Travel Essentials for Men: A Straightforward Packing Guide
Are you someone who travels a lot for work or pleasure? If so, you know that there’s a certain art to traveling that makes things easier, more efficient, and not a trip from Hell.
No matter how experienced a traveler you are, it never hurts to know the fundamentals of efficient traveling and a few other tricks that can keep stress and anxiety at bay. They’ll also help you maintain your grooming routine while away from home, which we think is important.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything from travel kit bags to packing a suitcase or carry-on to keeping your clothes looking their best during your trip. We hope it’s information that makes your next trip a pleasure – even if it is for business.
The Humble Yet Essential Dopp Bag: What it is, Why You Need it
Whether you refer to it as a “Dopp bag” or something else, you absolutely, positively need a bag to carry various smaller items, such as toiletries. Trust us, it’s better to have a bag than take the gamble on whether your travel size bottle of mouthwash is going leak all over your favorite business shirt.
Whatever you do, don’t get complacent and think that spills and leaks won’t happen, because if you travel a lot, they’re bound to happen. A good Dopp bag is your first line of defense against unforeseen accidents that may create multiple pains in the ass when traveling.
What is a Dopp bag, anyway?
The basic definition of a Dopp bag is simple: it’s a travel toiletry bag for men. It’s extremely useful when traveling, although you can use it even when you aren’t on the road or in the skies.
The Dopp bag history begins in the early 20th century. Charles Doppelt, a leather-goods manufacturer from Chicago, created the first Dopp bag and then later landed a contract with the U.S. Army to provide toiletry “pouches” to the millions of American GIs serving in World War II. The bags were a hit with the soldiers, and sales of them soared once they returned home from the war and decided they couldn’t do without.
Most Dopp bags today consist of leather, vinyl, or cloth and serve as the best method for organizing your toiletries and grooming tools for traveling.
The bottom line is this: if you travel a lot it’s important to invest in a good Dopp bag, especially one that has a waterproof lining both inside and out.
How to Pick the Right Dopp Bag For You
There are plenty of options when choosing a Dopp bag that best suits your needs. We already mentioned the importance of purchasing a bag that’s waterproof, but there are other factors to consider, as well.Material
Many men and travel experts agree that genuine leather is the material of choice for Dopp bags. A leather Dopp bag should last you for many years, if not the rest of your life, especially if you take proper care of it. Leather also has a more refined look, and there’s also nothing quite like the smell of leather.
Vinyl is another popular material used in the construction of Dopp bags. Vinyl is durable and waterproof, and also less expensive than leather.Size
Dopp bags come in different sizes and the size you choose is a matter of personal preference and your travel needs. There are Dopp bags that seem as small as a wallet (OK, maybe not quite that small, but you get the picture), while others are roomier. Big is generally better if you’re traveling for an extended period or if you like to bring a lot of items with you. Many Dopp bags come with additional compartments and pockets that help separate items and provide optimal use of the space.
Again, how big of a Dopp bag you choose comes down to personal preference. That said, a medium-sized leather bag should provide ample room and last a long time.Waterproof interior
Leaks and spills can happen during travel, especially when you’re traveling by plane because of the pressure change – which may cause your product to expand and leak. That’s why it’s so important to buy a Dopp bag with a waterproof lining; if something spills, the mess is contained to the interior of your bag. Also, the waterproof lining is easy to clean and it dries out rather quickly.Price
It’s helpful to have a price in mind when buying anything, including Dopp bags. How much you spend may depend on your budget, but have an amount in mind before you search the internet or your favorite men’s store when buying a bag. Dopp bags, generally, cost between $15 and $50, although you can certainly spend more. You may struggle to find a quality Dopp bag that’s below $20, however.
The Benefits of Having a Dopp Bag
We’ve touched on one of the big reasons that a Dopp bag is essential for travel, spills. But other reasons include simplicity, durability, and portability.
Just the overall look of a Dopp bag practically screams simplicity. It provides a fairly roomy place to store toiletries and other items that are a pain to pack with your clothing, and protect everything else from potential spills and leaks. You’ll have everything you need, grooming-wise, in one place that’s easy to access as you travel.
Many Dopp bags, especially those made of leather and other high-quality materials, can stand the test of time and last for years (if not a lifetime). In most cases, you don’t have to worry about straps, buckles, and other attachments, either.
