All my friends have traveled for business at least once, and for many, it's frequent. The younger you are, the more likely you are to have a job that requires some jet-setting, because your family obligations are fewer. In this day and age, you're also likely to be traveling for job interviews. Therefore, you're going to have to become an excellent packer, because there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Once a friend of mine had to meet a Canadian diplomat in a gray Gap T-shirt, holey jeans and Converse sneakers, because she checked her bag and it got lost en route.
Some general rules for packing and traveling for career reasons include:
-- Give yourself a color scheme. In order to streamline your packing and fit everything into your carry-on, it makes sense to pack clothes that can be mixed and matched. For example, instead of packing both the black blazer and the navy blazer with things to wear with each, pack the black blazer and add blush and khaki/camel for a neutral palette. That way, your blush-hued blouse can be worn under your black blazer and also with your camel skirt for a whole new outfit.
-- No linen or other wrinkly fabrics. We both know you're not using that iron in the hotel room.
-- If you're wearing hose or tights, pack two pairs.
-- When you're going to be walking a lot -- and on a trip, that's likely to be the case -- you'll need two pairs of shoes so you don't have to wear the same pair on back-to-back days. They could be the best walking shoes in the world, and they'll still hurt you if you put your feet back into them after an entire day of traipsing around.
-- Try not to forget anything, for obvious reasons.
Let's say your typical business trip is about three days long. You arrive at your destination on Wednesday and leave on Friday. Be sure to consider the weather and your itinerary for each day. Your packing list might look like this:
-- Black blazer
-- Black cigarette pants
-- Short-sleeved or sleeveless khaki sheath dress
-- Blush blazer
-- White tie-neck blouse with black polka dots
-- White fitted tee
-- Nude pumps
-- Metallic flats
-- Faux python tote
-- Subtle gold jewelry
On day one, travel in the black cigarette pants, polka-dot blouse and metallic flats. When you arrive, replace the flats with the pumps, and if you need to go nicer throw on the black blazer unbuttoned. For day two, do the khaki dress with either blazer and either pair of shoes. If you're attending a conference, this might be the day when there's a social event or nice dinner at night, so you can just take off the blazer to refresh your look. On day three, choose the cigarette pants, the blush blazer, buttoned, with the white shirt underneath and either pair of shoes. With this plan, you'll always look chic, but you won't have to spend a bunch of time thinking about what to wear, nor will you be scrambling to fit everything into your suitcase.
(E-mail Kristyn Schiavone at email@example.com, or follow her on Twitter at @KKSchiavone.)
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