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Traveling Light 2018

February 20th, 2018

Because I travel so much, I spend a lot of time out of the office. It’s been a great opportunity to use – and further refine – all the travel hacks that make my journeys so much easier. 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. Here’s how…

Traveling Light PART V

August 25th, 2015

Traveling light is the perfect way to make your summer vacation plans as pleasant as possible. The less you carry, the less you have to worry about, and the easier it is to make likety-split decisions to follow your whims and hop on a standby flight, change hotels or add or subtract a destination from your itinerary.

Each time I’ve written about traveling light someone has asked me to show exactly how I’ve refined my travel wardrobe. This time I photographed everything before I packed it away. Here’s everything I’m taking for a two-week combination business/TV appearance/and getaway vacation.

Traveling Light Inventory

Traveling Light: clockwise from the upper left-hand corner:

  1. Four tee shirts (white, black, blue, gray). The white tee is a synthetic running shirt; the other three are merino wool/silk blends (SmartWool and IceBreaker) that don’t itch, don’t stink, and are easy to wash in the sink.
  2. Nike Free 5.0 Running Shoes. They’re not my favorite joggers but they have a collapsible heel cup so they fold almost flat. Perfect for traveling light and making sure I get my weekly miles in.
  3. To Boot lace up dress sneakers. Designed with an athletic shoe-like rubber bottom, these shoes work with jeans or a suit and are very comfortable for running through airports or wearing all night on red-eye flights.
  4. Electronics and accessories. Laptop charger plus adapters and auxiliary battery for my iPhone 6, projector plugs (HDMI and VGA), a Røde mic to record my speeches, a mini-foldable tripod for videos and Periscope transmissions, an Olympus 4/3 SLR with extra memory card and charger, Garmin running watch, my dad’s Bulova Accutron watch, Apple earbuds, custom earpiece for TV interviews, and a pair of folding scissors.
  5. Sketchbook, Pentel Rolling Writers and mini Sharpie permanent marker (for writing hotel room numbers on keycards).
  6. Apple Air laptop in its own slim case that I use as a briefcase for meetings.
  7. Half set of six harmonicas (you probably don’t need to take these!).
  8. Two Brooks Brothers no-iron button down shirts. One black SmartWool base level sweater. (This sweater’s great because it can go under or over the shirts and can be worn by its own or with a tee shirt.)
  9. Nike running hat.
  10. Lululemon Surge running shorts. These double as swim trunks when you’re traveling light.
  11. Reversible gray/blue waterproof bucket cap from Roots Canada.
  12. Black belt.
  13. Socks: Two pair gray SmartWool socks, one pair merino running socks, one pair black merino from Icebreaker. I wear them and wash them and never run out.
  14. Brown and black tweed cashmere sport coat.
  15. Patagonia crushable down puffer jacket. This little gem folds into its own pocket and takes up almost no space.
  16. Three pocket squares – gray linen, white linen with gray trim, navy cotton. Two Paul Stuart knit ties – mutli-brown stripes and navy with white polka dots.
  17. Two pair washable underwear (Saxx or Ex Officio are my favorites). They get washed every day too.
  18. Two pair of black and gray travel pants from Lululemon.

Besides these things in my bag (22” Tumi duffel), I’ll also wear cotton khakis, Adidas Gazelle sneakers with another pair of running socks, washable underwear, and a navy polo shirt and carry my iPad.

Why no jeans? They’re heavy, take up a lot of space in luggage, dry very slowly, and aren’t that comfortable on planes.

Why the choice of ties and pocket squares? They instantly change a look even if you’re wearing the same basic colors underneath.

Why the puffer jacket in the summer? Mountain nights can be chilly and airports and planes can be freezing cold. A collapsible jacket like this one is a great comfort and can double as an in-flight pillow.

Why the bucket hat and running cap? Water resistant headwear is great when it rains and is also a terrific way to block the sun when you’re outdoors. And they’re a lot easier to carry than an umbrella.

