Oh hey YOU!
STRESSSSS ALLLLERRRRTTTT !! Packing for a business trip?…..I’d rather stab myself in the eye with a spoon.
Ya feel me?
That’s what the old me would say.
But the NEW me has a formula which I have perfected over the past couple of years and now packing for overseas (biz) travel has me somewhat less dramatic.
While I am always excited and a bit nervous before an international tour (Will it be successful? Will my dog be ok? Will my kid be ok? Will I have time to workout? Or will I get enormously fat due to the temptations of the local gourmet hamburger scene? - Shhh please don’t tell anyone it’s my weakness), one thing I don’t stress out about as much anymore is - WHAT TO PACK.
So, I guess you already know from experience that a “business trip” is a whole lot more than just biz. Right?
In my last whirlwind tour to Singapore, for example, in one week I had such a wide variety of occasions to dress for: (I’m gonna put these in bullet point so I don’t make your eyes bleed)
- Client consultations
- Meetings with potential strategic partners
- Meetings with potential clients
- Wardrobe sessions
- Casual social dinners, drinks (social) but with clients and business partners (so, biz?)
AND to top it all off….
- A Red Carpet event.
(I didn’t even bother packing my gym gear for this one, I was already pulling 14 hour days and decided to sit this one out for a week, please don’t judge me).
You can see how many dress codes we’re looking at here, right? And this is actually pretty standard for most business trips, regardless of what you do.
HOW DO I EVEN FIT ALL THIS INTO ONE CASE????
Simple: Planning and FORMULA.
I know, I know...you’re like :”But, Elle, you’re such a “creative type”...Do you EVEN FORMULA?”
“HECK YEAH I FORMULA!”
And I’m gonna SHARE my formula so that you can pack like a pro too.
OK here’s goes:
First thing first -
1. The Fundamental 15
You MUST have your core wardrobe sorted. These fifteen pieces form the foundation of your wardrobe and they are essential for quick decision making, smart shopping, easy mixing and matching and EFFICIENT PACKING. If you don’t have this list of items you can download it here OR get on it in a hands on workshop
2. The Skeleton List - A detailed list for all travel - (This takes zero time, because you already have this!)
If you travel often, you must have what I call my “skeleton list”. It’s a list of all the things I need no matter where I’m going (toiletries, electronic devices and their chargers, underwear, sleepwear etc).
I have curated, refined and perfected my skeleton list over the years. It’s easier to do when you have an electronic checklist which you can edit and revise directly from your favourite device.
Personally, I use Google Notes on my mobile in a checklist format and when I pack I can take my phone into every room and tick things off the list as I go.
I have one Skeleton List for my luggage and one for my carry-on.
Now all you have to think about is - What to wear.
3. Map out your engagements according to type (5 minutes or less)
So mine looked something like this:
4. Now the fun part - Planning outfits (5 minutes of planning)
It’s easy to plan when you have you Fundamental Fifteen sorted, you know your Style Persona (if you wanna know yours, hit me up), the purpose of your engagements and the calibre of the people you’re meeting with. This way you can be completely yourself, while staying appropriate for the occasion.
I use a whiteboard for this, but do what you need for a good mind dump. I know, this sounds like a lot of ground work, but this whole thing takes about 5 minutes and saves you a lot more than that!
Mine looks something like this:
Use the the core pieces from your Fundamental Fifteen as the baseline for your outfits so you can rotate the same 2 or 3 pants and 2 jackets and 2 or 3 pairs of shoes throughout most outfits in different combinations.
I’ve highlighted my core pieces in there so you can see how I can repeat them and use them in different combinations.
Then using your Style Persona, add your twist on things with shirts, T-shirts and accessories.
5. Save and Pack
Make a list of the items of clothing you are taking.
Take a snapshot of your whiteboard on your phone.
Now that you’ve already taken the time to plan, you don’t have to think about it again once you’re away, just look at your plan and VOILA - you know what to wear for each day or event.
Now, I know I said “5 simple steps” - but here’s one more, and it’s on the UNPACKING end.
Once you’re home and unpacking, make a note of everything you didn’t end up wearing, and anything you felt was missing and revise your list.
This is how you curate the perfect packing list.
Next time, you’ll have an even easier and faster planning process.
I’ll leave you with this:
“Time and silence are the most luxurious things today.”
Successful humans use techniques and formulas to make the most of their time and save their decision making quota for the big stuff.
The formula I have just shared with you may take a few minutes to put in place, but once you have it, it saves you SO MUCH more time in the long run.
How would you use that time, what value do you put on it?
Would love to hear from you in the comments what YOUR packing hacks are.
PS - Did you know I provide this as a service?
Selecting outfits for my clients for their biz travel (And, actually, all types of travel - last year my client was off for a 5 day birthday soiree in Monaco, each day had a theme and I created all the looks from “French Riviera” to “70s Disco” , put them all together and got them ready for my client to pack. So all they needed to do was take care of their “Skeleton List”). Click here if you need this in your life.