• Packing tips for business trips

    For the past few weeks, I’ve been shuttling between NY/NJ for work. Travel is lonely and draining, but at least I can now pack in my sleep. I started out with a little roller suitcase, but as time went on, packing became progressively more minimalistic. Young me used to bring pretty dresses, cute handbags, and even hair appliances in anticipation of living it up in the city after work…now, my “extras” consist of one oversized sleep shirt for hotel hibernation. I’ve gotten it down to one tote bag, clunky laptop contained.

    My trusty Longchamp Planetes Tonal tote (5-star user reviews!)


    Outfits for 3 days (clockwise, from upper right): Target blouse, J.Crew necklace, AT blouse, Sparkling Sage necklace, H&M; blouse, pearl necklace, AT lace skirt, AT knit skirt, BR suiting skirt (all newly slimmed for super cheap in Asia…woohoo), Theory basic blazer.

    I bring necklaces to add interest to otherwise plain outfits, but the downside is that most of my jewelry is so heavy! This is not good for lightweight packing and especially not for the neck, I’m sure. Going forward, I resolve to avoid buying heavy costume jewelry (unless it’s just too cute – those will have to be reserved for short-duration wear).
    Some packing tips:
    – Choose polyester blouses that are lightweight with good drape, and don’t wrinkle easily.
    – Choose stretchy knit skirts that are comfortable for travel and don’t wrinkle easily
    – Roll clothes up tightly to avoid wrinkles (you get the theme) and to save space. I especially like doing this because I’m a bad folder.
    – Wear your heaviest and/or least packing-friendly pieces when traveling (unless you have a long trip). I usually travel in a black suit, and recycle the blazer for outfits throughout the week.
    – Coordinate your outfits around one pair of shoes, since heels take up lots of space. I always pack my Ann Taylor perfect pumps, and travel in TB Reva flats.

    Ta da! 3-4 days in a tote bag.

    Not shown: I usually fold up a Longchamp Le Pliage tote (Nordies has 10+ colors) and toss it inside my main bag, just in case I have to carry documents home. When I “splurged” on my first Longchamp in 2008, I worried about the thin straps tearing and the bottom corners fraying into holes. After four years of almost daily use/abuse, I can attest that they are actually very functional and sturdy. My Le Pliage corners have started to fray, but the Planetes Tonal (thicker, sturider, yet still lightweight and pliable) corners show very minimal wear. I clean mine inside & out simply with an antibacterial wipe, and can’t imagine traveling without one. See my vintage post on the different-sized Longchamps against a petite frame.

    Readers – What are your tips / habits for packing for business trips?

    144 thoughts on “Packing tips for business trips

    • Well Heeled Blog February 27, 2012 at 9:22 pm

      I've been thinking about getting a Longchamp – thanks for the review & for showing me how much it fits! LOL. Right now my bag for anything less than 4 days is the Linea Pelle Dylan Weekender, but I think the Longchamp would be lighter.

    • Jessica Cai February 27, 2012 at 9:26 pm

      Great post!

      I've had my Longchamp for four years and use it every time for travel too! When I pack I usually lay my clothes flat because for me, rolling takes up more volume. What do you think?

    • Katherine February 27, 2012 at 9:31 pm

      I love my Longchamp too and always bring it when I travel, it's one of the most versatile bags! You are such a packing expert, WOW. Do you have a separate handbag that you bring though?

    • Mimi February 27, 2012 at 9:32 pm

      these packing tips are awesome! thanks for posting about them. i will definitely keep these in mind. 🙂

      <3, Mimi

    • Marsy February 27, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      Thank you for the helpful tips! 🙂


    • Ella Pretty Blog February 27, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      Love how you've pared down your packing to just the essentials! Since I'm a SAHM I don't have to travel for work anymore – but I do use some of the same tips when packing for family holidays – 1)planning my outfits around my shoes 2) keeping the outfits simple and using statement necklaces to liven things up.

      It's really amazing how a bold necklace can make a simple outfit look well put-together.

      I also hate the feeling of heavy necklaces on my neck – so I find myself reaching a lot for my H&M; necklaces – which are surprisingly light – you can forget you have them on!

    • Anonymous February 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Um, I'm sure it's in that turquoise make-up bag I see tucked in amongst your clothing, but how about toiletries and a change of underwear/bras?

    • Natasha Fatah February 27, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      This is really helpful, thank you Jean!

    • Lili February 27, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      Excellent tips! I don't think I'd be able to downsize this much, but then again I don't travel for work often 😉 Btw, I love your pumps! 😀

    • PetiteAsianGirl February 27, 2012 at 9:42 pm

      I didn't think the world needed to see my panties and push-up bras, so you'll just have to use your imagination : ) And yes, toiletries = turquoise bag.

