How To Pack A Carry-On Suitcase For A Short Business Trip

How To Pack A Carry-On Suitcase For A Short Business Trip

In this guide we discuss how to pack your carry-on luggage like a pro for a business trip including how to fold a suit and shirt; what you need & secrets to maximizing every inch of your carry-on.

For Air Travels

I suggest going with a spinner suitcase with nice wheels that roll very smoothly so you can maneuver it without hassle, but it should also be stable so you can put a little briefcase or another carry-on item on top of it while you walk with it. Note that packing a small carry-on suitcase is very different from packing a larger spinner suitcase.

An upright spinner with a front pocket designed for work essentials is the perfect option for business travel

An upright spinner with a front pocket designed for work essentials is the perfect option for travel

How To Pack A Small Carry-On Suitcase?

First of all, put out all the items you want to bring on your trip onto your bed or maybe on the floor if the bed is not large enough. Remove all excessive items and only bring the bare bones you actually need.

If it’s just a one-day business trip, you just need one pair of shoes, and I simply suggest you wear it. If it’s a two or three-day business trip, you want to bring another pair of shoes, but that’s it.

I always suggest to go with black cap toe Oxfords, maybe Balmoral ones that add a little decoration, if you have huge feet, perhaps a derby shoe is the way to go.

If your business trip is not super formal or if you want a second pair of shoes, I suggest going with a burgundy pair of shoes because it can quickly be dressed up and down. It’s always appropriate, and you can wear with anything else you bring in your carry-on suitcase.

To prevent your shoes from soiling up the other clothing items in your suitcase, I always suggest going with a shoe bag or a dust bag. If you can put each shoe in a dust bag, that gives you more flexibility in terms of packing.

At first, I fold my socks and roll them up and put them in my shoes, maybe if you have space, you can also put your underwear in there, or a rolled belt.

No matter where I travel, I always bring a travel shoe horn because it protects my shoes, it helps me to get into my shoes at security, and I never want to miss it because it’s such a small item that can save you a lot of dollars. I’ve struggled many times with a carry-on and a suit, and so I tried different techniques, and this is the best one I found.

Secrets To Maximizing The Space Of Your Carry-On

Reserve the one compartment strictly for your suits

Reserve one compartment strictly for your suits

Keeping Your Suits Crisp

  • First, let’s start with the pants. You want to fold them into thirds because that way, it fits into your suitcase. Lay that on the flat side of your carry-on suitcase. In this video, I’m using a small houndstooth suit only so you can see better how I fold it. If you got a business trip, probably a solid navy suit, or charcoal, or light gray, or gray suit, are the better way to go.
  • Second, if you have a three-piece suit with a vest, you just take the vest, fold it in half and make sure the top ends align, as well as the bottom tips of the waistcoat, then you just roll it up. Again, you have a sweet little fabric roll, now put the roll aside.
roll up your waistcoats

How to roll up your waistcoat

  • Now, it’s time for the jacket. Take the left sleeve and pull it inside out, make sure to pull it all the way through. Now on that same sleeve, go to the shoulder and push it, and fold it inside out, this creates the perfect shape, and it fits right into the opposite shoulder that wasn’t folded. We do this to protect the shoulder so it doesn’t get crushed and wrinkled. Now take the rolled-up waistcoat, and stuff it into the shoulder area, so it gives it additional support and prevents it from wrinkling.

Now you fold up the jacket, so it lays neatly in the case on top of the pants. Usually, there’s a little gap on top of the shoulder, I use that to roll up some ties and ideally, knit ties because they’re less prone to getting wrinkles.

If you have additional space, you can add some pocket squares there but stay clear of any heavy items such as a wash bag, or toiletry bag, or maybe your jewelry kit, or chargers, or anything else that would squish the suit.

It pays to have a separate compartment in your carry-on suitcase so it doesn’t get stuffed because if your suit gets crushed chances are, it will wrinkle.

How To Fold A Dress Shirt

How To Fold A Dress Shirt


The Ideal Way To Fold Dress Shirts

If you have some room, you may want to add a dress shirt. Folding could have a huge impact on how your clothing wrinkles. Dress shirts are delicate and wrinkle very easily. Therefore, you should fold them and not roll them.

The best way to do that is to put the shirt flat down with buttons facing on the floor or the table, fold the sides inwards with sleeves on both sides and fold over the hem and fold in half or in thirds depending on the size of your suitcase.

Do that with all your shirts and then stack them with the colors opposite from each other. Maybe add just one shirt or maximum of two shirts on top of the suit because if it’s too squished, you get wrinkles in your shirts and in the suit.

Miscellaneous Accessories

Now, it’s time to close that compartment and let’s look at the other side of the suitcase. The socks, underwear, and undershirt, which didn’t fit into my shoes now go in between the telescope mechanism, so we create a somewhat flat surface. I put in the shoes sideways, so they use up as little space as possible.

Maybe if you want to bring a sweater or a cardigan, now is the time to put it in here. If you want to bring a long sleeve polo shirt for a casual evening outing, I usually roll it rather than folding it because a. it’s quicker, b. it saves me space and c. it’s not prone to wrinkling as much as let’s say a dress shirt.

