I've traveled enough in the last few years, where that I've picked up a few tips. My last job required/highly suggested that I do carry-on only, so I was limited to a carry-on suitcase and a small personal item. This has always been a challenge when I mix business with pleasure as there is not a lot of room in these bags.
I use the zippered section (left in picture) for all my work clothes, usually folded in half (a skirt, 3 dresses, a jacket, pair of pants and three tops). I have tried to bring clothes on hangers, but depending on the length of the trip, this is a challenge for me. The big section (right in the picture) I use for 2-3 pairs of shoes, the bag that contains all my chargers or computer backup battery, my undergarments, casual clothes (usually 1-2 pairs of jeans, at least 4 tops, gym clothes - in the grey bag on the bottom left of the right side), my makeup bag, my hair straightener and then a few last minute clothes that I tend to throw in at the last minute, if there is room.
Several years ago, I purchased some bags that help you pack along - compartment like bags, along with shoe bags. I love them both, I find they definitely help organizing me (although this time I only used one, so it is a bad representation) when packing.
My current job does allow us to check a bag, but since we didn't ship anything to the site this time, I didn't want to check those items, just in case the bag got lost. And since I was adding a personal trip onto the business trip, I didn't want to lug more than 2 bags around. On this particular trip, I have a few work items in the bag (6 adapters, 3 pens in nice boxes, and a box of name badges), which really caused me packing stress, that little bit of used room makes a huge difference. In the front of the bag, I have two pockets. The bottom pocket is large, so I put my work binder in there with my schedule and in the top pocket a pair of flip flops and extra zip lock bags.
My small personal item usually varies depending on the trip. I have a great bag that matches my luggage with a large inside area and small pockets on the side...but this is not a great bag if you are transporting a laptop...I guess if I bought a laptop sleeve it could work. I liked having the outside pocket, especially at the airport to throw my wallet or plane ticket and receipts in.
Sometimes I bring a backpack, since it is nice to distribute the weight, but it is longer than it is wider, making packing with it a bit more challenging for me. The backpack is my only bag with bottle holders, which is nice since I usually bring an empty water bottle with me.
The morning of my most recent flight, I headed over to Khols because they were the only store open at 8 am on a Saturday. It turns out they had a bag I thought would work, although a little big and I worried about fitting it under the seat in front of me. I bought it anyway because I could return it if packing it was unsuccessful; I believe it was made by Chaps. The 'boarding bag' has three compartments, one for a laptop and a few other thin items, and the other two compartments could be used for anything. The middle I put my clothes for tomorrow as well as a bathing suit and the body of my camera. The far right side I have my sunglasses, liquids and snacks. I found having the two smaller compartments might be great on another trip...but this trip was difficult because my camera with the two lens are so bulky. I decided to use the bag, even though it is bulkier than I had hoped...but with only hours before I had to leave, I didn't have time to run around shopping for a better bag. And this bag will be fantastic when I can check luggage and won't need to carry so much at one time. I am very impressed with how much it can fit.
On top off all this, if I need sneakers or hiking boot for the trip, I will wear those on the plane, along with a fleece or jacket, because getting those into a carry-on bag would take up way too much room.
So everything is more or less packed tight and neat for the trip...but coming home is always another story! But, in this case, since I have such limited room, I might have to pack it just as tight and neat...good thing I took a picture, so I'll remember how it all fit in there.
Sometimes I am proud of myself for packing in carry-on for a 10 day trip that requires multiple attire.
Do you have any packing tips you want to share?