Finally, what isn’t portable about a smallish bag that’s big enough to hold essential items, and that you can even fold up when you aren’t using it?
What Should You Pack in Your Dopp Bag?
What you pack in your Dopp bag usually depends on the length of your trip. A shorter trip may require only the essentials, but on longer trips it’s always good to be prepared for a variety of circumstances.Beardbrand founder, Eric Bandholz talks about what items he includes in his Dopp bag in our video “Best Travel Hacks for Grooming,” and it looks like this:
- Dental floss
- Beard Wash and Softener
- Toothpaste and a toothbrush
- Headache medicine
- Sea Salt Spray
- Beard balm
- Utility Bar
You usually need only a basic collection of items for shorter trips and it’s probably OK to leave items such as Shampoo, Conditioner, and Sea Salt Spray at home. But there’s no reason why you can’t carry everything that you need for a longer trip.
An important thing to keep in mind when packing your Dopp bag – or carry-on bag, for that matter – is that the Travel Security Administration (TSA) rules limit liquid and gel items to bottles no larger than 3.4 ounces. The only exceptions to these rules are essential medications and food for infants or children. Beardbrand products were designed specifically with this in mind, and are all TSA-friendly. Scissors are OK as long as the blades are shorter than 4-inches (our Scissors also fit the bill). Most disposable razors and nail clippers are TSA-approved, as well.
Helpful Hint #1: Always Keep Your Dopp Bag Locked & Loaded
Another excellent travel hack is always to have your Dopp bag loaded with essential supplies, even when you’re not traveling. That is, have two sets of toiletries: one for using at home and one for keeping in your Dopp bag. Doing this will save you time from having to re-pack your bag every time you travel and worrying about whether you have everything you need. Focus your last-minute packing on your travel bag, instead.
Helpful Hint #2: How You Can Prevent Leakage in Your Dopp Bag
Not to beat a dead horse, but leaks and spills can happen when traveling. No one likes opening up a Dopp bag and discovering that their favorite minty mouthwash has spilled all over the bag’s other contents, or that their cologne leaked on their go-to business shirt.
We have your back, however, and here are a few tips for safeguarding against potential leaks and spillage.
Perhaps the most basic way to guard against spills is to wrap your liquid products in small Ziploc bags. Just make sure that you seal the bag tightly.
Here’s something you can do when you want to take your leakage-prevention to the next level: First, screw off the top of your product (such as your Beard Wash, for example). Grab a piece of Saran Wrap and wrap it around the bottle, including over the opening. Then, screw the top back on. This is a great method for preventing your product from exploding and is also a cheap way to protect everything else in your Dopp bag.
We’re not finished yet, gents, because we have another method for keeping your Dopp bag products properly under wraps. And we like it because you don’t have to deal with a wadded-up, potentially-messy piece of Saran wrap once you reach your destination.
Instead, get a small roll of Teflon tape and wrap it around the cap of the container to prevent it from leaking. You can rip the tape off when you get to your destination and then re-wrap it before you head home or to your next destination.
A Quick Note About Packing a Utility Bar
Our Beardbrand Utility Bar has you covered in so many ways; you can use it as a beard wash, as a hair shampoo, and it even works superbly as a shaving cream because it produces a light lather with a slick texture that makes it easy to see the “lines” when you’re shaving. Traveling with an all-in-one product like Utility Bar allows you to travel with fewer products. And, as a bonus, Utility Bar can’t leak or spill!
You can easily pack your Utility Bar in a plastic soap case. What you want to avoid, however, is moisture remaining at the bottom of the case after you’ve used the bar, because the moisture will quickly erode it. An easy way to get rid of the moisture is to press down on the bar and tip the case over until the water runs out.
Getting Ready For Your Trip: What to Pack, How to Pack, and More
You’ve confirmed that your flight is on time and have even checked in electronically. Your Dopp bag is ready to go. Now, it’s time pack your carry-on or another type of luggage. You can always toss things in your bag in no particular order, or you can have a plan of attack that may save you a whole helluva lot of hassle when you arrive at your destination.
We like the idea of having a plan.
So, let’s take a longer look at preparing for your trip, what to pack, how to pack it, things you’ll need for long flights, and so on.
Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance
Getting ready to travel is all about preparation. If you prepare properly you won’t have any unwanted surprises later. Here are some things to keep in mind:
One way to focus your mind on planning ahead, and to alleviate some of the stress of traveling, is to do your laundry at least three days before you travel, if not more. The last thing you want is to discover that you only have two pair of clean underwear when your plane leaves the next morning. Doing your laundry safely ahead of time also leaves you time to run to the dry cleaner, if necessary.
Lay out all of your essentials the night before – while packing whatever else you can – especially if you have a flight early the next morning. Make sure that you have all of your travel documents and that they’re in a spot where you’ll easily find them when it’s time to leave.
You arrive at your destination, fire up your phone, and find out that your battery level is under 15%. Which isn’t a problem, mind you, unless you forgot to pack a phone charger. Now you have to hope that you can find a store that has your type of charger, or one that’s even open. None of which is how you want your first day on the road to begin.
The easy solution is to have a couple of extra phone chargers on hand – you’d be surprised at the number of men who do – and always keeping one packed in your carry-on bag.
The Art of Packing For a Business Trip the Right Way
Frequent business travelers understand the challenge that comes with packing for a work trip. There’s the task of remembering to pack everything needed for work but also essential items, including grooming products.
While there may be no “right” way to pack for a business trip, there are plenty of tips, suggestions, and techniques you can follow to make it a more efficient, less-stressful process.
Choosing Your Luggage
If the business trip is going to last a week, or more, you’ll need something more than a carry-on (and you may need more than a carry-on even if it’s a shorter trip). One option is a hanger bag, which is ideal for transporting several suits and dress shirts.
One of the biggest advantages of using a hanger bag is that it’s easy on your clothes and will leave few, if any, wrinkles. And let’s face it, you’ll look a helluva lot more professional and competent if you don’t walk into an important meeting wearing a suit that looks like it was wadded up in the corner of your hotel room.
Your shirts and suits aren’t getting folded either – except for a loose fold over the middle when the bag is checked or placed on the luggage cart.
One of the biggest disadvantages of a hanger bag is that it takes up a lot of storage space. Plus, many of them aren’t big enough to hold more than a couple of suits and three or four shirts, which might not be enough, depending on your needs.
A classic suitcase is another storage option, but one which few travelers utilize these days. It’s big enough to hold a boatload of clothes and other items, but it’s also bulky and must be checked at the gate – which means standing around at the airport baggage claim area after your arrival.
In most cases, you’ll have to fold your business suits and other clothing within your suitcase, which increases the likelihood of wrinkles, so carefully folding them is imperative. For instance, place your suit jacket on top of your other clothes with its arms crossed over the chest and the bottom folded as needed.
Among the other advantages of a suitcase is that it provides good protection for your clothes and other items, especially the hard-shell type.
Another option is the duffel bag, which is perhaps the easiest to pack but not the best for keeping clothes from wrinkling. A duffel doesn’t have an inner frame that offers support, which means your clothes will wrinkle and lump in a hurry. Most duffels have a decent amount of storage space.
Why You Should Always Pack With Intention
Before we dive into the art of packing, let’s talk a bit about packing with intention. That means having a plan in mind before you begin randomly filling your suitcase or carry-on with items; it can save you a lot of anxiety before and after you arrive at your destination.
The first step in creating a packing “plan” is to list everything you have planned for your upcoming business trip. Dinner with clients? A night on the town? It’s important to have a clear idea of your plans and goals before you start to pack. Next, make a list of the clothes you’ll need for all of your activities, as well as the type of clothing that enables you to dress appropriately for the environment, and complies with whatever office dress code you may encounter.
The Packing Process: Some Suggestions
While it would be hard to choose a “best method for packing,” there is a lot of good information out there about techniques to help you do the job with less hassle and less strain on your belongings. Plus, you may even avoid the hassle at the end in which you have to sit on your overstuffed bag to zip it shut.
Let’s start with some helpful ways to pack a suitcase.
- Shoes should go at the bottom of your suitcase and you can stuff them with socks – and even underwear – to save space. You can place your shoes in shoe or dust bags to help keep your other clothing clean.
- T-shirts, polo shirts, undershirts, belts etc., should also go on the bottom of the suitcase, as well as your Dopp bag. You’ll save space by rolling up your belts, and even placing them in your shoes if there’s room.
