Business Trip Packing List for Overnight, 3-Day, and 5-Day Trips

By Laura Lopuch
Man in blazer wearing backpack

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Whether you’re heading out on a last-minute, overnight business trip, or a five-day conference abroad, packing for business travel is always different than prepping for a fun vacation.

Your work trip packing list will likely include more electronics and gear. So you’ll need to plan around the extra items and weight.

Also, traditional business clothes are notoriously delicate and wrinkle-prone, so they can be difficult to pack.

This article will break down how and what to pack for your business trip. We’ll cover men’s and women’s business clothing, advice on managing your electronics, and more.

How to Pack for a Business Trip

Carry On Plus Personal Item

When packing for a work trip, use carry-on-sized luggage plus a personal item that can carry your laptop.

Outbreaker Backpack 45L

Outbreaker Backpack

For business-friendly one bagging, pack your clothes and computer in the Outbreaker Backpack. The bag is big enough to be a carry on for an extended trip but understated enough to wear with your work clothes. We recommend using a separate, secondary bag if you’ll be carrying your computer to the office or event though.

Outbreaker Laptop Backpack

Outbreaker Laptop Backpack

If you prefer a rolling suitcase as your carry on, go with the Outbreaker Laptop Backpack as your personal item. You’ll fit your computer and anything else you need for work inside with plenty of pockets for organization. Plus, it fits under the seat in front of you on the plane.

How to Pack Your Laptop for Travel

Pack your laptop in your personal item when you travel, ideally in a backpack, briefcase, or messenger bag with a dedicated laptop sleeve for protection. If you’re using a tote or other bag that doesn’t have a padded area for your laptop, invest in a laptop sleeve to protect it.

If you’re one-bagging, make sure you choose luggage that has a dedicated laptop compartment. Remove your laptop before stowing your bag in the overhead compartment so that you can work during your flight.

Whatever you do, never, ever put your laptop in a checked bag and risk it being broken, lost, or stolen while in transit.

Roll Your Clothes and Pack Them in Packing Cubes

Once upon a time, I didn’t use packing cubes. And my bag was a disaster. It took long minutes to find the shirt I was looking for or clean socks. Not anymore, thanks to packing cubes.

To look your best, you should fold your clothes along the seams then roll them. Yes, this even applies to most dress clothes. When you arrive, hang your clothes in the closet or even in the bathroom when you shower to release more wrinkles. Your hotel should have an iron for any necessary touchups beyond that.

For maximum organization, use packing cubes and assign each one a purpose. For example, a smaller packing cube holds underwear. A larger cube keeps your shirts organized and wrinkle-free. Then, roll them before zipping them away to make each item easy to find while preventing creases and wrinkles.

How to Pack Your Suit: Fold, Don’t Roll

A traditional, wool suit must be packed properly to keep its shape while in transit. To pack a suit in a carry on, fold it, don’t roll it.

Alternatively, you can try a wrinkle-free suit from Bluffworks or Ministry of Supply (men’s, women’s). Wrinkle-free, synthetic fabrics have improved dramatically from the early days of stiff, plastic-y dress shirts.

Stuff smaller, soft accessories like your socks, tie, and pocket square in your shoes to preserve their shape.

Business Trip Packing List

A good business trip packing list is built around a solid core, personalized to your needs and style. “Work clothes” can vary depending on your industry and the nature of your trip. You could be dressed anywhere from a three-piece suit to a shirt and slacks to a hoodie and jeans. Pack and dress as makes sense for your business trip.

Let’s start with the basics.

Paperwork

  • Passport
  • Copy of itinerary
  • Boarding pass
  • Transportation and accommodations

If your business trip takes you across borders, don’t leave home without your passport. If you’re traveling abroad for your business trip, know that some countries won’t let you in without a guarantee of when you’ll leave. Pack a copy of your complete itinerary, including evidence of when you’ll leave the country, to show border security.

After your passport, your boarding pass is your most important document. Mobile boarding passes are convenient, but make sure that you’ll have internet access via your phone if you plan to use one. Or, take a screenshot of the boarding pass and use it offline through your photo app.

For your own convenience, print out the details of your transportation from the airport to your accommodations (if you’ve booked anything), the address of where you’re staying (for customs forms and taxi drivers).

