Right now, around the world thousands of women are tearing their hair out about business travel packing. And it makes perfect sense. No one knows if an unexpected weather bomb will roll through. And it’s anyone’s guess if the air conditioning will be set to ‘Ice Age’. And if you’re speaking at an event under lights hotter than the surface of the sun, you could easily regret packing the two blouses that were anything but perspiration friendly.
When considering long business travel packing, it’s a good idea to pack clothes for every eventuality, but of course, you only have a certain amount of space in your suitcase, and want to pack light. So to save overwhelm, we’ve designed The Ultimate Minimalist Business Trip Packing List For Women.
3 Important Packing Tips For Business Travel
Choose Only Crease Free Pieces
Always pack garments from crease free fabrics. These are the kind of fabrics (silks, fine wool, crease free crepes) used in all Isabella Wren garments. Sure, rayon may be light, and linen is certainly cool and breezy, but for business travelers, the wrinkles aren’t worth the hassle! If you’re not sure about the pieces you’ve chosen, do a packing test run first.
Avoid The ‘Maybes’ In Your Travel Packing List
Pack only clothes you adore and know will be worn. If you catch yourself saying: “Oh, I might wear that”, leave it out. Choose only ‘hell yes!’ pieces.
Think About Functionality
Our third travel packing tip is crucial! What is the purpose of your trip? If you’re a speaker, consider what looks best on stage and what colors to wear to minimize perspiration marks. Will you be seated? Choose the length of your skirt or dress carefully; you may not have a table to hide behind. Do you need to do a lot of writing? Frilled long sleeves, and dangly bits could become irritating. Will there be a lot of standing around? Think about the comfort of your footwear. You get the idea; take 10 minutes to visualize your trip and make functional fashion the focus of your travel packing list.
Your Ultimate Business Travel Capsule Packing List
A Dark Suit Jacket Or Blazer
Keep your suit jacket neutral in style and color (dark grey, navy or black). This ensures it will match every top in your suitcase. And, it crosses to casual wear effortlessly with jeans and V-Neck T Shirt.
Matching Dark Pants and Skirt
Match your pants, and skirt to your jacket for a tailored suit. And because they’re neutral and dark in color they’ll match every top in your luggage, and can be worn with a smart T-Shirt for a more casual look if needed.
Blouses, Tops and Sweaters
Select 5 blouses in different colors. Pack a couple of dark blouses in your suitcase if you are presenting, you’ll never know how hot the lights will be, or how poor the air conditioning is. Stay clear of light blue and grey if you are speaking, these colors really showcase perspiration. Avoid packing a white shirt unless you are a superhero at keeping it clean. Things like pen marks, spills, and makeup smears can lead to a laundry hassle. If you love bright colors, feel free to pack a couple of bright blouses that you enjoy wearing with your suit. We don’t suggest trying a new color for the first time, you may look back at photos and regret the decision.
Pack 2 casual tops. If you’re on a long trip, there will no doubt be a chance for you to relax and unwind. And while we love fluffy bathrobes you’ll want to leave the hotel room at some point. We suggest packing one long sleeved top or shirt, and one short-sleeved in your suitcase. Stick to classic styles like a t-shirt black, white or striped. And choose V-Necks, which can be a little more versatile than crew neck. You can also wear these tops with your suit for a smart casual look.
Pack one fine wool sweater or cardigan. Something small enough you can pop in your handbag in case things get a little chilly where you are. It’s also best to stick to V-Necks here, to co-ordinate with your blazer, and blouses.
Casual Pants / Bottoms
You won’t always be wearing a suit, so pack 2 casual bottoms. You’ll never go wrong with a pair of jeans, but if the weather is hot you may prefer a skirt, or something like Capris or tidy yoga pants.
Pack 2 pairs of low heels – one nude, and one dark colored. They’ll match your suit, and every other outfit you create while on your business trip! Leave the stilettos at home; the terrain could be treacherous for thin heels.
Pack 1 pair of casual shoes (you’ll most likely wear these on your flight). Chic ballet flats are a woman’s best friend - light, compact and comfortable. When considering casual shoes, think about shoes you could walk for long distances in. A scenic jaunt through a new city could be on the itinerary.
Sports Shoes / Workout Gear
If you’re planning to exercise while away, pack 1 pair of workout shoes, 1 sports bra, 1 tank top and 1 pair of tights in your bag. And if you think you ‘might’ workout, or you ‘should’ workout, feel free to just leave it out altogether. Our fitness expert says:
“If you exercise, but you’re not an enthusiastic gym bunny about it, just give yourself a break while on travel. You won’t lose fitness, or get fat just by skipping a couple of weeks. And you’ll have more room in your suitcase! Just pack casual shoes and be sure to get out for regular walks while away. However, if you travel often, you’ll want to get into the habit of exercise while away to stay vibrant and healthy”
Pack 2 dresses that will work for business, cocktails, and dinner. And if they work for casual day wear, even better! Our Isabella Wren go-to’s are Rose, Sadie or Sacha. Each dress is simple and classic and seamlessly crossover from day to night. Just add stacked bangles and a statement necklace to your dress for a classy cocktail look without the fuss! And you’ll get bonus points if your dress also co-ordinates with your suit jacket.
