Traveling for Work: Our Top Tips

Our top tips on traveling for work, including how to fold a suit jacket, how to keep track of expenses, and more!Traveling — whether for work or pleasure — can be a harrowing experience. We thought we’d try to summarize some of our best tips that, we’ve found, make everything go a bit more smoothly, from planning, to packing, to enjoying the experience — including how to pack a suit jacket!

Illustrated packing list1. Draw what you plan to pack. If you’re anything like this author, in the days leading up to a trip you’ve got a zillion thoughts racing around your head for what to pack. I should bring that great dress! Oh, can’t forget my laptop cord! And yet, if you actually start packing a bag several days ahead of time, you have no idea what’s actually IN the bag when it comes time to close it up and head for the airport.  So I picked up this great tip from one of my best friends, who blogs at — she draws what she plans to pack. This solves so many problems — you can add to the drawing over several days. You can see how things work together and where you can reuse different items of clothing. And yet, when it comes time to physically packing the bag, you can do it in one fell swoop, so you know exACTly what’s going in there. Pictured:  This is one of our friend’s packing lists from a trip to Paris. They can be less fancy than this, though; one of my own I-have-no-artistic-ability illustrated lists is here (weirdly, also from a trip to Paris).
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2. Know how to pack.

a) Heavy things should always go on the bottom of your bag — so for example, if you have a rolling bag, your shoes, books, and whatever else should be closest to the bottom wheels as possible.  This way, none of your clothes will get smooshed by heavy things.

b) Roll your tops, skirts and pants instead of folding them — if any of the pieces have lining you may want to turn them inside out before you roll them.

c) Suit jackets can be the trickiest thing to pack, though. We have forgotten where we got this little gem, but it actually does work.  We try to walk you through it in the video below, but if you’d like a written explanation, here goes:  take one sleeve of the suit jacket and turn it inside out.  Then, take the second sleeve, and push it through the first sleeve.  Get it as smooth as possible.  The jacket should be almost entirely inside-out now, with both sleeves on one side.  Fold the jacket on the vertical so the uber-sleeve lays as flat as possible.  Then, fold the jacket on the horizontal until it’s the size you need it to be.  Wherever possible, keep the suiting material from touching the suiting material — for example, the collar should stay on the “outside” of your little folded package so it isn’t touching anything else. Pictured Pin: Deposit Photos / mavoimages.

Our Video on How to Fold a Suit Jacket

3. Keep your toiletries with you, as well as one change of clothes in case you are separated from your checked luggage. A corollary: on overnight flights it’s a good idea to pack your toothbrush in your purse — when you arrive at your destination you can brush your teeth in the bathroom and feel like you’re starting the day afresh (no matter how little sleep you got on the plane).

Apr5_mini4A few lightweight additions can really make a difference in your trip. For example, flip flops are great to go wherever because it gives you something to walk around in your hotel room if the carpeting is gross; they’re also great to use if you end up using the hotel’s pool.  Travel candles can give you a real sense of home and get rid of any weird hotel smells.  Also, if you’re staying at a lower-end hotel and doubt you’ll have one of those comfy spa robes, a lightweight robe can be a great way to feel more comfortable in your home — for example, Hammacher Schlemmer offers a lightweight robe that was rated “best overall” by the Wall Street Journal.  (Pictured: The Lightweight Travel Robe., available for $69. This jersey robe at Nordstrom also looks great!)  We also swear by our LeSportsac weekend duffle — we keep it in the front compartment of our rolling bag, and have found it to be incredibly useful in two different situations.  First, you’re on a trip and end up buying far too much stuff while on vacation — if you end up having to check a piece of luggage, this ontips on traveling for work - pack a super light nylon bag for overflow!e is incredibly durable and has a lock on the zipper.  (We actually just leave the keys on the bag so the TSA can get into it if they need to, but the locks help assuage our fears of our luggage splitting open while it’s being handled by the airport.)  Second, it can also be great if you’re confronted by someone from TSA who insists that you can’t carry your rolling bag, your purse, AND your magazines on all at once — we’ve just stuffed our reading material and our purse into the Weekender and been allowed through.  The distinctive colors on the bags (and they come in basic black as well as a wide variety of colors and prints) also make it super easy to identify as yours.  (Pictured: these LeSportsac bags are awesome!)
5. Finally, keep an envelope in your purse for travel receipts. This way, during your trip you know exactly where all of your receipts are going, and you can even write on the outside of the envelope what the receipts are that you’re sticking in there. Then, when you get back to the office, you can just hand the envelope to your secretary and have her put together your T&E.  (Pictured:  our own lists from our recent trip to Louisville.)

Bonus tip: Be sure to ask, when checking into your hotel, if they partner with any airlines for rewards points — staying at most chain hotels will get you more frequent flyer points.

Readers, what are your top tips for traveling? What are your best tips on how to fold a suit jacket, how to keep track of expenses, and more?

These are our some of our top tips on traveling for work -- including how to fold a suit jacket, how to keep track of expenses, and more.


  1. Any tips on cramming everything into a carry-on? Or for international travel that entails multiple events (embassy meetings + village visits)? Thanks!

