Traveler Experience
What to Pack for a Business Trip in the U.S.

What to Pack for a Business Trip in the U.S.

Samantha Shankman

15 Mar 2024
9 minute read
Blog Image // What to Pack for a Business Trip in the U.S.

We believe being there in person is powerful. It enables employees to build relationships, close deals, and drive growth. But let’s face it, business travel can be rough. From being away from home to the frustration of packing for 2- to 14-day trips, it's no wonder many employees dread work trips.

Here are some recommendations from Navan on what to pack for business trips in the U.S. so, coupled with our booking platform, you can focus on being there, not how you’re going to get there or what to wear once there.

What to Pack for a Business Trip

There are dozens of factors to consider when deciding what to pack for a business trip in the U.S.

  • What’s the weather expected to be? Is there a risk of heat waves or snow storms?
  • How does a client’s or colleague’s team dress?
  • Are there any special dinners or events planned?
  • What presentations will the business traveler be a part of and what do they need to have prepared?
  • Is there time to hit the gym or take an evening walk in a park?

The best method when deciding what to pack for a business trip is taking a calculated approach that accounts for everything you’ll need as a business traveler. Nothing more or less. Flexibility and creativity go a long way when deciding what to pack.

  • For trips that last less than one week, fit everything in a carry-on bag. This cuts out precious time spent waiting in lines to check a bag, worrying about luggage getting lost, and waiting at baggage claim after arrival.
  • For trips that last longer than one week, a larger piece of luggage might be necessary to account for all the variables that a business traveler might confront.

Business travelers need the fashionable basics that work for 9 a.m. coffee and 9 p.m. celebratory drinks. They need technology that is charged and ready to go from before the first interaction until after the last. And they need luggage that rolls easily and looks clean.

The Hardware

The basics of business travel is the luggage used to get from point A to B. We believe in being prepared so this means carry-on luggage with a personal item that ideally fits on top of the carry-on for super smooth transitions at the airport.

  • For minimalists: Away's daily carry-on with compartments is a compact bag designed for minimalists who can select their essentials and leave the rest at home.
  • For those who need more space: We recommend luggage from Away, Rimowa, or CalPak.

Pushing a rolling bag that glides is a luxury worth investing in, and business travelers never know when they will have to bring their bags to a client meeting. A person’s luggage is a small detail but worth looking sophisticated or at least organized.

Besides the luggage, the personal item — as defined by airlines — is an overlooked but important piece of hardware where in-flight entertainment and work can live for the entirety of a business trip.

To check or not to check?

There are two schools of thought regarding whether to check a bag, mainly dependent on the duration of the business trip.

  • For trips lasting less than a week or involving multiple stops, it's advisable not to check a bag to save time and maintain flexibility in flight arrangements.

  • For trips lasting more than a week, checking a bag becomes more practical as it allows for extra outfits and essential items, ensuring comfort and convenience during extended stays away from home.

In Your Carry-On Bag

Your carry-on bag should contain the four E's:

  • Entertainment
  • Electronics
  • Expensive items
  • Essentials

Let's dive in to what that means.


Every business traveler needs a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Our favorite pair are the Bowers & Wilkins PX noise-cancelling headphones or the Bose QuietComfort Wireless Headphones.

We also love reading on the road or having an audiobook fired up and ready. It is a great way to use passive time, listening, and learning without expending too much valuable brain energy. The Kindle is our favorite device for reading books while on the road, and Audible is great for listening to audiobooks.

Business travelers can also prepare for upcoming flights by saving all the interesting articles they come across on Pocket. Update the Pocket app before takeoff, and you'll have dozens of interesting and relevant articles to read during a transoceanic flight.

Many airlines now offer on-demand entertainment in flight, but typically, you must download their app before take-off. So be sure to check the entertainment options of the airline(s) you are flying and download any needed app(s) from your home or office so you have WiFi speeds that enable a fast download.


Sometimes, the most obvious items are the ones that are easiest to forget. Business travelers should designate a small bag or pocket specifically for chargers for every electronic device they carry. Tech companies have made it easier by making most chargers adaptable to the block with a USB output. Hotels have also gotten onboard by providing USB chargers in most rooms now.

Expensive items

We also recommend carrying expensive items such as:

  • Laptops or cameras
  • Musical gear or sporting equipment
  • Jewelry, watches, or high-end sunglasses
  • Designer clothing
  • Luxury cosmetics

Certain items hold significant emotional value. Sentimental items that can not be easily replaced — family heirlooms, photographs, or souvenirs — should also be packed safely in your personal item or carry-on.


Don't check any essentials that would be difficult to replace if your bag is lost. These might include:

  • Medication, such as prescriptions or EpiPens
  • Credit cards, IDs, or passport
  • Chargers for your phone or other electronic devices
  • Makeup or skincare products

Taking Care of Business

If there is anything you need to conduct business — like presentation materials or one absolutely necessary outfit — pack it in your carry-on. For example, if there is a black-tie gala, make sure to keep the gown or suit with you. This way, nothing can prevent a stellar appearance or make you feel unprepared.

