The Minimalist Guide to Business Travel

Audrey Fairbrother
August 16, 2014
The Minimalist Guide to Business Travel

When it comes to luggage, airlines really are out to get you. Most all airlines now charge fees for checked baggage, and some are starting to charge for carry-ons…and don’t even think about trying to sneak by the gate attendant with more than one bag! For frequent business travelers, these fees can really take a chunk out of your already-tight travel budget. The solution? Embrace minimalist travel.

Here are six steps for, as Running Ronin puts it, “making the least out of your luggage.”

Get a smaller bag

You know how if you have one hour do to a task, it will take one hour, but if you have two hours to do it, the same task will take two hours? This principle also applies to packing for a business trip—most people will fill whatever bag they take. So, the first step in becoming a minimalist business traveler is simply to get a smaller bag.

If you spend a lot of time on the road, you know the value of a good piece of luggage. Briggs & Riley has some great small bags, like the 21” Domestic Carry-On Expandable Upright and (for the ultra-minimalist) the Cabin Spinner. Throw on a TSA-compliant messenger bag for your laptop and other devices, and you are good to go.

Pack smarter

All of those clothes you took on your last business trip won’t fit into your new smaller bag, and chances are you didn’t wear them all anyway. For a two- or three-day trip, pack two or three shirts, two pants or skirts, and one jacket. For longer trips, think “mix and match.” Women, check out Travel Fashion Girl’s advice on how to create one to two weeks’ worth of outfits using just ten pieces of clothing. Men, add shirts and jackets only as necessary, but even for a week-long trip you don’t usually need more than three. Remember: Your hotel will have laundry.

Up your rolling game

You probably already roll your clothes in your suitcase, but you can take that roll to a whole new level. Comedian and very frequent traveler Dan Nainan recommends putting rubber bands around everything. Not only does this technique mean more tightly rolled clothes, but also your clothes won’t “unroll and get mashed up.”

Also see: 5 Business Travel Hacks for Your Next Work Trip

Minimize your beauty routine

No matter what you think, you really don’t need to take your entire cosmetics case with you on a business trip. Forget the soaps, shampoos, and conditioners entirely—your hotel will have those. Eliminate what you can and, for the real essentials, buy travel size. If your products don’t come in travel size, you can easily create your own using small plastic containers, which are available in a dazzling array of shapes and sizes at a drug store or dollar store.

Buy it if you have to

You are not traveling to the middle of nowhere. In fact, you are probably going to a city, which will have stores. If you are trying to decide between two shirts and three, pack two. You can buy a third one if you need to.

Keep a list

It will take more than one try for you to get it exactly right. For your first trip, make a list of what you packed, what you actually wore, what you were missing, and anything you had to buy. Refine this as you go until you have it honed perfectly for each type and length of the business trip.

All that’s left is to enjoy your unencumbered, lightweight, no-extra-fees minimalist business travel.

Article written by
Audrey Fairbrother

Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine's audience and cultivating the company's brand voice.

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