The quintessential travel packing and luggage methodology is constantly evolving as you travel. Gone are the days when you had to check large suitcases, filled to the brim with large sized toiletries, lotions, and unneeded clothes and gear. Todays sophisticated traveler goes for function over form, and travels with what is needed and trims the unnecessary. Less is more. Over the years, I have developed the following guidelines for what to pack, how to pack, and how to travel. Many concepts have evolved over time focussing on streamlining the travel experience and reducing time packing/unpacking so you can enjoy more of the experience. Time is your most valuable asset.
One Bag Rule: For trips less than four days, I only bring a backpack. For more than four days, or when there is the possibility of getting stuck somewhere (i.e. Covid) and you need to bring a computer, then I bring two pieces of luggage (backpack and roll aboard).
Two Bags Rule: I usually travel with a roll aboard wheeled luggage and a backpack.
No Spinners: While spinners (four wheeled and castered luggage the move any direction) are fun to push around and look cool, they are completely useless for uneven surfaces (cobblestone or ramps) and the extra wheels are more moving things that break. When I was in Venice with Maura, I was waiting for the InstaGram moment when her spinner was going to roll into a canal (it almost happened a few times).
Ultimate Luggage: The other day I saw somebody riding their roll aboard through the airport as a cart. It looked fun, but again, pretty useless other than the novelty. Why ? Because more moving parts means something will break. All that extra room needed for motors and batteries is taking away valuable packing space. The best piece of luggage I own is a smaller (fits in both overhead bin and below the seat) roll aboard. It has one large main compartment that I can lock. Do I need to ride through an airport ? No. In fact, after a long flight I cherish walking and stretching out. When you’re doing a eight (or more) hour flight, you want time standing up and walking. I rarely sit down in airport lounges, since I’ll be sitting for hours on end in a flight.
Covid Prevention and Mitigation: I take D3 daily and a teaspoon of Black Seed with honey. Both are clinically proven to boost your immune system and mitigate Covid. The science is pretty dramatic in how both can effect Covid and its symptoms. For the science, please refer to my website here: https://swissmixit.com/publications/
Luggage Hack: I typically will order a roll aboard, then modify it. I remove all unnecessary compartments and straps to lighten the load. Some have excess foam and other cushion, which I remove to create more space. It’s surprising how much junk is in luggage, that is not needed.
Strap It: Always bring and use a simple luggage web strap and connector, in case you have a zipper failure. Most hotels have sewing kits if needed. I also bring some extra paracord, which can be always be used to strap together luggage, or simply used as a lanyard.
Luggage Locks: Bring a small luggage lock for one compartment of your backpack and roll aboard. It keeps prying eyes and fingers out of your luggage. Don’t travel with large amounts of cash, but depend on your credit cards which can easily be canceled and replaced if gone missing. I never use a hotel safe or in-room lockbox. If you can’t afford to lose it, don’t bring it. I never travel with jewelry or expensive watches now.
Luggage Tags: I laser engrave a luggage tag and sew to the luggage with paracord. I also label print several ID tags for anything and everything that might get lost (i.e. computer, iPhone, etc.).
Breakfast: I typically fast for breakfast. Just skip it. It frees up lots of prime morning time for sightseeing and other things. The issue is that most resorts bundle a free breakfast buffet with the stay, so it’s a use-it or lose-it meal. Also, eating first thing in the morning makes you drag on and are tired until you have settle the meal. Instead, I just consume Green tea. Get a to-go box for croissants and fruit and nuts, and bring it with for snacks, or leave in the room to eat after lunch or for a snack later.
Carbon Fiber Hangers: I make my own carbon fiber skinny and lightweight clothes hangars. It’s a great idea that simply works really well for hanging up clothes. Undetermined if actually decreases wrinkles, but certainly decreases packing and unpacking time. In less than a minute, you can unpack and hang all of your clothes at destination, then get out and enjoy the day.
Ultimate Wrinkle Free Clothes: The best way to eliminate wrinkles is to fold and roll your clothes, put into a Ziplock back, while compressing to remove air and keep bundled tightly. You can also fold and roll clothes and use a rubber band to compress. Either way will bring your clothes along wrinkle free. While this is great for eliminating wrinkles, it adds lots of time. Hence why the carbon fiber hangar concept has evolved effectively.
