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Ultimate Female Packing List for a Workcation: Work + Pleasure Trip

packing list for a workcation

The following packing list for a workcation was provided by Sarah.

I certainly didn’t invent the word “workcation”, but I definitely understand the meaning. Defined as traveling for both work and vacation in the same trip, it’s a way of life as I manage being a travel blogger, social media manager, and ghostwriter while on the move.

And I’m not alone! As more and more people freelance, telecommute, or just take time away from the office while sneaking in some overdue vacation time, the “workcation” is here to stay.

So how do you pack for client meetings and your exotic destination in one carry‐on? I do it all the time, so let’s cover some basics and review your packing list for combining business and pleasure.

First Impressions

Presentable Outfit

If you’ll be meeting with clients during your trip, pack an outfit that makes a great first impression and gives you an edge of confidence. Maybe it’s a tailored suit, your favorite pencil skirt and twin set, or something a little more funky depending on your industry. But regardless of your personal style, make sure it fits properly, looks presentable, and travels well.

>> Check out this guide on packing to look professional on the road.

Black Blazer

A basic, black blazer is a great item to take along; you can wear it over a dress if you’ve got a cocktail event on the calendar, or throw it over a cotton tank and jeans with your favorite sneakers for a day of wandering through museums once you leave the work deadlines behind.

And try and bring one with pockets. My first boss and amazing mentor, Eloise, told me to always buy a jacket with pockets to hold some business cards. It avoids that awkward moment of having to fumble through your purse while a potential client lingers for what seems like an eternity!

The Right Pants

Pack some comfy pants that can do double duty: work appropriate, yet ready for the weekend. Black leggings are always a good choice. They’ll look good paired with that black blazer, or throw a blouse over them with your signature necklace or scarf and you’ve got a great outfit that’s multi‐purpose. And if you manage to squeeze in a yoga class during your busy schedule, you’ve got some yoga pants, too!

>>Check out the best travel pants for women or these awesome dressy sweatpants.

Shoes

Now what about shoes? This is always any girl’s problem! Try to choose shoes that you can wear with a couple of outfits. For example, heels that go great with your suit and can be worn with a dress for cocktails on Saturday night. Or booties that work with your pantsuit for client meetings, but can also work for a day wandering around the city.

If hiking through the rainforest is part of your vacation plans, then wear your hiking boots on the plane to save room in your carry on luggage for smaller shoes. Make it work!

>>Check out what shoes to pack for work + pleasure combo trips.

Travel Steamer

If you’re lucky enough to have a chance to decompress at your hotel or Airbnb before you dive into work, iron or steam your clothes. I carry a travel steamer to avoid having to send items to the hotel dry cleaners and possibly being without my key items for a few days.

But whatever you decide, take a moment to double check your wardrobe for any wrinkles, tears, stains, and fix ‘em before you walk out the door.

>>Check out these tips for preventing wrinkles when you pack.

packing list for a workcation: work + pleasure trip
Sarah packs her travel steamer to make sure her clothes are free of wrinkles.

Beauty 911

If you’re scheduled for your first meeting as you step off the plane, make sure you have a little emergency kit in your purse or computer bag to stay looking your best. I have everything in mini or travel sizes in a small leather pouch that is truly for emergencies, and fortunately or unfortunately, I’ve had to use everything in my kit!

You can freshen up at the end of your flight or dip into the bathroom before meeting your colleagues at the gate. Either way, you’ll feel better after a quick touch‐up and get a little confidence boost before heading out to a round of lengthy meetings.

packing list for a workcation: work + pleasure trip
Sarah’s emergency beauty kit has saved her many times.

My kit includes the following:

  • Mints, travel toothbrush, and floss. Anything to kill the odor of your inflight meal and catch any stray pieces of kale in between your teeth. I swear by the dental piks you see in the picture – much more effective than a toothpick!
  • A stain remover ‐ hopefully your seatmate on the flight didn’t spill anything on you mid‐flight but just in case.
  • Tinted moisturizer to revive your skin after a red‐eye flight, and a dab of concealer to alleviate any dark under eye circles that crept up on that super comfy overnight flight.
  • Nail polish remover pads; nothing looks more unprofessional than chipped nails!
  • Your favorite lipgloss or lipstick. While you don’t have to walk off the plane ready for a glamour shot, you do want to look a little refreshed. Keep whatever makeup items make you feel looking your best handy in a small pouch.
  • A few q‐tips for fixing any makeup flaws.
  • A sewing kit: snag one from your next hotel room and keep them in your bag or buy one to have on hand for a last minute tear or missing button.
  • A hair tie. We all have bad hair days! I don’t know how many women I’ve talked to who have told me their hair horror stories and how it ruined their day. Have a hair tie, clips, a scarf, or whatever helps your “do disaster” get under control. I personally carry a silk scarf since it can also be used around my neck if the weather gets chilly.

All of these items are small and don’t take up much room in your precious carry‐on real estate, leaving room for other workcation essentials.

>>See HPL’s recommendations for beauty packing hacks.

Tech Savvy

One of the upsides of technology is this modern day “workcation”, giving us the freedom to manage our professional demands while squeezing in some personal rejuvenation. But what happens when you can’t connect and you’ve got a conference call in 5 minutes? It’s happened to me and it’s not a situation I would wish on anyone.

packing list for a workcation: work + pleasure trip
Be prepared for WiFi emergencies if you’re working from the road.

Mobile Wi‐fi Hotspot

First, do your homework and find out what the lay of the land is with the Wi‐Fi situation at your destination. Staying in a hotel? Read reviews from other business travelers and ask the concierge for a list of nearby internet cafes or places to access free Wi‐Fi.