    • harrietbambridge February 27, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      i love those longchamp bags but refuse to get one on the basis that everyone seems to have them! thanks for the very useful packing tips too, they have actually helped a lot! xx

    • Victoria February 27, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      I do the exact same things as you. I don't go on business trips but I've been flying home from college every other weekend for 3 days so I have really honed my packing efficiency. I've got it down to a longchamp le pliage tote and a teeny tiny suitcase not much larger than my tote bag. This weekend my suitcase was nearly empty even with a textbook and notebooks in it! I think it's time for me to downsize even further and just bring my tote bag.

    • The Little Dust Princess February 27, 2012 at 9:52 pm

      Great tips, Jean! I also pack a plastic bag (or other thin, light one) for the "used" clothing so it won't stink. 😛 I love the Le Pliage! I used to put my laptop (along with other things) in it for school although it was SO bad for my shoulders.

    • The Little Dust Princess February 27, 2012 at 9:53 pm

      Oh! You got rid of word verification! I was preparing for battle before I hit Publish. LOL I started noticing the new system of CAPTCHA a couple of days ago and it was so frustrating.

    • Hannah February 27, 2012 at 9:54 pm

      I love how even when you simplify everything down, your outfits still look stylish and professional! By the way, love your Long Champ.

    • rt r February 27, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      "thin straps"

      Don't they dig into your palms/shoulders when the bag gets heavy?

    • PetiteAsianGirl February 27, 2012 at 9:59 pm

      Great idea with the baggie..I need to start bringing one for the dirty laundry.

    • Kat February 27, 2012 at 10:00 pm

      where do you work now? will you be commuting to nj/ny permanently?

    • PetiteAsianGirl February 27, 2012 at 10:01 pm

      Yes, I suppose they do. There's no denying that the best thing for your shoulders and back is a backpack.

    • Gracie February 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm

      I love these kind of posts!

      I've always wondered how these bags fair when you carry them from the strap. Do you have problems with it touching the floor or such?

      @Victoria, that lip color looks fabulous on you!!

    • Lisa - respect the shoes February 27, 2012 at 10:12 pm

      Holy cow, you are streamlined in your packing! I travel quite a bit for work too – but no way could I pack like you, though I need to!

    • Aileen (Pharmafoodie) February 27, 2012 at 10:13 pm

      I'm a big proponent of packing light, but my few toiletries (hairbrush, styling paste, travel-sized shampoo, conditioner, body wash and dry shampoo), minimal makeup and pharmacy meds (Rx and OTC) still take up a good amount of space! Since I travel a lot for both work and fun, I am a big fan of Tumi luggage – I've discovered that a rolling computer bag and a duffel bag that hooks on top of the roller is perfect for a 3 day work trip and petite-friendly (aka, no heavy lugging!).

    • Jasmine M. February 27, 2012 at 10:40 pm

      if you didn't know this, longchamp boutique repairs the fray corners for free but it takes upto 6-8 weeks! hope this helps! 🙂

    • tiffany rose February 27, 2012 at 10:50 pm

      Some of my packing tips for traveling more than a few days include choosing two neutrals that work with the same pair or color of shoes and adding one or two accent colors through blouses and accessories to make the most of mix and match. Also, scarves squash down to nothing and can change up outfits. A thin wool thermal underwear top is a must for me, you never know when you'll be stuck in a too-cold meeting room. They take almost no room in your bag and you can sneak off during a break to slip it under your long-sleeve shirt/blouse.

    • Forever Fashion February 27, 2012 at 10:50 pm

      I love your tips so much!


    • Angie February 27, 2012 at 10:54 pm

      that is downright impressive, jean. the art of packing light is something i definitely need to work on, but at least i got some practice flying around for interviews. i can't imagine living out of a tote!

    • rebecca February 27, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      no tights? no coat/scarf/glove? isn't it still pretty cold in nyc this time of yr?

    • Anonymous February 27, 2012 at 11:13 pm

      wow thanks for the great tip!

    • Tam February 27, 2012 at 11:17 pm

      I'm so impressed! My short trips always seem to require two Longchamp totes: one for laptop, other electronics, files, and medications, and the other for clothes, shoes, and toiletries. Unfortunately for me, no hair appliances is just not an option!

    • Amelia February 27, 2012 at 11:20 pm

      I always roll my necklace into a sheet of bubble wrap, then secured with a rubber band to keep them untangled — this has saved many a necklace during travel.

      Also, super impressed with your packing, I always end up packing entirely too much, and realize I could have gotten away with about a quarter of what I brought.

