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.
When I was asked a year ago to launch Entrepreneur.com's monthly “Travel Checklist” column, it seemed like one of Gulliver’s dreams come true, combining three of my favorite things -- travel, writing, and entrepreneurs. Over these many months, we've met colorful, globetrotting business leaders who carry everything from gold testers to toy ponies to Zimbabwean currency, to far-flung destinations. They’ve taught us what keeps them refreshed, focused, and motivated on the go. Perhaps most importantly, they've reminded us why travel is so vital, even in the age of Skype and FaceTime, to developing personal relationships.
But as a well-traveled entrepreneur myself, I was always left with a longing to open up my bag and share some of the unique things I tote around the globe. Last year, I logged exactly 31,415 miles. (I know that, thanks to one of my favorite websites, FlightMemory, which lets you track where you’ve flown and how far. According to the site, since 2007, I've navigated the globe 8.62 times and gone 0.89 the distance to the moon. By the time you read this, I hope I'll be there.)
I like to think those miles have taught me some important travel lessons – ones from which you should benefit too. So, without further ado, your humble correspondent will unzip his bag and make his own big reveal.
1. Hideo Design Tarpaulin Trolley carry-on. "It's made of tarp material, so it's incredibly durable, cleans easily, and is the lightest carry-on I've ever owned. All for less than $200. It's also not your typical, generic black bag. When I travel, people routinely compliment it and ask where I got it (from Flight 001, my favorite travel store, founded by a past Travel Checklist subject, Brad John). Life is too short for boring luggage, I say."
2. MacBook Air. "Tablets are great for consuming media, but for creating it -- which is what I do every single day -- you simply need a real keyboard. I run my entire media consulting business on this thing. It boots up immediately, is virtually as light as an iPad, but is a full-fledged computer."
3. Flask. "A couple of drinks before, during, or after a long flight can make travel more bearable. The genius of this little guy is that it only holds 3 ounces -- meaning you can slip it into your liquids bag with TSA's blessing. I've gotten more than a few smiles from security agents when it passes through the X-ray machine."
4. Converse by John Varvatos Chuck Taylor sneakers. "Showing up to a meeting in sneakers is my way of thumbing my nose at the ‘traditional’ business world, as an entrepreneur. I find that laceless Chuck Taylors (or Nike SBs) are the best for travel. Usually black. They go with everything, even a suit, and are a cinch to slip off at security."
5. Makeshift shoe bags. "Years ago, I discovered that bags from the Apple Store are the perfect size for holding a pair of shoes. I hate the idea of shoes I’ve walked miles in rolling around in a suitcase full of clean clothes."
6. Dicks Cottons sunglasses. "A good friend of mine, Rich Amundson, founded this lifestyle brand several years ago. They are the same quality for half the price of Ray-Bans, and the pouch they come in doubles as a cleaning cloth.”
7. Music. "I like making playlists for different destinations -- songs that I picked up while visiting or that just capture their essence. This single (on my iPhone) is from my ‘LA’ playlist -- ‘Not Just Another Day’ by Mike Burke, a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter, who's also a friend. His upbeat music always reminds me of the carefree Southern California I know and love when I'm heading west."
8. Mophie Juice Pack Air phone case/charger. "On the road, I always seem to tweet, Instagram, and check email twice as much and the battery goes quickly. This case has a built-in battery pack, which basically doubles the battery life, and the added protection while traveling never hurts."
9. Magazines. "I fall behind on my subscriptions, so I always have a stack of magazines ready to throw in my suitcase. There's a feeling of satisfaction when I finish an issue and can toss it on my way off the plane."
10. Black T-shirts and jacket. "Whether it's an event in LA, dinner out in London, or even a client meeting, this is my go-to look on the road. No matter where you're going, layering always helps, and throwing half a dozen black T-shirts in a bag makes packing (and repacking) pretty easy."
11. True Utility TelePen. “What’s the one thing you’re always looking for? A pen. And what’s the one thing you (should) always have with you? Your keys. Discovered this on Amazon about a year ago -- it’s a small, sleek keychain that transforms into a decent-sized pen. If James Bond had been a writer, I imagine he would’ve carried one of these.”
12. Souvenirs. “With travel, it’s not just what you bring with you, it’s also what you bring back. I’ve started to collect small, random mementos that capture the spirit of the places I’ve gone. The maroon rock is from an impromptu (and technically illegal) hike to the ‘Hollywood’ sign during my very first trip to LA. The smooth white one is from a trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica, where I organized a mentoring summit at the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, as are the Red Stripe bottle caps. The gray ones are volcanic rocks from Iceland. The white ring is from a pair of jeans I bought at the original A.C.N.E. store in Stockholm. And the keychain (bought, not stolen!) is from the Hotel San Jose in Austin, one of my favorite places to stay anywhere.”