    • If you’re going big on the carry-on, then be sure to use every available cubic inch – stuff your socks in your shoes, put your eye cream/face wash in an old contact lens case, roll everything, bring only items that can be worn more than once…

      but please, don’t be that jerk that takes up all the space in the overhead. Life will go on if you have to wait at the luggage carousel with the rest of us, but the overheads should be used by more than one person… and I hate not being able to fit my jacket in one because of someone else’s jumbo luggage set.

      • and I hate not being able to put my bag up when I’m in the last boarding zone because someone has put their jacket up there.

        Let people with rolling bags put them up first (assuming they’re actually carry on size–actual carry on size bags should be able to fit wheels first on most overhead luggage bins on large jets, though not commuter flights necessarily. I will be annoyed if you put your bag in sideways, taking up the space for two bags). Purses and coats should be put in if there is space left at the end (there won’t be). Otherwise, purses/laptops under the seat in front of you and hold onto your coat.

        • Anonymous :

          uhhh… if *i* have managed to pack responsibly and have fit everything i need for 4 days into a large le pliage and my purse, you’d better BELIEVE my jacket is going in the storage bin with my little tote.

          i had to hold my winter coat on my lap for an entire flight back from france once, when all i had carry-on was my purse. TICKED. OFF. learn to pack a little lighter, buy a suitcase that actually FITS WELL into the storage bins, or check your bag. have a little respect for the people who have made sacrifices to avoid checking luggage.

        • I disagree with letting people with rolling bags put them up first. If I check my suitcase and bring on a backpack and a small purse, I think I’m entitled to put my backpack up in the bin and the purse under my seat, especially because I deliberately check my rolling bag in order to be able to have my legroom. I don’t think I should have to give up my legroom for your bag (although I would happily give it up for my OWN bag if I brought on a rolly and a backpack, in which case backpack hangs out at my feet).

          • Sorry, I should clarify–I mean more if you have two items, one better be going under your feet. So if you have a backpack and purse, yes, put the backpack up in the bin (So whatever is your carryon, and personal item under seat). I get really annoyed when people have two items and put both in the overhead bins, particularly when the poor flight attendant is standing there saying “if you have two items, please place the smaller item under your feet as our flight is full today and we would like to be able to accommodate as much as possible” and is clearly being ignored. (Really, I just get annoyed when people blatantly ignore instructions)

            Part of the problem is there isn’t enough space in overhead bins for each passenger to have a spot for a rolling bag, since obviously when they were installed, people would just check bags. I wish they could find a way to clearly delineate the bins such that if you’re in X seat, it corresponds to X spot in the overhead bins, and if you put your stuff anywhere else, it gets plane checked.

            (This is clearly a pet peeve on mine. Probably because I am always on full flights where it is an issue every. single. time. and the airlines won’t enforce the luggage size. My carry-on is standard size, and yes, I get annoyed when people are clearly trying to fit ones that are outside the limits.)

          • Oh I’m with you on that KZ :)

            If you have two items, then the only way two items go up in the bin is if everyone is on board and there is extra space. Exception – I’m also okay with you putting your backpack in the overhead bin, and then your coat on top of your backpack (so that it occupies the same real estate), b/c it’s not like you can fit another bag on top of a bag to begin with…

      • I guess I’m that person? Checking bags is expensive! I’m not going to pay money to check my carryon so that someone can put their jacket up. Sometimes I’ll be the one that can’t fit there stuff too, but I’m always going to try to take just a carryon, so mines as big as the airline allows.

        • Also I just don’t see how this makes me a jerk… The airline has requirements, why in the world would I not take advantage of all the space I am allowed?

        • But is your carry-on really “carry on size?” Very few actually are… if the airlines would only enforce that rule it would solve a lot of the cramming bags in the overhead bin problems.

          • almost every flight I’ve been on in the last couple of years has been a small enough plane that all roll on carry ons were encouraged to be checked at the gate – best way to get the best of both worlds – I don’t have to lug my bag over my head, I’m not taking up someone’s space, but I don’t have to worry about lost luggage either… Even on my last two night trip with a very small roll aboard – I asked specifically for a tag for checking it at the gate even if they didn’t make me, because I find it so much easier…

          • Yeah, it is, and the airlines I have flown are very strict about the rule, and have the “cage” in front of the boarding gates and ones that look questionable have to be put in there to make sure they fit

          • Every flight I’ve been on in the last year has made everyone with a questionably-sized bag fit it into the metal demonstration overhead bin thingy before being allowed on the plane.

          • CC – Sorry, wasn’t directed at you specifically, but at all people who carry on “carry on size” bags which just aren’t. Last time I flew there was a woman lugging a huge duffel, esaily twice the allowed size, and no one stopped her.

            Agreed that I love the gate check – the only good thing about smaller planes!

          • I have bough a very cute samsonite (my first!) and I told the salesperson that I want carryon size.
            I took a flight from the US to Paris and it was just fine, I even tossed my bag in the metal bin to check that it has the right measurements.
            Then from Paris to Casablanca (in africa) I had to gate check my bag because they said it is too big for carry on…
            How do you know who is telling the truth?

    • For international travel beware- the restrictions on carry-ons are recently being much more strictly enforced lately. I would try for a carry-on, but make sure to keep toothbrush, medicine, etc in my purse (not wheel-on) in case they make me check it.

    • I just went away for a month – 2 weeks of vacation and 2 weeks of work. I took a suitcase, backpack, and computer bag. I packed all technology in the computer bag, and overnight gear or other indispensables for in-flight in the backpack. It was still fairly heavy, and next time I will probably try for one smallish rolling suitcase. Particularly since some international airlines have revised allowance to only include ONE carry-on, no personal item.