    • Lloyd Lim February 27, 2012 at 11:49 pm

      Wow. Talk about minimalism. I don't think I can reduce my travel pack as light as yours ever. I used to travel 70% of the time years back, and I had mastered the airport security check-in; scan safe belt, easy to take off & put on shoes, slip in and out laptop bag, etc. Wish MacBook Air were available at that time. It's super light. (But, I don't travel for work any more.)


      – Lloyd

    • SewPetiteGal February 28, 2012 at 12:01 am

      So impressive! I think I pack more than that for an overnight trip (eep).

    • Anonymous February 28, 2012 at 12:02 am

      But they all still fit in there too? That's impressive. I wish I could pare down my packing as much as that, but I always worry that squishing padded bras into such a confined space will permanently deform them -_- Anyone got any tips for packing those without making them lose their shape? Pictures not required 🙂

    • Anonymous February 28, 2012 at 12:09 am

      You can also use the one provided in hotels for laundry- that's what I do and it works just fine.

    • ChristinaBakes February 28, 2012 at 12:23 am

      Wow, I'm so impressed. What do you do for make-up and toiletries?!

    • bex February 28, 2012 at 12:26 am

      so glad you posted on travelling! I live in one of the most isolated cities in the world (perth in western australia), so packing so very important…and I'm so very bad at it. for a petite girl, I was always pack far too much, and end up wearing half of what i've been lugging around between taxis, airports, trams…maybe the purchase of a longchamp is all I need to turn into the minimalist expert traveller. hmm.

    • Inés February 28, 2012 at 1:12 am

      It´s absolutely stunning. That´s an extra minimalist packing!!

      Big hugs!


    • SIENA.STYLE February 28, 2012 at 1:16 am

      love it!!i have the same bag

    • Anonymous February 28, 2012 at 1:47 am

      Have you ever considered packing cubes? I've seen them on some other blogs and recently tried them out myself and I love them.


    • Bettina February 28, 2012 at 2:14 am

      Agreed the longchamp bag is fabulous, but I had no idea you could fit that much in the bag! I've never tried this and I've never tried rolling pieces of clothing this way. I will be attempting to use just my longchamp bag for my next 2-3 day business trip and will report back to you 🙂

    • kath-thy February 28, 2012 at 2:20 am

      I have both the planetes tote and the medium le pliage and love them both. The planetes tote carried me through my university years and I only have some minor scuffing on the bottom corners. Now its too large for my everyday needs, that's where the le pliage comes in. But will definitely consider travelling with it. Thanks for the idea 🙂

    • Anna February 28, 2012 at 3:51 am

      I bought my first Le Pliage in the same year as you did (if I remember correctly). It did fray but still holds up beautifully. The leather on the strap was tucked in the closure of a car seat once and got a little damage, but still I can carry my (less bulky) laptop as well as clothes, shoes, beauty essentials and books inside without having to worry. I bought a second Le Pliage last year and love it to pieces. I will go for one of the even sturdier models for the next one probably, but anyways the cost per wear for my Longchamps has always been amazing so they are deffinitely worth the splurge!

    • Sophie February 28, 2012 at 4:05 am

      Wow! It's great that you can pack for 3-4 days in a tote bag. I always tend to overpack thinking I need everything. -_-

    • gigiofca February 28, 2012 at 6:20 am

      I am amazed. I thought that was your carry on bag only. *lol*

    • PetiteLittleGirl February 28, 2012 at 6:38 am

      Wonderful tips, Jean! You should have posted these before I visited Boston so I did not have to pack my life with me for a 2-day trip =) Now, I am contemplating the Planetes tote. It seems like a great bag for travel. Do they come in different sizes like the Le Pliage?

    • My Dressy Ways February 28, 2012 at 8:20 am

      You're amazing!!! I always overpack! Great tips, Jean.

    • M February 28, 2012 at 9:13 am

      I usually pack my padded bras over a pair of socks or similar, to avoid crushing them with something else.

    • M February 28, 2012 at 10:24 am

      I just realized it's a tote bag… WOW! i usually pack just what i need but my blow dryer takes up most of the space… I think i need to get a travel sized hair dryer. I'd like one that's powerful but small (and on the low cost side)… any recommendations?

    • dietingfashions February 28, 2012 at 10:26 am

      Great tips! I usually can fit everything in a carry on and my handbag. When I travel, I roll my clothes too. I get cold very easily so I like to pack lightweight sweaters and cardigans rather than blouses. I actually travel with the Caruso ion steam rollers. It's very compact and easily portable. I don't like to travel with jewelry.


    • Love and Company February 28, 2012 at 11:18 am

      Thank you for posting some traveling tips. We always have a hard time packing in everything for short trips and end up over packing for just a couple days. Very efficient!


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