How to Pack Light for a Business Trip

Packing is an art; packing light for a business trip, even more so. Here are some tips, as well as a packing list for men who want to look stylish, without having to check in their luggage.

By Kenneth Tan
March 18, 2012

At this day and age, airline travel is a necessary ritual that many businessmen and entrepreneurs must go through. The long lines from security, check-in, immigration, customs, and the dreaded baggage carousel all make flying a harrowing experience. Though we cannot make the lines magically disappear we can at least give you advice on losing that gigantic luggage and turn it into an elegant and convenient hand-carry, while bringing enough clothes to look presentable in the business meeting and laid back at the bar.  

Photo by Mk2010 via

Wear your clothes

I don't mean that you should wear all your clothes all at once, though that's an idea.  If you need to bring a suit, wear it. Airplanes have special storage rooms where helpful stewardesses will be more than willing to hang your coat.  You can also wear your tie if your host is picking you up from the airport.  Now, a dapper suit and tie will make a strong impression on your prospective business partner.

Size Matters

Buy all your toiletries in small little packets.  Sure, most hotels have their own shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush and soap but the last thing you want is your hosts looking at that big red rash on your cheek during your presentation just because you were allergic to the hotel's soap. Have you tried using one of those free toothbrushes? I don't think they're meant for human gums. Supermarkets carry small travel sized toiletries exactly for this purpose.

Get Clutched

Get one of those stylish men's clutch bag. This where you put all your Lilliputian-sized toiletries. Some people may choose a medium sized supermarket plastic bag or even just stuff everything in the suitcase pocket but that's just not my style. A small clutch bag is also convenient for long-haul flights─just take it out of your hand-carry and off to the comfort room you go. You'll come out of that airplane as fresh as dew on daffodils.


That soft woolen pair of slacks that comes with your coat and that you wore on your plane can also be worn for your meetings. Let's see... 2 nights/ 3 days means 2 nights out on the town and perhaps 3 days of meetings. You can wear a nice cotton sport shirt or a short sleeved polo tucked-in to your woolen slacks wear a coat over them for meetings, sans tie of course, and just take off the coat for your evening engagements. If youwearblack slacks, no one's going to notice that you've worn them before. Just make sure they don't smell, and have them washed as soon as you get home.

Here is a list of the bare necessities of clothing that you can survive with on a 2 night/3 day business junket.

  • 1 Suit Coat (Worn)
  • 1 Slacks (Worn)
  • 3 pairs Socks (1 Worn)
  • 3 Underwear (1 Worn)
  • 1 Long Sleeved Polo (Worn)
  • 1 Short Sleeved Polo
  • 1 Sport Short
  • 1 pair comfortable leather shoes (Worn)
  • 2 ties (1 Worn, don't forget to roll your ties to avoid wrinkles)
  • 1 Small Clutch Bag containing
    o   Toothbrush
    o   Mini Toothpaste
    o   Mini Shaving Cream
    o   Razor
    o   Mini Deodorant
    o   Mini Atomizer (containing your favorite cologne)
  • 3 Hankies (we are gentlemen afterall)
  • 1 Pajamas

This should all fit neatly into an airline approved hand-carried bag.  Happy flying!