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I hate checking in luggage when I travel for business, but I’m tired of lugging a heavy bag through the airport. How can I pack lighter, yet still have enough clothing options to look good -- at work and at play -- while on the road?

I hate checking in luggage when I travel for business, but I’m tired of lugging a heavy bag through the airport. How can I pack lighter, yet still have enough clothing options to look good -- at work and at play -- while on the road?


There’s nothing better than having a single lightweight carry-on when traveling for business or pleasure. It can save you time, money (as more and more airlines charge extra to check luggage) and those aches and pains associated with lugging a big bag around a strange airport.

Sure, it’s possible to travel with nothing but carry-on luggage and still have everything you need to look fashionable on the road. Here’s how.

The Duds: Start with your favorite suit in gray, black or navy. This way you can rock your two-button during your presentation, and then later pair it with a fresh pair of dark jeans while you chat up the locals about the hottest watering hole in town.

When it comes to shirts, it’s all about consolidating colors. Grab a basic white, a fresh-looking blue and one that is a little more fun. Utilizing your hotel room’s iron, you should get at least 5 days out of your button-downs. (Click here  for tips on using an iron.)

Don’t forget a light sweater. It will not only keep you warm on the plane, but also look great if you find yourself in a cooler climate.

Your shoes should also be able to get you from a sales pitch to an art gallery opening with ease. But if the evening’s activities run a little more casual, throw a crisp pair of canvas sneakers into your bag. You can never go wrong with a classic pair of Chuck Taylors.

With these -- along with a belt, socks and underwear -- all bases should be covered.

Toiletries: Also, don’t overfill your dopp or toiletry kit. Almost all hotels have products from companies you know. Just call the concierge desk, and they will be more than willing to bring whatever you need to your room. Bring the basics: toothbrush, razor, deodorant. Everything else should be available.

Pick the Right Bag: Depending on where you are going, say a face-to-face with tourism director of Barbados, or the TED conference with 5,000 of your nearest and dearest, the right bag can make all the difference -- just as long as you can carry it on the plane. The big trend these days is the hard-sided case. They are typically lightweight, aluminum-sided and practically bullet proof. Try something from Zero Halliburton, which not only has wheels for fast gate-hopping, but will also give you the allure of a 1960s spy. And because of its hard sides, its limited space automatically keeps you from over-packing.


About the Expert

Paul Brady is an associate editor at AOL Travel, and a head blogger at TravellingTheAmericanRoad.com, so he spends a lot of time on the road, living out of a suitcase.

Tags: Style , Travel