Guest Post: Packing for a One-Day Business Trip

Packing for a One-Day Business Trip | CorporetteHow do you pack for a day trip in another city?  Today I’m excited to welcome back guest poster and blogger extraordinaire Road Warriorette, who’s been nice enough to give us helpful tips on traveling with coworkers and professional but small suitcases.  We actually just met IRL not too long ago for a lovely dinner.  :) Today, she answers Reader A’s question about packing for one-day business trips. Welcome back, Road Warriorette!

Reader A wonders:

Do you or your readers have suggestions for how to pack for a day trip in another city? I am going to start a new job that will require frequent day trips where I will fly to another city in the morning and fly back at night. I prefer not to take too much stuff, but I do want to be prepared in the event that I get stuck overnight. I need my laptop for the trip and am on the hunt for an appropriate bag for day trips and for client visits in my own city.

People who never travel for work are always surprised at the number of day trips I take. On the one hand, it makes sense — if you are only doing one day’s worth of business, why pay for a hotel room? On the other hand, they are often exhausting, 18-20 hour marathons. It seems I am always on the last flight out, and a few times have gotten stuck spending the night somewhere unexpectedly.

After years of business travel, I’ve realized it’s not worth it to me to pack anything extra on a day trip. Hotels have everything from toothbrushes to curling irons, and the slim chance that I may get stuck is not enough of a reason to bring a bunch of probably unnecessary items. However, if your employer would not pay for a hotel and you think you would have to spend the night at the airport, there are a few basic toiletries I would keep on hand.

  • Contact solution/glasses
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Face wash/moisturizer
  • Travel deoderant
  • Rubber band or bobby pins
  • Makeup

Obviously you could purchase these at virtually any airport, but if your employer won’t pay for a hotel room it’s doubtful they would reimburse you for toiletries. A tiny bag of critical items won’t take up much room and could save you a lot of headache. Bring the smallest amounts you can manage — put the face wash and moisturizer in a clean contact lens case and bring a Wisp or other disposable toothbrush. I already bring my makeup on every trip so I can freshen up when I arrive. (This list is actually very similar to what I keep with me during international trips.) Of course, if you take any medications daily always have an extra dose or two just in case.

As far as clothes go, I honestly don’t think it’s necessary to bring any extra clothes. If you get stuck overnight, you can wear the same clothes the next day. Just hang them up while you’re sleeping to give them a chance to air out. However, if it’s super important to you to have something just in case (and you have the room) a spare tee and pair of undies should do.

Which bag you choose for a one-day trip is very important. Because you are fitting everything into one bag, it can get heavy very quickly. I highly recommend a rolling briefcase for day trips. That way you don’t risk injuring your shoulder carrying around an enormous bag. This eBags Soho Leather Mobile Office has plenty of room for your laptop, files, purse stuff, and even a change of clothes if you need them.

Readers, do you take day trips often? What’s critical to keep on hand in the event of an unexpected stay?


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  1. Re: medications, if you keep a bag ready to go at all times, remember to occasionally swap out the meds for a fresh set so they don’t loose efficacy. I also do this with my in-home emergency bag to grab as we run out the door (should the need ever arise in the event of evacuation, etc.).

    • It may sound a bit crass, but if you wind up having to stay overnight somewhere, it certainly pays to bring along some protection, because you never know who you might wind up sleeping with. It happens, and you should keep at least a few condoms in your bag just in case.

      • This is probably the best comment I have ever seen on this site.

      • Don’t carry condoms in New York City. The NYPD has a policy of arresting women who carry condoms on suspicion of prostitution (!). That’s not a story you want to bring back to the office if you have the misfortune of being stopped by New York’s finest.

        • Really?! That’s… slightly disturbing. Do they actually go through women’s bags on the street?

        • This sounds like urban legend to me.

          • CaitTheGreat :

            Not an urban legend, but the NYPD just ended this policy, so feel free to carry your condoms!
            Also, honestly, the cops wouldn’t know if you have condoms in your briefcase; it’s more a matter of whether they can use condoms as evidence of prostitution if they have already arrested you.

          • Practical :

            I suspect they made arrests based on other factors (fair or not) such as location, style of dress, etc. My guess is that a Corpor-e-t-t-e with a rolling briefcase would probably not get stopped.

    • I replace the pain killers, etc. in my travel bag every time I buy a new bottle, to make sure they are OK. Or, I just buy a small bottle and keep an eye on the expiry date.

    • Having a Good Year :

      I just got back from a Marriott with the most vile smelling toiletries. Even the shower gel was just overpowering – like bad aftershave. From now on, I will travel with soap, shampoo and conditioner.

      I agree about a change of clothes – yoga pants and flat shoes can be worth their weight in gold after a long day.

    • Regarding medications, although it can be bulky, bring them in their original bottles or have proof of RX with you. You don’t want to run into a problem with police, etc. because you don’t have proof the RX pills are your’s.

  2. There are employers who won’t pay for a hotel room if you get stranded on a work trip? Yikes.

  3. Sample skincare items that many stores give away with beauty purchase come in very handy for short trips. Packets are even better than jars.
    This includes hair products, too. Hotels provide shampoo and conditioner, but not styling products.
    I use fragrance and buy sample vials on eBay for travel.
    And I would bring safety pins, if you don’t already keep a couple in your purse on a permanent basis.

  4. S in Chicago :

    I would also recommend some light socks. After wearing shoes for a long, long stretch, the last thing you want to do is to have to keep them on to walk around a hotel room. Also will help keep you warm if you’re stuck in a cold terminal after hours.