If you were to bring any other folded items such as a t-shirt, an undershirt, I would roll those as well.

Filling In The Gaps

Once you’ve put all the things in, it’s time to fill the gaps. Maybe you want to bring suspenders, they should be rolled up, and you can stuff them in a gap. Usually, somewhere around the shoes, with a belt, you can also roll it up but if you don’t have enough space anymore, you can unroll it and lay it around the edges, that way, you’ll maybe fit even more things into your suitcase.

If you want, you can also bring your watch, maybe you want to bring some cufflinks in a jewelry case, maybe some collar pins, or collar bars, maybe collar stays, maybe tie bars, all those things should be in a neat little container, so you don’t have to search for them and they don’t get lost.

Of course, it’s also handy to have a little travel manicure kit with you just so you look presentable at your business meeting. You want to add a long pair of casual pants to your wardrobe, I suggest you go with seersucker because it’s lightweight and it doesn’t wrinkle.

When it comes to suit material, a great fabric for travel is either a heavy flannel, but if that’s not appropriate for a warm summer, I suggest you go with a fresco wool.

How do you pack your carry-on? Feel free to share your tips & tricks to efficiently packing light for a short trip!

How To Pack A Carry-On Suitcase For A Short Business Trip
Article Name
How To Pack A Carry-On Suitcase For A Short Business Trip
Learn to pack your carry on luggage like a pro; what you need & secrets to maximizing every inch of your carry-on.
Gentleman's Gazette LLC
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17 replies
  1. Ken Pevehouse says:

    For long business trips I pack dirty laundry! Before the trip I research the location of a one-hour laundry near where I will be staying. Once I arrive at my destination, I take my “dirty” shirts and slacks to the laundry. When I pick them up I have freshly pressed wrinkle free clothing for my stay. On the return leg I again pack dirty laundry and get everything cleaned when I return.

    As a precaution I do also pack one clean dress shirt that I have cleaned and boxed at my local cleaner. That way when I arrive I am guaranteed one clean shirt with minimal wrinkles that can be easily steamed out by hanging it in the bathroom as I shower.

  2. David K says:

    Wait–Raphael, did you say your blue socks had red and white clocks on them? Have you decided to join those of us who enjoy whimsical socks? If so, welcome, brother! 🙂

  3. Rico says:

    Because aircraft are air conditioned, I layer my clothes. If done correctly, I need only pack some tees (rolled) jeans or khakis , polos, undies and shoes.

    I always stay at hotels that feature coin op laundrys. I plan on doing my laundry at the midpoint of my stay.

  4. Vintagegent says:

    Wear the suit. Especially in warmer weather as no packing method really works and trying to steam out wrinkles is a major hassle. Relatively plain (think blue, gray or tan depending on season) low wrinkle suits are ideal for travel and a plain suit works fine with an open button down or a polo shirt for travel will pair with contrasting sport slacks. A pair of slip on shoes works for casual with a suit and is best for airport security. Then all you need is a pair of brougues, extra socks, one or two neckties and a couple of folded shirts in the case. That leaves room even in a small case for sneakers, shorts and exercise tops to hit the road or the gym which is essential if you travel often. No muss, no fuss once you take the suit out of the equation and you will look much smarter while travelling and upgrade eligible too!

  5. Charles W says:

    Unless you intend to brush your teeth with your finger or impress your business associates with your natural body odours, I suggest including some space for your toiletry bag. Depending on your morning routine, this may be quite a large item. Also, if you intend to shave during your trip and normally use a safety razor, make sure to bring a disposable razor instead as loose razor blades are usually prohibited on flights. Lastly, always make sure to check the baggage rules prior to travel as they can often change to prohibit or allow different grooming items such as nail clippers or cuticle nippers. Happy trails!

  6. Grandone says:

    Carry an extra shoe horn in your pocket to the airport. When you have to go through screening. you will have it at the end of the line to use to put your shoes back on.

  7. Andrey says:

    I tried folding the jacket the way you suggested and I found that it wrinkles more that way. Nowadays what I do is this. I simply put the suit on a lightweight hanger jus as you would do to hang it in the wardrobe; I also hang relevant number of sorts underneath the jacket. I then put the suit and shirts on the hanger into a suit bag; lay it flat and fold it three times. I then stuck it in my carry-on case. Surprisingly, the suits survive that very well. The shirts are sometimes wrinkled, but that could be easily ironed in the hotel.

  8. jojo says:

    Hi Raphael, I really respect the effort you have put into building this site and I get that it has to paid for but the intercession of ads in the copy ruins the site, can be confusing to the reader but worst of all places your own commercial interests above the intetests of the reader. As a reference point Die Workwear! just one the readers pick on Permanent Style’s readers awards – ads are all on lhs as with PS. There are many other sites that follow this practice. Can I urge you, in the interests of your readers, to remove the block ads from the text and place them at the side.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Author: Sven Raphael Schneider / Source: […]

  2. […] really crunches when you touch it, it won’t wrinkle at all so it’s a perfect tie for travel or if you are prone to just throwing your ties somewhere and not storing them […]

  3. […] Click Here To Learn How To Pack A Carry-On For A Shorter Trip […]

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