Less baggage.

That is, literally, the advantage of traveling light during business trips.

The difficulty arises, of course, when your agenda includes everything from yoga class to business meetings to "dress cocktail" evening events. It's part juggling act, part creative multi-purposing exercise.

As I wrap up my first multiple-week trip of the summer, I'm struck by how "less baggage" also applies to lean startups. It's an apt association: travel light, work lean.

Here are five tips for traveling light that double as helpful guidance for lean startups.

Invest in Materials

The architecture of clothing is similar to the infrastructure of a business, and technology-focused businesses in particular: Template it once, use it often, and tailor as needed. When clothes move in and out of a suitcase, folded and unfolded and folded again, the fabric and cut of the item makes or breaks its performance. It's the same with a business' infrastructure: solid, high-performance raw material or "fabric," crafted into a clean platform or "cut."


As we travel, especially internationally, it's inevitable that some everyday things can fall through the cracks, such as no shampoo in the shower at your hotel or no iron for refreshing your clothes. You don't know what's missing until you're in the thick of the experience, yet "I'll figure it out when I get there" doesn't quite cut it either. So preparation is essential, even if "preparation" means being mentally ready to ask for help.

Pack Band Aids

Things will go wrong. What's your game plan for when that happens? I tend to under-dramatize things, and I'm not in the practice of carrying around just-in-case medicine or supplies, but I do slide a few band aids into my kit. Sometimes the "for now" solution is enough to address a new problem immediately as you bide your time for a better, more permanent solution.


There is perhaps no more versatile, or more overlooked, "secret weapon" when traveling light than accessories such as jewelry, scarves, ties, socks, etc. They effect a dynamically different look even though they take up almost no space in the suitcase. These are details -- just as practices like thank you notes (electronic ones included!) and team check-ins are details - but they pack a punch. They can also be easily overlooked while traveling, so it's important to diligently find space for them.

Save Room for a Small, Self-Care Luxury

I tend to pack a hand-sized loofah scrub, and it serves two purposes: consistency in my self-care routine, and a reminder to practice healthy habits while on the road. To my mind it is also a small daily reward, which helps to keep me motivated and on-track.

What are your trips for traveling light?