Business travel can be fun and exciting. But how should you pack?
The first time I was sent on an out-of-town work assignment, I spent six weeks traveling between four major European cities. Sure, it sounds like a dream (and quite frankly, it was), but my 21-year-old self couldn’t figure out how to pack for a trip that would consist of fancy events, two to three business meetings a day, weekend downtime and a lot of time in the air and on a train.
Dresses That Don’t Wrinkle
Ironing and I don’t get along and I really don’t want to travel with a steamer, so I pack clothes that don’t wrinkle. I usually stick to wool or polyester-blend dresses like this Calvin Klein score ($40 at Marshalls!):
This one from White House Black Market (an outlet score for $40) also makes the business travel cut:
My go-to dress for pretty much everything in my life is a black wool-blend Ann Taylor sheath (with a subtle bow in the back). I bought it 15 years ago (!) for full-price (gasp) at Ann Taylor along with the matching jacket, and I kid you not, I’ve worn it at least 150 times since then. Everything from job interviews to funerals to awards ceremonies to my daughter’s baptism, it has never, ever failed me. In fact, I am so paranoid about the dry cleaner ruining it, that I searched Poshmark high and low for six months until I found one, NWT, for only $45! So now I have two.
Yes, that’s me with Tamron Hall, whom I had the great honor of meeting when I received an award in NYC. To tell you how well this dress travels, I left my house at 4am that morning, stashed the dress (folded) in my carry-on briefcase along with the jewelry (Lia Sophia), shoes (Jessica Simpson), a curling iron and some touch-up makeup, and changed into everything an hour before the ceremony. No wrinkles, no fuss.
Side note: I love this dress so much, I scooped up one in a different color in 2006:
You’re probably thinking, “There’s no place for maxi dresses on business trips.” But I beg to differ.
Depending on the events you have planned and the type of maxi dress, you can wear a fancier one for cocktail hours at conferences or dinners with colleagues, like this Ann Taylor score ($79 at the outlet):
For casual nights out and/or traveling on a plane, cotton maxis with a bit of stretch like this Donna Rico dress will fit the bill. No surprise, I also have this in a different color (sense a trend with me?):
I roll my maxi dresses and try to pack them at the top of my suitcase. When I get to my destination, if they need a quick steam, I’ll hang them up in the hotel bathroom while I shower. That’s what I did in the picture above (with my adorable husband). The night this photo was taken, we were at our third hotel during a two-week family vacation, so it’s pretty impressive it stayed mostly wrinkle-free.
Washable Blazers and Pants
I sweat. A lot. Especially while presenting. My dirty little secret is out.
In short, I often can’t get two days’ wear out of my blazers, and therefore, I only travel with ones I can wash in the hotel laundromat if I’m in a pinch (unless I’m bringing my trusty AT suit noted above). My favorite is this great Calvin Klein striped blazer I bought on Poshmark for $10 (!!!!).
Also making the cut? The only dress pants I wear, NYDJ ponte knit. I’ll throw on some red or black jewelry and patent leather heels, along with a cotton lace cami from Kmart (yes, you read that correctly), and I’m all set.
It’s important to travel with clothes that don’t stress you out. That “good luck silk blouse” you swear by? Unless you’re a pro at steaming on the road, it’s probably better if you leave it at home.
If you can create a work travel capsule, even better: a couple of blazers, blouses, a pair of pants and heels can make the cut for a few days away. Add in your PJs, workout clothes (optional) and your travel home clothes, and you can easily pack everything in your carry on.
And just for fun, a picture of my girls, at different stages, in their “baby boardroom outfit” by Calvin Klein: