I’m sitting at gate A10 at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis waiting to board a flight that will ultimately take me to Heathrow in London. I’m using my phone as a personal wireless hotspot via Boingo pre-paid credits. I’m charging my phone and computer while I type.
Next to me sit two soft-sided Tom Bihn bags – the Tri-Star and the Empire Builder. Inside them, I’ve packed enough gear and clothing to outfit a small cadre of elite fighters in business casual wear for a week.
I am a budding travel nerd. This is my story.
I fit all this junk into these two bags. I bring enough to feel lulled into a false sense of home. I don’t bring too much so that I’d be required to check a bag.
Whenever possible, carry on. It’s not terribly difficult if you’re flying away for a 2-5 day business trip like this one I’m about to take.
Laptop – I use my 13″ MacBook Air for writing and getting work done on the plane and in hotels. I also use it to lead my new clients through the slide decks I use in our two-day uncovery process. The Air is fast, light and perfect for travel. In my thirty years of using computers, it’s far and away my favorite.
iPad – My library, my newsrack, my video player, my game machine. I have a 16gig WiFi model that provides me with all the entertainment I need for the trip. For the past two weeks I’ve been storing up interesting-but-longer feature articles for a rainy day. Travel days are rainy days.
Bose QC2 Headphones – Noise-cancelling headphones are a dream-come-true on an airplane and, often, in cheaper hotels. They also make it easier for me to pop my ears.
The G USB-powered portable hard-drive – My iTunes library, iPhoto library and backups of essential folders are stored on here. It weighs next to nothing, and it doesn’t require an external power supply. This is one of my favorite purchases of the last five years.
Bose iPhone-compatible earbuds – These are great for talking on the phone (they have a mic) or for casual listening. They’re very comfortable in-ear monitors.
Eagle Creek Packing Sacks – Along the bottom of the photo, you’ll notice three similar black bags. I use these to keep my gear organized on the trip.
From left to right:
The smallest bag serves as my miscellaneous gear bag – presentation remote, mBox micro and iLok key for editing stuff on ProTools, USB Ethernet Adapter, USB mini extension cord, mini-display port to VGA adapter and a handful of little USB Flash Drives.
The middle bag holds my Zoom H2 Portable Recorder, stand, power cord, windsock and more. I don’t like to take a bunch of notes during uncovery meetings. With clients’ permission, I record meetings for further review.
The bag on the right holds all those white cords: power cords, adapter for England, extension cords, etc. Anything that powers anything work-related is pretty much in this bag. There’s also a mini power-strip that I typically carry but won’t use in England because I don’t want to risk fritzing any of my electronics.
All of this goes quite easily into the Empire Builder (the black bag), along with:
- a pair of Tom’s Shoes (slip-ons to walk around hotel room)
- a couple magazines (HVACR Business and Water Conditioning & Purification – yes, I am that exciting to sit next to on a plane)
- a book (Hugh MacLeod’s new book – Evil Plans (Having Fun On The Road To World Domination)
- a few file folders (my portable ‘inbox’ of client work I work on while traveling and a new folder for my new client in the UK)
- My toiletry bag – an Eagle Creek soft-sided Wallaby bag that’s perfect for travel
- Business Cards
- A couple Luna energy bars
- Two little notebooks
- Bowie Knife
- Two micro-fiber cloths for cleaning screens, knife and nunchucks.
I owe my inspiration for travel and packing to Kevin’s Practical Hacks site – a magnificent travel blog.
Most of these clothes are breaking in a new travel bag – the Tri-Star (the red bag). It’s almost absurdly well-reviewed, and since this bag serves as part of my de facto office at least ten days out of most months, I invested wisely.
The secret to travel? Layering and clothes that mix and match well. This layout is a representative sample of both.
At the top-left you can see two outer garments: a Nike Golf wind and rain jacket and a micro-fiber travel fleece. I pack the jacket and am currently wearing the fleece. It’s always a good idea to have a light fleece handy if you get chilly on an airplane.
Next to the outer wear is one pair of wrinkle-resitant khakis and a pair of blue jeans. That’s it – two pair of pants. If I should need a third, I’ll buy them. Remember – I’m coming home Friday. This isn’t a terribly long trip, and I don’t plan on doing any rolling in the mud (though I do have a Tide stick in my toiletry kit). I pack the khakis and wear the jeans on the plane.
Next – two white t-shirts, plus I’m wearing a third on the plane, and to the right of that a light, wool navy travel blazer and micro-fiber golf shirt. You can also make out the edge of my golf shoes that I’ll store in an Eagle Creek shoe bag. Inside those shoes will be a few pair of socks, a golf glove and an additional pair of nunchucks.
Moving clockwise and rounding out my travel wear, you’ll see two of the three wrinkle-resistant oxford shirts and some thin, black exercise pants in which I plan to do little exercise but plenty of working around my hotel room in the evening hours.
If you haven’t long-since clicked away from this post vowing never to return, I’ll happily share how I specifically pack all this stuff into the Tri-Star and offer up a more in-depth review of it as well upon my return.
I used to hate travel, but I’m learning to love it. How about you? And is there anything you absolutely cannot travel without? I’d love to hear about it.
They’re calling for my flight. I gotta run.