For those that don't know…
I've been traveling quite a bit.
One thing I've noticed?
I take the same things with me everywhere.
Doesn't matter if it's road trips, domestic, or international flights.
So I thought it would be useful to share what I bring.
To give some context…
This is what my travel schedule has been for the past 6 months:
(tl;dr – I road tripped the US, lived in Ukraine, and currently in Thailand)
Okay ready? Here goes:
- Started in Wisconsin.
- Road trip to Chicago, New York, & DC.
- Stopped off in Detroit.
- Back to Chicago.
- Then back to Wisconsin.
- A month passed…back on the road.
- Flew out to Santa Fe.
- Stopped at the Grand Canyon (so amazing).
- Flew out to LA.
- Drove to San Francisco.
- Drove through Oregon (stopped in Portland to see my sister).
- Came back to LAX.
- Flew out to Kiev, Ukraine.
- Stayed in Kiev for a couple weeks.
- Flew back to Atlanta for StyleCon.
- Then back to Kiev.
- Flew out to Bangkok, Thailand
- Currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand (current location).
- Will fly back to Kiev.
- Then to LAX.
- Then road trip back to Wisconsin (but this time going North).
phew…..are you out of breath? I am.
As you can see, I'm doing quite a bit of traveling.
Oh yeah – I forgot to mention…I brought my 4 kids and wife along with me.
So I've had to bring very useful items…
Wanna know what they are?
Useful Travel Item #1 – A Leather Bag
Here is one thing about men's bags that any guy should know: make it leather.
You may not be riding first class, but a leather item does give you that extra dose of elegance – so everyone sees you traveling with style.
Regarding the bag, your 2 main options are:
Satchel / Man Purse
Some guys call it a “murse” or suggest it's a feminine type of bag. I call it a “lifesaver.”
It conveniently stores all the essential items you'll constantly have to take out – passports, tickets, cash in different currencies, and other valuables for the whole family.
It does function like a purse, but you know what? I'd rather help out my wife when it comes to carrying this stuff. Should we just rely on our partner to keep everything juggled inside her purse? No.
Women have their own beauty equipment to bring around – so a true gentleman recognizes this and has a satchel to share the load. And even if you're not traveling with a partner, you'll quickly find out it's much easier to keep your passport or spare change in here (compared to those pockets on your clothes).
This is the go-to bag for men who travel for work. It's designed to keep all your business documents, paperwork, computer, chargers, and cables organized. A nice-looking briefcase is one of the strongest status symbols you can show off besides clothing – especially in a professional or networking event.
But a word of caution: not all leather luggage is made with the same quality. Horror stories do happen where a man would spend $1,000 on a briefcase – only to notice cracks in the leather or the stitching coming off after 6 months. So take note of the factors which make up a quality leather bag.
Useful Travel Item #2 – A Dress Watch
You might've seen me discuss the benefits of affordable dress watches before. But this time, let me share the reason I believe they can be perfect for traveling.
In the course of over a year of wearing a variety of affordable timepieces, there were two separate times when I had left the watch inside my trouser pocket. My wife volunteered to do the laundry – so she'd accidentally wash it together with the rest of the pile…
The worst part? That was it, actually. It turned out on both occasions that NOTHING bad happened to the watch. It came out of the machine looking good as new (and smelled nicer too!).
However, if the worst had happened and my watch had been destroyed by the water, at least I wouldn't have lost a $3000 Cartier Tank. My point is that s**t happens and watches get broken. Better to lose a budget watch that you can replace for a few hundred bucks than an expensive luxury watch.
Useful Travel Item #3 – A Charcoal Gray Overcoat
Whenever you head someplace cold, you'll need some extra layering. But does the fact that everybody's covered up mean you're not going to be judged by your outfit? Think again.
You can walk around wearing your best suit and tie underneath – but people will only get to see what's on the outside. That's why I like wearing a charcoal gray overcoat.
It serves as a classy piece of “wrapping” while the rest of your wardrobe is the “present” (and we know how any gift we give or receive for the holidays needs to be presentable!).
