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

  • pribble February 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Great post. I too was like you in the beginning…everything that seemed savvy 'just in case'. Then reality kicked in….

  • Joy February 29, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    oh my gosh, I think I pretty much pack the same way you do. I roll everything up into little hot dogs. I bring one pair of heels, maybe flats or flip flops if I need to. I do think I bring more toiletries than you though; toothbrush, a bar of soap, loofah, travel size shampoo & conditioner, travel-size toothpaste. I've had enough experiences in the past that have taught me not to trust what the hotel provides. I put it all into one bag as well. As a small person, I just can't be bothered to struggle and break my back over being prepared for every single situation.

  • Lindsay Christine Adams February 29, 2012 at 9:46 pm
  • Tanya March 1, 2012 at 4:32 am

    Hi Jean,

    Just wondering if you paid full price for your Longchamp. I really want to get one, but $175 is a bit hefty! I assume there aren't too many sales though

  • tra March 1, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Hi Jean, I am MEGA petite and I am wondering which type of bags you usually carry? I feel like there aren't many bag options for petite girls and i don't want to look funny carrying really big statement bag, neither do i want to carry tiny shoulder bags… any advice? thankS! i adore you and your style!

  • Ashley March 1, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Thanks for this post! I'm heading out for a 5 day work trip, then another week long trip with a week break, so this post is very much needed! Hope your new job is going well!

  • QT March 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Lovely post!

  • QT March 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    I'm glad I came across your blog. I have the same problem…5'3" & 98 lbs…I seriously can't find any pants that fit for work. I have a better luck w/ jeans but those are no no for work. Skirts are hard to find too, they don't fit the waist. 🙂

  • LorraineNpopo March 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    I wish I can pack so light! Can you show us how you pack your skincare and makeup? That's where my problems come from!

  • Anonymous March 1, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Hi Jean,

    I absolutely love your blog and got all my college girl friends obsessed as well =) I was wondering if you have any other recommendations for professional work bags besides Longchamps that are high quality but affordable for a college student? Thank you!

  • DiamondsandTulle March 1, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Great post and tips Jean! ITA about the poly blouses and knits that roll up. (In fact I have that same HM blouse and think it looks so much more luxe than it cost!). I'm also a big fan of using little bags (fabric or nylon) for separating items in my suitcase. Keeps everything super organized.

    The only thing I can't agree on is the carry-tote vs. rolling bag. I remember one business trip in particular… running from one terminal to another to change planes after the first leg was delayed (at the humoungous DFW airport), catching the tram, and heaving and puffing with my Coach overnight tote. UGH… it was the worst thing ever. I promptly bought a carry-on rolling luggage after that trip and have never regretted it!

    xx Vivian @

  • Helen March 1, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    I love this post! I'm starting a job this summer that will require a lot of travel, and I'll definitely invest in a Longchamp bag. One travel tip that has helped me when going on business trips and interviews has been to pack a lightweight long scarf that is wide enough to double as a shawl/blanket on the plane. It a great functional accessory and takes up minimal space.

  • LeeAnne, Style N Season March 1, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Whoa! I'd never to travel that light, I guess. I love my little suitcase too much, hehehe. Admire your minimalism, though.

    Visit me:
    LeeAnne, Style N Season

  • Nitu March 1, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    That's awesome! How do you end up taking toiletries? I was inspired to starting packing light for my business trips ( huge step since I am a heavy packer). but I end up checking my luggage as I cant narrow my toiletries to one ziploc bag for air travel! Please do share your tips on those too.

  • Karen (littlepiecefnb) March 2, 2012 at 2:03 am

    I love that tote! I have the Longchamp Le Pliage and use it ALL the time for weekend trips. I agree that it's super durable! I like packing (and hoarding) hotel size toiletries for short trips too. haha

  • heatherskib March 2, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    I can manage 2 days plus a laptop in my WhakSak ultimate tote. My recent week long trip I took a carry on and used my ultimate tote as a computer bag. The main jump to a carry on in my case is for running clothes I can do 2 days without a workout, not a week.

    One thing that I find- is when I don't check a suitcase- I tend to get searched by TSA. Maybe they have a hard time believing a woman can travel for a week without checked luggage.

  • La Chinita March 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    You're amazing at travel packing!!! I haven't seen anything as efficient. I wished I had the discipline to pack as little… How do you handle your toiletries? It probably fits in there as well.

  • Anonymous March 2, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    I have the small x-space spinner from Samsonite and I love it. It's about the same size as a large tote, but with spinner wheels (so you can wheel it in front of or next to you instead of pulling behind). And it has a laptop sleeve built in.

  • girlymd March 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    You really make me want to get a Planetes now! But I am on strict no-bag budget after my latest splurge, which I'll have to post soon.

    I really like you're petite like me, although I'm not nearly as petite as you, but I definitely understand the struggle to get those great fits!

  • Anonymous March 2, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    dear Jean:
    i am also a petite girl (your height) and I used to be a chubby girl ( 65kg). Now i lost some weight and feel OK. But there are some stretch marks on my legs…. i do not know how to do with them. I want to wear pretty skirt just like you. Do you have any idea is there any lotion or make up for legs?

  • Cher March 2, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    I've been looking for a sturdy travel tote that is smaller than the rolling DVF duffle that I have now but still large enough to carry my laptop and other travel necessities. I'm not crazy about the Le Pliage for several reasons, but the sturdier material of the Le Planetes might be exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks for sharing!