- Folding your dress shirts, pants, and delicates so that they don’t wrinkle is one of the biggest challenges faced by frequent travelers. One method is to place your shirt on a table or floor with the buttons facing down. Fold the sides inwards (with the sleeves), fold over the hem, and then fold the shirt in half or thirds depending on the size of your suitcase.
- Fold all of your shirts the same way and stack them with collars opposite. You can even fold your sweaters, t-shirts, and polo shirts the same way, although rolling them will save space and time when you need it. A quick note about shirts: cotton dress shirts are always a great option because you can press them easily. Most hotels provide a small iron and ironing board. You’ll look extra-crisp with that wrinkle-free shirt.
- Packing a business suit, or suits, requires a bit of planning and care, especially if you’re not going to transport them in a hanger bag. Place suits on the upper layer of your suitcase, arms crossed over the chest and the bottom folded only as much as needed. Take care not to place heavy objects on your suits that could cause wrinkles.
- Packing pants in a suitcase requires some extra care, as well. Dress pants belong in your hanger bag, if you use one, but you can keep them from wrinkling if you fold them correctly. Moreover, you should also iron your pants before you pack them; a pair of wrinkled pants will only look worse after you’ve removed them from your suitcase.
How to Pack a Carry-On For Maximum Efficiency
Packing a carry-on is different than packing a suitcase, which we realize isn’t a news flash. There are similarities, for sure, but the obvious differences in size and storage space require different packing techniques.Pack light
The mantra “pack light” has probably been around since the invention of the suitcase. Packing light typically means only packing what you need while taking advantage of whatever storage space your carry-on provides.
But how is this done? Let’s break it down while taking a closer look at a helpful business trip packing list.How not to overload your carry-on
Longer trips require more stuff, but you still have to be mindful of not overdoing it while deciding what you absolutely need to bring with you.
- If possible, try to limit yourself to two pairs of shoes and two pairs of pants. You can always wear a pair of business-appropriate pants and shoes on the plane (while doing everything in your power to avoid the rumpled look that may result from spending long hours traveling).
- Pack a week’s worth of clothes, at most–the amount depends on the length of your trip. Plan on doing laundry if you’re trip lasts for more than a week.
- Make sure the garments you pack are color-coordinated. Leave it at home if it doesn’t pair with multiple outfits.
- Use every bit of available space in your carry-on wisely. Remember, there are many items you can buy at your destination. Moreover, some airlines weigh carry-on bags; make sure your bag falls within the weight restrictions.
- Choose wisely regarding the “personal” item airlines allow you to bring, such as a laptop bag, or even a small backpack.
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics of packing a carry-on, whether for business or pleasure, let’s dig even deeper and look further at a men’s packing list and the best way to fill your carry-on that keeps your clothes fresh and prevents hassles later on.How to pack suits and dress shirts in your carry-on
We’ve already mentioned it but it’s worth repeating: properly packing your business suits and shirts will enable you to avoid the embarrassment of showing up for your first meeting with a suit that looks like you slept in it.
First, fold your pants in thirds so that they easily fit into your bag. Fold them carefully to avoid any chance of wrinkles. Fold up your jacket in a way similar to what we’ve already discussed and place it on top of your dress pants in your carry-on.
Folding your dress shirt the right way will also help you avoid wrinkles. Put the shirt on the floor – a clean floor, fellas – or on another flat surface with the buttons facing the floor. Fold the sides inwards (with the sleeves on both sides), fold over the hem, and then fold the shirt in half or thirds, depending on the size of your carry-on.
Packing one shirt or, at most, two, on top of your suit can help prevent wrinkles. Even a badly-wrinkled dress shirt partly concealed under a suit still looks less than professional.Packing other travel accessories for men in your carry-on
Pants, shirts, suit (or suits) – it’s great to get them organized and folded correctly, but there’s still much more to do, such as packing your shoes, underwear, t-shirts, workout clothes, etc.
Many experts agree that packing your shoes sideways is effective because they take up less space that way. Meanwhile, you can stuff the “gaps” with your underwear and socks (which you can also put in your shoes), while rolling up your t-shirts, workout shirts, gym shorts, etc., also helps to save room.
The same goes for your belt, or belts: roll them up and fill in the gaps, such as those around your shoes. Or, if space is at a premium, you can always unroll the belt and wrap it around the edges, which could help create more space.