I use TripIt to aggregate all of my trip details in one place. Using the app is more convenient than carrying a stack of printouts with me. However, paper copies are better for border crossings and for when you don’t have WiFi access or a local SIM card.

Electronics

  • Phone and charger
  • Headphones or earbuds
  • Laptop and charger
  • Adapter (if traveling abroad)

Carry earbuds if you want to travel light or noise-canceling headphones if you want a quieter trip. For the latter, we like Bose’s QuietComfort line.

The Macbook Pro and Macbook Air are the most popular choices for Apple users. We recommend the lightest computer you can get that doesn’t sacrifice the performance you’ll need. Dave at Too Many Adapters wrote a helpful guide to choosing a laptop for work and travel.

Other

  • Eye mask and ear plugs
  • Water bottle
  • Kindle or book
  • Pen and notebook

If you’re taking long flights or overnight trains, earplugs and an eye mask make for all-natural, compact sleep aids.

Get a reusable, refillable water bottle for your travels so that you can stay hydrated without generating the extra trash of plastic bottles.

I’m still old-school and read physical books instead of using a Kindle. Either way, don’t forget a good book to pass long hours waiting or traveling.

Clothes: Business Travel Wardrobe

When packing clothes for a business trip, look for items that pull double-duty and that can be dressed up or down.

Meaning: that black dress looks equally stunning with a scarf for a casual business meeting or a statement necklace for a client dinner. Whatever your personal style is, pack items that make you feel comfortable and confident.

Although the exact items will differ depending on your style and gender, the clothes section of a 3-day business packing list looks like this:

  • 3 tops; 2 dress tops and 1 casual top
  • 1-2 bottoms
  • 1 dress
  • 1 blazer
  • 3 pairs of underwear
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 2 bras
  • 1 set of pajamas
  • 2 pairs of shoes: 1 dress shoe and 1 athletic/casual shoes
  • Workout clothes (optional)
Woman's colorful shirt in shadows

Women’s Business Travel Wardrobe

Use the above business trip packing list template and add the following for a 3-day business trip.

2 Blouses and 1 T-Shirt

  • 2 blouses
  • 1 lightweight t-shirt to dress up or down

Pack two business-appropriate blouses or collared shirts and wear the more casual t-shirt on the plane. I love J.Crew’s vintage cotton t-shirts as they look chic (and feel comfortable) with jeans or slacks. 

Everlane has a range of modern, basic shirts that work for both business and casual attire. Their Japanese GoWeave line is especially good for travel since the fabric is durable, wrinkle-resistant, and comfortable.

1 Blazer

  • 1 dark-colored blazer or suit jacket

It’s no secret that I’m a huge J.Crew fan. Their women’s blazers fit well, look chic, and last a long time. Consider a wool blazer that keeps you cool in hot boardrooms and warm on chilly airplanes.

If you’re willing to make the investment, consider a wrinkle-resistant blazer, like the Kinetic Blazer by Ministry of Supply, that you can pack without worrying about it turning into a rumpled mess. En route, wear your blazer so it doesn’t get wrinkled in your carry on bag.

2 Bottoms and 1 Dress

  • 1 pair of slacks or skirt
  • 1 pair of dark-wash jeans, worn on the plane
  • dress (optional)

Opt for Betabrand’s Yoga Dress Pants for sleek black pants made from stretchy material like your favorite yoga pants. Alternatively, look at ADAY’s line of pants for a wrinkle, odor, and pill-resistant pair of business travel pants that are technical, travel-ready, and fashionable.

I live in jeans, and even on the dressiest business trip, I’d yearn for a pair. If you’re like me, wear your jeans on the plane. My favorites are Lucky Brand jeans with some stretch woven in.

Love your dresses? Pack a versatile dress like one from Draper James or any of the odor-and-wrinkle-resistant merino wool dresses by Wool&.

3 Pairs of Underwear and Socks

If you want to hand wash your underwear, you can get away with packing less. However, for a short 3-day business trip like this one, pack one pair per day. Because you’ll save more on time vs packing space.

2 Pairs of Shoes

  • 1 pair of business-appropriate shoes
  • 1 pair of athletic shoes, worn on the plane

Pack one pair of professional shoes that are small, light, and comfortable, like this pair of classic black heels from Clarks, or a simple and easy-to pack pair of flats or loafers by Rothy’s.

