Business travel differs greatly from other types of travel. Not only do you need more comfort for productivity and guaranteed access to Wi-Fi, but you also leave your familiar work culture behind and enter a new one.
You can't dismiss the practical side of things, such as having a business trip packing list for an impeccably packed suitcase, full of everything you might need while working away from your desk. At the same time, you need to keep in mind the things you don’t necessarily pack, but that will play a major role in the success of your trip, like local customs and etiquette.
Business travel packing list
1. Pack a plug converter
Having constant access to electricity is crucial during business trips, where you’ll probably be on your laptop at most times.
Sockets can differ not only from continent to continent but even from country to country on the same continent. Sockets in the UK are different from the ones in mainland Europe, for instance. You'll save yourself a lot of trouble by researching beforehand if you need a plug converter and putting it on your packing list.
Pro tip: You can recognize different types of plugs by the letter denominator (type G, type C, E & F).
2. Know what toiletries you need to bring
Packing smart for a business trip is very important, especially if you have limited space or you want to reduce the chance of having toiletries exploding in your suitcase and ruining your work clothes. And if you are traveling only with hand luggage, keep in mind the limit for toiletries is 100ml bottles.
If you’re staying at a property that offers free amenities like shampoo and shower gel, you can leave yours at home. It’ll save you space and packing worries. Stick to the essentials, like hand sanitizer or prescription toiletries, that you definitely won’t be able to find at the property.
Pro tip: Ask the accommodation what toiletries they offer if you can’t find these listed on the property page.
3. Pack a reusable water bottle
Everyone knows that staying hydrated is an important part of living a good and healthy life. Make sure you've got your trusty bottle at hand when you’re going on a business trip and may spend a lot of your time sitting in meetings.
Some countries have drinkable tap water, but in others, you may need to stock up on bottled water from a store. If you're traveling to countries where you can drink tap water then consider adding a reusable water bottle to a business trip packing list.
Pro tip: Always research beforehand if the tap water in the country you’re visiting is drinkable. If it is, pack a reusable water bottle.
4. Print any important documents for your trip
Many airlines have their own dedicated apps, where you can save your boarding pass and scan it at the airport. Or you can print your boarding pass, just in case your phone might run out of data or battery, or you might have to switch it off.
When traveling for business, some people prefer to get a head start on work on the plane or train to their destination. Especially if the trip takes several hours, keep in mind that some digital tools allow you to work offline, if you download them beforehand.
Pro tip: Prepare your important documents as if you wouldn’t have access to the internet. That means you should download all documents and print only the files you need before you leave.
5. Pack two power banks for both your laptop and phone
Power banks come in multiple shapes and powers. You can either just grab one for only your phone, where a capacity of only 10000 mAH would suffice, or invest more and also buy a power bank for your laptop. These power banks have a capacity of over 40000 mAH and can be triple the price of a phone’s external battery, but they are worth it for longer flights or if your laptop has a smaller battery.
Keep in mind that you’ll still need cables to connect your phone or laptop to your power bank – if you charge your phone with a certain cable, be sure to check which cable you need to also charge your external battery.
Pro tip: Before you leave on your trip, buy the necessary power banks, with the necessary and compatible cables.
Five key pieces of advice for a successful business trip
1. Research local customs
If you're traveling somewhere you've not been before, there may be local customs you aren't familiar with. Reading up on them can give you insight into the local culture and customs, which can help to make positive, meaningful connections with new people you might meet.
Of course, nobody expects you to be an expert on the local culture, so don’t worry if you make a few mistakes. But researching the most important and common customs can make the difference between a fun story and a bad impression.
Pro tip: Some of the most important customs and traditions are how to greet someone, when to take your shoes off or whether to finish everything off your plate.
2. Plan your trip with the holidays in mind
Public holidays differ from country to country, with the Netherlands and the US having 11, Japan having 16, and India having an impressive 21.
When traveling for business, be sure to check a calendar beforehand, as to not be surprised by disrupted public transport or shortened opening hours for businesses.
Pro tip: Plan a trip not only with your calendar in mind but with the foreign country's as well.
3. Be sure you will have access to the Internet beforehand
While traveling for work, you may be taking calls either over the internet or on your phone. Check how much roaming costs are if you're traveling abroad, and whether there are alternative connectivity options provided by your accommodation or other establishments while you're there. You may also want to consider buying a local SIM card if you need to be online at all times.
Pro tip: Research what solutions make the most sense at your destination and activate your roaming before leaving for your trip.
4. Ask if you get free tap water in restaurants
Some countries have to offer you complimentary tap water with your meal in restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages.
While some countries don’t adhere to this practice, this is the norm in some European countries as well as in the US, so don't feel remiss in asking the wait staff for a glass of tap water.
Pro tip: When dining out, if you ask for water, you might receive a water jug from the tap. If you want specific menu water, it might be better to mention it specifically.
5. Know the tipping customs
When on a business trip, adhering to local etiquette and knowing social rules will make your experience that much better. One of these rules is knowing how much to tip at dinner.
Depending on the country you’re visiting, tipping can either already be included in the bill, has to be added separately or bypassed altogether. Know beforehand whether you can only tip in cash or with your card, how much you should tip and if tipping is even expected.
Pro tip: Research how much to tip beforehand or ask your colleagues what the customs are.