Cufflinks, tie bars, collar pins, and the like, should be kept in a small container so they’ll be easy to find – and not rattling around at the bottom of your carry-on – when you need them.What to wear on the plane
OK, so “what to wear on the plane” begs some obvious, even smart-ass, answers, but it’s something to think about carefully before you leave the house and head to the airport. For instance, you could wear bulkier items, like a suit coat or blazer, to conserve space in your carry-on. That doesn’t mean you should wear several layers of clothes just so that you can jam tons of other items in your bag, but it’s definitely worth serious consideration if space is tight.
Absolutely, positively don’t leave home without the following items
Are you ready to head out the door and make the trip to the airplane? If so, it’s time for a double-check to make sure you have the following items:
- Your paperwork, which includes your boarding pass, passport (if needed), a copy of your itinerary.
- Your ID
- A backup power charger
- Necessary medicines
- Cash and/or credit cards
While it may sound anal, and you may be one of those people who never forgets to bring everything, you don’t want to tempt the travel gods by not taking a quick inventory of the necessities before you leave home.
Going on a Business Trip? Here’s What to Pack
How much you pack when going away on business often depends on how long you’ll be gone. Here are some suggestions for travel essentials for men if your trip lasts several days.
- Pack at least one suit, preferably two. Grey suits are ideal because they pair well with most pants - including suit pants, dark wash jeans, etc. Pack suits made of fabrics that don’t wrinkle as easily, if possible, although you can press your suit once you arrive (which is kind of a pain in the ass, to be honest), or even hang it in the bathroom while turning on hot water to create wrinkle-reducing steam.
- Wool suits are a great option because they don’t wrinkle like a linen suit. If space is limited, pack one suit and one sport jacket that pairs well with pants you’re already packing.
- Depending on your itinerary (is there going to be a night or two of revelry with business associates?), you may want to pack some khakis, chinos, or a dressier pair of jeans. Jeans take up more room in your carry-on or suitcase, so you may choose to leave them at home.
- A white dress shirt, and even a light blue one, look good for almost every business occasion. Stay away from bolder colors, if possible, and choose pastels that combine well with other clothing and are versatile, instead. You may also need to pack neckties, and don’t be afraid if they’re of bolder color because it’s a way to add a bit of dash to your outfit safely. And, again, cotton dress shirts are always a good choice because you can press them easily.
- You may not need them, or want to bring them, but cufflinks and pocket squares also add a bit of pizazz to otherwise conservative business wear.
- You may only need one pair of dress shoes, depending on 1) the length of your trip, and 2) how many formal business events you’ll attend. Black oxfords are always appropriate for formal occasions, while dark brown or burgundy work well for more casual activities. It doesn’t hurt to bring a travel shoehorn with you, either.
- If you only take one pair of shoes, choose plain black leather oxfords. If you bring two, a good choice for your other is a dark brown leather shoe. If you pack three, then something casual like loafers, boat shoes, or stylish sneakers should suffice.
- You may also need to pack casual clothes depending, again, on the types of business-related activities you’ll attend and how much free time you’ll have. Many hotels have fitness centers so, by all means, pack some workout gear.
Extended Air Time: What to Pack For a Long Flight
Preparing and packing for a two-hour flight is one thing. Packing for one that last several hours, like an overseas trip, is something different altogether. The last thing you want is to be on a 10-hour flight without certain necessities. Otherwise, you can become bored, restless, and uncomfortable in a heartbeat.
What are some travel essentials for long flights? Let’s take a closer look.
A passport is mandatory for travel to most countries and it’s one item you can’t afford to leave at home. That said, always keep it in a safe place that you can access easily.
You also don’t want to leave your wallet and personal identification back home on the kitchen counter if you want to board the plane. You’ll need your credit cards and it doesn’t hurt to have a little cash with you, either.
You’ll also need your mobile boarding pass, of course, and having a phone charger at your fingertips becomes even more important for longer flights.
Long flights can become uncomfortable if you’re not careful. A personal neck or travel pillow provides needed relief when you're stuck in an airline seat for hours on end. But do keep in mind that you’ll have to lug this pillow around somehow, whether it’s in your bag or under your arm.
Long flights can become boring even with the entertainment options provided by the airline. Keeping boredom at bay often means bringing some form of entertainment, electronic or otherwise. A book, magazine, or another form of non-electronic entertainment will help you kill time during the long flight, but particularly during takeoff and landing when electronic devices must be turned off.
