How to Pack for Work and Pleasure


I do quite a bit of travel, and even when I try to focus on relaxing I can’t help doing a little bit of work. There’s just so much inspiration to be found out there, in stores and museums, and in hotel suites. Even if I’m off on a buying spree, I always try to find time just to look around for artistic inspiration. And if I’m off on some carefree getaway, I need to be prepared to make a purchase for a client if I run across something extraordinary.

That means that when I pack, I’m packing both hardware and Hermès. I’ve got a trip coming up this weekend, and this one is going to be a beautiful mix of work and pleasure (of course, my work is pleasure, but I can write it off on my taxes).

Though it’s finally starting to feel like fall here in Nashville, I’m not putting away my warm-weather wardrobe because I’m jetting out to Scottsdale, Arizona this weekend for a wedding. It’s still sunny and 85 there. (But it’s a dry heat, thank heaven.) In a crazy coincidence, I’m currently designing a second home there, as well. I’ll get to stretch out my trip a bit, and check out the progress on the decorating job.

Here’s how I’m packing for my two-trips-in-one.

  1. A great green dress.

Black isn’t a color one wears in Scottsdale, and it’s an afternoon wedding, anyway. Finding the perfect dress isn’t easy though, since I’m usually the kind that rummages through my closet on the day of the event, picking something that suits my mood. But the truth is, I love this dress, and I’m happy about bringing a bit of green to the desert.

Mary+Michael (119 of 143)
  1. Shoes to match.

What do you wear with a green tunic dress at a semi-formal afternoon function in Arizona? Well, you wear the perfect shoes. And I don’t mean they’re only perfect with green dresses in Arizona. These are my new Rochas in silver metallic with a gold heel, and they’re pretty much perfect with everything.

Rochas Silver and Gold Metallic Heels
  1. A list.

For the work part of my trip, I’m bringing a list of the furnishings I need to find, as well as a list of the great stores in the Scottsdale area. I am a fan of Bungalow Furniture there, but they may not have everything I need for the size of this project. I can’t wait to see what other great stores I find.

Making plans
  1. A measuring tape.

I’m going to make sure I know the space I’m decorating before I start buying. There is nothing worse than buying a sofa that won’t fit through the door.

  1. Sunscreen.

In between wedding and work, I’ll still find time for relaxation, and pretty much anything you do in Arizona requires sunscreen. I might even squeeze in some time for a spa treatment at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale.  

Four Seasons Resort and Spa Scottsdale
Four Seasons Resort and Spa Scottsdale
  1. Luggage.

I’ve got to get all this to Scottsdale somehow, plus a few outfit choices, because I need a few outfit choices. I love the packing cubes by Paravel, which come in great colors and come in three sizes, and fit everything I could possibly need. Unless I decide to bring along paint charts and fabric samples.  

Paravel Packing Cubes
Paravel Packing Cubes

How do you pack for a combination business and pleasure trip? Tell us in the comments.

Mary Spalding is a Nashville based interior designer with over 30 years of experience. She has overseen countless home revitalizations, renovations, and restorations. She can be reached with your projects and ideas at

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