  • Vicky March 3, 2012 at 3:07 am

    Hey. Such a wonderful blog! I follow you & if you like follow me back! 🙂

    The Golden Bun | new post | follow me

  • Anonymous March 3, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Thanks – great post. I recommend a dark Longchamp. I love my mustard color "splurge" bought on sale at end of season, but the stains I've accumulated don't love me back.

  • PetiteAsianGirl March 3, 2012 at 11:06 am

    No, thank goodness : ) I work in Boston still.

  • PetiteAsianGirl March 3, 2012 at 11:07 am

    I've tried the steaming in the bathroom many a times and am sad to report it never works for me! Even for really flimsy materials like this H&M; black and white blouse. It could be the size of the bathroom (smaller is obviously better for more steam) and the heat of showers, haha.

  • PetiteAsianGirl March 3, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I used to be a germaphobe but I forced myself to get over it (esp with subway commuting…eech). I used to ask for disposable slippers at the front desk. My mom packs flip flops for everyone for hotel wearing like you : )

  • PetiteAsianGirl March 3, 2012 at 11:09 am

    I think leather / paper planners are adorable but I personally just use my trusty phone calendar. I put so many reminders in there like flight schedules, meetings, when to pay bills, etc and it's easy to update.

  • PetiteAsianGirl March 3, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Hi Tanya, I paid full price for my first one but my planetes was on 'secret sale' at Bloomingdales a long time ago. I was told by the SA they never go on sale but when we scanned it, it was. I'd wait for 20% off friends and family discounts at the designer stores like Saks, NM, Nordstrom, etc to see if the discount includes Longchamp.

  • PetiteAsianGirl March 3, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Are you talking about fashionable handbags or utilitarian totes? For handbags, I love designer bags that come in multiple sizes – and thankfully, so many of them do! For example, the popular LV Speedy comes in a petite-friendly 25 size (and the canvas products are very durable), and many Marc Jacobs, Miu Miu, Celine and Chanel popular styles have smaller sizes to choose from.

  • PetiteAsianGirl March 3, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Hi there – what budget are you working with and what type of material (leather, nylon, etc)? I don't know of many alternatives but can keep an eye out. I do want to mention though that I splurged on my first Longchamp right out of college when funds were limited, but I haven't regretted it once because it's been so functional and durable. Now that a reader mentioned that Longchamp makes most repairs/refurbishments for free (which I called to verify), I feel that it makes the price worth it even more!

  • PetiteAsianGirl March 3, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Hi there – I'm not an expert on stretchmarks and I did some research on Google but can't recommend anything through personal experience. It seems like most answers start with a cream to help get rid of the stretched skin, so I suggest looking around reading reviews and forums for recommendations from women who actually tried it (maybe women who just had kids because that's another cause of stretch marks). Good luck!

  • Nina March 3, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    You can put your Le Pliage in the washing machine! Use a gentle cycle and gentle detergent. You can also pre-treat the stains with Shout or Spray-n-wash. After you wash the bag, just remove it from the machine, blot the excess water with paper towels, and hang by the straps to dry – it will take a day or 2 – it will be good as new!

  • Anonymous March 3, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    I totally agree. I really want one, but everyone has one!

  • amy March 4, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Hi! I'm a relatively new reader of your blog and I love your style and this was a great post 🙂 I just wanted to comment to let you know that if you take your longchamp bag to the longchamp store, they can repair the frayed corners for you for free (but it will take a month)!

  • Anonymous March 5, 2012 at 10:42 am

    What about clothes to sleep and workout? Gym shoes are such a packing annoyance for me…

  • Ale March 6, 2012 at 10:46 am

    hi, where do you pack your toiletries and make up?

  • N. Linda March 12, 2012 at 12:55 am


    After reading your post a few weeks back, I've been contemplating about purchasing this tote. I finally purchased it today!

    I'll be out on an internship in two weeks and really needed a hand-dandy tote that will carry everything I need. I really hope this tote will not let me down.

    Thanks for the wonderful review in your "vintage post."

  • misa April 3, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I used to have the same opinion, but once I got one, my concerns that everyone else had one went away because I realized why everyone had one – they are just so handy and lightweight! If you're looking for a lightweight tote, get a Longchamp and you won't regret it.

  • Vickie Tang July 7, 2012 at 2:04 am

    This is wonderful Jean! Thanks for the post!!! I travel sometimes and never thought of rolling my clothes. Anyway~ where are your makeups/skin care products? I would love to travel with just one bag but not sure where to put rest of the stuffs?

  • Anonymous August 26, 2012 at 1:38 am

    i know the longchamp boutiques in california don't charge for shipping or repair!. i just brought mine in, no questions asked and they fixed the corners and cleaned it for me. they told me 4-6 weeks but it only took 3(:

  • Nikki September 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Thank you for sharing the packing tips! I actually have a business trip at the end of the month that I recently started planning for. Going to put some of your tips to good use. 🙂

  • Anonymous May 21, 2013 at 12:13 am

    Hi, I love the tote you are using! What size Planetes Longchamps do you have pictured?

  • Oanh Nguyen May 25, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Oanh Nguyen May 25, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Anonymous, it's the Large Planetes. I've just purchased one… not sure how I feel about it, but I know that I will make great use of it since it's classic and black, it's not noticeable 🙂

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