Packing for short business trips: Why you need to Carry-on

There are those business trips where you know you are literally stepping in and out of the building. Maybe you need to show a pitch in the head office somewhere in Calabar, or you need to be on a panel for a huge conference in Abuja. You really only need the outfit you’re wearing from home.

Then, there are those other business trips where you find yourself on a slippery slope. Those are the trips where you need to be in a new place (state or country) for about 3 days. You start out thinking “I only need like three outfits for three days…right?” You shrug your shoulders, thinking its so easy…till you look at the size of the suitcase you want to carry and the number of outfits that have suddenly multiplied by 3. You’re standing over your bed, wondering why you now have 10 outfits for a three day trip.

Listen, you.are.not.alone!

I remember when I had to go for a one week leadership conference in New York; I was travelling from Massachusetts. Thankfully, it was not from a different country.

“But it’s just so hard to choose” I kept saying to myself as I excused every new outfit I added to my bag. The thing is, I choose clothes based on my mood so I was panicking: “what if I wake up on Tuesday feeling grey but I’ve only packed yellow, blue and red?” Also, I was thinking of my turnup crew in New York- it might be a business trip but you never know who is going to invite you to the nearest Gbedu (party) after work hours.

Anyway, when I got to New York, my big suitcase and I ended up taking a jolly subway ride from the train station to the end of the 240th street because yours truly slept off on the train . I had also never been to New York on my own so it took me a long while to figure out how to get to my stop.


Finally, panting and sweating, I found my hotel.


Even though I try my best to not care when people use their time to discuss things that affect me (like my packing choices), it’s important to prioritize when moving across states or countries.

That chaotic experience taught me a few things:

Firstly, having a huge luggage might not be safe if you are trying to find your way around a new place. Secondly, especially if you are supposed to show up at a specific time, it might be unwise to check anything in because it could take either a few mins or an hour for your bag to get onto that carousel. Also, there is the time you might spend getting lost. Time is of the essence when you are building your reputation for accountability and trust- two values which impress and assure colleagues or senior executives trying to build a network of people they can rely on.

So, what are the things you can do to avoid this disaster.

  1. Think more about what you need than what you want: Make your carry-on list. It helps to research about wherever you are headed; if it’s going to be cold maybe you don’t need those shorts. After doing your research, you might realize that you can afford to buy some of those things that you think you conditionally need. For instance, if I’m unsure about the timing of my period, I could check if I I can find a tampon anywhere around me. Leaving that box of tampons could save you lots of space to even add one or two treasures you might find on your short trip.
  2.  Use plastic bags: As intelligentravel says, “Don’t underestimate the power of plastic bags.” With plastic bags, you can easily separate those small but essential accessories or equipment. Fill one plastic bag with your jewelry and then use another for your chargers and your ten thousand cords. Especially if you will be giving a presentation, please do not assume they will have all the cords you need. HDMI o! Charger o!, Pack them alllllll. At least I do. Bigger plastic bags can be used to separate your laundry on your return. If you don’t feel right packing nylon bag…you are doing yasef. But also, check this website for alternative bags to use. Do the same for your toiletries but consider the travel limits: The last time I travelled I was told the limit was 150ml for local flights; on international flights, there is a 100% ban on liquids and gels from Nigeria.
  3. Accessorize :  It’s one word but it’s so important. If you have worries about being fashionably versatile with so few clothes, go big and then go home with accessories. Especially since you’re packing light, it is advisable to pack neutral coloured clothes and shoes that can be mixed and remixed with class. If you have accessories of different colours and shades, you don’t have to worry about packing your outfit for after-work drinks when you can replace those morning studs for some evening bling.
  4. “Keep Calm and Carry-on”: I love that line because it sums up everything I have said. Instead of carrying that 5000 page book, try buying it on Kindle to give you less weight and more peace of mind. I find that when my arms are too full, I get really anxious about how easy it is for something to fall out in an airport I might never return to.

Everyone should really invest in quality luggage: “Luxury hotel inspector Tiffany Dowd and Erik Wilkinson, a director of sales for Eton of Sweden, both swear by Tumi.


The Quintessential Tote is Dowd’s favorite because it’s “stylish and durable,” while Wilkinson prefers the International Carry-On, a bag he reports holds a surprisingly large amount of clothes. Dowd’s also a fan of the brand’s luggage recovery program which identifies your bag with a unique registration number.”- Intelligent Travel (NatGeo)


In the end of my own journey, it all worked out- only three people laughed at me or called me diva. I’m even thankful because it could have been worse. For instance, I could have been travelling with my boss and while the owner of a whole company is satisfied with a small suitcase, I show up at the counter to check in for me and my imaginary family (because-obviously- I’m the first to know fashion and stuff). Or, I could have been travelling with my colleagues for a training conference, looking like I’m the only one planning to escape the conference and seek asylum in a new country.

Thankfully, you know better…so please my dear, do better.

Do this or else you might….
…you might do this. Nobody wants to do this. Don’t do this.

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