When you're traveling on business, whether by plane or automobile, you need to be able to dress for comfort while maintaining a professional appearance; additionally, since you have to transport everything with you for the duration of the trip, your wardrobe choices can mean the difference between being able to relax while traveling and feeling overburdened and ill at ease.
Make sure you pack as little clothing as you can get away with, but as much as you need. This requires some thought beforehand. If you're going to be participating in multiple business meetings with the same group of people, you need enough changes of clothing that you're not obviously showing up wearing the same outfit, day after day. If, on the other hand, your business trip consists of a series of meetings, each with a different client, you can probably get away with one or two easy-care business suits. Make sure that you have enough pairs of comfortable dress shoes to coordinate with the suits that you carry; or make sure that all of your suits match one or two pairs of shoes.
Your professional responsibilities may be largely the maintenance or repair of heavy machinery or equipment, rather than business meetings. If your work requires you to have a specific set of work clothes, make sure they allow you to function optimally - and safely - while doing your job. However, ask yourself this: Can you perform the work you need to perform in a business suit? If so, consider adopting that as your wardrobe. Just think of the Xerox repair person; he or she shows up in business attire, complete with white shirt and tie or scarf, peels off the suit coat and drapes it over the back of an office chair, secures the necktie / scarf, and repairs the photocopier in shirtsleeves. The result? Workers at the client company see the Xerox service representative as a professional rather than as a blue collar repairperson.
While wool and cotton are superb materials for a business suit, modern blends, many of which combine manmade wrinkle-resistant fibers with natural fibers, make more sense during a business trip; you can pack several business suits into a suitcase, then remove them when you reach your destination, give them a good shake, and hang them up, fresh, crisp, and ready to wear. Many of these fabrics are also easy care; in a pinch you can wash them in a hotel sink and hang them up; they'll dry, good as new, in hours.
You may also want to pack some casual clothing for off-hours; if you have layovers while traveling or some free time once you reach your destination, you may want to take the opportunity to explore the community you're visiting.
Aldene Fredenburg is a freelance writer living in southwestern New Hampshire and frequently contributes to Tips and Topics . She has published numerous articles in local and regional publications on a wide range of topics, including business, education, the arts, and local events. Her feature articles include an interview with independent documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and a feature on prisoners at the New Hampshire State Prison in Concord. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org