What to pack when you're doing business abroad

Work and business rarely stay behind a desk these days; many of us are flying all over the place, going to meetings, visiting clients, representing your company; and it’s becoming more and more commonplace because the world is shrinking… but so is our luggage allowance! 

What to pack?

With that it’s difficult to know what you need and what you’re panic packing. Here we’re going to look at what to take to keep you looking sharp during business hours and even sharper after hours.

The Bag

We’ll start by quickly mentioning your bag. As mentioned in another article the tote bag is favoured, simply because it looks damn cool and does the job. In this instance, you’re packing your suit and shirts, all of which require a little more rigidity to minimising any creases during the journey. So with that you may prefer the miniature suitcase.

Before we move on, if it can be avoided, do not wear your suit on the plane. For detail on this see the article about it, but suffice to say, unless you’ve no time to change upon arrival, keep your suit nice, safe and clean in your case. 

What’s on the agenda?

So you’ve a few meetings to attend, a face to face with a client, a dinner or two and then perhaps a couple of nights at the bar. Your days are full, you’re busy, so you want outfits that  allow you to walk out of the boardroom and into the bar with minimal change. 

We’re going to work on the basis of starting with a suit and then making tweaks to make the outfit more appropriate for what you have going on. You might ask, ‘why can’t I just wear my suit the whole time?’ Firstly, if you’re sat that in the same outfit you’ve just closed a deal in, then it sends a message that you’re not the most fun guy to be around, bringing a corporate feel to what is supposed to be a relaxing evening. For your own sake as well, you’ll want to change what you’re wearing to get yourself out of a work mindset and into a chill out mindset, and changing or altering your outfit can really help with that. 


Your suit, go for a blue if you have it, this translates to the evening scene a little better than greys as blues lend themselves to being dressed down and being worn as more of a casual piece. You’ll also tend to find that you can wear more vibrant shirt colours with blues, which is great when it comes to doubling up for the evening scene. 

With that, take your brown shoes, and belt as these again span the gap between formal and informal better than black and they also look nicer against the blue. Further, browns are also better at hiding marks and blemishes that inevitably appear when trotting the globe. 

Get your shirt together

Shirts, how many shirts you should take entirely depends on what you’ll be doing. As a rule of thumb you’ll want a dress shirt for each time you wear your suit and a more casual shirt for each time you don’t. However, as space is at a premium, you want shirts that can span from boardroom to bar. Chequered shirts will look good both with and without a tie. Red chequers, blue chequers, pick whatever tone goes well with your suit, they’ll all sit very nicely against the blue of your suit and because of the fine pattern, they’ll work for formal and informal situations. They’re also good at hiding wrinkles and imperfections.

Plain shirts work with everything. Here you can go for the slightly more coarse weaves, like chambray and oxford which have a more casual look, but because they’re plain, they still retain an element of formality and translate well from the business scene into the nightlife scene. So as long as you’re staying fresh you’ve just halved the number of shirts you’re taking. 

Stay Fresh

What tie? Again it’s really simple. Stick with silk, they’re classic and formal and shouldn’t crease in your case. You can’t really go wrong with ties, make a statement, be bold, wear what makes you happy. Just tie it in with some tones, colours, themes that are present in the outfit, this will just make it slightly more formal for your corporate environment. 

Dress down

So now we have the foundation, we’ll look at how we can dress down your suit. We’ll start with ties. On the whole, removing your tie is an easy way to immediately ‘de-formalise’ your suit. But if you just take off your tie, then you look like you’ve just taken off your tie. Instead, think of these guidelines; If you’re wearing a chequered shirt then take off your tie, you’ve enough going on to justify the absence of a tie. If you’re wearing a plain coarse weave shirt, then you have a choice, keep your blocky school style tie on, or remove it, it depends on your preference. 


You also want to swap your suit jacket for an informal jacket or blazer, with a pattern or a thicker weave. This will break up the smoothness of a suit and give your outfit a less formal feel. 

The good thing about suit trousers is that they tend to fit you very nicely, they’ll compliment your body shape well and you’ll look good in them. The fact that they don’t match your jacket only works in your favour when you’re dressing down your suit. 

If you feel as though you don’t want to be hitting the bar with your suit trousers then depending on what you’re attending will decide what replaces them. If it’s completely informal, just dinner with your colleagues/friends then jeans are fine. If you’re still facing clients then stick with the trousers or chinos, jeans are received differently by different people, and you cannot go wrong with chinos. 


Shoes. Brown brogues cover all bases. They will go well with your suit and work in a business environment, and they can be worn out as part of your more casual outfit. By all means if you have the room in your case take another pair, but with your brown brogues you won’t need to. 

Stay away from trainers. Unless you have a tennis match arranged then there’s no situation that will call for them, they don’t go with any of your other attire. Remember, shoes say a lot about the wearer, trainers don’t say much at all.

So now you’ve all the key points that will keep you looking sharp throughout the day and in all situations. 

Happy Travels!