Regardless of how you put together your travel wardrobe, remember that the less you take, the less you have to worry about. And since there’s only two kinds of luggage – carry on and lost – traveling light is the best way to make sure you’ll enjoy your trip.

The Incredible Lightness of Travel

June 1st, 2014

If you’ve read my blog before you know I’m obsessed with traveling light. That’s because a minimalist mindset makes travel more enjoyable and stress-free. Also I believe there are only two kinds of luggage – carry-on and lost. I’ve written about this before, listing a bunch of road-tested travel tips HERE and HERE.

My business partner and I used to go to a lot of industry events. We’d sit in way too cold conference rooms listening to lectures by the SVP of marketing for Humongo Company or director of international relations for Gigantis Corp. During the speech, Roberto would whisper, “You think this person ever made payroll?” When I’d answer, “No, payroll arrives from HR regardless,” Roberto would walk out. If the speaker didn’t walk the walk, why hear her talk the talk?

It’s the same with travel advice. And knowing Roberto would read this blog, and that he doesn’t suffer fools gladly, I made sure it was accurate and “real-world tested” before I uploaded it for you.

My family and I recently made the trip of a lifetime through Southeast Asia. All of us — my wife, kids, and mom — only took carry-on luggage. But I went further and took as few clothes as possible so I could report back to you.

What I learned is that there are three strategies that make all the difference: color coordination, fabric selection, and clothing utility.

The importance of color palette is easy to understand. I only brought black, gray or blue clothes. That way everything matched everything else and I never ran out of combinations.

Fabric is critical, too. Certain cloths are lighter and easier to pack, wash, and dry quickly, don’t hold odor, and keep you comfortable. The magic words are nylon, merino, and wool crepe. Ultra light merino wool shirts and socks from Icebreaker and SmartWool are comfortable on warm and cool days, easy to wash in the shower, don’t retain odor, and don’t itch. Really.

Woven nylon is another great fabric. Nylon cargo shorts and pants are comfortable and easy to wash, drying more quickly than cotton. Best – the new nylon looks and feels like cotton canvas so you don’t look like a fly fisherman.

What did I take? Here’s my entire list:

Three pairs of pants – one pair of light wool suit pants, Clothing Arts cargos, and a pair of Lululemon nylon pants that look dressy but stretch like sweats — perfect for red-eyes.

Three pairs of shorts – two nylon cargos and one pair of athletic shorts for jogging, gym, and pool.

Three pairs of ExOfficio travel underwear. Two are plenty but I splurged and brought an extra pair. I know, I’m wild.

Three t-shirts – two ultra-light weight merino wool tees and one dri-fit running shirt.

One no-iron cotton button-down. Besides being easy-care, you can wear a button-down with a suit and tie or roll up the sleeves and wear it untucked with shorts. You can’t do that with more formal dress shirts.

Three pair of socks – gray and black lightweight merino wool and one pair of low-cut running socks.

Shoes – one pair of black dress sneakers (mine are from To Boot but they’re available from most designers), one pair of Nike Free running shoes (with collapsible heels that I wrote about HERE) and flip-flops for the pool.


What else? A lightweight merino wool sweater, wool crepe sport coat (folds small and hardly wrinkles – if it does, it straightens in a steamy bathroom), travel belt with leather-covered plastic buckle that doesn’t set off TSA alarms, zip-up running jacket (for cold planes), knit silk tie (absolutely does not wrinkle), and a SmartWool watch cap for rain, cold, and to pull down over my eyes to sleep on planes.

Besides clothes, I brought a few harmonicas, Garmin running watch, Apple MacBook Air and iPhone, Samsung DV300F camera, noise-canceling headphones, a reduced toiletry kit, sketch book, and laptop charger – I charged everything else by running their USB cables into my MacBook. All of this – plus a Mountain Smith day bag, fit in my 22” overhead-sized carryon.

Were there downsides? Sure — some mornings I felt like putting on something different but it wasn’t because my clothes weren’t clean or comfortable. And each night I had to wash what I wore that day in the shower but that only added a few minutes in the bathroom.

