Many women travel for business. And whether you have made your own travel arrangements or they have been made by the company receptionist, you want to be sure that everything is going to run smoothly. Especially if you have a presentation to give when you arrive. So here are some tips that will help to make sure that business meeting goes to plan.
1. Drop your hotel a line
When you’re travelling on business, your hotel will be pre-booked. Before you start packing, give them a quick call or email them to check what will be available in the hotel. You will find that towels, some toiletries, an iron, hair drier, even adaptor plugs and shoe polish will generally be available in your room. Higher end hotels may even offer more comforts. Knowing what’s definitely going to be available when you check in is a great packing asset, as it allows you to leave a lot of bulky ‘necessities’ at home. I have experienced having been booked into a hotel that didn’t have a hair dryer or an iron, not a good start when you want to look your best.
2. Check your schedule
Write out which events and meetings you’ll be required to attend during your trip and think about whether the same people will be at each occasion. While some people feel comfortable wearing the same suit a few times, others may feel embarrassed to be seen wearing the same thing. For women, it’s fairly easy to give an outfit a different look. Rather than taking two or three business suits, consider whether you can make do with one suit and add a skirt , a couple of tops, and a couple of jackets or cardigans. If you pack items that coordinate, mixing and matching them and teaming them with different accessories will give the impression that you’ve brought a large wardrobe with you!
3. Colour it in
Choose a capsule wardrobe based on a basic, neutral colour such as black, navy or grey and then pack some items that will add a splash of colour. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to wear any one piece of clothing with any other piece, without it looking silly. A pair of black trousers can be worn as part of a suit or dressed up with a silky top and jewellery for an evening event. Take a few of your favourite accessories and you’ll always look glamorous.
Don’t go overboard with the shoes. A pair of heels, a pair of flats, and a pair of boots or a second pair of heels will cover every contingency. It’s good to have a second pair in case of accidents. You want a backup if you break a heel. But only take the boots or the second pair of heels. Don’t go overboard.
Black is a good colour to take as it pretty much co-ordinates with most business wear. Unless of course navy is your colour of choice. Just make sure they are comfortable and smart. And try not to take brand new shoes with you. A disaster if you are going to be on your feet all day or walking long distances between events. Break new shoes in before you go.
5. Split the difference
If you turn up in a foreign country on holiday and the airline’s lost your luggage, you might be annoyed but you probably wouldn’t be embarrassed. Arriving in your destination on a business trip however, having travelled in some of your comfiest clothes, only to find your bag has gone missing, will be a bit more of a headache. Lots of business travellers take two bags – one being the largest size acceptable for carry-on luggage (check with your airline in advance), in which you should try to pack some items such as at least one outfit suitable for a meeting and underwear. In fact if, you are only going for a few days you might prefer to take everything in a carry on bag. This way you won’t need to bother lining up to collect your baggage at the carousel and you will be more relaxed knowing that you have everything on hand.
6. Roll up, roll up!
Rolling your clothes rather than folding them will help them to stay smooth and uncreased during transit. Alternatively, there are many different folders and bags available which help to separate your clothes and keep them in good shape inside your suitcase. I personally like and use an Eagle Creek garment folder.
Selecting wrinkle-free items will also help with your unpacking at the other end. If it’s just a flying visit, you may not have time to iron clothes, so choosing ones that don’t crease in the first place is a good idea. When you first arrive in your hotel, take your clothes out the bag and hang them up. If you have any wrinkled items place them on coat hangers in the bathroom while you shower – the humidity should help the wrinkles to drop out.
7. Relaxation time
While it’s your public appearance that really matters during a business trip, there’ll be times when you just want to chill out at your hotel after a busy day of meetings. Don’t underestimate how good some appropriate clothing for these periods will make you feel when you’re jet-lagged and tired from work. Always leave space for those items that help make you feel cosy and relaxed, whether it’s your favourite pair of pjs or a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.
8. First impressions
Your business trip may involve meeting colleagues and customers you’ve never met before and like it or not, they’ll be judging you on their first impression. Take a pocket mirror so that you can check your appearance before you walk into the room – lipstick on the teeth is not a good look! And always carry an umbrella with you. Small, collapsible ones can be found that take up very little room, and if it prevents you turning up to an important event looking bedraggled, then packing it was well worth it.
9. Foreign affairs
If you’re travelling overseas, to somewhere unfamiliar, then it’s worth doing some research beforehand to establish whether there are any cultural differences you need to be aware of. In certain places, you may be expected to dress in a certain manner. And pack those business cards for a trip to China – every local business person at your meetings will expect one from you!
10. Make a list
Even if you’re not the sort of person that writes lists, well in this instance, writing a list is a good idea. Write bullet points of everything you need to pack to make sure that you don’t forget anything essential. If you aren’t one to keep a journal or diary you can always use your iPad or Tablet to write your list.
If this is a first time business trip for you, then you might like to show it to someone in the office who travels a lot to see if she thinks you’ve missed anything. The most important part is to keep the list once you’ve packed. When you come back from your trip, you’ll have a better idea of what was useful and what wasn’t. This will give you a better of idea of what you really need to take on future business trips.