Travel Smartly: Colin's Packing List

As a man who’s traveled around the globe more times then I can count, I’ve picked up a few fail-safe packing techniques along the way. Efficiency is everything! I make every possible effort to get where I’m going with only carry-on luggage. That way, I avoid the chaos of checking luggage at my point of origin, and dealing with its very slow return on the luggage carousel when I arrive at my destination. Inside my carry-on bag, I pack all the things I cannot live without for twenty-four hours (or more), including:

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  • Wherever I am traveling, I bring with me, along with socks and underwear, a couple of T-shirts, two white button-down shirts, a black turtleneck, a dark cashmere sweater, a good pair of jeans, two or three pairs of slacks- or one pair of slacks plus a suit- as well as workout gear. In short, multiple outfits that can take me from casual to more formal at a moment’s notice. I pack all my clothes in clear-plastic zippered envelopes, which allows me to pack and unpack in a moments notice and to see what’s in my bag without obstruction. I’ll also bring along a separate clear bag for dirty laundry. 
  •  If I’m bringing a suit with me, I take it out immediately when I get to my hotel room and hang it in the bathroom so that when I run a hot shower, most times the steam takes out any wrinkling or squashing the fabric may have endured during the flight.
  • I’ll pack only the shoes I’ll need, usually one or two pairs, plus a pair of workout shoes that lie absolutely flat in my bag. I pack my shoes in bags, with plastic, see through windows in front, so I can easily pull what I need. Because of the space shoes take up, men should decide beforehand if they’re going to go brown or black, pack the appropriate shoes, and then build their carry-on wardrobe around their decision.
  • My ever-ready, pre-packed toiletries bag which contains a toothbrush, dental floss, a comb, a brush, and three-ounce bottles and tubes of toothpaste, shampoo, facial scrub, facial cleanser, moisturizer, and small supplies of Tylenol and Airbone. I never, ever unpack this bag, so it’s always ready for my next flight.  And on those extremely rare occasions where I check luggage, such as when I travel home to Africa at Christmas for two weeks, I always carry the bag of essentials with me in the carry-on luggage.
  • A plastic travel folio containing my passport and driver’s license; a copy of my itinerary with the name of my hotel and its phone and fax numbers; confirmation numbers for all my flights, cars, and hotels; the phone number of the car service if I’ve arranged for one on the other end, and all my health and life insurance data. That way, I have in my possession every single document with every bit of information I need. Before leaving my apartment, I make a copy of my passport and several copies of the rest of my itinerary. One copy goes to my office, so my colleagues will know where I can be reached every minute of the day and night, and the original stays with me.
  • Several business cards, stationery, and a good pen, so I can catch up on any handwritten correspondence or thank-you notes.
  • One or two unwrapped gifts (a beautifully boxed fragrant candle, incense) in case someone invites me into his or her home or for use in my hotel room.
  • My laptop computer.
  • The cables for my computer, my iPod, iPod charger and headphones, and my cell phone charger. I keep all these cables in a small bag. Each cord is wound up and secured with a rubber band. This saves me hours of untangling cords and figuring out which goes where when I’m looking for something or unpacking
  • Books and magazines.
  • A few ten-dollar bills and a bunch of fives and ones for tipping.
  • Disinfectant wipes to wipe down the dining tray and arm rests (sometimes even the seat of the plane) and antibacterial hand soap.
  • A comfortable neck pillow.
  • A lightweight blanket and a pashmina for use as a neck roll, a scarf or even as a blanket. 

--Colin Cowie

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