I travel about 100,000 miles per year on business. In addition to regular trips around the U.S., I also occasionally travel to Europe and Asia. During many years of travel, I've developed some routines and tricks for making life on the go a little easier. I share these now in the hope that you will find them useful, and also in the hope that you will also have some travel tips that you will be willing to share with me and the rest of the folks on this forum. What to wear while traveling: Obviously, if I am stepping off of the airplane and heading straight for a meeting, what I wear on the plane will be no different than what I wear to work. If this is the situation, I try not to wear my suit jacket in my seat if I can help it. I either hang it up (more difficult to do if I'm flying coach,) lay it on an empty middle seat, or pack it in a garment bag or sheath and stick it in the overhead compartment. For longer trips where I'm not going directly from airport to meeting, I tend not to wear a suit on the plane. Even on long trips, however, I tend not to dress down too much when traveling. Although it might be more comfortable on a transatlantic flight to wear sweat pants and a t-shirt, I try to dress for comfort while still maintaining a professional appearance. This desire to look professional is based on practical concerns as much as it is based upon any sense of propriety or aesthetic standards. While traveling, there are numerous occasions where you may need to rely on the good will of total strangers to aid you in your journey. These people have no other measure by which to assess you other than your appearance. Experience has taught me that I will be treated better if I am well dressed. Some of the types of people who will make decisions which can help or hinder you are: the ticketing and customer service agent, the lost baggage agent, the hotel receptionist, the flight attendant, the customs agent, etc. For example, when checking into a hotel, being well dressed can make the difference between being told, "I'm sorry, there are no non-smoking rooms available, all we have left are smoking rooms." and "I'm sorry, there are no non-smoking rooms available, but I think I can get you a free upgrade to a non-smoking suite." Obviously, your demeanor and personality in handling these sorts of interactions has a great effect as well, but based on long experience, I have no doubt that being well dressed opens doors which otherwise would be shut if you show up looking like a slob. If you dress as though you are a successful, respected, important person, you are much more likely to be treated as such. That said, I don't like to wear a suit and dress shirt on the plane if I can help it. A long airplane ride puts nasty creases and wrinkles in everything, and you never know whether the seat next to you is going to be inhabited by a rambunctious two year old who will spill food all over you (and your suit.) I prefer my suits to travel safely in my hand luggage, and I try to wear something comfortable but presentable on the plane. My favorite travel uniform for cool weather is a cashmere mock turtleneck and wool flannel pants. For warm weather, a nice dress shirt and wool pants. Often I will wear a sport coat or perhaps a car coat in conjunction with these traveling clothes. Luggage: If at all possible, I avoid checking baggage and carry everything on to the plane. Not having to check luggage saves hours of waiting, not to mention the risk of misdirected or lost luggage. This means that I pack pretty light, particularly when headed for Europe or the UK, where cabin baggage restrictions are much tighter than here in the U.S. I use leather luggage. Leather luggage looks a lot better and will last a lot longer than even the nicest nylon luggage. I favor garment bags over suitcases, as clothing in a garment bag will tend to wrinkle less than clothing folded into a small, carry-on sized suitcase. This is particularly true of suit jackets. Because I tend to pack pretty light, I've never seen the need for a wheeled suitcase. Three garment bags that I have experience with are the "Packet" tri-fold garment bag made by Ghurka, the "Lincoln" garment bag made by Atlas, and the garment bag from Luciano Barbera's luggage line. All are made from beautiful, durable leather. The Ghurka Packet is the smallest of the three and is perfect bag for carrying a single suit. It is very compact, and folds in thirds. You can squeeze two suits in it, and perhaps even shoehorn in a third suit, but after two, things start to get a bit too tight. This is the perfect overnight garment bag. The Atlas Lincoln is on the other end of the spectrum. It is a large capacity garment bag which can hold 3 or 4 suits, in addition to all the other clothing and accessories you might want for an extended trip. It is much less compact than the Ghurka and pushes the limits for a bag you can carry on the plane comfortably, particularly when fully packed. I had the handle on mine replaced with a thicker and stronger handle, as it came with a somewhat thin, flimsy handle which made it uncomfortable to carry when fully loaded. Otherwise, it is a very nice bag. In the middle (size wise,) and probably the most versatile of all, is Barbera's garment bag. It carries two suits comfortably, but is compact enough to make for an easy carry on. A very nice feature of the Barbera bag is that the upper part of the bag where the suit shoulders are packed is reinforced with a stiffener, which keeps your suits' shoulder padding from getting crushed. If I only owned one garment bag, it would be this one. There are other options available from companies like Tumi and Hartman, but I don't have any experience with them. Things to look for in a garment bag are: adequate pockets and compartments, including a place to pack shoes; a strong, comfortable handle and comfortable detachable shoulder strap; and adequate capacity for the garments you are likely to carry. Atlas Lincoln: http://the-luggage-shop.com/atlas-luggage.html Ghurka Packet: http://www.ghurka.com/proddetail.cfm...=123&CAT_id=78 Luciano Barbera: (Only ever seen them for sale at Bergdorf Goodman Men's store in NYC) Accessories I can't do without when traveling: Tie case: I got a cheap, leather tie case from The Tie Rack which holds up to 4 ties. Protects my neckwear from getting wrinkled and messed up during travel. In the Dop kit: I keep my dop kit fully stocked with its own toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, shaving cream, etc., so when I'm packing, I can just toss the kit into my garment bag, and don't have to remember to put anything in it before I go. One of my favorite travel items is a badger shave brush in a special travel case, so I don't have to forego a good comfortable shave just because I'm traveling. Other necessities which are permanent residents of my dop kit (in addition to the normal toiletry items) are aspirin, a small sewing kit, and a combination shoe-horn/clothing brush/lint brush. I have a small manicure set, but have replaced the nail file with an emery board and removed the scissors, due to airline security regulations. I also have a small cloth bag with two collar stays and a pair of navy silk knot cufflinks, as these are the items I often forget when packing my clothes, and it's good to always have an emergency back-up. Speaking of collar stays, plastic are better than brass for travel, as brass collar stays look exactly like rifle cartridges to the x-ray guy and will result in longer delays at security checkpoints. Watch: I like to wear a watch that shows two time zones, so I can always know what time it is back home. My current favorite is Patek Philipe's "Travel Time" model, but lots of other options are available from most of the major watch brands. Breguet even makes a mechanical dual time watch with an alarm. Speaking of alarms, I don't bother bringing a travel alarm clock. It is unnecessary as that is what wake-up calls are for. Umbrella: I keep a collapsible umbrella in my briefcase, rain or shine. My favorite is a nice Swaine, Adeney, Brigg folding model with a straight cane handle. Similar umbrellas are available from Fox. Overcoat: Even when traveling to colder climes in winter, I seldom bring a heavy, warm top coat. A lightweight rain coat is usually all that is needed for a typical business trip. My current favorite is a raincoat made with Loro Piana's wonderful "Storm System" fabric, which combines a beautiful, lightweight wool fabric with a waterproof membrane laminate, much like Gore-tex. The result is a lightweight, compact, good-looking coat that is truly wind and waterproof, unlike typical cotton or wool overcoats. Hotel routine: When I arrive at my hotel, the first thing I do is close the bathroom door, turn the shower on full hot, plug the drain in the tub, and let the bathroom steam up. When the bathroom is fully steamed, I hang up my suit in the steamy bathroom (the pants hung by their cuffs, so that the folds come loose.) An hour in a steamy room will get almost all of the wrinkles out of my suit.
post #1 of 13
11/1/03 at 10:17pm