Packing is an art. There is no right way to pack. There is only what works. This is a guide to packing the getaway essentials for men. It is not a definitive guide and it is not necessarily a guide only for men. Nonetheless, it is a guide to packing based on my experiences traveling for both business and pleasure and I hope it will be helpful for you, too.
I find a single carry on bag is sufficient for 99 percent of domestic excursions and 90 percent of international adventures. Airlines allow a sufficiently sized carry on luggage as well as a second, smaller bag. Pick up a sturdy and functional bag with the airline’s size limits in mind (usually 10″ by 16″ by 24″) to hold the primary travel essentials and use the second, smaller bag for camera gear or other electronics.
Traveling with a single carry on provides several advantages: for instance, there’s no need to stop by the ticketing counter prior to takeoff; when packed thoughtfully, it helps speed the security process; after landing, no time is wasted waiting for checked bags to arrive; and hailing a cab or meeting a friend is just easier with only a small bag or two.
Exactly what goes into the bag varies from person to person. In addition to supplies for maintaining basic hygiene (toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, etc.), here’s what I pack for both business and pleasure. (What essentials do you pack? Share your own tips in the comments.)
I like to pack light and bring only what I know I’ll need. A few t-shirts, a pair of shorts or jeans, and a light jacket are sufficient for most trips. When going abroad for a week or more, I typically pack enough clothes for four days and plan to do laundry. Anything I discover I need or forgot is usually easy to find, so there’s no sense over packing.
There are few routines as relaxing as a proper shave (my bearded friends can skip this next part). The process provides a quiet moment for contemplation and renewal. (It also keeps Sharon happy.) Being able to maintain this routine on the road helps me reflect on the previous day’s events and prepare for another day of travel. I prefer the Art of Shaving travel kit while on the road.
Another essential I keep in my bag is a small vial of cologne. Rather than buy and pack a travel size bottle, ask for a sample at Sephora (or ask a friend to request a sample the next time she shops Sephora online).
A bottle of Mr. Bronner’s Magic Soap is the liquid equivalent of a Swiss Army knife. It can be a shampoo, a body wash soap, or a liquid laundry detergent. It is an absolute essential when traveling abroad. A travel laundry bag, a clothesline and a drain stopper pair nicely with this item for international travel.
I also like to bring several pairs of earplugs with me as planes can be noisy. Depending on where you’re staying, you may also want these as you fall asleep.
Putting it together.
Keep the sequence of events in mind when packing. The airport is often the first part of a getaway so place the the bag containing liquids in last and on top. Electronics should be packed to the side and kept within easy reach both for security and for easy access after boarding the plane. Clothes should be rolled and placed at the bottom of the bag. The jacket should be worn onto the plane.
At times, packing is a real life game of Tetris. At other times, it is an exercise in forced minimalism. But pack these essentials and you’ll be set for any getaway.