You can wear your heels through the airport, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, I wear a pair of black athletic shoes that I can use for a run or workout at my destination.

1 Set of Pajamas

  • 1 lightweight shirt
  • 1 lightweight, athletic pair of shorts

My favorite packing light secret? Make your pajamas and workout clothes the same outfit. Snag a quick, sweaty workout in the AM and hand wash your clothes in the sink. By the time you’re ready for bedtime, your clothes will be dry and ready for you.

Man wearing backpack at Union Station in Los Angeles

Men’s Business Travel Wardrobe

Use the business trip packing list template and add the following for a 3-day business trip.

2 Dress Shirts and 1 Casual T-Shirt

  • 2 wrinkle-resistant dress shirts
  • 1 casual shirt that’s suitable for after-dinner drinks and on the airplane

Ironing dress shirts is a pain. Instead, opt for a wrinkle-resistant dress shirt (or two), like one from Bluffworks. They are made from 98% polyester (that’s a good thing), have lots of stretch, are breathable, and dry quickly. The best part is that they’re machine washable. Perfect for happy hour or the boardroom in any city you visit.

For your casual shirt, opt for a versatile merino wool t-shirt that will stand up to the rigors of travel.

2 Pairs of Pants

  • 2 pairs of pants and/or jeans

For a pair of pants that can easily work for business and leisure alike, pack a pair of basic, but high-performance pants, like the good-looking Outlier Slim Dungarees. If you prefer jeans, try Bonobos’ Extra Stretch Travel Jeans which are made from lightweight, 10.5 ounce denim and have a 1% stretch.

Stick to 1-2 pairs of pants and wear your more casual pair on your flight.

3 Pairs of Underwear and Socks

Avoid doing laundry on a quick, three-day business trip and, instead, pack three pairs of underwear and three pairs of socks.

1 Blazer or Jacket

  • 1 dark-colored blazer or suit jacket

Read the full Buyer’s Guide to Travel Blazers for all of our favorites. Or, jump right to our top pick, the wrinkle-free Bluffworks Gramercy Travel Blazer.

2 Pairs of Shoes

  • 1 pair of dress shoes
  • 1 pair of athletic shoes for workouts (optional)

Think small, light, and comfortable for your shoes. Like the Lenox Hill Cap Toe Oxfords from Cole Haan or Vivobarefoot Ra II.

Packing two pairs? Wear the heavier or bulkier pair through the airport and pack the lighter pair.

1 Set of Pajamas

  • 1 lightweight shirt
  • 1 lightweight, athletic pair of shorts
Woman walking across grey cityscape

5-Day Business Trip Packing List

For a longer, five-day business trip, be prepared to hand wash your clothes mid-trip. Or, have the hotel do it for you. Check with the front desk to see if they offer a laundry service for guests. Make sure to ask how long it will take and the price.

Not keen on doing laundry? Prepare to pack a little more in your luggage. You can still pack carry-on-only for a five-day trip. Some of our customers travel for weeks, months, or years out of just a carry on.

When your clothes get a little wrinkled or smelly, hang them up in the bathroom while you take a hot, steamy shower. The hot, moist air eases wrinkles and smells from your clothes.

What to add to the base list above for a five-day business trip:

  • 2 pairs of socks
  • 2 pairs of underwear
  • 1 pair of slacks or skirt
  • 1 blouse or dress shirt
  • 1 casual shirt to dress up or down

Overnight Business Trip Packing List

Ready for a quick, easy packing list for a one-night business trip? Reduce the number of items in your one-day work trip packing list by two.

Pack an outfit, wear an outfit, and add the non-clothing essentials.

What to pack for an overnight business trip:

  • 1 dress shirt
  • 1 casual shirt
  • 1 pair of dress pants or skirt
  • 1 pair of casual pants
  • 1-2 pairs of shoes (one dress pair and one athletic)
  • 1 pair of underwear
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 blazer or jacket
  • Phone and charger
  • Laptop and charger
  • Water bottle
  • Headphones
  • Book or kindle
  • Notebook and pen
  • Ear plugs and eye mask
  • Travel adaptor and passport (if international)

Steal a page from George Clooney’s well-refined playbook from Up in The Air and streamline your airport experience by packing only in a carry on bag. You’ll save time at the airport and feel more confident.