If you’re a business traveler, summer means two things: potential for terrible sweat, combined with the potential for great fun. How we pack makes a difference in maximizing both ends of the spectrum — not carrying too much to remain light and comfortable — while having the right gear for adding fun to a business trip.
A major decision for any business traveler is what bag to use: a backpack, versus rollerboard, versus a duffle. With summer travel, it’s possible to go lighter — fewer sweaters, coats, etc. — so the the luggage options really open up, depending on what else you need to carry.
We worked with photographer and stylist Matt Hartman to illustrate our business travel tips on what to pack, how to lug it, and what matters when taking a business trip this summer.
We’ve learned from our customers that most of your trips average about three days in length. When traveling on business, my goal is to achieve a combo of looking good, carrying light, and bringing my most critical workout stuff along. Here’s how it works: reuse everything.
My goal is to carry something that looks good for normal business activities, include a blazer for more formal or dinners out, and casual or workout clothes for downtime.
Read on for our list of what to bring, and start building your wardrobe today.
Here’s my ultimate business travel checklist:
- 1 Blazer: One of the most effective moves with a blazer is to think of it also as your sweater on a cold airplane, or when over chilled in a convention center.
1 Pant: Three days = one pair of pants. I usually choose khaki or charcoal that go well with my blazer and shirts. For me, a product with wrinkle free features plus moisture-wicking and lots of security pockets mean I can go for days on end.
- 1 Suit: Another option is to take our Gramercy Pant — which, when paired with our Gramercy Blazer, creates an instant lightweight travel suit. Many of our customers find the Gramercy to be their favorite travel pants, even without the blazer.
- 2 Shirts: It’s possible to go three days in our Meridian Travel Shirt, but most guys will want to mix it up. I usually bring two dress shirts and either rewear one, or throw a t-shirt under my blazer on a travel day.
- 3 T-Shirts: Three days for me means either two or three t-shirts. My habit is to wear them casually during the day, and then polish them off in the gym. What’s my favorite t-shirt? Don’t ask. I’ve been working on one for more than two years. Everything I get excited about — that looks and feels natural with performance capabilities built in — I end up destroying. We’re still trying.
- 2 Workout Shorts: I need to work out to be on my game. I often bring two pairs of shorts, one extremely light pair just for the gym, and a second pair that is a swim suit which I can wear in the gym, walking around, or in the pool.
- 2 Pairs of Shoes: Gotta stop at two pairs. I bring one for business, one for workout, which means my nice shoes need to be both good for travel and nice enough for my fanciest event. This is another place where it gets hard. My favorite pair are Sorrels - take a look for a full roundup in our post about the best shoes for travel.
- Personal Items: When creating a 3 day business travel packing list, you need a full kit of socks and underwear — because the trip is too short to do laundry. You’ll want three to five pairs to accommodate workouts. With a good pair of wool socks, I can wear those for a couple of days for normal wear, and then kill them in a workout. And yes, I wear goofy socks in the gym.
One of my major problems with non-technical apparel was not just how everything wrinkled, but how I was uncomfortable in extreme temperatures. Particularly in the summer, under the hot sun, moving around with a bag creates the travel sweats. So the trick is for your business travel clothes to be lightweight, breathable, and moisture wicking.
The best part of packing this way is that everything easily fits in a duffle bag, roller board, or even a backpack — and that works because your Bluffworks business travel clothes don’t require any special treatment. Shove them in the smallest bag, and when you arrive, they’re still ready to go.
If you’re wearing our pants, blazer, and one shirt to travel, what’s actually in your bag? Just an extra shirt, workout stuff, plus socks/underwear. This means you have options for what bag you pack it all in.
The big question is: how does this actually fit? We tested this packing list with three very different bags, a Mia Toro roller board from Matt’s personal collection, the Co-op Roadtripper 40L duffle bag from REI, and a Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30L backpack.
The idea is that all the items should fit nicely inside, so you can travel lighter. Or, like me, drag extra gear to squeeze in an adventure while on the road.
Carry all in a Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30L backpack
In our prior luggage roundup post, a bunch of you guys said your favorite bag was a Tom Bihn Aeronaut — so we got one to see how everything fits.
This bag works well with just enough room left over for your toiletries, but the nice thing is that you can carry it hands free and certainly don’t need to check it on a plane. You might like a separate briefcase type bag for a laptop or any other work stuff you need to carry, but most airplanes have a two-bag (one bag, one personal item) carry-on policy, so you would still be good to go.
Room to spare in a 40L duffle
Personally, I like to carry a duffel for the freedom and flexibility it offers me over a rollerboard and the additional capacity over a backpack. This 40L duffel still has plenty of room up top for work stuff, and space for the inevitable extra gear my trip will call for.
Roll on in a roller board
I’m not a roller board guy myself, but as you can see, this list fits easily into Matt’s small roller board from Mia Toro that would be a cinch to carry on. Notice that he used a packing cube to keep some of the clothes clean and safe from smelly sneakers. Depending on what else I’m carrying, I like to use packing cubes to keep things organized and compact (these are by Acteon). You can also roll our travel clothing to pack them in a smaller space because they don’t wrinkle.
My business travel packing approach is to be hands-free
I’m just a hands-free guy, preferring to have everything on my back. I don’t actually own a roller board. My go-to when I carry more stuff is a backpack plus the lightest possible duffel bag.
“How to pack” can be fightin’ words for a seasoned business traveler. I’ll be eager to see how much I’ve stirred the pot and what strong opinions you have on how to pack.