Conference and Meeting Travel: Pack for the one-night trip

One-day (or even one-evening) events can be fast and tiring, but it’s usually worth pushing for a fast turnaround so you can get home sooner and be back in the office with less disruption. I just took a short-burn business trip two weeks ago to Boston, and I found that it sure beats planning for a few days on the road. For a trip that’s few days long, I need to tote along a carry-on. For single-night trips, I don’t even need to go that far: I can just stuff what I need for the next day into my messenger bag.

Packing for one-night business trips is a lot like doing so for visitation weekends with my son when I build in an overnight. Clothing just isn’t that big a concern. The big question is when the business is actually happening.

If I’m traveling in the morning for an event at my destination later that day, I’ll generally dress in the morning for the event that evening. This may mean traveling in business casual attire or a suit so I can just arrive at my event. I won’t need to check in at the hotel or find a bathroom stall in which to change. When I hit the ground, I can just grab a cup of coffee and a smoke before making my way to the event.This was my plan last week in Boston. I had three meetings in a row, and fortunately, they were near each other. The first was a series of video interviews about social media, conducted by a local venture capital firm, OpenView Venture (one of the videos is embedded below). That was followed by a few drinks with Gadling’s own Melanie Nayer, after which I went back to OpenView Venture’s offices for a meet-and-greet where I talked to people about corporate blogging and investor relations (I know … fun stuff, right?).

I was lucky: the dress code was casual. Nonetheless, I had to wear a decent looking shirt because I knew I’d be on camera and filmed from the waist up. And, hey – it’s never bad to wear a shirt that you could be seen in on television. The instructions I got from the company were fairly specific: no stripes and no sheen. So, I dressed for that in the morning, caught the Acela up to Boston, and arrived for my video shoot half an hour early and with no need to get dressed. The shirt was fine for the two later appointments, as well. I only had to back a change of clothes (except jeans) for the next day, and that was easy to stuff into the bag I carry every day.

Now, arriving the night before an event is a bit more difficult. You need to make sure you can accommodate clothing that will meet with the dress code, and you can’t just travel in your business clothes. So, you might have to drag along a carry-on with a suit or business casual clothing in it. To avoid this (except for a suit), I tend to change into the required clothes right before my “night before” travel, so I won’t need to pack it. This way, they won’t be as wrinkled or dirty when I need them the next day.

The key is to wear as much as you can and pack as little as possible. Keep your bag simple, and the short-and-fast business conference or meeting trip becomes much, much easier.