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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.