Minimalist business travel packing is a different beast to what we normally associate with “regular” minimalist travel. While a business trip is usually shorter than a three-month jaunt around South America, packing light for business travel is still tough.
So why is one bag business travel a challenge? Well, for one thing, traditional business clothing is finicky and difficult to pack. Furthermore, these often bulkier items usually need to be packed alongside work equipment: laptops, chargers, battery packs, and maybe even a gift for the client you’re trying to land.
A lot of people wonder how to pack light for business travel, but few can actually pull it off. If you’re one of those pondering, you’re in luck. This quick guide to minimalist business travel will enable you to pack light, look good, and leave you free to focus on having a successful business trip.
What’s the Best Bag For The Job?
Try as you might, it’s impossible to fit everything you need into your laptop bag. Furthermore, you don’t want to throw your professional attire into any old duffel bag.
In order to keep everything intact and move freely and easily while traveling, you need a good quality backpack. And if you’re aiming for one bag business travel, you want to make sure it checks these boxes:
- Extremely lightweight
- A design that means your laptop and chargers are easily accessible
- Pockets for easy access to your toiletries (in case you want to freshen up before you land)
- 100% machine washable
Check out our 55L travel bag - the first business friendly travel bag with capacity for your pillow.
Minimalist Business Travel Wardrobe For Men
First, we’re going to start off with the minimalist business travel wardrobe for men.
The secret to traveling light is versatility. Therefore, you want to pick interchangeable items that can mix and match. So, for both men and women, we recommend you stick to subdued color palettes, such as gray, blue, and black.
Another universal minimalist travel tip is to keep it to 10 items - 8 items of clothing and 2 pairs of shoes. It doesn’t seem like much, but with the right palette and outfits, it’s doable.
Here’s the men’s minimalist business travel packing list:
- 1 or 2 Jackets - You don’t want a jacket that will crease easily, therefore, linen jackets are out of the question. We recommend a wool suit jacket. Moreover, as you want multiple wears, a black wool suit jacket is a good idea. This will look good in the boardroom or the hotel bar. If you’re going longer than a weekend, perhaps pack a sportier jacket to wear in your downtime.
- 2 Pairs of Pants - You want to look smart and be comfortable. Therefore, we recommend khakis or wool or cotton slacks. Jeans are a tad bulky when packing light for business travel.
- 2 Dress Shirts - If you want to take no chances, pack wrinkle-free cotton shirts. This means you can roll them up into packing cubes and not worry about it. However, your hotel will likely supply you with an ironing board and a small iron.
- 1 or 2 T-Shirts - After a long day, you’ll probably want to slip into something a bit comfier. A neutral-colored plain t-shirt will do the trick. You can also pair this with a suit jacket for after hours drinks.
- 1 or 2 Pairs of Shoes - If you can only pack one, keep it simple. Comfortable black leather shoes are classic business footwear. However, if a second pair is possible, you can go with brown leather shoes for a smart-casual look or tennis shoes if you want to hit the gym while on the road.
- Neckties (one for each day) - Don’t skimp on your tie. They take up very little room and can really tie your outfit together.
When it comes to underwear and socks, this really depends on the length of your trip. However, we recommend you keep it at five pairs max (to keep things light) and do some laundry if your trip is any longer.
On the other hand, if you work at a company or industry where traditional business attire isn’t required, or are traveling for vacation, check out our blog on how to pack a minimalist travel wardrobe for all seasons.
Minimalist Business Travel Wardrobe For Women
This following list will prove that you can still pack light and be a fashionista. The same rules apply as the men’s list, keep your wardrobe restricted to 10 items and versatility is the key.
However, unlike the men’s list, this is a bit more mix and match. We all have different styles and clothes that we feel more comfortable with. Just pick the ten items that work best for you!
Here’s the women’s minimalist business travel packing list:
- 3 Tops - Button-up tops with long sleeves will suffice. White doesn’t handle the rigors of the road very well. Therefore, it’s best to opt for darker colors. However, if all your skirts and pants are black, you can opt for something a little jazzier on top.
- 1 or 2 Pairs of Pants - This depends on preference. You could go with just one pair of height waist pants and a long skirt, two pairs of smart pants, or one pair of smart pants and a pair of jeans for downtime. Do what feels right for you (but remember to keep it light!)
- 1 Skirt - Choose a skirt that’s not too high above the knee, especially in conservative environments. A couple of inches is a good rule of thumb. If you’re after multiple wears, a black shirt is a good option. Not into a skirt? Switch it up for an extra pair of pants.
- 1 Dress - A black dress is probably one of the most versatile items of clothing going. It looks great in a professional setting and at after-work meetups. However, think day time dress more than night time dress.
- 1 or 2 Jackets - A stylish blazer is not hard to find. Go the extra mile and get it tailor-fitted - you won’t mind wearing it for the whole trip! However, if you need an extra layer, pack a cardigan with a splash of color. This can add some color to your otherwise neutral palette.
- 1 or 2 Pairs of Shoes - Heels or no heels? That is the question. When it comes to shoes, this really is up to personal preference. However, we recommend to keep it smart and nothing too bulky or uncomfortable.
Underwear is the same deal as above. Be prepared to do laundry if you’re going longer than five days and obviously leave the novelty socks at home.
If you’re making a minimalist packing list for vacation, check out the precise minimalist packing list for women.
Additional items for your business trip
Business travel is different from going on vacation. With a vacation, you’re all fired up and ready to explore. However, with business travel, you’re going to work.
Therefore, besides your laptop, toiletries, and other essentials, we recommended you bring a couple of home comforts on the road. This might be a Korean face mask, your own mug, a picture of your family, or even your own pillow.
These little items of familiarity can take the edge off being away from home and help make the trip a successful one.
Packing light for business travel - final thoughts
Although minimalist business travel is not the same as the usual minimalist travel exploits, the same basic principles still apply.
Make sure what you pack is versatile for multiple wears, keep clothing and shoes to around 10 items, and make sure you have the right backpack to make one bag business travel possible.