      In the suitcase, I only packed 2 suits, along with a skirt, 5 blouses, and a couple of sweaters, for work, plus one pair of heels that matched both suits. If you’re going to the village, you still have space for a couple other outfits. I packed more outfits for vacation than for work.

      I made sure to wear my heaviest shoes (boots) and the outer jacket that takes up the most space. If you’re not married to specific toiletry products, gather hotel samples during the professional part of the trip to take to the village. This can save lots of weight and space!

    • kjoirishlastname :

      Pack lightweight materials, and materials that can be washed & air dried. When on a weeklong pleasure trip with hubs to Arizona, I packed a rolling carry-on and my hiking daypack, with my purse stuffed inside. I brought a pair of zip off hiking pants (shorts + pants!), technical fabric wicking t-shirts (they are tiny, don’t wrinkle, and air dry in a jiffy); microfiber undies that I washed in the sink, and of course, pieces that could be recycled throughout the trip. I wanted to have a pair of jeans, so I wore them on the plane. Same with my hiking boots. Yes, it was a pain to get through security but I didn’t have to pack the behemoths. I also wore my fleece jacket that would be pretty much my only outerwear for the week.

      I agree with the others–roll everything! I ended up rolling everything that was big-ish, and stuffing the corners with socks, balled-up undies, bathing suit, etc. Carried a full change of clothes in my backpack, along with all my toiletries, travel documents, camera, ipad, etc. Left the chargers in the rolling bag.

      If you can sacrifice some style for function, you can find very lightweight rain shells, even very lightweight micro-fleece jackets. Pack flats instead of heels, forgo accessories unless they can be multi-purpose–a scarf can be both an accessory to a suit or dress, but also a functional piece of warming clothing.

      My husband and I have taken 3 week+ trips on planes and have never checked a bag, including our honeymoon trip to Virgin Gorda with snorkel gear & fins.

  2. Your drawings are so cute. I am really bad at drawing.

  3. Take the train.

    But seriously:

    1. Keep a bag of toiletries in the suitcase at all times of a toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine products, deodorant, travel-sized (sample) lipstick and other make-up, shampoo, whatever. Also a set of tweezers and nail file.

    2. Most things can be packed in drycleaning bags, which reduces, if not eliminates, wrinkles.

    3. I have pre-printed packing lists for a variety of destinations printed out that I can refer to as I pack, eg: one for work, one for warm weather destinations, etc.

    4. Consider fedex-ing clothing or supplies both to and from your destination.

    • I’ve actually fedexed purchases I made in CA back home to MA. So worth the extra money. I think that it’s actually cheaper to ship something Fedex these days than check a bag on some airlines! ;-)

      • L from Oz :

        I spent 90 pounds sending things from the UK back to Central Europe after a recent trip – definitely worth it, since I sent about 15 kilos worth of work stuff and was flying Ryanair, which charges 20 pounds a kilo for baggage over 15 kg! I broke even at 4.5 kg…

  4. I rarely travel for work, but now I am usually in charge of packing for family travel. That means that I am packing my own stuff, but also my husband’s stuff (lest he be left without socks) and the kids’ stuff.

    I can’t draw at all, so I make lists. One for me, one for hubby, one for the kids (usually these are in different sections of the same piece of paper). If there are specific events that we’re going to, I put down “outfit for X party” on all of the lists, so I have hubby’s blazer and khakis as well as my dress and junior L’s dress, etc. Then I have an item called “toilet” which means toothbrushes, paste, saline, glasses cases, lotion, spf, facewash, deodorant, etc. Also my thyroid pills get their own little line (“pills”). I also make sure to write down “snacks” so we pack enough to eat. Basically, I write EVERYTHING on the list, and then cross it off as it gets packed AND put in the car.

    Ditto on rolling clothes. For suit jackets and buttondown shirts, I usually pop the collars up all the way, then fold in half along the center back seam,then fold both sleeves over – then they will usually fit on the top of the suitcase.

    I also put all toiletries in a separate ziploc bag, especially when traveling by plane. Even if you think everything is closed up tight, maybe your conditioner bottle will split open and get all over everything else. Much better if it is in a sealed ziploc so all you have to do is wash off all of the rest of the toiletry items.

    • anonymous :

      agree with making lists. i write down everything. amazingly, i’ve almost forgotten underwear before seeing it un-crossed off on my list right before closing up my suitcase.

    • L I love the idea of writing down even the snack! I always end up starving during my trips (which somehow always get delayed).

  5. If possible, keep your rollerboard pre-packed (extra gym shoes, extra set of makeup, travel toiletries, socks, belt, workout clothes etc) — this will save time and minimize chances that you will end up at your destination without something critical.

  6. Oh, you visual people. That drawing of clothes looks like 6 sketches of the same shirt to me. That would be why I make lists instead of drawing pictures.

  7. Anonymous :

    Kat, are you wearing last Friday’s ATL top in the video? Looks fab.

  8. I always carry a pack of those disposable face cloth/wipe things…you know, the kinds made by Ponds or Biore that are like wet wipes for the face. I throw a small pack in my carry on and they come in so handy, especially after a long flight.

    • I wholeheartedly second this suggestion.

