An Ultimate Guide To One Bag Business Travel

one bag travel at the airport

Is it really possible to travel for business with just one bag? Unlike backpackers and leisure vacationers, business travelers face the unique challenge of needing to carry their entire mobile office and an assortment of bulky professional outfits. 

At Knack, we avoid checking bags whenever possible, because doing so just adds time and another arduous step in the long process of getting from Point A to Point B. Plus, having all of our stuff with us on the plane takes away any anxiety about losing luggage on an important business trip. 

As seasoned business travelers, we’re excited to share our top tips for carry-on only, one-bag business travel (plus, some business travel packing tips). Because traveling with just one bag will make your trip a lot more effective, and a lot less of a grind. 

Suitcase compartment of a Knack Pack

 Business travel packing tips - plan your outfits strategically 

Plan your business outfits ahead of time, and strategically. Versatile clothing is the key to one bag business travel - you can create a number of different outfits by bringing just a few articles of clothing that can be dressed up or dressed down:

  • Layer a neutral color t-shirt with a blazer for a more professional look.
  • Make a plain-color skirt more or less casual with a pair of tights. 
  • Roll up the sleeves on a button-down shirt to look less business, and more business-casual. 

Some of your clothes - like jackets and blazers - are particularly bulky. Wear these on the plane if you can. Not only will this create more space in your bag, but it’ll minimize the wrinkles on these pieces. 

Reducing wrinkled clothes on a business trip

And speaking of wrinkles - which you should obviously avoid on a business trip - there are a few other steps you can take to reduce them. 

  • Professional attire like cuffed shirts, suits, and blazers should be folded* along the seams and placed flat in your bag.
  • If possible, pack your suit in a dry cleaning bag. If not, then place a sheet of tissue paper between each article of clothing. 
  • Remove clothes from your bag as soon as you get to your destination. A Knack packing insert allows you to easily remove everything from the suitcase compartment of your bag.

Of course, your clothes might still get wrinkled in your carry-on. If this happens, then use the time-honored trick of hanging the clothes in the bathroom, turn on the shower, and letting the steam take care of the wrinkles. 

*A note on rolling versus folding clothes - Rolling clothes saves a lot of space, but it will deeply wrinkle certain fabrics. For this reason, we think that you should roll everything except your professional clothes (suits, blazers, dresses, etc.).

Strategic packing tips for one bag business travel.

Knack for men's business travel expandable backpack for women's business travel

One bag business travel isn’t just about what you pack, but how you pack it. Here are some principles of one-bag business packing:

Put bulky items in the bag first. Bulky things like shoes and jackets should go in the bag first, so that you can pack smaller items around them. And aim to put heavier items towards the bottom half of your bag. When weight is distributed towards your hips, it'll be way more comfortable to carry. 

Wear dress shoes on the plane. If you're bringing multiple shoe options, then put the smallest and most lightweight pair in your bag, and wear the heavier pair during your travels. Professional shoes are usually bulkier, while tennis shoes and sneakers take up less space, and are more compressible. 

Hint- use Knack compressible shoe bags to save space, and to keep dirty shoes away from your clean clothes

knack compressible shoe bag for one bag travel

Use every inch of space. Rolling small items like ties and underwear can minimize the space that they take up, and you can actually pack some small items - like socks - inside of your shoes. 

Use compression packing cubes. Compression packing cubes can compress 67%, to give you that much more space in your bag. And, they keep everything organized. 

Bring a small laundry bag for dirty clothes. Keep clean and dirty clothes separate by bringing a lightweight laundry bag. If you don't have one, even garbage bag will work. 

Designate one area of your bag to toiletries. Keep all of your toiletries together in order to minimize the chance of spills, and so that they don’t scatter all over your bag. And always pack them at the top of your bag, so that they're easy to pull out at the TSA checkpoint (and don't forget the TSA 3-1-1 rule for liquids!).

Tips for packing tech for one bag business travel

Your mobile office consists of some expensive pieces of equipment, so it’s comforting to keep it on the plane with you. And, doing so allows you to get some work done on your plane. Here are some tips for packing tech for a one bag, carry-on only business trip:

. Keep your tech easily accessible. Knack Packs have a zippered, unique side-access laptop compartment (that’s also padded for extra protection) which makes it extremely easy to get your laptop out mid-flight. And, the Series 1 has a cable garage, so you can easily find your laptop charger even when your bag is under the seat in front of you. 

. Minimize the number of charging blocks. In these days of USB, USB-C, and micro-USB chargers, choose one type of charging block, and then pick out small adapters to make the block compatible with all of your cables. 

. Keep your small tech organized. Knack Packs have lots of internal pockets. Pack your small tech inside these pockets based on frequency of use. For example, your phone charger, airpods, and ID should go in the most accessible pocket, while less-used items like batteries should be packed deeper inside the bag. And since Knack's pockets are mesh, you can actually see what you're looking for. 


Bring the right bag

Your bag has to be able to hold everything, and still go with you to the office - otherwise it isn’t one-bag travel at all. Most bags might be able to hold all of your stuff, but they’re far too big and bulky to look professional….which of course means you’ll need a totally separate bag for your work meetings. 

Luckily, Knack Packs are a travel bag and a professional bag in one, thanks to the expandable suitcase compartment. You can pack all of your clothes and toiletries in the suitcase portion, remove it when you get to the hotel, and zip up the suitcase compartment for a very sleek professional laptop backpack. 

Knack Packs are also carry-on friendly, and they’ll fit under the seat in front of you on almost all jets. So you can keep all your luggage close at hand and easy to access. Check out this page to compare all sizes and capacities of Knack Packs. 

When traveling to a smaller city on business, many times you have to take a regional flight. Many times regional flights mean you have to gate check your carry-on. You get to avoid that mess with you embrace one bag travel. I can’t tell you the number of times I was able to skip gate when traveling with only my Knack Pack. I’m always so thankful as I exit my flight and walk right past all of the people waiting in line for their gate checked bags.”


Not only does one-bag business travel make for a stress-free business trip, but it’ll allow you to make the most of visiting a new city. Have you ever travelled for business with just one bag? Share with us on social media and tag #knackpacker.

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