Other items include your favorite music (don’t forget to download any content you want to be able to access without wifi), a journal or something else to write in, and your laptop (which you can also use for work purposes if needed).
Always make sure to bring the appropriate chargers for each electronic device; they’re among your most important travel bag essentials.
You may or may not want to, or need to, sleep during your long flight. If you do, a sleep aid is invaluable and you have plenty of over-the-counter options from which to choose. Be careful that it’s not one that’s going to leave you hopelessly groggy when you arrive, however. There’s no shortage of natural sleep-aids either, including various forms of tea.
Remember the days of complimentary meals on airlines? It’s safe to say those days are long gone. Meanwhile, you have a limited choice of airline-provided snacks, many of which aren’t the healthiest choices on the planet.
You’re free to bring your own snacks, however, and they can help curb those hunger pangs that are sure to arise during a lengthy flight. Lighter snacks, such as fruits, nuts, crackers, and cheese, will help your body adjust to flying long hours and provide needed protein.
Your body may react in a variety of ways during a long flight, including in ways that can make your flight seem about as pleasant as boot camp. Gas, nausea, diarrhea, headaches – all have the potential to flare up and make the flight seem excruciating. That’s why it’s crucial to have some medicines on hand, not the least of which are prescription meds you’ll need for the entire trip and not just the flight.
Do yourself a favor and always have some toiletries with you. A travel toothbrush and toothpaste, hand sanitizer, a small hairbrush, lip balm – even deodorant – can come in handy during the long hours spent traveling from one place to another.
It’s easy to become dehydrated during a long flight– and suffer the consequences, including dry skin, a weakened immune system, and increased symptoms of jet lag. Bring a water bottle with you – make sure it’s empty when you go through airport security – and refill it when needed.
Standard headphones, such as those provided by most airlines, can get uncomfortable during a long flight, especially when worn for an extended period. Pack headphones, if needed, ones that are comfortable when watching movies or listening to your favorite music, but also helpful for blocking out noise when you’re trying to sleep.
What You Need to Keep Your Beard Looking Great While Traveling
You’re a beardsman and you’ve spent a long time nurturing, growing, and maintaining your facial follicles. There’s no need, or reason, for not grooming your beard as you travel, even if you can’t bring all of your beard-maintenance tools with you.
As our video points out, you only need to bring three items with you to keep your beard looking its best when you’re away from home:Beard Comb
A quality beard comb that has a combination of bigger teeth and smaller teeth is always a handy tool to have at your side. You can use it to comb your beard and mustache, and its wider teeth make it great for use on your hear hair, too.Beard Oil
Beard Oil is essential to healthy beard growth and there’s no reason you can’t bring it with you during your travels. Squeeze about three drops of the oil in your palm and then massage it with your hands until it’s warm before massaging it into your beard. It’s OK if you get some of it on your skin, too, because it helps keep your skin healthy. One of the best times to apply Beard Oil is when you’re just out of the shower and your beard is still a bit damp.Utility Balm
Ah, Utility Balm – the stuff that’s good for your whole body, including your beard. Put a little bit of it in your hand and rub anywhere on your body, including on dry skin that could use extra hydration.BONUS: Trimming Scissors
Trimming Scissors are your best friend on longer trips for when your beard may start to look a bit scraggly. Our’s meet TSA travel restrictions and will fit nicely in your Dopp bag.
Everything Luggage: Carry-Ons, Suitcases, Backpacks, and More
Earlier, we discussed how to choose the right luggage for travel whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure. Which type of luggage you choose comes down to several factors, including the length of your trip.
In any case, each type has advantages and disadvantages, which we’ll explore more in-depth.
Checking your bags or carrying them on the plane – what’s the right answer?
The truth is, the “right” answer to the question above depends on what makes the most sense to you. But here are some things to consider:
The main advantage of checked baggage is that it allows you to pack more stuff. That’s particularly handy if your trips last for an extended period, like a week or more.
The disadvantage? Checked baggage tends to be heavier than carry-on baggage (because it’s usually bigger and filled with more items), but there’s also the possibility that the airline will lose your luggage. True, it’s not a regular occurrence, but the chance exists – as does the slim chance that your bag gets damaged for some reason. Also, you have to factor in the time you’ll need to stand around by the baggage carousel after you arrive.
And let’s not forget the often expensive checked bag fees.
