I'm Portland, OR bound for business in a few weeks, which I was pondering last night when I couldn't sleep. I started thinking about previous trips--business and personal--and mistakes I've made in packing. I assembled this list of tips, the kind of tips that will keep you from embarrassing yourself in front of colleagues. Well, at least embarrassment as it relates to clothes.
- Bring an extra outfit and under-things in your carry on. I envy you if you're one of those super packers who use their carry on for everything. I always have to check a bag, and I live in fear it won't make my destination. My fear eases knowing that I have an extra look and undies with me. I don't risk having to wear the same thing two days in a row, especially if I'm flying casual but wearing professional to business events.
- Pack nice pajamas. Have you ever watched that scene in Lost in Translation where the hotel has a fire drill and everyone is milling around outside in their PJs? Imagine wearing the rattiest, most stained pajamas you have at 2am surrounded by co-workers. Wouldn't that whole scenario be slightly better in a nice night gown and robe or a set of pajamas that match?
- Be mindful of adding a swimsuit to your bag. If you're going to Florida or Hawaii or a destination where it's obvious the company expects you'll lounge by the pool, bring a suit. BUT, if you're not, then think about your co-workers seeing you in your skivvies. I have been the person wandering a hotel looking for a hot tub in this scenario. I ended up in a elevator in a towel with a higher up, and it felt A-W-K-W-A-R-D.
- Bring shoes that you can walk and move in. If I could pull off a 6 inch heel, I would, but I have neither the dexterity nor the feet for that height. I pack shoes I know I can walk to seminars and around conference floors in. Don't be that poor person who is in pain by 10am running to their hotel to put on sneakers. Or worse, you can end up the person scrambling to find affordable shoes in a new city when you already have plenty of pairs at home.
- Do your research before packing. Everyone will be wearing polos and khakis, right? It's never cold in Florida? These are the kinds of assumptions that make you stick out like a sore thumb. Check the weather and ask colleagues about what they've worn or plan to wear to events. Think about having to run out and buy something you probably already have at home, and this tip might be the most important of all. You can look professional and you won't freeze or sweat to death.
Any tips you guys have for not standing out like a sore thumb on a business trip?