Traveling for vacation and packing the right clothes for a holiday never seem like a chore. But when it comes to organizing your wardrobe for business travel, it’s an entirely different story. That is because (like it or not) there is an expectation for men to look professional both in the office and on route during business travel. Not only does attire reflect on the individual, it also reflects on the company and employer.
Traveling for business can be tiring and arduous, and it can be tempting to consider dressing casually for comfort. Until you run into other colleagues or associates who are not dressed in Bahama shorts and a t-shirt. We’ve got seven tips to help you travel smart and arrive in-style for your next business trip.
Luggage Makes the Man
Have you ever seen a well-dressed business man carrying luggage that should have been retired earlier, rather than later? It is disproportionate for anyone to look fabulous while having worn out or damaged luggage and it makes a very poor impression. Take the time to invest in quality, brand name luggage with the same concern that you would use in selecting a briefcase. Right or wrong, people and colleagues will make assumptions about you from the appearance of your luggage.
Pack the Jacket
Depending on the season and location, the temperature is rarely a problem for business travelers who step from a car into a climate-controlled airport and then a plane. Unless travel takes you to a sub-zero climate, save space and effort by packing your suit jacket. For cooler weather opt for one of many custom dress shirts that travel well, with wrinkle resistant fabrics that retain a pressed, crisp appearance even after hours of wear.
If you must wear a jacket, skip the suit jacket and opt for a sports jacket instead which is stylish, warm and loose fitting for seated comfort. If you are however seated in first class with senior executives, consider wearing a comfortable but stylish suit. Few professionals feel comfortable wearing jeans when everyone else is dressed formally in the airport, on the plane or in the meeting room.
How to Carry on with Carry-on Luggage
Loss of luggage is not a common occurrence. In fact, we forget that this is even a possibility until we actually find ourselves without a change of clothes before that all-important business meeting. As unlikely as lost luggage is, it can happen and leave a business traveler in a negative situation.
Assume that your checked baggage has the potential to be lost. What items of apparel and grooming supplies would you need to be able to function in the event that your suitcase was misplaced? As a rule of thumb, you should pack essential sundries, pharmaceutical medications and a change of clothes (entire outfit) in your carry-on bag. The items would allow you a grace period of clean clothing and provide time to purchase new clothes if required, without disrupting the meeting or business schedule. Keep your carry-on luggage to the bare essentials and do not over pack your bag.
Choose Your Shoes Wisely
Do you have a pair of dress shoes that look fabulous but pinch your toes? Those shoes (don’t worry, we all have a pair or two) should be packed while comfortable semi-formal shoes should be worn instead. With some airports spanning the length of ten football fields or more, it pays to wear quality rubber soled shoes that are comfortable, and safe to walk-in on any floor surface. Trust us; your feet will thank you.
As for athletic shoes, if you plan to utilize the gym or get outside during your business trip for exercise, pack your runners in a checked bag. While it was briefly popularized in the 1980’s, wearing running shoes and a suit is no longer appropriate travel attire, no matter how tempted you are to sprint to the next airport gate. Keep athletic shoes for athletic apparel, and opt for casual shoes to match your travel outfit.
Color Choice for Travel Apparel
Travelling in light colors such as white or tan can make comfortable sense if you are traveling to a hot climate. But consider that light colored slacks can be difficult to clean if the unexpected happens such as spilling food or a drink, or even sitting down on a seat that has debris on it.
Wise travellers choose darker colored slacks to travel in. Choose fabrics that have natural wicking properties, making it easier for you to clean up spills and disguise stains while in transit. Similarly a patterned shirt made of darker fabric offers the same advantage.
Remember to carry a small pack of moistened wipes to help remove accidental spills and avoid stains on clothing while traveling.
Freshening Up Before Arrival
No matter how long the flight or car ride is, most business travelers arrive at their destination looking a little worse for wear. And you can always tell who the seasoned professional travelers are, as they are in the airplane bathroom freshening up before arrival.
The essential parts of a refreshing travel kit for men are:
- Moisture wipes for facial cleaning.
- Toothpaste, toothbrush and dental floss.
- Chapstick or lip balm.
- A small bottle of water for mouth rinsing.
- Facial cleanser.
Approximately one-half to one hour prior to landing, allow yourself some time to groom your appearance while travelling. After disembarking the plane, you will be one of the few individuals who look and feel refreshed after the trip.
Personal Devices and Productivity
Just because you are forced to wait for transportation on your business trip does not mean that you cannot utilize that downtime into something more useful and productive. If you own a laptop, consider purchasing a smaller tablet with a QWERTY keyboard design.
Tablet keyboards are compact and easy to use in small spaces (such as on an airplane tray) and cases and covers should be updated and not worn. Save time and packing frustration by switching to a smaller, more practical personal device for business travel.
Remember that with some preplanning you can pack and make apparel choices that will help you stay comfortable while looking your best as you travel for business. Use our tips to help you make the right impression at home and while you travel.