7 Things to Pack for Your First Overseas Work Trip

There are few things more exciting than being sent overseas and getting paid for it! Foreign work travel can be one of the most exciting ways to visit a new place, because you’re nearly guaranteed to see things the way a local would. Packing for work, however, looks a little different from packing for a leisurely vacation, so here are a few things to be sure to bring with you!

1. A Sturdy Tote

No room for small purses here! You’ll want a bag to do multiple jobs as your briefcase, carry-on, and day bag during your trip. Pockets and long straps are a necessity, as is a neutral color that will go with everything. Stash a small cross body clutch in your suitcase for evenings out if needed.

First Class: Cuyana Tote, $250
Economy: Zara Tote, $40


2. Travel Wallet

Source: Moochi Things

When you’re traveling for fun you can get away with your daily wallet and an average passport cover. When you’re travelling for you work, you’re likely juggling ultra-precise itineraries and handfuls of receipts for expense reports. We say, splurge on an honest to goodness travel wallet. Look for a piece that has two complete billfold compartments for separating currencies. You’ll be thrilled your dollars aren’t swimming around with Euros when you’re trying to buy that first coffee to beat jet lag!

First Class: Henri Bendel Travel Wallet, $188
Economy: Zoppen Passport Wallet, $19


Foldable Flats

Source: @caitlinclairexo

Unfortunately work travel means we don’t have the luxury of schlepping around in our comfiest New Balance sneakers. Even better than a workday heel is stashing a foldable flat that can be discreetly whipped out when you’re darting for the metro or hailing a cab. And remember, with space at a premium, the size of your flats really makes a difference.

First Class: Tieks, $175
Coach: White House Black Market, $25


Compact Umbrella

Source: @SoEnvyLife

From London to Kuala Lumpur, you’re bound to get stuck in some sort of drizzle during your trip. It doesn’t even need to be rainy season where you’re headed! It is simply Murphy’s Law that you will be standing in a market in the driest part of Chile about to head into a very important meeting when the skies open up. You will be drenched and may not know the Spanish word for umbrella. May we remind you: Take an umbrella.

First Class: Swiss Army, $44
Economy: Container Store Slim Umbrella, $15


Gifts From Your Home Town

Source: The Dieline

While gift giving is highly dependent on culture and context, it can be a lovely personal touch to bring work colleagues something from your hometown or a local shop. Is a colleague picking you up at the airport? Recommended a great hotel or dinner spot? Having a few small things like candy, stationary, or a nice pen on hand are considerate touches when you’re building rapport in a different culture.

Liddabit Sweets, $36



Using the hotel pen and notepad doesn’t make quite the “international businesswoman” impression you are hoping for, so show up like you’re ready to work and invest in a sleek padfolio for meetings. Bonus points for one that holds all the business cards you’ll be picking up.

First Class: Levenger, $149
Economy: Natico, $31


A Personal Security Plan

Last, but most importantly, take the time before leaving to think about your personal security throughout the trip. Purchase a hotel door stop, put together a small phone card with key numbers in case of an emergency, and consider checking the State Department for information about the U.S. Embassy in the country you’re traveling to. Have a language app downloaded on your phone or phrasebook handy to assist with communicating in case of an emergency. Traveling for work often means traveling alone, and a bit of preparation can go a long way!

Door Stop Alarm, $9

Have you been on an overseas work trip? What did you find essential? Share with us in the comments below.