What I Always Reach For When It’s Time To Pack

As a frequent traveler for the past 25 years, I’ve road-tested my fair share of gear, luggage, and accessories. And over that time, I’ve really zeroed in on what what I truly need, what works best for me, and what brands offer exceptional quality.

So, here, for 2023, is my list of must-have travel essentials.

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1. Rimowa Rolling Carry-On

Rimowa Salsa Deluxe Cabin Carry-On Suitcase

I’ve owned my Rimowa Salsa Deluxe for about six years now and it’s my favorite carry-on suitcase. It’s light. It’s got plenty of room. The two inner dividers make it really easy to secure everything inside. It’s very easy to stow. And both the telescoping handle and the wheels make it really comfortable and easy to maneuver.

For weekend trips by CAR, I will typically use a duffle bag, but for trips involving air travel, train stations, taxis, and subways, a wheeled carry-on makes a lot more sense.

2. Monos Packing Cubes

Monos Packing Cubes for Carry-On Suitcase

Two of the biggest challenges when packing any type of bag are keeping things organized and having enough space. And one of the easiest ways I’ve found to solve both of those problems is by using packing cubes. Everything is organized and contained. Things aren’t getting mixed together or coming out the side of the suitcase when I’m trying to close it. It’s a win-win.

I absolutely love these cubes by Monos and my favorite part about them is that they are compressible, which really helps me maximize the space in my suitcase and allows me to continue to be a chronic over-packer.


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3. Audible Subscription

Audible is a great way to listen to books and podcasts when traveling

I love to read whenever I travel, but books aren’t always the best travel companions. For starters, they can add a great deal of weight to your bag, carry-on, or suitcase. And second, they take up a lot of precious space.

Both of those reasons are why I love my subscription to Audible. They have an amazing selection of audiobooks—literally hundreds of thousands of titles—across every genre. It’s like having a library right in my pocket.

4. Apple Airpods

The Apple Airpods Pro are my go-to headphones for travel

Pretty self-explanatory. Needed to listen to my books, music, and podcasts.

5. Anker Power Bank

The Anker C313 power bank is an essential part of my travel kit

Despite the relative ubiquity of USB ports scattered around airports, embedded into airplane seats, and the like, I still don’t like to take the risk of not having a backup method of keeping my devices topped up with power. I’ve used Anker power banks for quite some time and really like the slim profile, quick charging capability, and battery life of the Anker 313 Power Bank.

6. Steamery Travel Steamer

The Steamery Cirrus 3 also doubles as an iron.

Any time you are stuffing clothing in a duffle, carry-on, or suitcase, it is going to get wrinkled—there is simply no way around it. That’s why I always travel with a steamer. I’ve learned the hard way a few times and, as a result, never rely on my hotel to have one. And if you’ve ever tried to use an iron as a steamer as a last resort, you know that it doesn’t really work that well.

My favorite travel steamer is this version by Steamery. It’s sleek and modern-looking, but most importantly, it does what it’s supposed to (and more) very well. In addition to putting out loads of steam, the head doubles as an iron. Simply use the included glove to iron while you’re steaming. The best part about that particular feature is that you will never ruin a garment by using a crappy hotel iron that is apt to leave black stains. (Speaking from experience.)

7. Kent Clothing Brush

I like the Kent clothing brush much better than a standard lint roller

I’m kind of old school when it comes to garment care. Sure, a lint roller will solve your pet hair problems, but it’s not nearly as sartorial and refined as a good old fashioned clothing brush. For years, I’ve been using Kent’s classic clothing brush—James Bond’s choice in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In addition to the old school charm, it saves space and allows you to properly clean your jackets after a day of wearing them.

8. Wolf Watch Roll

Wolf watch roll holds three watches for travel

For those who know me, this particular essential will come as no surprise. What can I say? I like to have options for the wrist! The Wolf three-watch roll has been my go-to for years now. It’s handsome, well-made, and easy to travel with.

9. Field Notes Notebook

Field Notes notebooks are perfect essentials for travel

Just like I’m old school when it comes to garment care, I’m also old school when it comes to taking notes. You know, I’ve honestly never been a fan of note-taking on my iPhone. First of all, I hate typing with my thumbs. And second, I forget about things when I make notes on my phone.

I much prefer writing things down and the Field Notes notebooks are my favorite little travel companions. They’re honestly just the right size. Slide them into a pocket—jacket or briefcase—and enjoy the act of writing and flipping through all your old great ideas.

10. Montblanc Meisterstuck Pen

Montblanc Meisterstuck ballpoint pen in bordeaux burgundy color

I always carry a pen with me. I can’t explain it, but there’s something satisfying about using your own pen as opposed to the one that’s handed to you with your bill. Over the years, I’ve grown quite fond of Montblanc and my bordeaux Meisterstuck ballpoint can usually be found inside my suit or sport coat. Montblanc is not making this particular color anymore, so you’ll have to search on eBay (as I have done more times than I care to admit).



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