I know you women are wondering if my wife also took a single carry-on. I’m proud to say she did. Gloria brought gauzy pants and tops that fold up small, silky dresses that also take up little space and colorful scarves to brighten up her relatively subdued palette. She brought four pair of shoes – loafers, running shoes, and low- and high-heeled sandals. And she brought a set of travel curlers from Hot Tools. My mom and daughter also fit everything in a single carryon.

If this seems too Spartan for you, remember that a credit card in your pocket means you can purchase anything you’ve forgotten or can’t live without. But if you forget some of the selection you’re used to, I promise you an easier and much more enjoyable trip.



You Can Travel Even Lighter.

October 23rd, 2012

Those of you who have been reading my posts for a while know about my penchant (OK, obsession) for traveling light (if not, you can read about it HERE and HERE). And why not? When you log as many miles as I do traveling for our clients and speaking at conferences, packing as lightly as possible just makes life easier in today’s new normal of increasingly difficult travel.

But thanks to the law of diminishing returns, it’s getting harder and harder for me to find new tricks and tips to lighten my load. After all, when you’re already using cotton balls in Ziploc bags for aftershave and picking running shoes NOT by how they feel but by how light and collapsible they are, how much more can you realistically do?

A few weeks ago my wife and I took our daughter up to college in the Northeast. While the two of them were discussing thread counts at the local Bed Bath & Beyond (where they bought almost everything on the shelves, by the way), I ducked out and wandered through the bookstore, a coffee shop, and then the Eastern Mountain Sports outdoor outfitters store.

My idea of roughing it is a hotel without room service so I’m not a big fan of camping, but I love camping stores. I’m always looking for new and ingenious ways to save space and weight, and camping and climbing stores are great places to discover new ideas — even if I don’t know what half of the stuff they sell is actually for.

While traveling light does save me a lot of time and effort, there are two items that continue to vex me – specifically deodorant and toothpaste. Unlike shaving cream, which is easily replaced by either hotel-supplied conditioner or lotion, there’s not much that’s readily available to sub for those two items. Worse, the manufacturers and retailers know it. That’s why a TSA-allowable three-ounce container of either costs just as much as larger home-use versions. What a rip-off. And while using a partially filled larger dispenser does take care of the cost problem, it creates two new issues: 1) the container doesn’t fit in the TSA-required Ziploc bag (slowing down inspection time), and 2) particularly strict TSA agents will confiscate anything that says it’s larger than three ounces even though the remnants in the container don’t equal the stated limit.

So there I was, killing time wandering through Eastern Mountain Sports, when I discovered my new holy grail – the TOOB™. As the manufacturer says, “The TOOB™ is toothbrush, paste and carrying case all in one…” Of course I was already carrying a micro-sized camping toothbrush but it hadn’t solved my toothpaste dilemma. The TOOB does. Again, from the manufacturer: “The unique refillable tube keeps your favorite toothpaste handy, refilled from your home tube at a lower cost than travel-sized tubes.”

What an elegant solution. I can save money, pack more efficiently, AND even use my preferred brand of toothpaste (I’m partial to Arm & Hammer Advance White Fluoride Anti-Cavity Toothpaste with Baking Soda & Peroxide, by the way, but you can use whatever brand you like). Better yet, I’m reminded that innovation and inspiration can pop up anywhere.

But as much as I love the TOOB’s functional design, I think their brand is awful. TOOB is one of the first names I’ve encountered that is both simple to pronounce yet oxymoronically impossible to spell. If this blog were a podcast and you were listening instead of reading, you’d be hard-pressed to find the product by Googling its name phonetically — I can’t imagine anyone would actually think to look up T-O-O-B.

I once asked my branding class whether it was easier to push an elephant through a keyhole, to pull an elephant through a keyhole, or to get a bigger keyhole. From the back of the room someone suggested I could also get a smaller elephant.

To completely mix my metaphors, their answer was simply another way to skin the proverbial cat. Kind of like the TOOB.

How Light Can You Travel?

November 28th, 2011

Those of you who know me or have been reading this blog for a while know that I am obsessed with traveling light. In my mind, there are only two types of luggage: carry-on and lost. I prefer the first kind.

