Traveling Light 2018

Traveling Light 2018

I’ve had some wonderful speaking opportunities in wonderful places. In the past few weeks I’ve been to Chicago, Naples, San Diego, Mexico, San Francisco, Maui, and New Orleans. And this week I’m lucky enough to speak in my own hometown – Miami.

All that travel meant a lot of time out of the office. But it’s also been a great opportunity for me to use – and further refine – all the travel hacks that make my journeys so much easier.

Traveling Light

I believe there’s only two kinds of luggage – carry on and lost. So, it should come as no surprise that I’m obsessive about packing light and never ever checking bags. To accomplish this I’ve tested lots of products and figured out lots of ways to pare back my travel carry-on. Here’s a quick list of some of my best hacks. If you want more, go to my blog and search “travel light” and you’ll find many more posts on this subject.


  1. Everything you take must coordinate. Do this by picking an accent color and one or two neutrals. I’m usually in black, gray, and blue. That way nothing’s wasted.
  2. Merino wool. This is masterclass stuff. Socks, underwear, and tee shirts of lightweight merino wool don’t itch, wrinkle, or stink. You can wear them many more days then you’d wear cotton or synthetics. When you do wash them in the sink, they dry quickly.
  3. Wool crepe. If you have to wear a suit or sports jacket (men and women) think wool crepe. I have a black wool crepe blazer that I fold up and carry in a little stuff sack. When I pull it out and shake it loose, all the wrinkles seem to fall off. Amazing.
  4. Two pair of shoes (three if you take flip flops). If you have to dress up, bring one nice pair or heels, and one pair of athletic shoes. But here’s the secret; buy running shoes without a heel cup. That way they’ll fold flat and take less room in your luggage. Nike’s Experience Flex 7 does this beautifully. They work for the gym, long distance runs, walking tours, and most casual wear.
  5. Packable down puffer jacket. This little gem folds into its own pocket and takes up almost no space. Why a puffer jacket in the summer? Nights can be chilly and airports and planes can be freezing. A collapsible jacket like this one is a great comfort and can double as an in-flight pillow.


  1. If you can lift it, forego the rolling bag for a square-sided duffel. You’ll be amazed how much more the bag will hold without wheels and handles using space. Because you’re going to be carrying it, you’re more likely to pack light.
  2. If you carry more than a duffel and a purse or briefcase will hold, remember that while airlines allow you “one carry on and one personal bag” they don’t say what that is. Use a smaller duffel for your second bag. If you need a briefcase or backpack, put a smaller bag on the bottom of your duffel and pull it out when you arrive.
  3. Packing cubes. Here’s another masterclass secret. Keep your various items organized in their own packing cubes. It makes it much easier to organize everything in your bag before you leave. It also makes it easier to find what you need when you arrive.
  4. Reduce your toiletries to the essentials. Most hotels provide shampoo, conditioner, soap, and body lotion. Besides not bringing them, you can use the hotel’s offerings to substitute for shaving cream, cold cream, shoe polish, and more. Be creative.


  1. A tablet with a keyboard replaces a heavier laptop. If your vision’s good enough, use your phone with a Bluetooth keyboard and avoid the tablet too.
  2. I also carry a Kindle simply because it fits in my pocket and I don’t worry about losing it as I do with my iPad (which I use for my presentations).
  3. Apple user? Buy the more powerful USB‑C Adapter and cable. It’s faster than the little white block and makes it easy to charge everything. Plus, you only need to bring one.
  4. Lay your cables out and put what you need in a little pouch for travel. Nothing extra.

If you spend a little time and effort on traveling with only what you need, you’ll find your journeys are less stressful and a lot more fun. And if you carry a credit card with you, you can always buy what you find you left at home and suddenly can’t live without.

By | 2018-02-20T16:28:48+00:00 February 20th, 2018|9 Comments


  1. Jonathan Kroner February 20, 2018 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the update. For the clothes, any favorite brands?

  2. Bart February 21, 2018 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Since you don’t seem to answer your emails any more, I will recommend here to you the band Juke, performing March 2 at Lagniappe. I thought of you because the lead singer plays a mean harmonica.

  3. Caroline de Posada-Rodriguez February 21, 2018 at 10:16 am - Reply

    I believe there’s only two kinds of luggage – carry on and lost. Great line.

    Love the packing tips. Just out of curiosity, have you mastered traveling with a carry on for a ski trip? Planning one and would love for each of us to have one carry on only.

  4. Soren Thielemann February 22, 2018 at 7:32 am - Reply

    Great stuff Bruce. Having a belt that’s brown on one side and black on the others with a “flip” buckle, allows you to only carry one belt – that you’ll will always wear.

    Packing can become an obsessive sport, that will get you excited every time you find a new way to save three square inches. My fiancee says it’s borderline unhealthy.

  5. Julia February 22, 2018 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    Loved it. And agree with the packing strategies, I never check in anything. One thing that I needed to spell out just because I learned it the hard way…. bring two different credit cards (some places just dont take certain cards) and keep some cash in the pocket, even in the electronic payment era, you may need a couple bucks to get a soda in a vending machine!!!!

  6. Gayle Carson February 23, 2018 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    I totally agree Bruce. I went all over Europe and Australia speaking with carry on only. One newspaper did a story on me because they couldn’t believe a woman could do that!!

  7. David J. Hawes February 26, 2018 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    Thanks, a lot Bruce!

  8. Roger Holloway February 27, 2018 at 6:54 am - Reply

    You did this to me! Grabbed my mind and attention with this excellent article, and not only that, you forced me into a 90-minute shopping spree for merino wool this and Nike that. Wow! So now, with 2-day Amazon Prime shipping, by tomorrow, I should look like you, pack like you, be like you, branded by you. And I’m happy about it. But I’ll never be able to play harp like you, Bruce, but why should I care about that? I’m your blues drummer, Brandmaster Bruce (or is it Brandmaster Slim?), so let’s pack light and hit the road. Thanks for your insights, friend.

    • Bruce Turkel February 27, 2018 at 5:05 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Roger. I’m excited to see what your travel kit looks like and how it works out once you start reducing and refining. I’m always looking for new hacks to make travel even easier. As for traveling with instruments, the harmonica is a pretty light item to have to carry. Of course, using someone else’s piano or drum kit is even better!! And the blues name is Too Tall Turkel!!

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