Having spent many years traveling for business and personal, sometimes on as many as 45 trips per year, I have collected travel recommendations that I thought I would share.
After all this time in airports, I have concluded that the key to an enjoyable travel experience is flexibility. Planes get delayed. Weather forces a change. Things never go as planned. Patience and being able to easily adapt keeps things going smoothly.
As such, when you pack, keep in mind the potential for things to go wrong. Also, don’t feel like you need to bring along everything you might need. If you are not sure you will use it, leave it at home. You can buy almost anything you need at your destination.
With this in mind, the following are my recommended travel tips:
Several years ago, I changed from a rolling bag to a carry bag. Obviously the big drawback of a carry bag is that you must carry it and not roll it. So you need to pack light. Despite this, I have found the advantages far outweigh this drawback.
Even if you decide to keep your rolling bag, I also recommend that you adopt a one bag approach. This means rethinking what you bring on your travels, but now I almost exclusively travel with only a single carry bag, no matter how long the trip.
Whether you are scooting through an airport, hopping on a train, or riding in a car, traveling with a single bag over your shoulder is hard to beat. And because the bag is soft-sided and goes with you on the plane, you never have trouble finding a spot for your luggage (even if you have to shove it down under the seat in front of you) and you never get stranded without your stuff after an unexpected rerouting.
There are many bags on the market that fit this category. The two that I own are the Tom Bihn Tri-Star, and the Red Oxx Air Boss. I won’t go into a specific features review here, but essentially, both bags are great rectangular-shaped, three compartment designs. The Tri-Star is my choice for shorter trips. It has more organizational features – smaller pockets, zippered dividers, o-rings, and hide-a-way backpack straps. The Air Boss is more utilitarian, holds more, and just feels larger. It’s perfect for longer trips or when I just want to bring along a few more items.
I am not a huge fan of most travel clothing. As hard as they try, when you wear travel clothes, you look like a grandpa. The exception is travel underwear. I wear Ex-Officio boxers almost exclusively (even when not traveling). I pack about three days of underwear, socks, t-shirts, and sleeping shorts into a large Tom Bihn travel cube. The cube keeps all these smaller items together and makes them easy to get in and out of the bag.
Depending on the nature and duration of the trip, I’ll pack four shirts, two pairs of pants, a pair of shorts, casual shoes, and my Nike Frees. I’ll also bring along a sport coat so I can dress up if needed. Everything goes together so I can create eight to twelve different outfits from casual to dressy as needed for different occasions.
I can also pack a suit and tie into the bag if needed for some reason. But this is a pretty rare need these days.
I don’t carry much in the way of liquids or gels which makes airport screening easier. Inside my Tom Bihn zippered clear plastic organizer, which serves as my 3-1-1 bag, I’ll pack travel toothpaste, travel deodorant, disposable contact lenses, a small bottle of shaving oil, and a contact lens case filled with any gels or liquids (hair product, shampoo, etc.). There is still plenty of room for my non-liquids including a razor, toothbrush, ear plugs, sewing kit, and band-aids. I also carry Advil and Dramamine. I have found that I’ve become more prone to motion sickness as I’ve gotten older.
This is the best part. When I travel, I prefer to connect my iPad or iPhone to the hotel television. This allows me to watch Netflix, Hulu, etc on the bigger screen. So in addition to a dual USB charger, outlet extension cord, a few charging cables, and a universal charging adapter, I also carry an iPhone/iPad HDMI connector and HDMI cable. I also carry and HDMI to composite converter which lets me connect my HDMI source to a television that doesn’t have an available HDMI plug (either because it’s an old TV or because they’re aren’t accessible). When I want to get even more creative, I also bring along a travel router and my Google Chromecast. This lets me create a private network for all my devices that connects via the travel router to the hotel WiFi.
On my most recent trip, I discovered the best travel entertainment accessory that will be coming on all my future trips. I have had an Amazon Fire TV connected to my main television for a few years. It’s a great device, but I never utilized it as much as I could because we are an Apple family – iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs,
Then I made two discoveries about the Amazon Fire TV. If you own or rent a movie on the device, you can access that movie on your iPhone or iPad and then use AirPlay and Apple TV to view the movie on your television. We have the Fire TV on our main television and an Apple TV on our bedroom television. Sometimes we will rent a movie and start watching in the family room, but want to finish watching in our bedroom. This setup allows us to do this.
Or you can connect your iPhone or iPad directly to the television (as I described above). Either way, you can watch Amazon videos through your Apple device. But the reverse does not work. You cannot rent or buy a movie in iTunes and watch it through your Fire TV device. So it seems to make more sense to use Amazon for content rather than Apple.
The other discovery I made, which is more relevant to travelers is how easy it is to connect your Amazon Fire TV to hotel wifi. I have tried unsuccessfully to connect Apple TV to hotel wifi. The Apple TV doesn’t have browser capability which means you can’t get through the hotel’s splash screen. I also haven’t had much success connecting a travel router to the hotel wifi and then the Apple TV (or Chromecast) to the router.
But the Amazon Fire TV connected seamlessly. It was just like connecting your phone. And once connected, I had access to Netflix, Hulu, and my video library, all controlled with the Fire TV remote. You can also connect to your Sling Box if you want to watch your home channels.
As I said, I am now back in love with the Fire TV, and I just bought a Fire TV stick. Although the Fire TV isn’t too large to carry, the stick looks even easier. I’ll let you know if it works as well.
Lastly, there are a number of items you will want access to during flight –
- A good paperback book (I’m still partial to reading real books),
- iPad (with a few good movies already downloaded),
- Bose noise-cancelling ear buds (which work for drowning out noise in addition to listening to movies or music),
- snacks, (don’t rely on what the airline serves)
- water, and
- hand sanitizer (there are few things as nasty as fold-down seat trays).
I’ll have these items stored in a small bag or briefcase stored in the center compartment of my travel bag. When you board the plane, just slide it out and put your main travel bag up into the overhead bin.
There you have it. Simple, efficient, ready to handle anything the travel gods throw at you.
Please let me know the tricks you have developed over the years when it comes to convenient travel.