In this monthly Travel Checklist column, we ask entrepreneurs to open up their carry-ons and share the items they can't leave home without.
Trekking halfway across the globe on a regular basis can lend itself to a frenetic lifestyle, even for veteran business travelers. But for Andrew Chrisomalis, the chief executive officer of TY KU Sake & Spirits, touching down in Japan, as he does several times a year, always brings renewed clarity and calm. "The minute you land, you see it and feel it, the peacefulness, even at the airport," he says. "When you take the subway, it's crowded but incredibly quiet. The streets are incredibly clean. It's almost unnerving -- there's something off, in a good way, about a metropolis with tons of tall buildings and millions of people being so peaceful. The culture relaxes you and soothes you. It's unique in the world."
Chrisomalis clocks about 150,000 miles a year (and roughly 2 million total thus far) -- much of them spent traveling between the company's New York headquarters and its brewing facilities in Nara, Yamagata, and Kyushu, Japan. All that time in the air, he says, gives him a chance to focus on the "big picture" for his brand, which is now available in nearly 10,000 bars, restaurants, and clubs in the United States and abroad, and to embrace different culinary traditions. "I find it so interesting to experience different cultures, both domestically and internationally," he says. "Everywhere you go, from Dallas to Tokyo, Shanghai to Hong Kong, cities and countries all have their own local customs and traditions -- not to mention local food and wine. I will never say no to trying a new cuisine."
Despite his love of travel, Chrisomalis has perfected the art of getting in and getting out of a city -- especially when it comes to packing. "I pride myself on being able to pack up and leave a hotel room in under two minutes flat," he says. "When I unpack my suitcase, I keep everything in one location. If you don't sprawl your things out around the room, you can pack it up again quickly and depart."
With that packing prowess in mind, we recently asked Chrisomalis to unpack his efficient carry-on -- and share some of the travel tools of his trade.
1. Uniqlo tote bag
"I bought this tote on a trip to Japan several years ago and it has become one of the most important things that I bring with me. It's my briefcase and stores all of my necessities in its various compartments. It keeps me organized and my travel items completely accessible. I find tote bags great for airplanes. They're lightweight and so easy to open and close and access your laptop, papers, whatever -- more so than a briefcase or over-the-shoulder bag."
2. 1880 Gold Coin and 1881 Silver Dollar
"I have Greek heritage, and in Greek tradition, it is good luck to carry a gold coin with you, so I always have these on me. And why the silver? You can never go wrong with both. The silver one is fun to play with because it's bigger and you can spin it on a table."
3. Pleased But Not Satisfied and an article on Sir Alex Ferguson
"I like to have at least one key book and one print article to read for takeoffs and landings, when you [are asked] to shut down your electrical devices. The book is one that I've read many times and read a couple times a year to remind me about the most important principles in business. The article [from Harvard Business Review] is on Sir Alex Ferguson, the most winning coach of any soccer team in the world, and I was interested in reading about his success and management ethos."
4. Clif Bar
"It is like a mini meal on the go, when time is of the essence."
5. Ziploc bags
"I store all of my personal toiletries, plugs, cords, and connectors in [separate] clear Ziploc bags. I know exactly what I have when I need it and don't have to rummage through a caddy to find my toothbrush."
6. TY KU branded materials
"TY KU tote bags (for gifts), TY KU hat (for the gym), TY KU business cards, TY KU bottle caps (to test bottles on the company's bottling lines) – I am almost always traveling for business, so these are some of the essentials that I need whether I am going to a board meeting or overseeing factory operations."
"In Japan, many people have their own chopsticks -- it's customary to bring your own. I am constantly eating sushi and Asian fare, so I bought my own special pair."
"You are touching so many things in an airport, I always keep Purell with me – especially now that I have a newborn!
"Being in the spirits business, I always carry Advil in case of emergency."
10. Klipsch Headphones
"These headphones are great noise reducers when you're working, to tune things out. Just having them on my head, even if nothing is coming through them, it allows you to think clearly."
11. Japanese/English phrasebook and dictionary
"I don't speak Japanese, but I'm in the process of learning. Most of my international travels are to Japan, so I need to be able to speak to locals and business associates. The more words I know, the better."
12. Book on Japanese cuisine and Sake
"When traveling to Japan, I take this with me. It tells you what you are eating -- by picture and translation. Until I become fluent in Japanese, helpful to have for sure!"
13. Timex Ironman digital watch
"I never take this watch off. I can set three different alarms, set different time zones, and even work out in it."
14. Black Nike fleece
Chrisomalis wears this along with black track pants (folded beneath the fleece). "This outfit has become my go-to ‘office attire' for overnight or long flights -- my 'flight suit.'"
15. Global Entry Card and Passport
"The Global Entry Card is a lifesaver -- it makes traveling so easy without the hassle of immigration lines."