My Travel Necessities: Gear and Advice

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quote-it-is-better-to-look-good-than-to-feel-good-fernando-lamas-107069Lately, it seems more of my clients ask me for travel advice: essential tools and gear, general habits, where I get my shoes shined, how I show up at the crack dawn – or late at night – refreshed and ready to roll, etc. As I am actually on a layover from Hell right now, there’s no better time than the present to list my personal travel routine.

Most of you will probably think I’m nuts when I reveal my first and foremost personal travel practice: If I am travelling for business pursuits, I always dress in boardroom business attire – as if I am on my way to broker a billion-dollar merger. This includes the appropriate seasonal weight suit, tie, silk knots (saves time in security, and I tend to save the cuff links for after 5pm) etc. I also do NOT wear “airport-friendly” shoes because they contradict the rest of the ensemble.

Before you decide I am insane, allow me to explain…

After the pleasantries are exchanged and I have settled into my seat, the inevitable question always arises: what do you do for a living? I believe in first impressions; blame it on my Mother. I present the appearance that I most certainly would be the person a multinational corporation, screen celebrity, musical act, or politician would entrust the management of their most trusted asset – their name – to.

To be quite honest, I have been fortunate to generate several worthwhile business relationships, and more importantly – new client business – during airline flights and layovers. More than enough to justify the extra fuss and muss…

Another reason I preach about the principles of well-dressed travel is that there is a certain amount of biased stereotype that I employ to my advantage when doing so; e.g. I am less likely to encounter negative resistance from airline personnel if I look like I could own the plane. Sounds funny, but I never get bumped from last-minute-booked flights on standby; the guy next to me in the torn Motley Crue t-shirt (that’s not to say I don’t actually have one of those…I do.) usually does.

This is my golden, numero uno, nearly unbreakable rule – even when I’m on an overnight flight to Shanghai.

My Bag(s) and What’s Stashed In ‘em

In accordance with my primary rule, I believe that messenger bags are for college kids. I will go against that notion every now and again, but not often. If I do, I prefer Chrome Messenger bags, especially when on longer journeys abroad. My Chrome bag is obnoxiously huge and wicked-sturdy; I can carry a small car or livestock in it…

I usually carry a leather and wool briefcase made by Pendleton. It is not terribly roomy, but provides a certain weathered look that is distinctive when I’m standing in line or in a meeting with twelve other people who have black leather briefcases.

  • I also carry a tiny, key-chain sized thingy that turns into a decently roomy handbag. It comes in handy if you happen to need an extra bag for shopping, or if you are out buying dozens of bootleg Blu-ray DVDs in the outskirts of a Chinese metropolis, and need something to carry your spoils in…of course I’m just assuming it would.
  • A MacBook Air and LaCie Rugged mini-drive provide all the mobile muscle I could ever possibly need; however, for smaller jaunts…
  • …my Android phone is always attached to me. Seriously, it should be surgically grafted to me. I use the phone to manage my multiple email accounts, navigate routes, and read my essential RSS feeds to keep on top of what I need to know. I have the number, directions to, and in some cases the management info, of the restaurants of note in the cities I conduct business in most frequently loaded into it – saves time when scheduling a last minute meeting, or if I’m lucky, a dinner date. I also watched last season’s cliffhanger episode of House of Lies on it while on a recent trip to Vancouver…
  • My iPod Touch serves double-duty as my source of music delivery and a hi-definition video camcorder. It is an essential tool for memorializing everything from our client’s moves on the NFL field, blog content, and behind-the-scenes footage and interviews on movie sets, to what I’m eating at a Rifle Club Fish Fry (true story) in an obscure area of Illinois. All of the unit publicists and other boots-on-the-ground staffers at 1680 carry one.
  • Longer travel itineraries call for excellent headphones. I have recently switched from Bose to beats by Dr. Dre. I prefer their Studio model, even though they are bigger than the Tour model earbuds. The added bonus is they replace my earplugs when I just need quiet time.
  • An extra key-chain flash drive.
  • Forgot to mention that my mobile phone is HotSpot enabled – don’t use it as often as I used to with all the increase in Wi-Fi availability, but it is always handy if I need it.
  • Peter Shankman recommended the “Monster Power Outlets to go 4” a while back, and I am so happy he did! This nifty gadget allows me to charge/power multiple toys at once, which is really handy in airport terminals where there aren’t enough outlets to go around.
  • I am absolutely sold on the benefits of Isagenix nutritional supplements. I always carry a couple of IsaLean Bars and some Want More Energy? Sticks (you mix them with bottled water, so it is totally convenient) to make sure my body is fueled for the road warrior battles.
  • The clear zip-lock baggie we’ve all come to know and love in the security lines contain the following: a small Evian Brumisateur Natural Mineral Water facial spray – a few pumps of the nozzle on my face and neck instantly recharges me; Benadryl; Tide to go mini Instant Stain Remover; small tube of Aveda Hand Lotion; couple of sanitizing towelettes; allergy-relief eye drops, and a toothbrush and paste.
  • I tend to leave my GMT Master II watch at home, per the advice we provide C-level personnel and other high-risk targets traveling abroad these days. I now opt for either my Tissot Navigator or Casio G-Shock (when a more athletically robust and dependable set of features – compass, alarms, world time, weather info, etc. – are needed) – both provide multiple time zones at-a-glance.
  • My passport cover is purposely bright red – helps me keep an eye on it when traveling with a group through customs.
  • A small Moleskin notebook with pocket for miscellaneous receipts, notes, etc. I always have a Mont Blanc pen on my person – goes with that whole, well-dressed practice.

On the Ground

  • I always have a Kershaw knife on me, no matter what I’m wearing. I am a big fan of the “Leek” model and highly recommend it for EDC (Everyday Carry). For those interested, I’ve started carrying the Kershaw Blur with Glassbreaker tip during the winter. It is, in my opinion, one of the best knives on the market for under $200, and can handle any task. BE WARNED: this is a Man’s knife, son, so if you’re not used to carrying a tactical knife, just stick with the Leek.
  • My client, Grammy-wining tunesmith Jon Vezner, hounded me for months to try the LG Tones Pro wireless Bluetooth headphones he is absolutely sold on – and I couldn’t be happier. The sound is arguably comparable to most wired phones costing under $200, as well, and I prefer talking on my phone hands-free when I’m working.
  • If I have a major layover, I retreat to the Delta Crown Club, if there is one in the airport. The opportunity to relax, take advantage of the amenities, and be productive is definitely worth the annual fee.


What are your essential travel items/rituals?