      • L from Oz :

        Me too. On long haul flights I take a face flannel too – sometimes being able to splash water around makes a huge different after hour 20 comes around!

    • As the mother of a 16 month old, I’ve found how handy baby wipes are (we have unscented ones because of my family’s skin sensitivies). They are really cheap, and a plain old sandwich bag keeps them moist.

  9. Love that jacket folding trick! I’m curious – What is the rationale for suit lining touching suit material / minimizing suit material-on-suit material?

    • I wanna know too, @cj! All of my clothes are jammed into my closet touching each other. I know they’re supposed to have room to “breathe” ideally, but it’s not like they have the cooties, yo! LOL.

    • The logic is that clothes will shift in transit. If they can slide past each other they won’t wrinkle; if they “stick” against other fabric, they will. Suit fabric is just about guaranteed to be more “sticky” than the lining material, so you want it touching itself less.

      (Which would make the sleeve outer materials touching each other as in the directions suboptimal, but I’m guessing they wouldn’t shift in transit as much as the body of the suit.)

  10. goirishkj :

    On overnight flights with a layover,I always try to have an extra shirt in my carry on so that I can change when I first land. My husband used to laugh at me until he finally tried it. There’s something about a clean shirt (along with washing my face, brushing my teeth, fresh deodorant) that just makes me feel almost-human after a long flight.

  11. Another person bad at drawing here!! I make lists. I LOVE lists.

    I would add to this to make sure you plan your outfits around one main color, ie black or brown, so that you can minimize your shoe packing.

    Also, it is very helpful for common travelers to have a set of toiletries ready to go at all times. This way you can make sure you have all of the toiletries you need, and save time when packing.

    • I second this. When going on a trip, I try to pick one main color theme, so that I can mix and match more easily. If going on a city trip, I might choose black and white, which I can then accent with a red scarf or bright top. Way less shoe packing required. For a more informal trip, I might choose something like floaty neutrals, and pack a cream dress than can work as a cover up or for dinner, and some metallic sandals. Its kind of fun, like creating a capsule wardrobe!

    • How often do you travel to consider yourself as a frequent traveller?
      I usually travel by plane every six weeks and have some land travel every 2 or 3 weeks. I am wondering if it is worth having doubles of my toiletries for travel only -these things might end up there for months and be spoiled…

      • I usually travel several times a month, spending the night once or twice. I think if you are using typical toiletries (with the normal amount of preservatives), and not some type of natural toiletry that needs to be refrigerated, you shouldn’t have to worry about spoilage. Plus since toiletry sizes are super small, my travel shampoo (for example) only lasts me like 7-8 washes. So that is one week long vacation plus a couple of work trips, and then I have to refill.

        • Ok then!
          I’ll get my little zip bag ready!

        • I travel weekly within the States, usually spending 1-2 nights out at a time. I have a “go bag” ready at all times, with my little zip-lock bag of tiny toiletries filled and ready (I refill as part of my unpacking routine when I arrive back in my home office). I have a set of hair implements, mini lint roller, and a baggy of supplies like cold/allergy pills and barrettes packed in the go bag. The only thing I have to throw in there when I hit the road are my clothes and my files. The bag is a roller bag that was purchased specifically to fit within all airline carry on limitations for size, although I do sometimes need to gate-check it when I fly the smaller regional aircraft that has smaller overhead compartments. I also have a smaller roller computer bag that I sometimes use for overnight trips. Everything fits in it, and it fits under the seat in front of me. (I just transfer my baggies to it. I have an even smaller set of travel hair implements that fit in it. We still need to look good). The bottom line is: 2 bags allowed for carry-on, period. I travel with a computer, therefore I will always need a computer bag, and it can never be checked. I make sure that my cross-shoulder purse is tiny enough to simply slip inside the computer bag before I board the plane. If you have to travel a lot for work, don’t waste your money on things like Luis Vutton bags. Buy tougher items that will take the beating that they are about to get and are easy to clean. The wardrobe for this type of travel MUST MUST MUST be simple. Again, don’t waste time trying to be a fashionista on the road. You really do not want to stand out too much anyway. Buy and pack basic black suiting items. If you can, wear the same shoes or pack only one pair that goes with the hem length of any pants that you may have packed or are wearing for the flight. Use color in your blouse. I gave up packing skirts for travel- way too much trouble with nylons running, etc. Working like this means that you really streamline things to what you actually need. The most important items that you are carrying are your brain and your experience!

      • Worth it! I travel once a month or less – and *always* keep my toiletry bag packed with duplicates of everything I use. It makes packing so much more pleasant, and I’m so much more likely to go on a trip for the weekend if I don’t have to hunt down all the little soaps and potions.

  12. I got a really cute pashmina/oversized scarf that I originally just used as an accessory. It ended up being my go-to “in-flight blanket” – big enough to wrap around my shoulders/arms on the plane. Especially since most flights are nixing blankets now, it’s easier than lugging around a sweater/jacket.

    And I always pack a resistance band for easy/quick workouts in the hotel.Light and easy to throw into my suitcase.

    Great tips – thanks!

  13. Blonde Lawyer :

    I’ve posted it here before but I will repeat in case anyone missed it. Use extra contact lense cases to hold face lotion or make up remover. I can get enough for a several day trip in one usually.

