Business trips are tiring at the best of times, but you may be making it worse for yourself by taking a pile of clutter along with you.

On a one-night business trip you may need an overnight bag, briefcase, handbag (if you’re female, and bulging pockets if you’re not). A perfectly reasonable set of items to take, by anyone’s standards. But are they?

What’s In Your Bag?

Let’s examine your overnight bag. Enough for one night? Or a whole week?

It’s tempting to throw in last minute changes of clothing, even if you are only going for one night. What if you spill a drink down your best shirt? What if there’s a dressy evening function?

Should you take a spare tie, socks, casual and smart shoes? You’d better take half the contents of the medicine cabinet, in case you feel unwell; after all who knows what you might be given to eat?

A Briefer Briefcase?

It’s the same story with your briefcase. Rather than essential papers, you pack the whole file. Along with a notebook, iPhone, laptop, Kindle and a book.

The list is endless, but you couldn’t possible manage without it all, could you? So why do you have a backache, sore knees and stiff neck at the end of each trip? Could it be connected to all the weight you are carrying with you?

When people can’t decide how much to take they err on the side of too much. Rather than risk being without something they need, they throw everything into their bag, ‘just in case’.

Travelling Heavy?

Travelling light may sound risky but is less stressful in the end. By taking too much you take ages to pack and unpack. Getting to your destination in the first place isn’t easy if you’re overloaded. You’ll struggle to get your bags on and off trains, planes and automobiles. Airports and stations can have miles for you to traverse, before you actually embark! Then you have to get it all off again.

Are you the person on the plane who is blocking the gangway? Trying to stuff an unruly bag into an overhead locker is no fun. By the time you sit down you will be hot, tired and unpopular!

By taking less you may have fewer emergency items, but how many emergencies have you really had when travelling? What items did you actually use last time? Those unnecessary items are clutter. Clutter weighs you down physically and mentally. Clutter distracts you from the main purpose of your visit.

Keep It Bare

The bare minimum that most people need on a business trip varies from person to person, and trip to trip. I suggest that for a one night stay, you only need the smart clothes you’re travelling in, nightwear and one change of shirt and underwear.

Don’t take evening dress, unless specifically told that black tie is essential and you’ll be meeting the Queen. Take one pair of shoes, (smart), unless previously informed you’re going to be trekking through ploughed fields.

Toiletries should be travel sized and restricted to what you actually use. Essential medicines for a medical condition are of course vital and should be packed first so as not to be forgotten.

Brief Is Best

Your briefcase should contain only the paperwork you know you’ll need. If you have an iPhone don’t take an MP3 player as well. Take a paperback or a Kindle, but not both. Your laptop is only needed if you actually intend to use it; don’t take one just for show.

Your mobile phone, wallet, travel tickets and passport (if travelling abroad) are of course essential, and should be packed before everything else, to ensure you can’t forget them!

Being Smug

With these tips in mind when you pack, you may find that you’re only taking half of what you normally do. This probably means you’ll find the trip half as tiring and twice as enjoyable. Whilst those niggly aches and pains from carrying too much could well disappear!

Put these tips into practice on your next business trip. You can then be the smug traveller who looks pityingly at those less fortunate individuals as they struggle red-faced, holding up the queue and generally making themselves unpopular. You can swing your light bag and energetically stride. Without clutter, looking good and feeling great!

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Travel Without The Kitchen Sink (or What Not To Take)