AAC: How to Pack for Work

Ahhh.. the second most common question I get, only after “What does a Consultant do anyway?”

And while we may never be able to explain exactly ~what we do~, one thing we can tell you is how to survive for incomprehensible amounts of time living solely out of a carry-on suitcase. Not only are we expected to pack light and efficiently, we are expected to show up at the client every day looking like the million bucks they are paying for us.

As someone who previously suffered from over packing, let me save you new consultants the embarrassment of running into veteran coworkers with a checked bag. And for you non-consultants, these lessons in organization can surely be applied to make any travel situation less stressful.

Own 2 sets of toiletries

Or even better, buy decant bottles (tiny travel-sized bottles) for all of your skincare products. Buying duplicates was one of the most revolutionary moves I have ever made. I have two of everything– straighteners, toothbrushes, tweezers- simply because I refuse to go without what I need. I can’t tell you how much stress it saves not having to unpack my toiletry case on Thursday night just to bundle everything up 3 days later. This is especially true for people who end up leaving their hairbrush on their bathroom counter because they forgot to put it back in their suitcase after using it Monday morning. This also goes for makeup! The bottom line is that when you wake up to go to the airport, you don’t want to be running through a checklist of things that still need to make it into your bag. If you have two sets, you never have to take them out in the first place.

Wear your largest items to the airport

And note, I didn’t say heaviest. While it is true that your carry on bags are never weighed (making them the perfect place to put shoes when on a long-haul trip), the real limiting factor for consultants will always be space. My response has always been to make sure my airport uniform is comprised of clothes that wouldn’t otherwise fit in my suitcase. If it is a work trip, that means my long peacoat and heels. For a leisure trip that might mean my leather jacket and timberlands. But what do you do if it’s 75 degrees at home and 45 degrees in your project city? Easy. You suck it up and wear that goddamn coat to the airport anyway.

Pack on Saturday

Nothing amplifies consultant ~Sunday Scaries~ like sitting in front of an empty suitcase at 8pm. The key is to pack as much as possible on Saturday after you’ve done laundry and before the depression sets in. This will also point out to you what you forgot you needed to wash. We all know how annoying it is to start looking for a particular pencil skirt just to remember you spilled coffee on it last week. Packing on Saturday not only frees up your time on Sunday, it decreases stress and gives you a grace period should you discover you do actually need to throw a last-second load in.

Unpack and Pack

I know, I know. Unpacking is the last thing you want to do is after a long ass day of travel and catching up at the office. However, this is the *single* most important tip I can give consultants. Hanging up your clothes Monday evening is imperative for a couple reasons. First, it is easier to choose outfits when you see them all together. I personally plan my week of outfits before leaving, so I just put them in the closet and separate them for easy access. Second, it allows you to separate dirty and clean clothes. As you wear clothes during the week, fold them and put them in your suitcase. Then, you’re only ever choosing from clean clothes, and by the time you are ready to leave, all but what you are wearing will already be packed. I put all dirty clothes on the left side of my suitcase, and I put clean clothes on the right side once I know I won’t be wearing them for the remainder of the trip. Having outfits hung up makes getting ready at 7 AM a breeze, and packing as you go simplifies your Thursday morning checkout. Not only that, but segregating dirty clothes in your suitcase lets you know exactly what to wash once you are home. No smell test needed.

Follow the 4-3-2-1 Rule

I have found that the backbone of the typical (female) Monday-Thursday consultant’s packing list is comprised of 4 shirts, 3 bottoms, 2 pairs of shoes, and 1 dress. In fact, it is a perfect formula for any 4-5 day trip. Just substitute shorts or cute skirts for pencil skirts, and jeans for work pants. This includes what I wear to the Airport! Now let me break it down for you.

  • 4 shirts– I usually wear a plain white or black blouse on Monday, and pack 2 more statement blouses plus 1 plain black long sleeve blouse.
  • 3 bottoms– I usually wear a skirt on Mondays, and pack either 2 pants or 1 pant 1 skirt depending on the weather.
  • 2 pairs of shoes– I wear work pumps and pack flats. (Space saving, remember!)
  • 1 dress– Because I have fantastic legs and god damn do I love a dress.

And that’s it! Hopefully this was helpful to you, thanks for reading! Please subscribe if you enjoyed it and don’t hesitate to comment on what you’d like to see next!




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