    • Anonymous :

      What? Is this a thing? I just walk around hotel rooms barefoot. See also naked.

      • People's Republic :

        +1 +1

      • Some of us have perpetually cold feet. I wear socks around my own house sometimes.

      • I think I’ve seen too many of those Dateline “blacklight” episodes where they show how gross hotel rooms really are. Especially the carpet, bedspread, and remote. Ick. I’m definitely a socks-wearer in hotels.

    • anon in tejas :

      also this is really helpful if you get super cold feet while traveling. On planes, my feet generally end up freezing. It’s really nice to slip off my shoes and throw on my socks.

  5. I keep a travel soap dish with a chunk of peppermint castille soap and a slice of lush solid conditioner in my briefcase at all times. The castille soap can serve as everything from toothpaste to laundry detergent in a pinch and the lush conditioner is also a great moisturizer. Because they are both solid, you do not have to remove them in airport security and it gives you more room in your quart sized bag. I also keep a pair of black ponte knit pants that are soft enough to sleep in and can work in a meeting in an emergency.

    My office is paperless, so I travel with only my OG bag now but if you are transporting files, I see the need for a wheeled briefcase.

    • anon-oh-no :

      im sorry, but the idea of brushing my teeth with something i would use to wash my clothes is disgusting.

      • To each his own I guess. I use castile soap as toothpaste almost exclusively. It is vegetable based and tastes better than any organic toothpaste I have tried.

      • NWanalyst :

        Hmm. I use baking soda when washing my clothes *and* to scrub the grout. And I also brush my teeth with it. And–wait for it–it even goes in cookies!

        Citric acid, which can be found on the shelves of the canning section of a well-stocked local grocery, is used to adjust the pH of foods like tomatoes. It also works great for removing mineral build-up from your teakettle or dishwasher.

        They’re just chemicals.

        • Anonymous :

          Do you take the baking soda that you scrubbed the grout with and then put it in cookies? I think that’s what anon-oh meant–that it will have touched multiple things, not that it’s the same substance. I use a toothbrush to clean grout and to brush my teeth, but not the SAME ONE.

          • anon-oh-no :

            yes. this.

          • You cut a sliver off of the bar and dissolve it in water to use as detergent. I scrape off a tiny bit with the end of my toothbrush to use as toothpaste. I am not suggesting that you rub the bar on your dirty clothes and then directly on your teeth.

      • Well, they’re both soap. I wouldn’t use Tide on my teeth, but I might use Crest on my clothes, in a pinch.

  6. Maddie Ross :

    When I do day trips for work (that involve flying), I always through a small bag into my briefcase or purse that has wisps, a contact case, and extra pair of glasses, and extra undies. And my purse always includes basic makeup – mascara, pressed powder and blush. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to get me through a night stuck somewhere. Or, in some ways in my experience even worse, a severly delayed flight that ends up taking off at like 2am or something (worse b/c you’re stuck in the airport and generally can’t really nap or get comfy).

  7. oil in houston :

    I used to do day trips all the time for work and never got stranded, so I never carried out extra underwear or anything like that. I did however pack an extra jumper for the journey back home last at night, a first aid kit if I’m feeling unwell, wipes and a small deodorant to freshen up and some mints. That and all the power cables for my phone / computer etc made my bag rather full.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I got one of those travel power strips that is really small for a recent trip. If you have the room, I imagine that would be well worth the space to take on a trip where you fly back and forth within the same day.

      • Yes. I was going to suggest making sure you have charging cables for all your devices (maybe with a car charger attachment, too, since that’s standard on many airplanes) and maybe one of those extra batteries that has a USB connector to do an emergency charge.

        I also have a protein bar or cereal bar in my bag for emergency food.

        My kindle is also pretty necessary for travel. I love that I can have a ton of books with me in almost no space.

  8. I never go to an airport without a package of Neutrogena face wipes (or whatever brand you want) I like having the option of removing my makeup, or at least, giving the sweaty spots a clean. They pass airport security without a problem and don’t require a sink to get yourself clean if you need to run into an airport stall at 11 pm at night to freshen up the armpits or under your bra.

    I also like to bring teeth whitening strips. They clean gunk off the teeth, freshen the mouth better than a mint, take up no room in the bag, and there’s no security issues or need for a sink. Obviously, you don’t want to use a bunch of these all the time, but great for emergencies.

    Other life savers for me:
    – pair of flip flops or comfortable flats
    – pashmina or lightweight wrap

  9. I’m a veteran of dozens of day trips and luckily never stranded. I do travel with the Neutogena face wipes, travel toothbrush and medium makeup kit plus all charging cords.

  10. anon in tejas :

    second set of shoes if I am wearing heels.
    set of undies.
    water bottle.
    medications (allergy, ibprofin, and naxproxin).
    phone charger/i pad charger
    scarf or light jacket

    • +1 – I also keep a pair of those “fast flats” in my lap top bag all the time.

  11. QueenBeeOC :

    how about traveling for an interview? any tips or suggestions on how to fly comfortably in a suit – and if that is possible!

  12. I actually just went on a 1-day work trip and I realized how useful samples are. Sephora and beauty counters usually hand out some samples for you to try out. Before, I would store them in my vanity and wouldn’t really use them but when I was packing my toiletries bag, I realized I had received some good samples (Smashbox primer, Fresh face wash) where I could pack instead of taking the bulkier products. And after you use them, you just toss the wrapping out and don’t have to worry about re-packing. I know it’s not always that you get good samples you can trust but moving on, I’m going to save the good ones for work-trips instead!

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