    Also, always have a little food in your bag. You never know when your flight will have some kind of emergency and you will be stranded without access to food. I’ve done it once and hope to never do it again.

    • Second the food suggestion! I’m a fan of Trader Joe’s handful of almonds – they’re not salted so they don’t make you thirsty, but they are reasonably filling and won’t go bad during your trip.

      • Legally Brunette :

        I third the suggestion. I have often found myself very cranky and hungry on a plane with no food, and it sucks. Many airlines these days, particularly on shorter flights, don’t even have a food option for purchase. I usually bring nuts and fruit, or a PB&J.

        • Having a healthy snack with protein has kept me sane on many occassions. I pack a homemade trail mix in a 2 cup plastic container with a twist off top. Last trip it was almonds, dried cherries and dark chocolate chips.

      • Just a warning on the snacks – when I was flying cross-country recently, passengers were requested to refrain from eating any nut products on the plane due to a passenger with severe allergies. Though I feel sorry for anyone with that kind of health concerns, I also felt sorry for the guy standing next to me who had brought a bag of trail mix for lunch. Since we were already at the gate and preboarding was about to start, there was no time for anyone to grab anything else – and since our flight was already delayed it was pretty late by the time we got back to the east coast….

        • Wow – never heard of such a request. Will pack some pretzels dried apricots as well next time and feel less guilty about their combined salt/sugar content! :-)

        • Blonde Lawyer :

          I was just thinking of this! I have also been on a flight when they made that request. Try to have a non-nut snack with you as well.

    • I always have a Clif Bar at the bottom of my bag for these situations – if it can keep me from bonking on the trail, it will keep me going until my next real meal.

    • I just tried the contact lens case trick this past weekend, and it worked perfectly. Was concerned that there wouldn’t be enough in there, but after filling one side with face moisturizer, I had about 2-3x more than I needed for a weekend trip. Thanks for the tip!

  14. I can’t draw, so I advise starting a few days in advance laying out your clothing in piles – on the floor of your bedroom, in your spare room, wherever, so you can see everything. Only when I have it all out and I’m set on it do I start putting things in my suitcase.

    Roll everything, stuff your socks in your sneakers, bring items that can be worn more than once (but always, always, have extra underwear and socks), non-wrinkle everything (linen is not your friend), and only leave your costmetics in your suitcase if you travel often – otherwise they go bad (i.e. grow bacteria, get dry or oily, and other gross things)

  15. Lady Justice :

    I always try to stop by the bank or at least stockpile a bunch of dollar bills. You will need them for tipping a variety of people. I hate when it’s time to tip a bellboy only to find I only have a $20. Typically you might be tipping at the Skycap, at the hotel (when someone gets you a cab or helps you with bags, etc. etc). I also remember to take out money in advance since I always don’t carry much with me when I am local but would need more cash when traveling. Another thing I do on both work and family travel is to carry zome empty ziplock bags (big and smaller). These can be used for a variety of things – wet clothes if you went swimming, small toys of kids, emergency ice bag even. And I usually pack a couple of band aids and some neosporin just in case.

    • Second the empty bag suggestion – I stick them in every suitcase – ziploc and grocery (good for laundry) and tend to adopt the dry cleaning bags in hotels as well…

      Small bills are a great idea as well. Having been that (insert expletive here) that paid for a 40 cent melon with a 20 dollar bill (and another time with a credit card) I can only say that it’s more than a little awkward (and pretty much makes clear that you’re a tourist/traveller which is never good)

  16. North Shore :

    And if you were a guy, you’d just cram your toothbrush and blackberry into your coat pockets and be done with it. Check out how this guy is planning to avoid fees for carry-on bags by stuffing it all in his pockets:,0,1314189.story

  17. I hate flying since they started charging for checked bags. I am so sick of fighting with everyone and their two pieces of way-larger-than-regulation luggage, and waiting an hour to board because everyone is trying to cram it in the overhead bins.

    Not really on topic, but just had to rant!

    • Spirit Airlines started to charge for carry-ons instead — not sure if they’re still charging for checked bags, but I do know that the combined lowering of the checked bag fees and the ticket prices cancelled out the $45 carry on charge if you choose to bring your bag on board.

  18. FYI – the LeSportsac is about $98 with shipping on using their current Mother’s Day promotion, although I do love Zappos and their no-hassle returns may be worth it. I’m definitely considering getting it, but I do have a few similar conference-branded nylon bags that were free but are bulky when folder — just how small does this one fold?

  19. I’ll raise you one on the drawing. I often use polyvore to plan my travel wardrobe.

    I like to carry on only and can do so for a full week of business travel if I stick to one color palette and mix and match. I will re-wear a suit skirt with a cardigan ensemble, and then wear the jacket with a more casual bottom for traveling. I also always bring a pashmina to wear on the plane because I almost always find the plane freezing, and the use it as a scarf at my destination.

    I try to limit the number of shoes I bring, which is difficult because I love them. One dressy neutral pair and one lower heeled pair to travel in. I have a pair of crushable ballet slippers in the front pocket of my rolling bag in case my feet really give out at the airport.

    I also like your foldable bag. I use the Longchamps le pliage for the same purpose. The thing I like about the pliage is that it looks somewhat like a handbag when unfolded. I ususally only employ this for vacation travel. I tend not to buy anything on business travel.

