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Business travel

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
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: Ghurka Packet: 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 #2 of 13
Having spent too many days on planes and nights in hotels on business travel, I have found one other thing which makes a world of difference: packing each suit and shirt in its own plastic dry-cleaning bag inside the garment bag. Before I did this, I would arrive at a destination and find my suits and shirts horribly wrinkled, and therefore need to hang them in a steamy bathroom, which worked okay but not great (and is a horrible waste of energy). After being told of the following "trick," I basically had no problems with wrinkles. I guess what causes alot of the wrinkling is the fact that the packed clothes can't slide under pressure, so they get very compressed and develop wrinkles where there is pressure (for an analogy, if you've had an over-stuffed closet, jacket will often get wrinkles in their sleeves where they are caught against other clothes.) With each garment in its own plastic bag, they can slide easily and therefore don't get very wrinkled. While this may sound hard to believe, it works incredibly well -- I have done this literally hundreds of times over the last 15 years with amazing results. Just one recent example: my wife and I went to Ireland for a 10 day vacation, and I packed one sport coat just in case. Because we were moving hotels every 1 or 2 nights, and because Ireland is a very casual place, we never unpacked the garment bag in which my jacket was packed; when we got home and I unpacked the jacket (okay, so it was a couple of days before we unpacked.), my jacket was almost unwrinkled (after being packed for 12 days), and those wrinkles it did have disappeared after only a couple hours of hanging, without steam. It may be a bit of a hassle to put each garment in its own plastic bag, and it makes it a bit harder to pack the garment bag (you sometimes have to position the garments inside the plastic bag to fit well in the garment bag), it is well worth the effort. Try it and I think you'll be amazed.
post #3 of 13
I second the notion of ALWAYS dressing a little nicer than your fellow airline passengers when travelling. I cannot count the number of times that I have been upgraded to First Class gratis simply because I was polite, well-groomed, and well-dressed. Maybe I'm dreaming, but I cannot think of any other reason why I was upgraded -- even on airlines I rarely fly. I took Lufthansa for the first time ever flying from Manila to Bangkok. I wore a suit. Inexplicably, I was upgraded to First Class when I checked in at the counter in Manila. Particularly in America, people dress so slovenly when flying nowadays that by dressing up a little more, you will subconsciously be seen as someone special by airline personnel, hotel clerks, etc. They may reward you accordingly. It's worth a shot. Smile, be friendly, and be sincere too. NEVER be pushy or overbearing. A little humor helps too.
post #4 of 13
Great post Kai . It's good having you around. Excellent advice, most all of which I follow when I travel.
post #5 of 13
I agree- very well done by Kai, shoefan, and Vero. Perhaps we should HOF this one, at least through the Holidays?
post #6 of 13
excellent topic kai, and very good advice from everyone. i've never had to buy luggage in my life as i've always borrowed my grandparent's vinyl stuff when necessary. the red vinyl looks super cool in a retro '60s sort of way, but when i decide to get something of my own, i'll definitely look into the garment bags. i used to hang my clothes in the bathroom every morning before taking a hot shower as an alternative to ironing. sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
post #7 of 13
Hi everyone, Thanks for the informative post. I have one specific follow up question for you, Kai, which is, what kind of toiletry case do you use? And do you have any insight on different types/materials/brands/etc? I am in the market for a small toiletry case to bring to work each day in my somewhat roomy briefcase (seen here: ...Johnston & Murphy may not be the most legit brand, but the bag happens to be pretty nice and seems to be well made. In any event that's for another post. I commute on the railroad daily from Long Island to New York City and I like to have a toothbrush, contact lens solution, hair gel, hand sanitizer, etc with me as I never know when I'll need that stuff (for going out after work/etc.) I searched the forums for any details on toiletry cases and didn't come up with too much and I was hoping since you referred to them it would be appropriate to ask this question. Thanks again. Best, Michael
post #8 of 13
i've used a bunch of different types - but found briggs and riley to be the best for my needs. they're removeable, have pockets for wet stuff, pack easily and are well balanced.

I recently had to buy a new suitcase as my old ones were falling apart. I found tha the B&R garment bag worked better than a suitcase. more room, easier to pack suits/ties/etc and more ergo.

Got a new one off ebay for about $250 less than retail.

hope that was helpful.
post #9 of 13
Perhaps something like is exactly what i'm looking for. Thanks!
post #10 of 13
Wow...a 4+ year thread brought back to life. New forum record?
post #11 of 13
Originally Posted by SoCal2NYC View Post
Wow...a 4+ year thread brought back to life. New forum record?

I will soon be traveling for my new job so this thread was a fantastic find. Nicely done.
post #12 of 13
One small tid-bit for business travel:

Print out your Itinerary along with your "ID Tags information" such as a business card with your contact number and place this paper INSIDE your luggage. This way, if your luggage is lost or damaged and/or your luggage ID cards are lost or damaged - there is a way for the airline to find and correctly dispatch your luggage.
post #13 of 13
Only update I would offer is wear loafers. You will invariably have to take your shoes off for security. Make it as easy as possible.
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