I’m very careful with what I carry and how I carry it. I prowl camping stores for folding toothbrushes and smaller and smaller bags. I constantly try to pare down the electronics I need for presentations and entertainment. I look for new ways to mix and match what I wear for meetings and sightseeing. And I experiment with new folding and packing techniques to take up as little space as possible.

As I said, I’m a little obsessed. So obsessed that some of my tips and tricks were reported in an article that was reprinted around the world. And speaking of around the world, my wife and I spent five days in Austria for a friend’s incredible 50th birthday party celebration, chock-full of cocktail parties AND even a black tie event, and we did it all with carry-ons. A few folks who unwittingly donated their luggage to Heathrow’s dread Terminal Five showed up at the formal in the blue jeans and tee shirts they had traveled in, but it wasn’t us. And just last month we spent 11 days on a trip that included two presentations, three business meetings, and a week of vacation, and again we managed the whole thing with carry-on bags only.

But the other day, as I was getting ready for a business trip to New York and Greenwich, I saw a Twitter post from my friend, Peter Shankman, that read, “Doing a 24-hr trip tomorrow, EWR to LAX, one speech, then home. Taking only my @scottevest – LOVE that.” and I thought, “I have one of those, I can do that, too.” So I accepted his unchallenged challenge and edited my minimal travel kit down even further. (Yes Mom, if all my friends jumped off the roof, I would too).

The morning I wrote this article, I left my house with just the jacket and the clothes on my back. I left my laptop in my briefcase, replaced by the iPad I’m composing this post on. And yes, I do prefer reading actual books to scanning digital text – and when I’m at home, that’s what I do. But I’m sure the subject of the book I’m reading won’t mind if I continue trying to decipher his philosophy on my iPad.

To carry as little as possible, I didn’t even bring my beloved noise canceling headphones or Bluetooth keyboard. Instead, I’m listening to Dave Matthews on earbuds and actually typing this post on the iPad’s glass keyboard, something I thought I’d never do. Oh, the sacrifice! Other electronics stuffed into the many pockets of my jacket include my cell phone, a cable to connect to a projector, and the smallest charger I could find.

My toilet kit is just as sparse – a folding toothbrush, tiny travel tube of toothpaste, a disposable razor, and some gel deodorant in an itty-bitty ziplock bag. That’s it. I’ll use hotel soap and shampoo and shave with their moisturizer (don’t worry, regardless of what the TV ads say, shaving cream is just slippery soap anyway). I thought about putting a cologne-soaked cotton ball in another tiny ziplock bag, but c’mon, that’s too precious, even for me. I’ll have to settle for smelling like soap.

Since I set off on my quest to travel as light as possible, I’ve pretty much reduced my wardrobe to black, gray, and blue. That way, everything matches no matter what I put on. I was explaining this to a friend the other day and he asked if people ever notice that I mostly wear the same thing all the time. “No one’s ever noticed or said a word,” I answered. My wife, who sees me almost everyday, remarked that I do not in fact wear the same things – which both proves my point and shows how little it matters. After all, if the one person in the entire world I most want to look good for hasn’t noticed, why would I care what anyone else thinks?

I’ll spare you the nitty-gritty details about fresh clothes and laundry, but basically the minimalist traveler has three options: carry spare underwear, socks, and a tee shirt for each day you’re away; wear your unmentionables for days in a row (yuck); or choose quick-drying versions and wash them in the hotel shower at night. After years of experimentation, I’m partial to ExOfficio’s travel skivvies and SmartWool’s base layer black pullovers, but you can find lots of different brands online and see which you like best.

Lucky for me, I don’t run on Wednesdays so packing jogging gear this time wasn’t an issue. Even though I’ve gotten my workout kit reduced to a thin little bundle, thanks mostly to the Nike Free running shoes that have no heel cup and therefore crush down to little more than the height of their soles, I’m not sure how I’d be able to bring that stuff without a small bag at my side. If you’ve got some solutions, I’m eager to hear them.

