You're going places, but you're busy. You probably live in a city, have a job that just won't quit, have to stay at least somewhat connected, and probably don't have all the leisure time in the world to get your life together before you travel. That's us, and we dare say you, too. I move freely through Lyfts, Ubers, subways, airports, train stations, ferries, and hotels... yet am largely unstressed by the act of traveling. I've worked really hard to nail the basics, and to make them repeatable no matter what trip I'm on.
Simply put, when I travel, I'm not worrying about liquids in plastic bags, toothbrushes, throwing my stuff together, hauling my tech gear, and figuring out where to get my next hit of battery power. By getting these little bits right, I've found that I have much more mental energy to sip wine, stay connected, and get to my gate. Here are my top five pieces of travel gear I can't leave home without.
The most ingenious dopp kit / toiletry bag I've ever run across, the Tumi Alpha Bravo Split Travel kit opens each side fully flat for very easy loading. The main pocket offers enough room for about four travel size 3-oz liquid bottles and an equal number of travel sized toothpaste tubes. The opposite side is large enough for other essentials like a toothbrush, medicines, or (yes, in my case) a tube of collar stays. The killer feature is that the panels are clear plastic and the proper size, so if you open the bag and lay it flat in your suitcase (get TSA PreCheck, by the way), it breezes through TSA screening. I operate my morning and evening rituals from this bag even when I'm at home, meaning that all I need do to pack my toiletries is grab this thing from the medicine cabinet and throw it in my suitcase. It's a little pricey, but I've found the solid Tumi quality and the sheer convenience of this thing to be well worth the one-time investment. Monogramming is free in a Tumi store!
Tumi Alpha 2 Split Travel Kit - Navy and Grey (my personal favorite)
OK, I know we're talking about a toothbrush here, but this thing is amazing. It's not available on Amazon because it's actually part of a service offered by Quip wherein your first shipment gets you a compact electric toothbrush, standard size tube of toothpaste that will last you at least three months, and a TSA-regulation size travel tube that will last you a good two weeks. Every three months thereafter they ship you a new brush head (which will make your teeth happy and your dentist nag you a bit less), regular tube, and travel tube... for $10. It's perfect for busy nomads, not least because the toothbrush and its holder (which sticks firmly to hotel mirrors for drying purposes) fits perfectly inside the aforementioned Tumi Alpha 2 Split Travel Kit.
We've written about Nomad before, but suffice it to say this company is making the best, most thoughtful, elegantly designed mobility products today. Two of their offerings stand out. For travelers wearing an Apple Watch, I recommend their PodPro. This bit-larger-than-hockey-puck battery solves the problem of two cables for iPhone and Apple Watch, and easily juices me for an overnight trip (with extra to spare). Consider the Nomad PowerPlant if you want more power in a single charge, or if you don't wear an Apple Watch (PowerPlant works great with both Apple and Android phones). Made from a single block of walnut, PowerPlant (get it? Plant!) looks undeniably cool. It also packs a mighty punch, giving you an advertised 4x phone charges from two separate USB ports. I carry both a PodPro and PowerPlant in my bag, often lending a charge to Meghan when she's in need.
Where to put all this stuff? Well, as I shared just last month, the Tumi Alpha Bravo Brooks Slim Brief serves up an excellent answer. I reported in my original post that "Into the this bag goes one bottle of Zephaniah Farm Vineyard "Three Captains Red" blend (or any other wine of your choosing), one 13 or 15 inch MacBook Pro, a Nomad PodPro battery pack for my Apple Watch, Nomad PowerPlant battery, Nomad Keys, Apple USB charging cable, an iPad Air, sunglasses in a case, passport inside of passport wallet, a pen, tube of Advil, small umbrella, international power adapter and compact five-outlet power strip, stack of credit and travel membership cards, stack of business cards, laptop charging adapter, bluetooth mouse, various cords and adapters, electronic office badge, and case of extra business cards for good measure." It's cavernous yet still slim, and fits perfectly over the handle of my (not the same brand) suitcase of choice below. It's a winner, and again though pricey, worth the price for the quality and adaptability you will receive.
Bonus Entry: Briggs & Riley Contact Small Brief
If the Tumi Alpha Bravo Brooks seems too expensive or too large (100% legit sentiment), consider the Briggs & Riley Contact Small Brief. I've used this extensively in the past (and am considering bringing it back as my around-town-carry of choice when I don't need to lug my usual travel gear inside the Tumi alternative). The small brief is large enough for a 13-inch MacBookPro, iPad, and some basic other accessories. It's honestly a great alternative that I've traveled with often, but am not currently traveling with today due to its lower stuff capacity compared to the Tumi Alpha Bravo Brooks.
Throw it all into the most brilliantly designed wheeled carry-on suitcase I've ever seen. Hyperbole you say? The dimensions of this bag will let you carry it on to any United States domestic flight. Half of it is a pretty standard box of a suitcase, but the other half is an honest-to-god no-compromises garment bag that opens from the top, fits 1-2 suits or dresses, and gives you two mesh packing "triangles" that will keep most of your socks and underwear out of the main compartment. Properly pack and fold your decent clothes into the garment bag to keep them neat, and to set aside the entire suitcase area for shorts, polos, sneakers, etc. There's even an umbrella pocket in the back. I've used three Briggs & Riley suitcases over the years, and can attest to their utmost quality; their products also come with a lifetime warranty such that they'll basically fix anything that breaks or wears down. They are solidly worth the investment, and this bag in particular makes packing a breeze.