need to use, and take just a small handful of local currency – it’ll limit the damage if your wallet or purse gets lost or stolen. Make sure you have your wallet or purse close to hand – perhaps in a jacket or trouser pocket – so you can easily retrieve it when you need to.
7. Breath mints
When you’re meeting someone for the first time in the business world, it’s important to make a strong first impression. You never know who you might meet – and if this person is a client or potentially important connection, you don’t want to worry about bad breath. It’s easy to overlook this essential – so don’t forget to pack some mints to chew at regular intervals and particularly after meals.
8. Printed handouts
Ask yourself: what work documents do you need for your business trip? Whether it’s presentation handouts or meeting agendas, they’re an important part of any business travel checklist. Sure, there will probably be somewhere to print them at your destination, but don’t leave that to chance. It won’t take a minute to print and pack the handouts you need, and you’ll feel much better knowing you have them with you when you arrive at your destination.
9. Office supplies
Think about what kind of stationery you’ll need to take with you. It sounds simple, but if your business trip involves a client meeting, you’ll need a pen and notepad to record any action points and make sure you look organized. Think about what other office supplies you need to include on your business trip packing list – sticky notes to set yourself quick visual reminders, paperclips to keep your documents together, and folders to protect them from damage. You don’t need to take an entire office supply store with you – but a few useful items will really help.
10. Business cards
Even if you’re only intending to meet with familiar faces, you can’t leave business cards off your business trip packing list. You never know when you’ll bump into someone who could be a great addition to your network – and in those cases, you’ll want to be sure they can get in touch with you. Bring a generous supply of business cards so you don’t run out, and tuck them in your pockets, briefcase, wallet or purse so you’re always prepared when you make a connection. Business cards are essential if you’re going to a conference – and they make great name badges too.
Once you’ve ticked off each of these elements of your business travel checklist, don’t forget to check and double check.
Packing for an overnight trip
If you’re packing for an overnight trip, pack for carry-on luggage only. This will save you time when you arrive and eliminate the risk of losing your luggage. As such, you should aim to keep your business trip packing list to a minimum, taking a change of clothes and essential toiletries, your phone, laptop and a notepad and pen. You should also let key people know where you are, making sure your travel manager knows your business trip itinerary, and carry minimal cards and currency in your wallet or purse.
Travelling for 3, 4 or 5 days
Your business travel checklist will clearly be more extensive for a trip that’s a few days long. As well as the overnight trip essentials above, you’ll need a combination of smart and casual clothes. If you’re travelling between different destinations, consider where your internet access is coming from – a Wi-Fi card or hotspot is your key to staying productive and connected with the right people.