Business Travel Essentials: How to Plan and What to Pack

Penthouse hotel room lit with blue neon lights

 

Roughly 1.3 million business trips happen in the U.S. each day. The typical road warrior takes four day trips and two overnight trips every month, spending about 19 nights per year in a hotel.

If you are one of these globetrotters, you know that business travel can be fun, inspirational, stressful, and lonely — often all at the same time.

But travel you must, so travel you do.

To help you get on your way without skipping a beat, check out this ultimate business travel essentials guide. We’ve included a business trip packing list with packing tips and other smart travel hacks to prep you for a productive work trip.

Let’s get started!

 

Table of Contents

1. Planning: Before You Pack
2. Packing
3. Apps and Gadgets to Keep Your Travels Smart


 

1. Planning: Before You Pack

It’s important to plan out every aspect of your business trip. Your team is relying on you to represent your company and handle important business tasks.

Proper preparation prevents disasters, and following these tips will make sure you get off on the right foot.

Here are some crucial tasks to check off your to-do list before you even reach for your carry-on bag:

 

Verify Your Meeting or Conference Before Booking

Get confirmation on your trip dates before booking your flight, lodging, and rental car. The last thing you want is to book your trip for the wrong days.

This can be as simple as sending an email to your client or visiting the conference website to check the times.

You may feel like the most organized person on the planet, but this is exactly what the most organized people on the planet do: check dates, check them again and then check them one last time.

Also, check your flight’s status and reconfirm your hotel booking the day before you depart. No last-minute surprises for you!

 

Earn Those Travel Rewards Points

Most companies offer customers reward points as perks for shopping with them. Being able to stack up rewards is a great perk to traveling frequently for work, because you can cash them in later for free stays or discounts toward a personal vacation.

Some rewards programs pay off more than others. For example, booking your business lodgings with Hotel Engine allows you to earn layered rewards points: points for using the platform, hotel partner rewards points and credit card rewards points.

You can book a hassle-free stay at an amazing hotel while enjoying major perks — then  turn these points into huge savings or even free rooms when booking your next trip.

These are the types of reward points you want to take advantage of when you’re a business traveler. Make sure to sign up before booking your trip so that you don’t miss out on any rewards!

 

Join Hotel Engine for free to start saving money on business lodging!

 

Choose Suitable Business Travel Accommodations

 

You might be focused on the business aspects of your business trip, but imagine trying to give your important presentation after a terrible night’s sleep!

As a business traveler, you need a clean, comfortable hotel room.

Location is also a factor. You likely want to stay near the place you’re working in your destination city. Conversely, you may prefer to stay airport-adjacent to make flying in and out easier.

Yes, there’s a lot to consider when you’re booking a hotel for business travel. If you’re traveling with a large group, it’s important to try and find a property that can accommodate your entire group booking to simplify logistics.

Consider the amenities you’ll need as well. If you’ll be doing a little work from your room, make sure you’re booking a property with a comfortable desk and a strong Wi-Fi signal. If you’re traveling for an event with any formal-dress functions, an onsite dry-cleaning service can be a lifesaver. And who doesn’t appreciate having a pool or fitness center to enjoy in their downtime?

 

Book Your Airfare Wisely

Booking airfare is never fun, but it can be an extra hassle when it comes to booking flights for business travel.

You have a budget to work with, but you also need to get to your business destination on time and feel great once you arrive.A bad flight can negatively affect your entire business trip, but it doesn’t have to be that way!

Set yourself up for a better travel experience by following our money-saving hacks for booking the best corporate flights. You’ll learn all the ways that frequent travelers save money on flying.

 

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Planning Business Travel Arrangements


 

2. Packing

 

Man packing clothes into backpack

 

Now onto the fun part: business travel packing tips!

Read on to learn what to pack, where to put it, and what to disregard completely.

 

Bring Lightweight Carry-On Luggage

When choosing a bag for business travel, look for something lightweight and durable with TSA-approved locks. It’ll keep your possessions safe and cut down on time spent at the security gate, all without weighing you down.

Check out more of our airport security tips here.

 

Keep a Bag Packed With All of the Essentials

Many frequent business travelers skip the stress of packing each time by keeping a bag packed with the essentials: shirts, pants, socks, chargers, and so on.

Then all you have to do is throw in anything trip-specific, like an extra jacket or your presentation materials. If there’s something that you wish you had with you on your trip, put it in your bag as soon as you get home so you don’t accidentally travel without it again.

Looking for some other ideas for bags to keep on hand? We offer some tremendous rolling duffel bag options here.

 

The Toiletry Quandary

If at all possible, don’t pack toiletries to bring along on your business trip. For one thing, they take up a lot of space in your bag. Plus, your hotel will already have them on hand.

If you have sensitive skin or rely on certain products, the hotel may not have suitable toiletries for you.