    I always bring a rolling bag and my laptop case as my two carryons, so my laptop bag becomes my handbag for the week. I usually stick a clutch into my rolling bag so that I can go out to dinner without using my bulky laptop bag.

    I always bring one pair of cashmere socks to pad around my hotel room in and to warm my feet when I’m sleeping since my cat won’t be there to lay on them. :(

    Also, if you pick up work materials on your trip, ask the office you’ve visiting to mail them back to you so that you don’t have to carry them home. I’ll often stick whatever materials I brought into the same envelope so I’m actually lighter on the way home. If they use overnight, it will all be waiting for me by the time I’m back in the office Monday.

    I think that’s it. I just had to chime in because I’m a mumblemumble year business travel veteran.

  20. It would take me several hours to DRAW my packing list and the drawings would be unrecognizable anyway.

    I have a master packing list of the essentials (I will never forget my blackberry charger again!), and I start making piles of clothes to pack a few days before the trip. That way I can see everything and no drawing is required.

    The biggest timesaver for me has been to keep a separate, stocked and ready-to-go bag with most of my essential toiletries and a list of anything that needs to be added (like my glasses). I used to spend an eternity packing toiletries and scanning my bathroom to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything.

    I know one woman who always keeps a bag packed and ready to go for a business trip, complete with gym clothes, pajamas, a couple of suits, shoes, etc. That seems a little extreme to me but she wants to be ready to go on unexpected business trips at the last minute.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for packing jewelry? Is it worth it to buy a travel jewelry case? I tend to throw my jewelry in a bag and it gets all tangled up.

    • L from Oz :

      I have a jewellry case and it’s really worth it – actually it came with my big case, so I didn’t even have to pay more for it!

      I have my essential toiletries in a clear plastic case with a zip, in the size of that annoying plastic bag that’s now required. It means I can throw it into my hand luggage, but have something a bit more sturdy than the bag. I can also see at a glance if I’ve forgotten something!

      I also swear by lists (I draw like a 3 year old, but with less talent), and pack according to outfits – no point taking a skirt unless I know what it can be worn with.

      Two other tips: some sort of slipper/flip flop, and an outfit suitable for flopping around in or even running outside for a midnight fire alarm – every time I don’t take them I regret it. (The bottom half of my pyjamas plus a T-shirt plus boots was not a good compromise on a recent trip – I looked ridiculous and felt embarrassed.)

    • I limit the jewelry I am taking on business trips in part to resolve this issue. I try to think about whatever will coordinate with multiple outfits (usually drop earrings and a silver or pearl necklace.) In addition to whatever I wear on the plane, I usually bring 1 extra pair of earrings and a chunky necklace that’s not going to easily get knots in it. I put them in one of those small cardboard boxes that earrings or bracelets come in.

  21. Any thoughts on what I call airlines career women discrimination. People can only carry on 2 items, a bag and a computer bag or purse. This is usually not a problem for men but I find it is for me as my laptop bag is usually not big enough to hold my purse and I find it very inconvenient to have to use my laptop bag as a purse so I am usually trying to get three items on a plane. My laptop unfortunately is big and heavy and rarely leaves me space to squeeze personal items into the bag. Plus if I’ll be going to dinner, I can’t imagine having to drag around a huge laptop size bag but as it is usually work related I’m also not bringing a clutch so I generally always need my everyday purse.

    • L from Oz :

      I often travel European airlines where you can only take one piece of hand luggage (and my local Ryanair hub weighs your hand luggage too!). As a result, I nearly always check my back and have a handy black backpack for hand luggage – it has a side handle so I can carry it like a suitcase, but can wear it for those moments when my hands are completely full. It usually fits my laptop, emergency toiletries and undies, and some papers etc. Then I have a purse/handbag that packs completely flat (mine’s from Hedgren but there are certainly others) that I pull out on arrival for work days, going out etc. It can just squeeze my laptop in if I use a sleeve. The handbag usually goes into my suitcase, but sometimes I put it in my hand luggage depending on how many books I’m lugging around.

      At least on budget airlines everyone’s equally uncomfortable!

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I put the contents of my purse in my laptop bag and then fold the empty purse up into my luggage sized carry on.

    • I bring a big leather tote stuffed to the max with my laptop, shawl, reading material, snacks, toothbrush etc. and then also a small black leather clutch that fits my wallet, phone and small camera.

    • They only care if you have more than 2 items while you’re boarding the plane. I bring a roller suitcase that’s the maximum carry-on size, and tuck my purse and other in-flight essentials into it. Then I pull them out when I get to the seat before I put the suitcase into the overhead bin. It’s no problem to have a purse, laptop bag, magazine, suitcase, makeup bag, etc once you’ve boarded.

    • That’s why they invented those little wristlets. Enough room for ID, passport (if necessary), cell phone and money … Pop it in a briefcase. I would never travel on a business trip and bring both a purse and a briefcase. Seems like major overkill when a wristlet carries all you need.

    • I’m a big advocate of trying to find a travel purse that can double as your laptop bag. That way you have just one bag (in addition to your suitcase), and it fits all of your stuff. However if your laptop is huge then the wristlet or clutch suggestion may be the way to go.

      I agree that guys have it way easier on a lot of levels while traveling. Packing is easier, they need fewer toiletries, etc. I can’t get started on that rant!!

