Come on girls… I know I'm not the only guilty party! I LOVE traveling, yes, even when it's for business. I also LOVE packing! And packing, and packing and packing some more. Before you know it, I could easily fill 2 carry-on items, and 2 suitcases that I'd have to check without even thinking about it. But when I'm only going to a business conference for a couple days and don't NEED all of my stuff, I know that I can get away with just taking my carry-on. I mean… I know I WANT to wear those 3 paris of shoes all in the same day, but let's face it: it's just a lot of work to carry all of that luggage all by my little lonesome when I'm headed out for a business trip. Add in accessories, make-up, hair products and pajamas and before you know it, you could be traveling somewhere for a month instead of just a few days!
Generally, when traveling for business, you need to think about what you will be attending. Are you only doing business meetings during the day and you're on your own at night? Do you have a conference to go to with cocktail hours afterwards? Are there group activities that are going to require more comfortable attire that will be outside of the resort you might be staying at?
That being said, here is how to pack for a 3-day event in a carry-on and keep everything professional. Mark my words… it CAN be done!
First thing is first… make sure you have the most proactive carry-on possible! Search for a "travel pro" carry-on, that preferably is a roller bag. Why make it anymore difficult on yourself in the airport that you have to? Make sure that thing has many compartments outside that can be stuffed and stashed. You'll need them!
Pick your most lightweight PJ's you have and pack them up! You can wear the same ones for 2 or 3 nights, so suck it up and only take one pair!
Jewelry and Accessories -
These are our best weapons, right ladies? They give us confidence, make us feel like a piece of home is with us no matter where we go and jazz up any outfit we might bring along with us. And can change an outfit with a simple change of a necklace! And best of all… they don't take up a lot of room at all! Scarves and jewelry can really help you to mix and match different pieces of clothing that will keep your outfits fun and fresh the entire time you're away. To save a little bit more room, wear that favorite scarf on the plane and don't worry about packing it away! Show it off! Just use some common sense and don't pack your most expensive pieces. The last thing you want to happen is to lose a piece of jewelry that is near and dear to your heart when you're far away from home!
So like I said before… No need to go crazy and bring every pair you own. I know, I know… stop swearing at me under your breath... Bring a sensible pair of black shoes that will go with anything. Remember… you may be moving and up and busy for upwards to 10-12 hours when you're away at a conference, so whatever you do, make sure they are comfortable! If you have another pair of shoes that you're dying to bring, I'd recommend wearing whatever the bulkiest pair will be when you travel. Than you don't have to worry about stuffing them in your carry-on! If you know you're going to be doing some active things throughout your stay, make sure you bring a pair of tennis shoes, as well. Get a glance at the itinerary before packing and you'll know what you'll be in for!
I recommend bringing two pairs of neutral pants, or one pair of pants and one skirt. You may also need a pair of jeans if you'll be doing active things after hours or will have downtime at night and wish to be more comfortable. When you're sitting in meetings you won't be getting your pants very dirty, so you'll be safe to wear something twice, if needed. Denim can take up a lot of room in your carry-on, so if necessary, feel free to wear these while you travel, too!
Bring along a couple of camisoles or sleeveless blouses! These are extremely lightweight and will take up next to no room in your luggage and can really brighten an outfit so easily! They can be mixed and matched and worn with a button-up, sweater, blazer, or business suit, so they are very versatile!
If you're destination is cold, you'll want to pick a lightweight sweater that can be used as a layering piece over those blouses you bring! You may even want to think about bringing a cardigan if the event is going to be low-key and you have a night out in a cold weather climate!
Dress Up? -
Only you will know if formal attire will be required for the conference. These days, many of these types of events will be business casual, but if you know that things will be more formal, you'll want to bring one suit with. You should pack one that is versatile enough to wear with the blouses you pack, and can even be matched with a skirt, as well. If a suit isn't a requirement, think about just packing a blazer to give yourself a more professional appearance. Blazers can be great dressed up or dressed down with a camisole and jeans. Also, if one of the evenings is more formal, you may need to think about packing that little black dress of yours!
Purse / Tote -
Like my shoes, I love my purses! If I could, I'd bring one that would match every outfit I might wear! But, alas… when trying to travel with a carry-on, this is not the wisest choice. Bring along your smartest purse/tote/clutch that is neutral and will get you through your entire event. You'll want it to work with everything you wear and will probably be with you as you travel, instead of in your carry-on. So pick well!
Here is where you can really shave off some much-needed space in your carry-on. For make-up, bring along the basics (think blush, lipstick, eye shadow, mascara) and leave everything else at home. Also, think about utilizing as much of the hotel toiletries as you can! Since airlines have heavy restrictions on anything liquid that comes on a plane, you'll have to make sure that you pack travel-sized liquid items, like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, etc. But guess what? Many hotels offer these items free of charge for their guests! I know I can deal with their brand for 2 or 3 days and I'm sure you can, too. It sure beats trying to get all of my items into the travel-sized containers! You may want to even call your location and see if they'll have a hair dryer, as well. Think of all of the space you'll save! Now you're talking about only bringing the necessary items you need, and maybe a hair straightener/curling iron.
Miscellaneous Items -
Don't forget about all of the electronic items you may need to take with. Make sure you're accounting for all of the chargers you may need for your phone, laptop, tablet, Kindle, etc. Because these are things that I absolutely need to function at conferences and help me take notes and remember key items, I make sure I know exactly where these are going to be packed!
Extra Tips -
Think about using the "rolling technique" when packing your clothes in your carry-on. Fold the item in half and than roll tightly. It helps save so much space and also will help to reduce wrinkles! Bonus!
Having trouble narrowing down your outfit choices? Try pulling out all of the items you WANT to take and start paring items down once you can figure out what will work well together and weed things out. You'll be able to put together a more cohesive business travel wardrobe and you'll see exactly what will be versatile to wear with other things. It makes things so much less complicated!
There you go! With these ideas on how to pack for a 3-day event in just a carry-on, you'll be sure to bring everything you need while not going overboard. It can be hard the first time or two, but soon enough, you'll be a natural and you'll wonder what you used to need all of that extra stuff for at all! Good luck!