Warm Coat / Thermal Wear
Pack a warm coat to wear over your suit or casual wear if you’re not sure what the temperature will be like. Leave the bulky faux furs at home, and opt for something compact like fine wool. If you’re 100% certain your entire trip will be warm, then leave it out of your suitcase.
A more lightweight option is to pack one or two thermal tops in your bag to wear underneath your clothing. These light compact pieces of clothing are handy to have! And many are even cute enough to double as outerwear tops. Be sure to buy V-Neck so they can be worn under blouses and blazers.
We don’t need to tell you to pack these in your bag! But since this is the Ultimate Packing List, we wanted to talk about it. We suggest just one practical bra that works with every outfit, and a sports bra if you’re exercising. Take 5 pairs of varied underwear and hand wash them. But of course they don’t take up much room, so if you have the space in your bag, pack more!
Pack one pair of PJ’s or nightdress.
And ladies, please don’t wash your underwear in hotel room jugs. Yes, it’s a thing people do, and I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s gross. Hot water and soap in a sink is fine.
If you’re staying in a hotel with a pool, or location with beautiful beach make sure to pack swimwear in your bag. You may not be working 24/7, so take advantage of your surroundings and cool off. There’s nothing worse than staring out the window of your hotel on a day off dreaming of Pina Coladas by the pool.
The beauty of traveling with fine wool clothing is it’s unique ability to dry fast. But that won’t save your hair or makeup! So pack a small compact umbrella, or compact waterproof jacket. We recommend jackets from outdoor adventure stores, as they’re designed to be small enough to fit in a pack.
I don’t know about you, but my toiletries need an entire suitcase themselves! But that’s not practical, so always take travel-sized items. Consider what you could do without for the trip. Do you really need to exfoliate and do a charcoal mask? Could you leave the deep conditioning treatment until you return? Keep it down to the basics: shampoo, conditioner, facial cleanser, day/night moisturizer, basic makeup, toothbrush, toothpaste, one key hair styling product, deodorant, and one signature perfume. Add relevant medications, and personal care items.
All hotels are equipped with hairdryers, so keep yours at home. If by some crazy chance your hotel doesn’t have one, you can buy a small one while away. Pack hair straighteners and/or curling tongs. Many people advise against it due to the bulk, but we think these appliances are fairly streamlined. And there’s a reason why our hair is called our ‘crowning glory’. A good hair day is always a good day!
Keep things simple and classic - a small pair of studs, pendant, bracelet, and ring in silver or gold. If you think cocktails are on the cards, you can also pack one statement necklace and a chunky bangle. Pack a belt if it’s a regular part of your non-travel wardrobe.
Pack one small handbag for evening; make sure it’s big enough to hold your mobile, hotel keys, ID, money cards and lipstick. Take one large handbag for daytime. Naturally, this will be your carry-on bag.
Additional Items If You Have Room.
There really is no need to pack anything else for your business trip. These travel clothes cover all eventualities: warm, cold, rain, swimming, business, cocktails, dinner, and relaxing days off.
But if you want to add a few useful extras, feel free to include:
- A comfortable shift dress
- Opaque tights
- Black ankle boots (and socks!)
- Leggings, Jeggings or Ponte Pants
- A scarf or two
And finally, if there are clothes you need, but didn’t pack you can always buy it when you’re away. And if you don’t want to bring it home, find a person in need, and gift it forwards!
Here’s Your Ultimate Go-To Travel Capsule Checklist!
- 1x Dark Suit Jacket / Blazer
- 1x Matching Dark Suit Pants
- 1x Matching Skirt
- 2x Dresses (bonus points if one co-ordinates with your suit jacket)
- 5x Blouses Varied Colors
- 2x Pairs of Shoes (1 dark, 1 nude)
- 1x Nightwear
- 2x Casual Tops (1 warm, 1 cool)
- 2x Casual bottoms (1 warm, 1 cool)
- 1x Casual ballet flats
- 1x Swimwear
- 1x Warm Coat or 2x cute V-Neck thermals if required
- 1x fine wool sweater or cardigan
- 1x set of workout gear if required (tank, tights, sports bra, shoes, socks)
- Travel sized toiletries – just the essentials!
- Hair Straighteners or Curling Tongs if required
- Easy Wear Jewelry, silver or gold studs, pendant, bracelet and ring
- 1x compact umbrella, or compact raincoat
- Small evening handbag
- Large daytime handbag (carry-on luggage)
Did we forget anything on this business travel packing list? Let us know! And remember to pack your crease free Isabella Wren garments so you look as polished in the evening, as you did first thing in the morning!