    • If I am travelling for work, I bring a nice large tote (big enough for purse contents, snack, leisure book, memo pads & work) and then laptop bag. Some of the laptops are so small now that you can really put them in the tote bag and dispense with the laptop bag itself. Then I will have a small purse I might use if I go out to dinner that I’ll pack separately, but otherwise I only use a tote. (Honestly, though, I normally only bring my ‘work bag’ and not a purse to work anyway. Why have 2 bags when 1 will do?)

      • My laptop is small enough that if I put it in of those padded sleeves it easily fits in a generous tote. My wallet is large enough and has a wrist strap so that it can double as a purse when I’m out (I’m not one of those people who carries a ton of stuff, and I’m always putting things in my coat pocket — not totally elegant, but oh well)

  22. I hate checking luggage and I love the challenge of having to pack light. For those trips where you just have to take a variety of clothes, I love these Spacepaks from Flight 001:

    Another alternative would be to use the vacuum-sealed plastic bags, which I bought from Bed Bath & Beyond. (They can be rolled up and compressed even if you don’t have a matching vacuum hose.) These types of bags don’t make my luggage any lighter, as they’re meant to help you pack even more. But they help keep the inside of my carry-on organized and not overstuffed. Love them.

    • How do you repack at the hotel? I can just see myself with an overwhelming amount of stuff that I can’t re-vacuum into the bag going “oh crap, wish I’d thought of that beforehand!”

  23. Just FYI re: the keys on locks. TSA folks usually have keys to open ALL the locks that get put on, you don’t need to leave your keys on the lock.

  24. Almost bought that lesportsac but double-checked carry-on specs– about 22 * 14 * 9 inches… this selection is a no-go, but the idea was so perfectly workable and cute that I found three carry-on options form the brand– the Small Weekender, Weekend Carrier, and Sidney Overnight. Went w the latter. My specs are for both Delta & Air France, just be sure to check your fave airline before falling in love with a bag!

    • Zappos says that the “large” weekender is 20 1/2″ wide x 10″ deep x 14″ high, and the LeSportsac website says 13.75 x 20.75 x 10.5 in. Although I do see that some websites have slightly different numbers, this shouldn’t matter unless you’re STUFFING it to the max because overall it’s 45 linear inches, or exactly what American and Delta both have as max (although in reality the max these days has more to do with it fitting into that little luggage device they have at the airport, which has fairly narrow width).

      The Sydney Overnight is nice, but I think would not work for as well for stuffing into your larger carry-on (the main use for me).

      I still haven’t “pulled the trigger” but I’m considering it most of all for our honeymoon …

      • In fact, if you don’t care so much about the look of it, here’s a cheap one:

    • L from Oz :

      Indeed. I’ve carried some strangely shaped things onto BA and Qantas, but if you’re flying with fussier airlines, it pays to check. (KLM was suprisingly rigid about number of pieces, even when one item was a plastic bag with duty free cheese!; Easyjet doesn’t weigh but checks the size; Ryanair will weigh and measure…)

      Also, please know when arguing will not help – I’ve been stuck behind too many people trying to persuade airline staff that they really need 21kg in their checked baggage plus eight carry-on items, and it grates on one’s nerves after a while.

  25. I always, always travel with my hair up. It’s tidy and easy to manage, doesn’t get rumpled or full of static from rubbing against seat backs, and wears well the next day if the flight is an overnighter. A low chignon or french braid works best, because I can still sleep on it just fine.

    A lot of cosmetic companies will sell their skincare lines in travel-size sets, so there’s no need to worry about mixing and matching or squeezing things into little bottles. The Body Shop has a nice version that comes in a little pouch. I did a lot of flying this past year, and that skincare pouch saved me on more than one occasion.

    Sticking a sachet, dryer sheet, cedar block, or some other scent freshener into the suitcase will help avoid any transfer of suitcase smell to your clothing, which is especially helpful on longer trips where some items may need to be worn once or twice. .

  26. This is a threadjack,but I could really use the wisdom of Corporette readers:

    I am heading to my ten-year college reunion in a little over a month. I am also in the process of trying to find a new job. I attended a fairly elite east-coast college ( I say this for clothing-related background), and there is a good chance that some of my classmates will be working in the field I am interested in. So, in addition to the usual concern of just wanting to look good at a reunion, I also really would like to make a good impression on the people around me, many of whom have been quite successful since graduation. So I’m definitely feeling the pressure — I’d like to know I look good enough that I can just forget about what I’m wearing, and enjoy catching up with people and work on making new contacts. Most of the events are casual, except for an opening cocktail party. I am wondering what on earth to wear, both for the cocktail party, and for the rest of the events. I mildly panic every time I think about this. Any suggestions you or the readers have would be greatly appreciated.

    • When in doubt I would go conservative – think khaki slacks,polo shirts, etc., no flashy logos… for the cocktail party the little black dress is usually my go to for when I’m not sure what to wear.

      Good luck!

    • One can never go wrong with a simple black or gray sheath dress. Add peep toes and a cardigan for day events; strappy sandals and pearls for evening. If there are casual events, a denim pencil skirt, flats or low-heeled sandals, and a cardigan or pretty tee is always a good look.

