Traveling In Style: How to Pack, Dress, Behave and other Essential Rules for Travel

In the world of travel a man needs to know how to carry himself and his stuff. From the cab to the terminal there are rules for a man to follow to make sure he departs and arrives like a gentleman, not like checked baggage. Follow these tips and you’ll do well on your next trip whether for business or pleasure.

Packing and Luggage

The first rule of packing is to pack light.  Bring only the necessary items and pick up the rest at your destination.

The second rule of packing is: Real men don’t roll carry-on’s.  Carry hers and yours.

I say “real men don’t roll” because of the men I’ve seen who do…the majority of which are the Blackberry toting, 3 button, padded suit jacket wearing set who are always in a rush in the airport and who seem to think their job, next call, or their rolling luggage is more important than anyone else’s.  The men I see who carry their bags generally dress better, are more relaxed in the airport and on board, and have better luggage overall. (See Brando, McQueen, Pitt)

If a man buys luggage that’s designed to be rolled then of course he should roll it, but I avoid buying roller luggage in the first place.  It also gives you a workout along the way.

Packing

1. Pack dress shirts in bundles.  Stack them on top of each other with arms spread.  Fold the bottom half of the stack under the top half.  Cross one set of sleeves across the other.  Place on top of other items in your suitcase. Upon arrival remove and hang promptly.

2. Store gadgets in an old dopp kit to keep them safe in one place.

3. Pack your lightest shoes at the bottom of your suitcase and wear your heaviest.

4. Fold and store sweaters the length of your luggage.

5. Wrap anything you don’t want to wrinkle in dry cleaning plastic.

Luggage

1. Make sure your carry-on luggage is the best quality you can afford.  People (more importantly women) will notice, and you’ll be set for life.

2. If you want sturdy and tough luggage go with polycarbonate, aluminum, or Vulcan Fibre.  These materials provide both style and function.  Since they are made from the toughest stuff on earth be prepared to make a lifetime investment.

3. If you’re in the market for something durable look no further than the synthetic materials nylon and polyester.  Both are lightweight and flexible and will keep your traveling in comfort.

4. And if you’re the gentleman looking for style and sophistication you can evolve into the world of animal skin (I’m talking crocodile, alligator, deer, snake skins.) and design.  These bags should be limited to your carry on (see tip #1) and should be the best you can afford.

Dress

Every man should know how to dress for travel.  Remember, traveling (especially international travel) is not a right…it’s a privilege.  Treat it as such.

1. Dress up!  No man dressed like a schlub in sweat pants ever got a free upgrade. Dress like the gentleman you are.

2. But — still be comfortable. That free upgrade isn’t worth it if you’re stiff as a board for 8 hours.

3. Wear the biggest, darkest sunglasses you own on the plane.  At night. This is the ONLY time you will hear me advise men to wear sunglasses anywhere other than where it’s sunny.  Wearing them at night can be substituted with the eye mask (below), but they come in handy for telling others “I want to be left alone” or that “I want to sleep and not talk to you.”  Again, many stylish gents over the years have worn sunglasses while traveling and I do the same, but it must be the proper eyewear  (See Brando, Clooney, Damon)

4. Always carry an extra blazer.  This is the international uniform of men.  Make it navy, unstructured (for maximum portability) and well-fitting.  In a pinch it will come in handy getting you into the embassy, a restaurant without a reservation, and a free drink from the flight attendant.

5. The less metal on your body the better.  This means no belts, steel toed shoes, minimal jewelry, and anything else you have to remove from your body going through security.  Less is more.

Behavior

There are etiquette rules at 30,000 feet just like at your grandmother’s dinner table.  Heed these rules and enjoy your flight all the better.

1. Whoever got to the arm rest first gets it.  With the exception of elders, kids, and women (if you ever expect to drum up conversation).

2. If the screaming kid next to you won’t shut up politely ask the parents to silence him (or just wear the earplugs below).

3. If you drink keep it to one cocktail.

4. Store your carry on with the handle towards the aisle.  This will save you headache when de-boarding.

Travel Essentials

Bring these items with you and enjoy a pleasant flight.  Travel without them at your own peril.

1. Eye mask – Keeps the light out and lets you gear up for the party when you hit the ground.

2. Earplugs – To drown out the unbelievably loud kid two rows back.

3. Music device – To relax and unwind and in case you forgot item number two.

4. Sunglasses – A must. See Dress tip #3.

Travel doesn’t have to be sloppy.  Incorporate some of these tips into your next trip and add an element of style to the friendly skies and whoever your final destination may be.  Travel well.

Grant Harris is Owner & Chief Style Consultant at Image Granted; a Washington, DC based Image Consulting Company dedicated to solving the complex image, style & fashion issues of today's professional man. He has a healthy obsession with socks. Follow him on Twitter & Facebook.