What else? A pile of business cards doesn’t take up much pocket space. Neither does a small sketchpad, two pens, or a few harmonicas, although I concede it’s a good thing I don’t play the cello. I don’t need a belt because I wear my pullover untucked (quicker through security, too). My eyeglasses have auto-tint lenses so I don’t need sunglasses (I told you I was obsessed), my keys are locked in the trunk of my car, and my only jewelry is my wedding ring. Even my wallet is edited down to two charge cards (business and personal), ATM, two insurance cards (auto and health), and my driver’s license. That’s my entire travel inventory.

The real secret to all this, besides my obsessive-compulsive tendency, of course, is the technical jacket by Scott e Vest. It’s got enough zippered and Velcro pockets and pouches to please a Sherpa. If I was willing to shoulder the added weight, I could probably schlep along the entire World Book encyclopedia and 50 pounds of goat chow. The other secret is a hard-earned, Zen-like acceptance that we don’t need most of the crap we dutifully tote along. Truth is, walking through an airport without carrying anything at all is a truly liberating experience and something I’ll bet you have never done.

Of course, like most obsessions, my need to travel light just gets more and more intense with every high. What I’ve discovered is that my good time friends – the camping toothbrushes and quick-drying underwear – turned out to be the entry drugs of the light-travel addicted. Worse, mainlining a Scott e Vest jacket and quick-dry drawers only satisfies for so long.

Arnie Gellman turned me on to the Jack Reacher action novels by Lee Child. Reacher is a retired military policeman who travels around the country with just a folding toothbrush and an ATM card – no charge card, no cell phone, no nothing. When he gets hungry, he eats. When he gets tired, he sleeps. And when his clothes get dirty, he buys new duds and leaves the old ones in the trashcan by the clothing store’s fitting room.

I have seen the future. And it’s even lighter.

Does Travel Technology Make Travel Better?

October 25th, 2016

Travel Technology.

Greetings from Faro in the heart of the Portuguese Algarve.

We just spent a week in Lisbon and Porto. Now we’re touring the southwest corner of the country before we drive across the border Portugal shares with Spain. We’ll be heading on to Seville and Malaga next.

I’m sitting on the balcony outside the rooftop restaurant at the Faro Hotel and thumb typing this post on my iPhone. I have lots of travel technology so I do have my laptop in the trunk of our rental car but I had a thought I wanted to share and I didn’t want to lose the moment.

Travel Technology - Lisbon

Two days ago we were wandering around Lisbon and looking for a place for lunch. None of the places my friends had recommended were nearby so I turned to my travel technology. I opened Trip Advisor on my iPhone and paged through the reviews until I found the Taberna Da Rua Das Flores. I hit the directions button and we followed the dotted line right to the restaurant (which was terrific, by the way).

I pulled the phone out of my pocket again to text my friends who were back at the hotel and even used the amazing Google Translate app to translate the parts of the menu I couldn’t figure out.

Travel Technology - FaroI had flight information for the Ryan Air shuttle to Faro in my phone and when we arrived here and picked up the rental car I used Waze to figure out the quickest route to the old town. Because I was rushed before we left home I hadn’t done any research. But I do have my travel technology with me. So a quick web surf led us to the Rococo Igreja do Carmo and the Capela dos Ossos. Its chapel was constructed with 1,245 human skulls and other bones donated by the monks who had been buried in the nearby cemetery. Their motto? “What you are, we were. What we are, you’ll be.”


“What you are, we were.
What we are, you’ll be.”


Next a web-based travel blog led me to the Ria Fomosa rooftop restaurant where I’m punching out this post. I’ll have to let you know how the codfish risotto and fig, almond, and ice cream cake are.

I even used the What’s App to track down a friend of a friend in Guimarães and plan drinks and dinner when we got there.

But here’s my question… does our travel technology make our trips better than the less-informed way we used to get about? As we’ve gained all this access and convenience, have we lost something more valuable?

I remember driving through the Chianti region of Tuscany looking for addresses that we could never find (pre travel technology, of course). We were always lost. But we were lost in Tuscany.

