Your ultimate packing list: business travel checklist

Nothing is worse than a business trip that catches you by surprise. With this ultimate packing list, business travel was never easier; get going with all the necessities.

Nothing is worse than a business trip that catches you by surprise. With this ultimate packing list, business travel was never easier; get going with all the necessities.

By Jessica Freedman

Man packing suitcase with passport in hand

Don’t let a business trip catch you by surprise, having a packing list for a business trip is crucial to save time and make sure you don’t leave home without the essentials. Use a checklist; business trips are easier and more productive when you’re prepared. In this article we’ll walk you through everything you need to plan a business trip and create a business trip packing list:

  • The must-haves
  • The work essentials
  • The personal items you can’t leave without
  • The nice-to-haves

When it comes to making your business travel checklist, you want to make sure you have the necessities to ensure that you can work just as comfortably and effectively as if you were at the office (whether that be a physical office or your home office). 

The benefits of a packing list for a business trip

There are many benefits of having a packing list for business travel. Let’s take a look at what they are.

A business travel checklist streamlines the packing process

For starters, it streamlines the planning and packing process, meaning that you can easily and quickly put together your things for a business trip, even if a trip is decided at the last minute. When you are traveling for business, you are already eating into your personal time during the week with your friends and family, so the last thing you want to do is waste even more time pondering what you are going to bring with you. With a packing checklist, business trips are hands down a piece of cake. 

Ensures you only take the necessities

Sometimes when you are packing at the last minute you throw in items that are not necessary, weighing you down, and forcing you to check a bag. Checking a bag is anything but productive because it slows down the time it takes to get out of the airport, and hence get to your hotel or meetings. With a packing list you can be sure you only take the essentials, which are more or less the same no matter where you go. 

Keeps you organized

With a nicely defined list that is divided into the must-have documents, work essentials, personal items you can’t leave without, and other items that might come in handy, you can be sure to stay organized. Certain items like your toiletries you can even keep packed in your toiletry bag, making sure not only you don’t forget a thing, and cutting down on the time it takes to pack your suitcase.

Creating a work trip checklist

So now that you know why a business trip checklist is such a good idea let’s get started on tips to create a checklist for your business trip. We’ll start with the must-haves, then move on to the work essentials, the personal items you can’t leave without and the nice-to-haves.

The must-haves 

It’s time to start preparing for your business trip, so what is it you can’t leave home without?

The must-have business travel checklist:

  • Passport or ID
  • Proof of Covid vaccination – consult our other helpful pointers for traveling safe
  • Boarding pass
  • Itinerary
  • Work credit card
  • Work badge
  • Work laptop and charger
  • Work cell phone and charger
  • Personal cell phone and charger
  • Headphones – they come in handy if you have to conduct phone calls while in transit
  • Notebook (to jot any important information down)
Eagle's eye view of bed with suitcase, passport, and clothes for business trip.

The work essentials

When it comes to preparing the work essentials, you want to make sure you have everything necessary to work comfortably from anywhere (whether that be from the airport, the train station, on the plane or from your hotel room). Thankfully most documents are now available on the cloud, but just in case, you may want to have a backup on a flash drive of your presentation, and any printout flyers or documents you need to share with your colleagues or potential clients. Lastly, on your checklist for a business trip preparation list, make sure that you put your business cards. 

The personal items you can’t leave without

Everyone has their own ideas of what they can’t leave without, but then of course there are also some basics (think toothbrush) that anyone will agree you must have no matter what. Don’t leave home without your pajamas, socks, underwear, change of clothes for each day of your work trip, sunglasses, toothpaste and toothbrush, floss, shampoo and conditioner, hairbrush, cream, and chapstick.

The nice-to-haves

Sometimes it’s a good idea to prepare for the unexpected. For example, why not pack some pain killers? Going to a meeting with a headache is the last thing you want to do. Or why not pack an extra pair of underwear? It doesn’t take up space and you never know, if your flight gets delayed you may end up having to stay another night. Another “nice-to-have” is some healthy snacks like almonds or a protein bar. If you’re in a hitch and you’re running to a meeting or in your hotel room with nothing nearby to eat, at least you have something to tide you over until the next meal.

A portable charging dock is another “nice-to-have” because when you’re on the go, you don’t want to be left without a charged cell phone to help you navigate and keep track of your meetings. 

5 Tricks & tips for preparing for your next business trip

We’ve covered the steps to plan your business trip in the above article, but there’s more to planning your business trip. A business travel checklist goes beyond just a packing list but is more a comprehensive road map to preparing for your business trip in order to make it a success.

The idea of making it a comprehensive checklist for business trip preparation is the fact that it can be easily replicated for any type of business trip, whether it be overnight, an extended trip or to an international destination. 

As you become a seasoned business traveler, it will get easier, and your checklist will change. Think of it as a work in progress to alleviate any stress related to packing or not knowing what to bring. For those of you working as HR or office managers guiding others to prepare for their business trips, it’s important to have your own comprehensive checklist that can easily be shared with your travelers, to make things easier and more productive.

Girl closing suitcase on the floor of bedroom

1. Review business trip checklist prior to packing for your trip

Once you’ve made a comprehensive checklist for your business trip, you can fine tune as you go. Create a digital version of the checklist so that you can virtually check off as you go, and you don’t waste paper printing it out. You may consider creating separate work trip checklists for each kind of business trip: short or long, multi-destination, an international business travel checklist, winter business trip, or for a summer business trip, to make it easier. Review the list and see what will be necessary prior to packing.

2. Pack your important items in your carry-on

If you decide to check a bag, be sure to have all your most important personal items in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost. Put your laptop, chargers for phone and laptop, business cards, a change of clothes and a toothbrush. That way if you are caught without your bag, you are prepared.

3. Just because it’s on the list doesn’t mean you have to take it

With a comprehensive work travel packing list, there will be a lot of items on there “just in case” but that doesn’t mean you have to pack them no matter what. It’s more of a reference to help you in the decision-making process. With more practice it will be easier to understand items that will change based on the details of your trip, and other must-haves that must be packed no matter what.

4. Double check documents

Travel documents are the most important item on your list, but beyond making sure you have all the necessary documents, it’s also important to ensure that they are up-to-date. Imagine you get to the airport only to discover that your passport has expired yesterday. To avoid this nightmare, be sure to set alerts in your phone to renew your documents with enough time in advance to avoid potential travel nightmares. 

Keep in mind that if you’re traveling internationally, you may want to make sure that your passport isn’t going to expire within six months as some countries won’t let you in. Check if there are necessary business visa entry requirements. You may also want to check for extra Covid-related requirements although a lot of countries have already relaxed these requirements in recent months. Check our guide to traveling safe for more information. 

5. Read up on your destination

Researching your destination before traveling is a great idea, especially if you are traveling to a country with a different religion or cultural norms. This way you make sure to avoid doing anything that is culturally taboo. For example in Japan, it’s just as disrespectful to arrive too far ahead of time as it is to arrive late. Reading up on your destination will ensure you avoid cultural faux pas. Be sure to include research as part of your ultimate packing list. 

Check out our etiquette guides for more tips: APAC Business Etiquette, Americas travel etiquette and tips and tricks to do better business in EMEA.

We’ve looked at everything you should keep in mind when it comes time to create a packing list for a business trip in order to simplify business travel. Of course, the more organized you are, the more effective you can be when it comes time to hit the road. 

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