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by Vault Consulting Editors | August 23, 2011


by Kristine Schoonmaker, MyConsultingLife.Com

Learning how to pack for a week away may be the one of the biggest adjustments for those new to the travel scene.  One thing you’ll learn very quickly is that checking bags is never high on the list.  You lose way too much time dropping off and picking up.  Besides, who can afford the risk of lost luggage and having nothing to wear to your client?  This means you must carry on and learn how to get four days' worth of stuff into one suitcase that fits easily in the overhead bin.  You’ll also probably want to work out and do some things in the evenings, which means you’ll want more than just work clothes.  So, how in the world do you find room to pack it all?  After a few weeks you’ll have it down to a science and can get more creative.   In the meantime, here’s my personal rule for your basic needs:  Remember 4-3-2-1.


4 – Two things that are critical to maintain are good hygiene and your professional image.  That means you are going to need to have a different outfit for each day.  For a typical Mon-Thurs schedule, you’ll need (4) shirts or tops as well as (4) sets of undergarments and socks (that includes undershirts for the guys).   

3 – Sorry ladies, I love my shoes just as much as the next girl, but when you are traveling each week, you simply can’t drag your entire closet with you.  That’s why (3) is the maximum number of pairs of shoes to bring: (1) Dress, (1) Workout and (1) Casual.  For dress shoes try to stick to black or brown when traveling.  It simply makes life easier.  You can wear black with nearly any color pant but it’s much harder to pair your favorite yellow pumps, for example, with multiple pants.  If you want to stick to your workout schedule, you’ll need sneakers.  These are the only pair of bulky shoes that go inside the bag.  Finally, when you want to run to the store after work or are headed home Thursday night, more comfortable shoes are really what you want.  That’s why you might also pack a pair of flats or flip flops that can slide easily into the front pocket of the suitcase.  If you opt for flats they can also double as an additional pair for work if you want a second color or something a bit more fun (bonus).     

2 -While we want to keep you looking sharp and fresh, you should always look for places to stretch where you can.  Doing so means more space in your bag.  You can typically get away with (2) bottom pieces per week.  For example, you might pack a black and tan pair of pants for the week and wear your black pants Monday/Wednesday and tan pants on Tuesday/Thursday.  That leaves additional space in your bag for (2) workout shirts and socks so you make sure to get in some gym time.

1 – Temperature is always dicey, so you’ll want at least (1) over garment like a sweater or jacket that you’ll wear or carry.  Select something neutral in color and goes with anything.   If you are going to hit the gym you’ll also need (1) set of workout bottoms as you can probably get a couple uses out of those.  For the final item, you’ll need to include (1) toiletry bag with your travel size personal items. 

Following this easy formula will make sure you can pack everything you need into one bag and give you a great checklist so you don’t forget anything, like I’m often prone to do! 

Kristine Schoonmaker is The Career & Lifestyle Coach for Consultants and founder of Her bi-weekly ezine Accelerate offers practical insider advice and quick tips from a former consulting exec to help YOU take greater control of your career and stay engaged in your personal life from the road. If you’re ready to have it all – an amazing career in consulting without giving up the lifestyle, relationships and experiences you want, get your FREE subscription now at


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