It’s a good idea to ask yourself a few questions before deciding whether to check your bags or not. Are you able to pack light, or will you need extra items? What type of activities are scheduled? Do you mind lugging a suitcase around, even if it’s not the best option for packing everything you need?
According to travel experts, the number of checked bags has dropped significantly in the past several years. Instead, many travelers prefer carry-on bags for a number reasons, including convenience and the peace of mind of knowing your luggage won’t be lost.
Airlines provide luggage compartments to store carry-on luggage in overhead lockers, and you can always store your bag under your seat.
However, many airlines encourage travelers to check their bags and the fees you pay are sometimes offset by choosing priority boarding – which usually allows you to keep your carry-on bags in a compartment above, or very near, your seat (a convenience that’s often worth every penny when traveling on a plane filled to the brim with passengers).
If you're like the vast majority of travelers, you’ll want to have some carry-on bag with you on the plane even if you check another bag.
No matter what you decide – to check, or not to check – make sure to check the airline’s rules and regulations for checked and carry-on bags. Most airlines allow carry-on bags that are 22-inches x 14-inches x 9-inches, but the size restrictions may vary by airline.
Suitcase or carry-on?
The answer depends on your needs, the length of your trip, and what style of luggage you prefer. While suitcases are often cumbersome, they provide the flexibility of packing more items. On the other hand, they’re a bit bulky for public transportation and to lug around in general.
A carry-on may also be your best choice if you have physical limitations that make hauling a suitcase around a strain. But hoisting a carry-on into an overhead luggage compartment can be an issue if you have, say, a bad back. Besides, you’ll spend most of your time pulling your suitcase as long as it has wheels.
The humble, yet extremely effective, carry-on
We’re not trying to twist your arm in either direction, i.e., toward using a suitcase, carry-on, or both, but it’s worth taking a closer look at carry-on bags because they’ve become such a standard part of modern travel.
Carry-on bags come with either a soft or hard-shell casing. Hard-shell carry-ons, while a bit heavier, provide better protection for your belongings than a soft-side case.
Most carry-ons come with wheels to make transporting them convenient and less stressful. The two-wheeled carry-on was once the primary option, but many now come with four-wheels (and often called “spinner” bags) that make for more mobility because the wheels spin and turn in any direction.
Carry-ons also come with handles that you can stow away when not in use. Make sure the handle feels comfortable to grip and doesn’t stick out too much when you’re not using it.
Let’s not forget about backpacks
To this point we’ve only discussed the two most popular types of luggage for personal or business travel. The backpack also is worthy of mention, and it’s an option that a lot of men choose.
Most backpacks feature a structure not unlike that of a carry-on bag, but have straps through which you slide your arms for easy transport. Always check the straps for comfort when buying a backpack. Backpacks offer the convenience of not having to carry your belongings by hand, but they can become burdensome on your back if worn for a long time.
Some backpacks even have wheels and come with straps that allow you to pull the pack from place-to-place. Backpacks with wheels tend to have a flatter, harder surface that rests against your back, however, and it can become uncomfortable to carry more quickly than a traditional backpack would.
Among the key features you should look for in a backpack is whether it’s front or top-loading, whether it has a waist strap or not, and if it has other specific features, such as a laptop compartment. A padded laptop compartment will help keep your electronics secure and may also give you room to carry books, pads of paper, etc.
Speaking of laptops, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Yes, they’re allowed on planes, which is a godsend for travelers who have so much work to do that they do some of it during their flight.
- Many airlines offer optional, in-flight Wi-Fi to purchase.
- The TSA requires that you remove your laptop from its bag and place it in a separate bin before you go through a security checkpoint. In some cases, you may even be asked to turn it on to prove that it is, indeed, a laptop.
- In other cases, however, you may not have to remove your laptop from its bag, at all.
- Store your laptop in a sturdy bag designed specifically for that function.
- Make sure your laptop is password-protected and, if possible, contains no sensitive files. Back up these files and delete the originals as a safety precaution.
- Most airlines require that you keep your laptop turned off during takeoff and landing. Ask a flight attendant about the airline’s computer policy.
The bottom line regarding travel essentials is that you want to be prepared. As a well-coiffed beardsman, you also want to keep your grooming on point. So, if you travel a lot, putting in a bit of extra planning and effort can make the difference between a stress-free trip and one filled with headaches.
Always travel safe, friends, and enjoy the ride.