I recall staring dumfounded at a street of restaurants in a strange city and trying to figure out where to eat. Of course I’d try to make eye-contact with friendly-faced diners hoping they’d give me the secret thumbs up sign but mostly I’d just wind up looking like a stalker. Sometimes we’d find a good meal – sometimes we wouldn’t.

I remember trying to order off menus written in languages I didn’t speak and then wondering why the waiter couldn’t understand my request for “delicately poached tractor pieces with metal shavings and petroleum sauce.”

I don’t mean to sound like a Luddite and I certainly don’t want to over-romanticize the dark days of wandering around without a clue and without a way of finding one. And I know that my question is the perfect definition of a first world problem. But I’m interested in hearing what you think and what you’ve gained and lost thanks to today’s travel technology and yesterday’s lack of the same. Besides my own curiosity, I think your answers will be important for us to better understand the travel brands we build for companies and destinations around the world and how we can make them resonate even more with their customers.

Please scroll to the bottom of the page to post your thoughts on travel technology. And if you’ve got a good place to recommend for lunch in Malaga I’d like to hear that too.

The ultimate CEO travel secret: Wash your underwear in the sink.

October 5th, 2014


Road warrior and brand expert Bruce Turkel travels as a competitive sport. The CEO and executive creative director of marketing consulting firm Turkel Brands travels lightest.


Travel SecretI travel almost every week, but in fact I’m not traveling this week and it’s kind of shocking. Last week I was in New York for client meetings and to do a Fox Business correspondent gig in the studio instead of remotely. The week before I was in Massachusetts because my daughter is entering her third year of college. Next week I’m in Las Vegas speaking at a brand management camp. But this week I’m in Miami the whole week.

Figuring out how to hack my travel with tips and techniques has become more than a hobby, it’s almost an obsession. In our wedding vows I added to the traditional “better or worse, sickness or health, richer or poorer, only carry-on luggage.” I didn’t really—but I threatened to.

I was on a flight once and the woman in front of me kept slamming herself against the seat to get it to go back. The reason the seat wouldn’t go back is because my knees were there. I didn’t have any legroom. She finally called the flight attendant and said, “My seat won’t go back.” And I said, “The reason your seat won’t go back is because my legs are there.” The flight attendant said to me, “Sir, you have to move so she can put her seat back.” And I said, “OK, where would you like me to put my legs? We can consider the overhead compartment. Other than that I don’t really know where they’re going to go.” I promptly bought a knee defender. That was years ago, but I’ve never had the nerve to use it. I take it only for emotional support.

If you lean forward and say, “Look I’m almost 6’5”. Would you mind not leaning back quite so far?” Most people are pretty nice about it. I’ll offer to buy them a drink. But sometimes—especially on European airlines—when the people lean back, I could do dental work on them. I don’t put my seat back more than just a little inch, just to take the angle off, unless I turn around and there’s a sleeping child curled up in the seat, because I know how aggravating that can be.

I only wear three colors: gray, blue, and black. That way everything I take matches everything else. I always take knit silk ties and pocket squares with me, too. If you change your ties and the tone of your pocket square, it looks like you’re wearing a different outfit every day. That’s all anyone notices if you’re well dressed anyways.

I play the harmonica, so I also take a few harmonicas when I travel. I have found people to play with on the subways of Paris, on the streets on London, and in small towns in Provence. It always gets me invited to places and dinners. It’s great. Now if I played the cello, admittedly, it wouldn’t be quite as easy. But with the harmonica it’s quite easy.

“They love me at TSA when I get the random open bag inspection.
They open it up and say, “Oh my god. I wish everybody packed like this.”

My travel hero is Jack Reacher, a fictional detective in a series of 18 books by author Lee Child. He travels with just an ATM card and a folding toothbrush. When his clothes get dirty he throws them away and he buys new ones. I dig his travel routine. That’s my dream. But I would add a harmonica.

