To unpack or not to unpack, that is the question

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On every trip, whether it’s for business or holiday, I am faced with the same question.  Should I live out of a suitcase? After 10 consecutive years on the road (and almost 3,000 nights in hotels), I have basically concluded that for a short, 2-3 day business trip I will live out of my suitcase.  If I have a business suit or something special that needs to hang, then I might only hang that one piece up. For longer trips, it’s a different story. Since the end of 2011, my shortest business trip has been 15 nights.  So that begs the question, to unpack or not to unpack?

Metropolitan Suite Bedroom

Metropolitan Suite Bedroom St Regis Hotel

On a 15 or longer night trip, there could be several scenarios.

  • One city, one hotel – this scenario lends itself nicely to unpacking.  As long as there is plenty space and its clean!
  • One city, multiple hotels – in the scenario, I may switch hotels due to availability, cost or location.  I may also switch hotels to try
    new hotels or to take advantage of specific promotions being run.   For example, while in Bangkok recently I stayed at 4 different hotels in a 3 week period.   In this case, I used one hotel as my base and only took a weekend bag with me to the other hotels.  I checked my large suitcase with the base hotel over the weekends.  It worked out nicely, but did mean I had to repack several times.
  • Multiple cities, multiple hotels – this is the most challenging scenario, especially on a long trip, as it requires a lot of packing and unpacking.  I tend to only unpack work-wear and let my casual clothes, shoes and toiletries live in the suitcase.
What’s the right balance? How do you handle your packing and unpacking while traveling?