Staying at an Airbnb? Again, read reviews of past visitors and ask the host what internet company and speed they provide, and definitely get a list of nearby internet cafes from them, too. You might also want to ask your host for the username and password before you arrive.

Or consider bringing along a mobile hotspot of your own. Shop around for the best hardware and data combo to fit your needs. And check your wireless plan to see if it already includes hot‐spot use. You can use it in a pinch to do quick to‐do’s, but since it drains your battery, it’s not good for constant use.

>>Learn how to buy a SIM card overseas.

Portable Chargers

And speaking of batteries, have your portable chargers handy. While every airport has a charging station, it seems like they’re always full whenever you’re running low on juice and have to send that important email before boarding, right? I always keep one charged in case I can’t find a wall outlet so at least I can handle business from my phone.

My favorite is from Random Order (seen in the desk pic above) and it’s not much bigger than a lipstick tube. And if you’re traveling internationally, take your wall outlet adapters so that you can plug in once you get to your destination.

Airline Lounge Access

And finally, if you travel enough and are on the endless “workcation”, it might make sense to purchase a membership to your favorite airline’s club lounge. They’ve got all the amenities for a girl on the go like Wi‐Fi, copying, faxing, etc. and you can sit back and enjoy some snacks, and maybe even shower, depending on the club.

Another remote office resource is one I personally belong to: Regus global workplace. They’re all over the world and have all the amenities you need to conduct some serious business before heading out to play after your meetings wrap up!

Feels Like Home

Depending on how long you’ll be traveling, it’s always nice to bring along a few things that make your new surroundings feel a little like home. I always bring a candle with me; eucalyptus scent is my favorite and it adds a soothing, fresh essence to a stale room. Keeping it bedside next to my journal is a great way to decompress after a stressful day!

packing list for a workcation: work + pleasure trip
Packing a few things from home, like a scented candle, can make you feel more comfortable.

Slippers are another thing that I love to bring along. Not only do I slip into them the moment I get settled into my airplane seat, they make me feel a little cozier while sitting at my desk at my home away from home. Whatever your treasured trinkets are, bring something along to make yourself feel comfortable.

Now that you’ve got some ideas on how to pack smarter for your next workcation, get your list together and don’t forget to have fun!

You might also enjoy these posts about working and traveling:

About the author: Sarah is a travel blogger who writes about the culinary gems, art history, and inspiring people she meets on her blog All Set Concierge. As she weaves her way across the globe, she’s always picking up tips on how to be a smarter packer and prides herself on packing for a month long “workcation” in one carry on! Her dream destinations include Australia, Iceland, and Turkey, and you can follow her on Instagram.

All photos provided by Sarah except for title image.

packing list for a workcation pin

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Kiley says

    Thanks Sarah for a great post! I’m no stranger to traveling for business and I came away learning lots more today.

    • Sarah says

      Thanks, Kiley!! Glad you learned something from the post…I pick up a new tip every time I travel. Bon voyage!

  2. Corinne says

    This is a must read for both experienced and beginner work travelerst. I like the organization tips and found a few new tips. Sarah covered the must know basics and offered several gew as the tips. I especially like the ideas for relaxing with the candle.

    • Sarah says

      Thank you, Corinne! Yes, even though I am an experienced traveler, I pick up a new tip or idea from fellow travelers each trip. Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  3. Meg Root says

    I’m doing a bit more traveling these days, and have been thinking it would be nice to have more of a system around my packing process. I love the minimalist approach, and there are some great ideas for looking your best with less. And the slipper idea on the plane . . . love! Thanks for the great post.

    • Sarah says

      Hi Meg,
      Yes, the minimalist approach is best! People are always shocked when I tell them how little I travel with, but somehow always manage to have enough outfits (and shoes) for the trip 😉 Enjoy your travels!

  4. S A Taylor says

    Sarah, thanks for sharing with us how to be a smarter packer. Your emergency beauty list is very helpful – I always seem to bring too many things I never use. This list will help me to take just what I need. I really appreciate the excellent hints on WiFi emergencies like packing a wall outlet adapter-very savvy. I also will definitely check out the Regus global workplace. Thank you Sarah for showing us how to be smarter packers but also how to feel a little more comfortable in a new surrounding being here or abroad. Please pass on any new tips you might pick up on your trips to Australia, Iceland and Turkey.

    • Sarah says

      Glad you enjoyed the ideas; my emergency beauty kit is small, but has a ton of goodies packed in there (all of which I’ve had to use!).
      Unfortunately, wifi mishaps are common in this day and age, but there’s so many ways you can plan to avoid them, so I’m glad my ideas were helpful. And yes, Regus centers are always a great place to go and meet other business travelers.
      Follow my adventures on the blog and hopefully soon I can post some tips from Australia!

  5. LT says

    Here’s one more reason to travel hand carry only — the weather! In 15 years I have been exclusively carry-on only. This weekend with all the conference materials I needed to bring back with me, I checked my bag. BIG MISTAKE! The airline’s baggage handlers decided to place our flight’s bags on uncovered baggage carts. The Orlando area experienced severe thunderstorms, (hail, heavy rains), for several hours. My conference materials are ruined including the CPE certificate for the training courses. Yes, the paper products can be restored; why didn’t the airline place the flight’s luggage in covered containers? There were several available right next to the two uncovered ones for our flight!! Bottom line? Hand carry only, ship the heavy resource materials.

  6. Sarah says

    LT, What a disaster, and I’m sorry that happened. Unfortunately, airlines and luggage handlers don’t seem to give our luggage the proper care, even though we’re now paying extra for it! This is another reason why I carry on as much as possible.
    Glad you enjoyed the post and good luck in your future travels!

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