I have a collapsible down jacket that folds up into its own pocket. It’s essentially—when you smash it all down—the size of two pairs of socks. I take that no matter where I go because even if you’re going somewhere warm the airport is going to be freezing or the plane is going to be freezing. Even though I insist on traveling as light as possible, I even carry a down jacket if I’m going to the Caribbean or to Ibiza. It’s still jammed into my bag.

I always take button-down shirts because you can always wear them with a suit or you can wear them un-tucked with shorts. You can’t really do that with any other kind of shirt.

I am fastidious about packing. I use those little packing cubes and I organize everything. They love me at TSA when I get the random open bag inspection. They open it up and say, “Oh my god. I wish everybody packed like this.” Everything’s in a little pouch. Everything’s all nice and folded—all my cords and my cables. I’m a little psycho, as I said. But I’m OK with that! I accept myself for who I am. Travel is just so easy for me because I know exactly what I’m going to take at all times.

One of the things we’re responsible for is marketing Miami tourism. So all my suits have these little palm tree pins on them—every single one—so I’m never out of uniform. But I’ve noticed that TSA guys or hotel clerks, they always say, “Oh, I like your pin!” At which point I reach into my lapel, unhook it and give it to them. They love them. And I always get an upgrade. With hotels I get a nicer room or with rental cars I get a nicer car. Who knows what—you get something.

I really like Nooly, which is a weather app. It’s really cool because it tells you the weather in 5-minute increments. If I’m going for a run, for example, I don’t care what the weather is for the next eight hours. I care what the weather is now for the next 45 minutes. And it tells you. WeatherBug has a really cool feature called Spark that tells you if there’s lightning anywhere nearby.

“Here you have a guy who runs a company who’s traveling around washing his underwear in the sink
and then jumping on it. I get it. It’s funny. But you know what? I don’t care because I’m obsessed and it works.”

The app that I love more than any other app—I use it for travel, but it can be used for everything else—is Evernote combined with a system that I’ve learned online called, a series of 11 videos that show how to combine David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” (GTD) with Evernote as a master “to do” list to manage your inbox and your assignments and your travel and everything else. It is phenomenal. It runs my whole life. It’s a real pain in the neck at first but if you fight your way through it and get it set up, it becomes second nature. Like my email box, I have no emails in my email box. As I open one I transfer it to Evernote and tag it.

My dad passed away a few years ago and I took his briefcase and had it refurbished. I only use that bag and my suitcase. That’s nice, that I always have his bag with me. It’s a Tumi leather briefcase of some sort. It’s old. Now they have their own custom zippers and everything. It doesn’t even have those. But I sent it back to Tumi and they redid it. In fact the woman called me and said, “You want to spend $300 to redo this bag? You can probably get a new one for a little more.” I said, “Nope, that’s the one I want.” So they fixed it up. They put it on a new handle and some new straps and cleaned it up and it’s great.

I take a couple merino wool T-shirts because, believe it or not, they do not itch. They work in all temperatures and they don’t stink, so you can wear them more than once. We all like to wear cotton T-shirts but when you sweat in them they get heavy and wet—especially when you run—and you can’t dry them after washing, so you’ve got to find a replacement. Merino wool is unbelievable. At first I was completely skeptical. First of all, I live in Miami—I’m not from a wool-wearing state. I thought it would be itchy and uncomfortable and it’s not at all. You can wash it in the sink and it dries quickly.

I always take two pairs of ExOfficio travel underwear and I wash them in the sink every night. They don’t absorb moisture because they’re made of synthetic materials. But here’s the trick: You wring them out as best as you can by hand, then you take a big bath towel and lay it out on the floor—or on the bed if you’re a germophobe—and then you lay the clothes on them and roll it up like a burrito. It’s a layer of clothing, a layer of towel, a layer of clothing, a layer of towel. Then you lay this big roll on the ground and you jump on it, which transfers a lot of the water that’s left from the fabric into the towel. Then you unroll it and you hang the stuff up. It works. My wife laughs at me. My friends laugh at me. You laugh at me. It’s ok. I get it. It’s stupid. Here you have a guy who runs a company who’s traveling around washing his underwear in the sink and then jumping on it. I get it. It’s funny. But you know what? I don’t care because I’m obsessed and it works.

