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.
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.
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.
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
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.
- 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.
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.
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.