This coat doesn't just keep you warm. It helps you maintain a professional image even when you're just heading from point A to point B. It has a different impact on people around you, compared to a winter jacket or windbreaker.
Charcoal gray is ideal (since it conceals dirt better than black or a lighter color). And as for the length, I go with something that reaches 3 inches below the knees. It comes in handy whenever I have to step outside and endure the chilly air of winter.
Useful Travel Item #4 – A Blue Sports Jacket
This is a relatively new addition to my collection. But I discovered just how flexible it is for traveling professionals. It works really well with the majority of my wardrobe.
It's also perfect for most business meetings (where you can amp it up some more by adding a pocket square).
There are hints of multiple shades of blue that make this sports jacket versatile for formal and casual settings.
So you can bring along different types of pants (moleskin, corduroy, gray flannel, etc.) to have options for your events. And that jacket should be able to complement them every time.
Useful Travel Item #5 – A Quarter Zip Lightweight Sweater
When you're just at the hotel, or you're not spending days that require being dressed up – it does help to switch to something that's lightweight and comfortable.
A gray quarter zip would be awesome since it's not going to clash with your dark-colored pants (or get stained easily like a white sweater).
You know how those layovers at the airport suddenly increase by hours? That's when this sweater becomes useful. It's generally warmer inside airports than outside during the winter.
So it would make more sense for you to stroll around or get some sleep in a lighter set of clothes (and turn your coat into a pillow while you lie on a row of seats).
Useful Travel Item #6 – A Well Fitted V-Neck Undershirt
The right kind of undershirt to bring should be as non-intrusive as possible. You don't want to it to pop out in any way, so I recommend wearing a V-neck type underneath your collared shirts.
I suggest going with heather gray because it doesn't have a tendency to be seen under light-colored shirts.
Be careful about the weave type – you want the fabric to be totally breathable (as in no hotspots).
Useful Travel Item #7 – Well Fitted Boxer Briefs
It can be one of the most unpleasant things in life – being stuck on a plane or train ride. And if you're going to sit for hours and hours, you want to feel as comfortable as possible. So go with boxer briefs (either a cotton or synthetic blend type).
If you think boxers are the better option, keep in mind that that the “looseness” they have can also be a curse. You'll have to worry about excess material which may cause part of your pants to wrinkle. And if we compare the 3 major kinds of men's underwear, you'll understand why boxer briefs win overall.
Useful Travel Item #8 – Well Fitted Dark Colored Jeans
In hot areas like Thailand (where my family currently is), you want to avoid anything that's vulnerable to sweat stains. Science says you're better off with light colors than dark colors.
But there's an exception with dark-colored jeans. The key ingredient for these jeans is a lighter weave – with the fabric more breathable and easier to walk in.
If you're curious, you can try darkening your own pair through various types of wash (vintage, stone or acid). But don't forget that the #1 priority is always how your jeans fit.
Useful Travel Item #9 – Dark Brown Dress Boots
You'll never know how much traction your shoes need before flying to anywhere that snows (or rains). So stay on the safe side and bring a dark brown pair of dress boots.
They're easy to polish up, and they have sturdy rubber soles – proven to be effective whenever I set foot on the wet and slushy snow of Ukraine.
Other Useful Travel Items
Below are the things you'll always want to pack in your leather bag whenever you travel.
- An alternative form of ID (in case you lose your passport)
- A photocopy of your passport (or save an image in your email so you can always access it)
- An adapter (for the electric sockets of different countries)
- A small USB drive (for transferring files or pictures to other people's computers)
- A good book (to do some quick reading when you’re passing time here and there)
- A cheap pen – Forget those silvery covers or shiny tips. Pens are easy to lose while traveling (or in my case, easy to hand over to kids who end up losing them).
- Sunglasses – It's better to bring your own shades instead of buying cheap ones on the road. They may not totally protect your eyes, or they may even block some of your vision.
- Face/hand lotion
- Gum (a great “pacifier” for your young kids… but be careful where you throw it!)
- Toilet paper (seriously… you'll never know!)
- Wet wipes (again, you'll never know!)
For more travel advice click here to discover the 25 best ways for a man to stay organized on the road.