Not So Smart Luggage

March 15th, 2015

Smart Luggage for the Connected Age promised the title in last week’s New York Times. It featured a company that’s releasing “smart luggage” packed with up-to-the-minute features including “a Bluetooth-enabled lock, GPS tracking, and a USB port for recharging a device. It has a built-in scale, too.”

Samsonite is also getting into the smart luggage act with their “new line of GeoTrakR suitcases, containing a cellular-enabled baggage-tracking system… and Andiamo will introduce a new carry-on with a Wi-Fi hotspot, battery charger and other features.”

The article reports on gizmo-laden smart luggage coming from AT&T, Rimowa, Bluesmart, Trunkster, and Delsey (their line is called “Pluggage.” No. Really.).

Before we proceed, let me make it clear that I’m a tech geek. I love gizmos and technology. I lust for every new device Apple releases, I change apps as often as you change underwear, and I’ve figured out how to digitize all of my papers, bills, accounts, photos, sketches, and every other thing I can scan and upload to the cloud. My music hard drive has three terabytes of storage and holds over 114 days of continuous songs.

But even though I’m an early adapter and totally obsessed travel-light voyager, I will never buy one of these modern day steamer trunks. Talk about putting the “lug” back in “luggage,” not one review mentions how much smart luggage weighs, but I’ll bet it’s plenty. And that flies in the face of my belief that the key to travelling happy is travelling light.

Thanks to my never-ending travel schedule speaking at conferences around the world, I’ve experimented with enough bags and packing schemes to sink the Titanic. And I’ve figured out the exact solution and the exact bag to make travelling as easy as possible. More on that in a minute…

I’ve written on the subject of travelling light a few times before (I told you I was obsessed). You can read those posts HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE. And you can read my Fortune Magazine profile on travel as a competitive sport HERE. If you do you’ll see that learning about travelling light is an ongoing evolution – some of the tools and techniques I recommended early on have been discarded for new ideas. Live and learn, I say.

But before we get to my latest solution, here are five rules that will make your travel as pleasant and convenient as possible:

  1. Travel light. Not having to lug your belongings everywhere is the best thing you can do to enjoy your time away.
  2. There are only two kinds of luggage: Carry-on and lost. If you can’t carry your belongings and can’t lift them into the plane’s overhead compartment, don’t take them.
  3. Don’t change your look with different outfits; change your look with different accessories. For women that means neutral-colored clothes with bright scarves, belts, and wraps. For men it means navy, gray or khaki with different ties and pocket squares. Clothes are heavy. Accessories are not.
  4. You can’t lose what you don’t let go of. Travel light enough and you can keep your things with you when they’re not secured. If you insist on having GPS connectivity for your bags, a little TILE tag can care of that without any added weight.
  5. Eliminate all superfluous cables and chargers. If you’re taking your laptop you don’t need other chargers, just plug your phone, camera, and running watch into the computer’s USB ports. If you’re staying at a business hotel, you can charge your devices in the USB port behind the large screen TV in your room. Just don’t forget them when you check out.

Smart Luggage

If you’re only going to bring a briefcase or pocketbook and one bag, you better bring the right one. After years of experimentation, here’s the best bag you can buy for trouble-free travel – a 22” Tumi duffel. It’s got a cavernous central storage area for shoes, folded suits, and all your clothes, a zippered pocket on the inside for items you want to keep as secure as possible, two pockets at either end – I use one for technology and the other for accessories – and a large zip pocket on the front for tickets, keys, passport, phone, etc. It’s easy to pack, easy to live out of if you organize with packing cubes, easy to carry, and easy to stuff overhead. And no wheels or frames adding weight or taking up valuable space.

The bad news is that Tumi doesn’t make them any more but you can usually find them on EBay for less than $100 in nylon and around $200 in leather (but beware, leather’s heavier than nylon). They come and go but there were a few listed when I wrote this article.

Happy travels.

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