Packing is a pain, but if you travel for business every week, it is a ritual that you go through, probably every Sunday and Thursday night. If you are on a project that requires you to travel to the same place every week, you could save time and luggage space by storing some items at your hotel. Most full-service hotels will let you leave your luggage behind if you ask. Knowing what to leave behind can lighten your load and make packing much easier.
Rule number 1: Never bring back clean clothes.
When packing, you are always making a trade-off between having everything you need and traveling light. Sometimes it can be convenient to take along something extra that you might not use; an extra pair of gym clothes or some casual clothes for the evening can come in quite handy. If you’re returning to the same hotel the next week, leave all clean clothes with the hotel. Unless you need it over the weekend, it will be fine at the hotel in the closet.
Avoid transporting clothes that wrinkle; launder them locally.
I’m going to coin a new MBA framework: The 6 S’s: Shirts, Suits, Sport coats, and Slacks Should Stay.
Many of my colleagues have the hotel launder their stuff. This option is certainly the most convenient; many hotels will be glad to do your laundry over the weekend and have it hanging up in your room when you return the following week. This option will be pricey; most hotels charge huge markups on their laundry service.
If you’re not interested in dropping a rather large sum on laundry, you can find a local cleaner that will do your laundry locally. Cleaners are everywhere, probably within a few blocks of your client or hotel. You can quickly drop your clothes off on the way to the airport and pick them up early the following week. Many cleaners will deliver the laundry to your client or hotel, sometimes for free.
If you want to launder your shirts yourself, many hotels do have some coin-operated laundry facilities available. If you’re longing for your college days and want to read a book (or work) while your clothes are tumbling, this could be a very economical option.
Finally, look into options offered at your client site. Last summer, my client had a very convenient agreement with a laundry service; I could leave my clothes in a bag at the client site on Thursdays and the clothes would be delivered back to the client site. I only needed to pack one outfit while traveling because I could pick up all my clothes on Monday. I imagine that many businesses have similar arrangements.
Transport your basics in bulk and keep extra basics at the hotel.
I prefer to keep a supply of basic items (underthings, socks, jeans, and casual shirts) at the hotel. Every few weeks, I take an extra bag with a bunch of folded basics. Since I know that I already have underwear, socks, t-shirts, jeans, and gym clothes at the hotel, I save time and stress packing because I don’t need to worry about these items except once every few weeks.
If you are a fan of carrying your luggage with you, then toiletries present a special problem: Purchasing travel-sized everything (or putting everything in 100ml containers) is a royal pain and almost assures that you’ll run out of something because you couldn’t get to the store this week to buy a new tube of toothpaste. Hotel luggage storage provides a simple solution: You can have a second set of full-sized toiletries at the hotel and you never have to worry about getting travel-sized anything.
Shoes are one of the toughest things to pack; they are awkwardly shaped and they take up a lot of space. Currently, I have another pair of running shoes on order, which I plan to keep at my hotel. It might also be worth it getting a few more pairs of nice shoes to keep at the hotel so that I don’t have to transport them.
Travelers, do you leave luggage at the hotel? What do you leave? What about technology?