The tickets are purchased and the hotel room might be booked, but the stress of packing still haunts so many men. Whether you travel for business twice a week or take one fun trip every ten years, the key to traveling smartly and efficiently is planning. No one wants to waste hours of a trip ironing shirts, shopping for a belt or cleaning shaving cream out the bottom of a brand new Samsonite. Follow these nine packing tips to get a jumpstart on having the smoothest trip possible.
MILITARY ROLL YOUR T-SHIRTS
The simplest (and most common) way to free up some room in your luggage is to military roll your T-shirts. It only takes a few seconds: On a flat surface, start by folding the lowest bottom four inches of the T-shirt upwards. Next, fold both sleeves inward. The shirt will now be folded in the shape of a rectangle or square. Vertically (or left to right), fold the shirt into thirds. The square will now be one-third its size. Starting at the top of the shirt, roll the shirt tightly. Once rolled, fold the cuff (created by the initial four inch fold) around the shirt. Pack away.
While T-shirts works best for a military fold, it is also a great idea to roll underwear, long ties, shorts, wrinkle-free pants, and other non-collared clothing.
WHENEVER POSSIBLE, NEVER CHECK YOUR LUGGAGE
If you have ever had your luggage stolen or lost at the airport, you have learned this lesson the hard way. Time after time, it’s an obvious tip that so many travelers seem to forget. If you check a bag, there is no guarantee that it will be traveling on the same plane with you. Be cautious. If you can pack everything you need in a carry-on, do it. Do not overanalyze it. It will save you a great deal of aggravation.
LAYER FOLDED CLOTHING WITH DRYER SHEETS
Keep smelling fresh and avoid that nasty post-travel static cling. Place a few dryer sheets in between the layers of your clothes. Once you arrive, you will thank yourself when you zip open the suitcase and get a whiff of your Downy Fresh hotel room.
BRING THE PLASTIC
Gym clothes, wet umbrellas, sandy swimsuit, muddy shoes, dirty laundry – all great reasons to throw a few plastic bags in your luggage. Forgot them? Grab your hotel’s laundry bag, or ask for a shower cap. (Note: Shower caps are especially perfect for pairs of shoes. It helps to grab a few and keep them in your luggage for future trips.)
Be sure to also bring a few extra sandwich bags to hold your wet toothbrush and other toiletries.
USE YOUR BELT
Instead of throwing your belts in the bottom of your bag, roll them and place them in the collars of your dress shirts. You will not lose your belt and you will keep the collar from getting crushed by other clothes. Bonus points if you plan out which belt you wear with which shirt.
PURCHASE CHARGERS FOR TRAVEL
Phone and computer chargers are probably the most common item left in hotel rooms. No matter how much you travel, consider buying separate chargers for when you are on the go, or save older chargers (that still work) for when you are out of town. This way, if you do lose it, you will still have a charger waiting for you at home.
If you find yourself without your charger, many hotels keep several at the front desk. While they might not let you keep it, most will be happy to charge your phone for you. If you take them up on it, turn your phone off before handing it over.
USE A CANDY TIN
At the bottom of large suitcase, in the smallest nooks and crannies, you will find a place where expensive accessories go to be lost forever. Lost cufflinks, a tie tack or bow tie hide in the only places you will not look. Avoid losing your favorite accessories by recycling old mint containers. An Altoids case works great for cufflinks tie bars, etc. A Tic-Tac container is perfect to hold your collar stays.
MAKE HOTEL FEBREZE
Hotel laundry can be expensive, and take too long. If you are in a jam and need some extra refreshing, create your own deodorizer in a few seconds. Grab a small bottle of vodka from the mini-bar – the cheaper the better. In a spray bottle, combine one part vodka with one part water. Thoroughly spray the not-so-fresh item and let it dry. In a few minutes, the stink will be gone and you will be on your way. (An obvious warning: Do not use flavored vodka, unless you want to be sticky and smell like fake raspberry.)
MAKE WRINKLE RELEASE ON THE FLY
Don’t want to use the hotel iron? If you forgot to pack your wrinkle releaser, or cannot find any nearby, hang up the wrinkled item inside out. Grab some fabric softener from the hotel laundry facility (If the hotel does not have a laundry facility, ask the front desk for some from housekeeping.) and a teaspoon of vodka (available in the mini-bar). Add a teaspoon of both to a cup of water. Spray on the inside of clothing and let dry for about an hour.
Whether you travel for business or pleasure, there will always be unexpected issues that creep up. Be prepared, be patient, give yourself time, pack light, and follow these tips. Through every delay, item of lost luggage and cancelled reservation, remember that there is no perfect trip. Smile and be happy you prepared.