Travel Necessities

  • Breath mints or peppermint essential oil: It always pays to be fresh.
  • Business cards: Even if a business trip is not heading to a networking event, remember the cardinal rule — Always Be Selling. Even if you’re not in sales. There might be a friendly face at the airport or a friend-of-a-friend at dinner, and business cards are the transaction point at which run-ins become contacts and possibly something more like a closed-won deal that puts you over quota for the quarter.
  • Extra charger: The worst possible feeling on a business trip is watching the battery on a phone or laptop inch toward zero without a backup plan.
  • Envelopes for expense receipts: Unless your company uses an expense tracking app like Navan, you'll need to collect paper receipts for all your expenses. If you’re old school, drop every receipt in the envelope as it’s handed over and write the date, amount, and reason on the front. You can also fast-track expensing by taking a photo of the receipt that you can add to an expense management tool or email later.
  • First-aid kit: For minor injuries or medical needs, consider packing some adhesive bandages, antibacterial ointment, tweezers, safety pins, pain relievers, etc.
  • Hand sanitizer: Keep it clean, especially when transitioning between handshakes and dim sum.
  • Pen and notebook: We believe in being there, which sometimes means closing the laptop and writing down the most important points of the meeting. We also believe in inspiration, and jotting down thoughts and streams of consciousness could turn into an insight or idea that changes business in a big way. An app like Evernote is also a worthy alternative.
  • Rain gear: For travelers who never want to be caught unprepared or wet, remember to pack a small travel umbrella in a carry-on or the outside pocket of the suitcase so it is accessible at any moment.

In Your Toiletry Case

Toiletries are a personal choice, and everyone’s selection is specific to their needs.

Among the most common toiletries to pack are:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Body wash or soap
  • Styling gels and creams
  • Deodorant
  • Hairbrush or comb
  • Skincare products (moisturizer, sunscreen)
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Makeup (if applicable)
  • Personal hygiene products
  • Medications and vitamins

Also, consider other, smaller items often needed in a pinch to complement your toiletries, including tweezers, bandaids, pain medicine, allergy relief, and antacids.

Carry-ons in the U.S. come with restrictions. All liquids and gels must be smaller than three ounces and packed in quart-size plastic bags. Pack these bags in an outside pocket or the top of the suitcase so they’re easy to remove throughout the security checkpoints. For pro business travelers, sign up for U.S. Global Entry, which comes with TSA Pre Check. This will allow you to leave liquids and electronics in your bag through most security lines.

What to Wear

Business trip outfits can be organized by selecting 3-4 pieces that always go together.

Focus on fashion that works for boardrooms and bars. Think clean lines, block colors, and fashion that transcends the time of day. Try a few solid-color shirts or blouses, plus a few items that can be easily mixed and matched.

If faced with a decision, always go for more formal instead of casual. It is better to pack layers for colder temperatures—either conference room AC or a chilly day—than not to pack enough. Layers ensure that something can always be taken off while still being appropriate.

Although people recommend packing wrinkle-free clothing, business travelers should pack what they’re more comfortable in and always plan to iron before wearing it.

Here are the basics that we recommend for every trip:

  • Light or heavy jacket, depending on the destination
  • Two pairs of pants and/or skirts
  • Coordinating tops
  • A suit jacket or light sweater to pair with all outfits
  • No more than three pairs of shoes, ranging from sneakers to high heels or dress shoes
  • Underwear to last each day of the trip, plus one extra
  • Accessories, including jewelry, belts, and socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Pajamas

We love curating that one go-to travel outfit. Modern brands like ADAY craft technical, seasonless, and sustainable outfits that are professional and comfortable for long-haul travel.

Other items to consider:

Don't forget to pack hiking boots, ski goggles, a swimsuit, or whatever items you need to enjoy your free time at the destination. If you plan to extend your trip for leisure, we put together a list of packing tips to keep your luggage as streamlined as possible.

We also always pack some basic gym gear: Even a fast 20-minute walk in the morning and some short stretching can completely shift a day. Be sure to check if an offsite or team-building activity is on your trip agenda.

Of course, it is impossible to prescribe a single appropriate wardrobe for a country as vast as the United States with business districts as distinct as Miami and Palo Alto. But there are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Fashion and sense of style for work gear will be noticed more in major cities such as New York and Los Angeles. These cities also emphasize evening culture, where an elevated style might be appreciated for after-work activities.
  • Colleagues in markets with a more relaxed outdoor environment, such as Austin, Denver, and Seattle, will appreciate a look that puts function and sensibility first.
  • Sneakers have become a universal symbol of the hustle and are respected in most U.S. offices when paired with smart, clean fashion.

The best way to assimilate to each market is to get a sense of the weather and culture.

Finally, this last tip might add a little weight when deciding what to pack for a business trip in the U.S., but it is definitely worth it. Pack a small gift for your host — a gesture of respect and thoughtfulness. A host will remember the special touch for longer than most business travelers realize.

You take care of the packing — our modern business travel platform that combines AI-driven personalization with unrivaled inventory and 24x7 human support will handle the rest. Request a demo today.

Return to blog

More content you might like