In this case, consider keeping a packing cube or toiletries case filled with sample-size toiletries ready to go. That way, you can just toss the pre-packed container in your luggage and hit the road. You can also purchase refillable small bottles that comply with TSA liquid limits, and fill them up each time from your own supply of your preferred products.

Next, we get down to the nitty-gritty and explain exactly what to pack and what to skip.

 

Our Quick Business Trip Packing Checklist

These are the business travel essentials you need, minus anything you don’t:

  • Hand sanitizer and moisturizer (who leaves home without them these days?)
  • An empty reusable water bottle to use after arriving (we like this one on Amazon best)
  • A portable charger for your devices
  • A universal adapter, if traveling abroad
  • Your devices, but only the ones you definitely need each day
  • Travel size toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Business attire (wrinkle-resistant blazers, blouses, etc.)
  • Pajamas and comfortable clothes to wear in your downtime
  • Medications and supplements

 

Things to Leave Behind

It may be tempting to pack all the creature comforts that keep you sane in your day-to-day life, but you probably don’t need most of those items on a business trip. They just take up space or get lost along the way.

These are the items to leave behind:

  • Earplugs: You’re just going to lose them anyway. Tote some noise-canceling headphones if you want to block sound effectively.
  • Extra pairs of shoes: Order a pair of business-casual shoes to wear on the flight and your business appointments and call it a day.
  • Travel pillows: No one in the history of flying ever got shut-eye due exclusively to one of these.
  • Snacks: There is no need to pack snacks in most cases, as you can find them anywhere. Instead, focus on making healthy choices when you do visit that vending machine or bodega.

 

We understand the importance of keeping up with exercise routines on your business trips, but don’t worry about bringing gear. Most hotels have gyms, but if yours doesn’t, it’s okay! Check out our favorite travel workouts here that help you stay fit from the comfort of your hotel room.

 

A Final Word on Packing

If your business trip is short, avoid checking a bag. Pack only the essentials in your carry-on, and rejoice when you get to skip the luggage carousel upon arrival. Plus, you’ll never have to stress about your checked bag getting lost by the airline!


 

3. Apps and Gadgets to Keep Your Travels Smart

 

Woman using smartphone in airport

 

These days, we rely on so many apps and gadgets to make life easier. Never are we more grateful for these technologies than when we’re preparing for a business trip.

 

Must-Take Gadgets

As we mentioned in our packing list, you don’t necessarily have to bring every smart device loaded with every app on your trip.

Pare your selection down to the essentials. Your smartphone is an obvious must, and a tablet can be useful to share and collect business documents rather than a heftier laptop.

Portable Wi-Fi hotspots ensure you have a secure internet connection no matter where you roam. Check out Best Products’ guide for some recommendations.

Finally, leave that bulky best-seller on your nightstand and opt to travel with the Kindle version.

For every device you pack, make sure to grab its corresponding charger.

 

Must-Download Apps

The right apps keep us on our toes, ready for whatever our workday throws our way. Ahead, we discuss some of these apps, as well as ones you only need when traveling.

 

Apps to Download Before Your Flight

Here are some helpful apps you need on your device before reaching your destination:

 

Dropbox

Use Dropbox to store business materials before and during your trip. You can access them on the road and when you get back.

 

Evernote

Evernote is one of the easiest ways to keep track of notes, presentations, to-do lists, and schedules.

 

Airline Apps

Download your airline’s mobile app for up-to-the-minute flight information and mobile boarding passes.

 

MyTSA

The MyTSA app provides useful information, like what you can and can’t bring through security, and how long of a wait time you can expect at the airport.

 

CLEAR

CLEAR is a great service for blasting through long lines at security — and their app offers useful features, like the ability to upload your COVID vaccine and negative COVID tests for more seamless travel.

 

Apps You’ll Want When You Arrive

These are the best apps to have on your side after you land:

 

Rideshare Apps

Uber and Lyft provide easy, affordable car services in most cities.

 

Google Maps

Many people are anxious about navigating unfamiliar surroundings, which is probably why Google Maps was the most downloaded travel app of 2021. Pro tip: download the map of the area you’ll be before you leave, and you’ll be able to navigate even if you don’t have cell service.

 

Waze

If you’ll be renting a car, Waze is also excellent for avoiding traffic and tracking your mileage in case you have expense reports to submit.

 

Expensify

Speaking of expense reports, Expensify is the industry leader in this department. It turns expense reports from awful to easy.

Business travel isn’t easy. You’re away from home and responsible for meeting business goals. It’s a lot of pressure, but effective planning can make it easier.

Whether you travel weekly or annually, preparing for business travel can be a hassle. Keep this guide on hand so you can prepare for every trip quickly and efficiently.


 

Remember to book your corporate travel accommodations through Hotel Engine. You’ll save money, find the right hotels anywhere, and easily manage your whole team’s reservations on the go.

 

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