When I first started traveling for my job, I thought I had the whole travel experience down. After all, I traveled for vacation as much as I could – what could be different about traveling for business?
It turns out there is a lot of difference between traveling for business and traveling for fun, including choosing the right times to travel and what to wear. If you’ve just started a new job that requires a lot of travel, check out these tips on planning for your first business trip.
Be Frugal with Your Wardrobe
It’s tempting to want to overpack “just in case.” After all, will you get to do some sightseeing? What about needing clothes for after hours networking?
Unfortunately, overpacking leads to a lot of problems, including your suitcase being heavier than the allotted amount by airlines or having to pay to check your bag because it doesn’t fit in the overhead compartment. More annoyingly, you usually won’t use all the clothes you pay!
My recommendation? Only bring work clothes needed for your event (conference, presentation, etc.) and one or two outfits for after hours. In fact, try to just switch out your top and wear the same pair of pants if possible.
Plan for the Unexpected
As your mother hopefully told you, always bring more underwear than you think you need. This also counts for socks, an extra blouse or collared shirt, another tie, etc. Little things that you need should typically be included when you’re packing, including aspirin, a nail file, ways to pull your hair up (if you have long hair), etc. While your hotel might offer some of these things, it’s far more helpful to have it on you than having to search for it when you need it!
Less is More When it Comes to Shoes
I’ve seen both men and women fall into this trap… bringing a giant suitcase or bringing two suitcases just to accommodate shoes! Unless you’re going to a shoe conference, try to only bring 2 pairs of shoes while traveling. You can always wear another pair on the plane, bringing your total to 3. It’s rare that you will need more than that for a work event.
If you’re worried, pack clothes that pair well with both of your shoes (i.e. packing mostly black and gray and not brown, so you’ll only need black shoes).
Buy Snacks Ahead of Time
Buying at the airport is just like throwing money away. Why would you spend $6 on a bag of peanuts when you can buy one at your grocery store for $3? While you can’t bring drinks past security anymore, you can at least save money by buying one substantial snack (a sandwich or a wrap) and a smaller snack (peanuts, fruit) for your travel day.
Check Your Bag If Possible
I really only recommend this if you’re able to check your bag for free, but consider it nonetheless. If you’re traveling for work, chances are you want to get work done at the airport too… and having the lug around and worry about your luggage is a hindrance. Just worrying about your laptop while at the airport is much better than having to worry about stowing your luggage.
The only other time I don’t recommend checking your baggage is if you have to make a quick connecting flight – there’s no guarantee your luggage will arrive with you, and you can’t afford to not have clothes for a day or two-long work event!
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What advice do you have for first-time business travelers?