    • I just went to my ten-year last year, and I wore a J crew simple polished cotton sheath dress, coral colored, with pockets, and nine west casualish pumps with buckle and wood heel. Most of the guys were wearing khakis/blazers/ties and the women had on dresses. For a party I might switch out the coral dress for black or a more dressy material, and different shoes. For the casual events, trouser jeans and a nice top (eg short sleeve sweater or twinset, etc.) would probably work well. Or khakis, but make sure they’re nice and not sloppy. :)

  27. Department store or specialty store cosmetics will often fill a sample size for you if you just ask. I use bare minerals foudnation and have a sample-size dispenser (that I refill from my full-size one) and use to travel – its easily enough for a long weekend. I’ve had other brands (Clairol, I think) give me samples of liquid makeup when I used to that as well.

  28. I have used a variety of the Eagle Creek Pack-It bags in different sizes for travel, and my clothes (including silk blouses, suits, dresses, etc) always arrive wrinkle free:

    I use the Garment Sleeve for suits, and the Folders for blouses, skirts. Then I have a few of the cube bags for workout gear, PJs, t-shirts and other items that can be rolled up, and a few shoe bags to protect clothes from dirty shoe bottoms.

    An unintended benefit is that it makes it really easy to repack your bag if you happen to be unlucky enough to be pulled off the line and searched by TSA (happened to me twice last week). You’re just repacking a few cubes, a folder and a garment sleeve rather than all your items packed separately.

    I also have these in different colors when I travel with the family – one for me, one for hubby and one for daughter – so I can quickly pack and unpack everyone’s gear upon arrival.

    • I pack too, I use victorinox packing cubes, one is large enough for my shorts AND pants, the otehr is good for my underwear – I somehow get grossed out at the idea some TSA agent would be fumbling with my undies… so I put everything neatly packed in the cube and they can sneak a peak and knwo everything inside without touching.

  29. I never get on an international flight without 2 liters of water (purchased for exorbitant prices in the airport), undereye cream, gentle astringent or face wipes, lubricant eye drops, and hand cream. It is amazing how dehydrated one, and one’s skin/eyes, get on a long flight, and also amazing how dirty one’s skin gets – my astringent pads are usually brown and grimy.

    I also normally wear black on a flight because it covers spills and grime the best. I wear yoga pants that can “pass” for regular pants, a black long-sleeved tee, my most comfortable bra and my trusty Dansko Professionals, which are like heaven for swollen and sore feet.

    • Oh, I forgot – I also always fill a travel-sized bottle with Woolite before I go. That way I can wash my essentials in the sink and don’t have to worry about the expense of hotel laundry. Also handy for when I inevitably spill on a silk shell.

      • Oh, and also – if you brush your teeth on the plane, do NOT use the water from the lavatory sink. It is not potable. Ask the flight attendant for a glass of drinking water to brush with.

    • Eponine, we must have been separated at birth! I do exactly the same stuff, right down to the yoga pants that can pass for regulars (especially for intercontinental flights).
      I also keep a small bottle of hand-sanitizer (love Body Shop’s tea tree one) on flights.

  30. Use crayons (I like Laura Mercier myself) that do double duty as concealers, blushes, eyeshadow. Stick a few in a pocket of a briefcase and you’re set. Use the wax crayon scents (Clinique Happy makes them) so you can wear a touch of scent and not have to deal with security.

    If you make a lot of overnight trips, as I do, frankly I wear nice yoga pants that look appropriate, comfy shoes, t-shirt and cute jacket – I sleep in the t-shirt, then put the pants back on to work out, then shower and get ready for the day. I think it’s silly to bring pajamas for one night in a hotel. And frankly for several nights, I bring workout clothes and work out in them after they’ve been slept in.

  31. I wish the airlines would do away with the policy on carry-on bags. IMHO, everyone should check their luggage. Allowing carry-ons slows the boarding and deplaning processes. Should you be able to bring your briefcase – yes, diaper bag – yes, small bag with a few essentials – yes, but I am tired of the people who pack for their long weekend in a larger than allowable carry-on bag, then drop it on my head while looking for a place to stuff their bag (since it is oversized anyway).

  32. One more suggestion for long haul airplane rides: wear support socks or hose. They make a huge difference in how your legs feel and you can get them in black or neutral where no one will be the wiser as to what kind of socks they are.

  33. If you’re carrying a laptop of any size, you can get a padded mailer (that you use to ship books or whatever) and use that as a laptop case. It’s light, will protect your laptop and will fit in whatever carryon/tote you bring along. Tugging a laptop case is never my idea of fun. I did that on my recent trip to London, just stuck my netbook in a padded envelope and put it in my crossover bag.

  34. lady justice :

    One particular item I love for travel is the DKNY Cozy (the wrap with sleeves). I have the cashmere/silk version: not cheap but you can get a milion uses out of it..Great for planes – keeps you nice n warm, can we worn with jeans and a T-shirt, or dressed up with a skirt, slacks, and a blouse. You can use a bangle to tie it to make it dressy as well. I have found it to be a terrific item on travel…both business and personal…and it lays flat and takes up little space.

  35. I’m actually going on a 2-3 week trip to Europe next year (and as a typical woman I’m already planning) and my husband wants me to pack really light…as in all my stuff in a backpack light. He went to Europe several years ago, so he already has a bigger backpack for the trip. He had me try it on for size and I hate it! I’m very petite and it was just awkward on me. I was actually thinking of purchasing a Lesportsac large weekender (like the one you mentioned above), but I’m worried it might get uncomfortable. What are your thoughts on the Lesportsac and do you have any other suggestions?