Sun Tan Lotion For Intense Sunshine: At higher end resorts, sun tan lotion (typically SPF 30 and SPF 60) are provided in large pump dispenser containers at the water sports (pool) desk. While they provide small paper cups, I now bring my own tube and simply fill up. It removes the hassle of buying a bottle of lotion (sometimes priced at $35 each at the resort store). For arrival or travel days, I buy and pack a small single-use packaged sun tan lotion. For higher end resorts, you’re already paying more than $1,000 a day to be there, use the facilities and lotions they provide.
Digital Nomads: If you are working while traveling, or a hard core Instagrammer, then I recommend traveling with the smallest drone you can find. Try to standardize batteries (see below). Carry at least one extra cable for every device you are using. I only travel with two iPhones (no huge DLSR cameras). The camera quality is so good, that iPhone can handle 99 percent of all imaging. I also bring a lightweight travel tripod when I’ll be doing time-lapse photography. For more than a week, I bring my M1 MacBookPro (13 inch to save space). Try to use Cloud backup if available. Keep important work files remotely and skinny versions on your phone. I use Filemaker Go for my databases, which are password protected and allow me to work from anywhere.
Rechargeable Lithium Ion Batteries: I make sure my devices are all AA battery compatible. That way I only need to charge one type of battery, and one type fits all devices. Standardize any items you can, which make them interchangeable and good backup.
Standby iPhone: I’ve had one experience when my iPhone X started overheating and would not turn on again. It’s a disaster when you don’t have paper backup, or no dedicated memory to phone numbers and important data. The entire arrival day was awful. I finally found an Apple store and bought a new phone, but could not back up all data until I returned home. Try to use Cloud backup if available. Keep important work files remotely and skinny versions on your phone. I use Filemaker Go for my databases, which are password protected and allow me to work from anywhere.
On the Flight: The best way to prevent getting sick from other passengers is to minimize exposure to contact germs and viruses (i.e. mitigate viral load). Make sure your gasper vent (air blowing device) above your airline seat is on, and moving air. Ventilation is the key to reduce viral exposure. Wipe down your armrests, seat belt buckle, and tray table (the things you normally touch). Only consume drinks you can open (i.e. from a container that is sealed). Ice is probably one of the easiest contaminated things in the galley. No alcohol (reduces your immunity and makes you more chatty, which means more exposure to viral load if you’re sitting next to somebody). I recommend compression socks for all flights. Also use low tech ear plugs to reduce noise. It’s surprising how the low hum of the engines can give you a headache especially after a 8 hour long haul flight. Drink bottled water (i.e. any water from a sealed container). For those long haul flights, get up at least once per hour and walk around (even if it’s just to the bathroom).
Long Haul Flights: One of the longest flights I’ve been on was from Dubai (DXB) to Chicago (ORD) on a Emirates 787. It was 15 hours. Even in business class, it’s a long flight. We started late morning, flew through sunset, night, and then into morning, and afternoon arriving in Chicago. My biggest complaint (airlines are you listening?) for these flights are: flight attendants who wear hard sole or hard heeled shoes (they clank around the aisles and thump while walking, and wake you up if sleeping or simply create thumping sound and vibrations), and the auto dimming cabin shades (you can’t adjust for day and night circadian rhythms when the cabin is dark the entire flight). Plus I like to look out the window when flying. You have the best view on the planet, why not enjoy it ? The concept of cocooning in a dark cabin for 8 to 15 hours is awful during the day. For a overnight flight it’s not an issue (i.e. Chicago or NY to Europe).
Sleep: Related to jetlag, quality sleep can make or break travel. Here is some research I’ve done on sleep: http://88swiss.com/sleep/index.htm
Long Haul Flight Activities: I log or journal the trip, or just log everything I can think of. It’s the only time I can sit down and do this, and it’s fun to look back to see how and what I was strategizing on a particular trip. Of course you can watch movies, or get caught up on work, but try to use the time to keep with your time zones. If you can computer code, these long haul flights are perfect for getting work done where you need to focus on a particular project.
Time Zone Adjusting: Jet lag is a real problem. Flying backwards seems the most difficult for me (i.e. flying west). Flying east seems to be ok. The best advice is to follow the Sun. Wake up at sunrise, and don’t stay up too late after sunset. If you follow that simple rule, you’ll adjust faster. Skip breakfast. If you get a free (included) breakfast, get a to-go box and save some goodies for after lunch or a snack.
Label Printer: It never ceases to amazing me how useful a simple label printer is. I know have three. For traveling, they are great for organizing making labels and to-do lists.
Summary: Those are a few of my most cherished travel strategies which have evolved over the past decades of travel. The methodology of travel is constantly evolving, which makes it always a fun challenge. If you have any tips you want to share, please comment below.