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The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Traveling Light

I completed a three-week business trip through Asia carrying only one bag.

It’s not for everyone, but it worked out fine. I’ve been all over the globe for business and pleasure and over time learned not to let unnecessary luggage, clothing and other stuff weigh me down. And I don’t like checking bags if I don’t have to. You’ve seen how some people tote around all their junk wherever they go. I recall an overnight business trip to Miami when new Account Supervisor that I hired showed up at the airport with three full suitcases for the quick trip to a warm climate. Okay, I know some woman carry a lot of stuff—and guys do this also. But it was unnecessary and unproductive and we spent extra time dealing with her baggage. Predictably, although for other reasons, she did not work out. The point is, you can travel light, leave your baggage at home and still be effective. So here are a few Guy’s Guy tips based on my experience—you can decide if it’s expertise—for traveling light and efficiently while not missing out on the fun.

1. Carry a foldable nylon bag in your luggage.  Sounds easy. It is. That extra bag can carry anything you pick up along the way—presents, a shirt, books, whatever. Believe me, this comes in handy on trips lasting more than three days.

2. The blue blazer. I’m not suggesting that you need the stodgy style with gold buttons, but a smart, up-to-date neutral blazer pairs up with anything, and you can wear it onto the plane. If you dress nicely on the plane instead of a Wallyworld tee shirt and gym shorts, the crew generally treats you better. Just sayin’.

3. Running shoes. Going for a run or doing cardio after a long flight is the perfect antidote to jet lag because it helps reset your body clock. And it works up an appetite for a nice meal after having stale peanuts thrown at you on the plane.  You can wear running shoes onto the plane to save space. If you don’t bring sneakers, wear the bulkiest shoes you have.

4. Wrinkle-free dress shirts. Kind of a no-brainer, but worth mentioning. Nowadays they make these shirts out of comfortable materials and they look just fine without ending up in a ball when you take them out of your bag. I suggest neutral solid colors that can be easily matched.

5. A tie. I bring one tie, something solid or neutral or at least without a design like the Rolling Stones lips and tongue logo. If you need another tie, buy one. It will be fondly remembered as the tie you bought in Brussels.

6. A pair of jeans. Most businesses are more casual now than and you can look sharp in jeans and a blazer on the plane. Plus, you can wear jeans multiple times before washing.

7. Khakis and a polo shirt. Yeah, they kind of suck, but they come in handy for meetings and when jeans won’t do. There are updated versions now that come in different cuts and colors so you won’t look like Wally Cleaver at the client dinner. A short-sleeved neutral polo always comes in handy.

8. Simple workout gear.  One breathable performance tee (leave the tanks at home) and a neutral pair of shorts. Not ocelot prints, please.

9. Bathing suit. Easy to pack, doesn’t take up room and it comes in handy when there is a pool, beach, or steam room. Solid colors, please.

10. Leave your emotional baggage at home. Yeah. Let travel take your mind on a short trip also. Travel is good for the soul, regardless of potential business stress. Decompress and do your best to enjoy yourself. YOLO, amigos.

Are you traveling light and leaving your baggage behind when you hit the road?

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Ryan Bingham, George Clooney’s character in “Up in the Air”, an excellent film about a traveling corporate downsizer.