You’re heading overseas for business and need to fit all your things into one carry-on bag. No, this isn’t some far-fetched scenario or a bad joke. In fact, it’s completely achievable with a bit of guidance on how to pack light for an international trip. Here are our top tips for what to pack, what to wear on the plane, what to skip, and how to save space in your suitcase.
What to Bring
Color-coordinated, neutral clothing works best, allowing you to mix and match to create several different outfits with the same pieces. Keep in mind that darker colors are less prone to showing stains and wrinkles than lighter colors.
- One neutral-colored suit you can combine it with different dress shirts for different looks
- One pair of slacks or skirt
- One pair of dress shoes
- One leather dress belt
- Two dress shirts, one plain and one lightly patterned
- Two neckties, if necessary
- Socks and underwear
- A laptop or a tablet, but not both
What to Wear on the Plane
- Casual shoes or boots, depending on the weather in your destination
- Casual slacks or jeans that match your packed wardrobe
- Bulkier items, like jackets
A few other tips can help you make the most of your carry-on allowance. You’re allowed one carry-on bag and one smaller bag, such as a purse, backpack, or laptop case. Bring along a tablet instead of a laptop if possible to free up space.
Take advantage of the small purse or backpack allowance by filling it with any extras you absolutely need but couldn’t fit in your carry-on.
What to Skip
- Basic toiletries, as hotels provide some of them and others can be easily purchased at your destination. It’s much simpler to buy liquids and gels overseas than it is to hassle with airport inspections and carry-on limits.
- Anything you can just as easily purchase abroad or altogether do without. Before placing each item into your bag, ask yourself what would happen if you didn’t bring that particular item. If the answer is “nothing tragic,” consider leaving the item behind.
- Books, travel guides, and other paper items you can access online or with an app.
Space-Saving Packing Hacks
- Roll your clothes instead of folding them, a trick that helps to prevent wrinkles while saving space.
- Stuff socks and underwear in the shoes you’re packing.
- Try travel cubes or compression bags, which allow you to compress clothing into tidy, little bundles.
- Give rubber bands a go for the same purpose: compressing clothing items so you can fit more in the same amount of space.
- Completely clean out your briefcase, purse, or other bags before you start piling additional stuff inside. You may be amazed at how many useless items you’ve been carrying around. Getting rid of them frees up space for essentials.
Follow these tips on how to pack light for an international business trip, and you’ll still end up with everything you need to get through the trip. Don’t forget to make sure your passport is up-to-date and you secure any business visas you may need before your travels. Also feel free to contact Swift with any questions. We’re always glad to help!
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.