As a production specialist at SmarterTravel, I spend hours every day browsing through travel products to find the ones best suited to the needs of our readers. Whether it be the lightest carry-on bags in the world or the warmest jackets to buy in winter, I’m essentially shopping for a living. It’s a stellar position, I won’t lie. But when it comes to our male audience, I felt something was lacking. Our male readers deserved something fully geared toward what it’s like to travel the world as a man—so I’m starting a brand-new column called Elevated: Travel Style for the Modern Man. Tag along month to month as I guide you through tips and tricks on how to get around the globe stylishly and comfortably.
People are always asking me about my go-to travel gear. So to start things off, I figured I’d put together a list of the things I bring on every journey. From a high-tech carry-on built to last a lifetime to a cocktail kit I’ll likely use up 20 minutes into the flight, here are my must-pack travel items for men in 2020.
The Mover Pack
When heading on a short weekend trip, a bulky carry-on is typically more of a nuisance than a functional packing option. A roomy, quality duffel solves the issue by fitting just about everything your regular luggage can while taking up a lot less space in the overhead bin. My personal favorite is the cleverly designed Mover Pack. Between its plethora of pockets and numerous carrying options, this bag essentially acts as duffel/backpack hybrid.
The Reno Dopp Kit
I always used to skip the toiletry bag on my travels in favor of what I thought was the easier and more affordable option—a giant Ziploc bag. While sure, the oversized sandwich sack is a staple for the modern flyer (I’m looking at you, 3.4-ounce liquids), I’ve since learned that a decent dopp kit is a must for keeping things neat and organized on the road. The Reno Dopp Kit from Tumi offers a unique two-way zip closure, allowing you to toss it into the hotel bathroom with the knowledge your nail clippers will stay in place. You can either keep this kit stowed comfortably in your luggage or hang it alongside your tees in the hotel closet or on the back of the bathroom door. And with its durable fabric and classic leather trim, this bag is built to last.
GrandPrø Rally Laser Cut Sneakers
No matter where I’m headed in my travels, most of the time I’m only bringing one pair of shoes. I’ve found that if you can snag one durable yet handsome travel sneaker, it’ll end up saving tons of time, space, and money in the grand scheme of things—and I think I’ve found the perfect pair. These brand-new laser cut sneakers from Cole Haan are ideal for travel due to their sleek yet breathable design, allowing you to enjoy both daytime tours and nighttime drinks with just a simple outfit change.
I’m sure you’ve seen it before, but I just couldn’t leave out the carry-on from Away. This bag is the go-to travel carry-on for any modern-day man. It’s built to last a lifetime with its sturdy exterior shell, 360-degree rotating wheels, a TSA-approved locking system, a battery that can charge your phone up to four times, and color selections out the wazoo. There should be no reason you’ll ever need to buy another carry-on after this baby.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
Planes, trains, buses, Lyfts—you name it, forgetting your headphones on any method of transportation is a bad move. Such a mistake can turn what was supposed to be a relaxing 11-hour flight into what feels like a year-long nightmare. My go-to pair for drowning out the world’s clamor is these Bluetooth, noise-canceling headphones from Bose. The sound production is fantastic and has turned all of my modes of transportation into rock concerts that happen to get me from point A to point B.
SAXX Snooze Pant
I’ve occasionally had to cut sweats from my packing list due to the added weight and bulkiness most lounge pants add in a carry-on, but I’ve always come to realize mid-travel that it was the wrong move. A comfortable, easy-to-pack lounge pant is key when on the road—having the option to slip into something cozy after a long day of sightseeing is a feeling like no other. SAXX’s Snooze Pants offer a lightweight, stylish solution that truly feels like you’re wearing air. I’m more of an underwear sleeper myself, but these are an excellent alternative when the room gets a bit chilly or in hostel situations where you can’t sleep in your boxer briefs.
W&P Carry-On Cocktail Kit
To be brutally honest, I’m not the best flyer. My anxiety skyrockets during even the slightest turbulence, so to calm my nerves, I need an in-flight drink or six. Packing a Carry-On Cocktail Kit changed the game for me; with numerous cocktail options, I always look like the best bartender onboard.
YETI Rambler 18oz Bottle
I can’t go anywhere without a beverage of sorts. When it comes to my travels, this 18-ounce YETI Rambler is ideal because of its not-so-huge size and vacuum-insulated design. It fits neatly into my duffel, and I can easily chug whatever it is I’m sipping before going through the security checkpoint—then fill it up again once I’ve reached my gate.
Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger
Likely due to the fact my phone is on the brink of death and loses battery every hour, I can’t leave the hotel without my portable charger. Aside from my personal iPhone issues, a compact portable with a fast charge is vital for travel—especially on long tours or travel days where outlets aren’t always the most accessible. Offering one of the tiniest yet mightiest on the market, Anker’s portable charger is built to discreetly slip in your pocket and provide up to three fast charges on the go.
Aesop Camellia Nut Facial Hydrating Cream
If you don’t have a skincare routine in 2020, then what are you doing? For men, maintaining a decent skincare regimen is for whatever reason seen as a bit effeminate, but 1) it’s not and 2) who cares? Taking care of my face has helped me immensely both in my travels and my day-to-day by keeping my skin breakout-free and feeling fresh. My skin always gets particularly dry after flying, but a dollop of hydrating cream always does the trick.
Tyler’s Fashion Picks for January 2020
With winter at its peak, you’ll want to stock up on warm clothing. When it comes to scarves and gloves, I’ve found the cheaper alternative is usually good enough unless you’re headed to a destination with seriously frigid temps. Personally, I’m into fingerless gloves because I like the mobility and the non-restrictiveness, while I’m a fan of this scarf for its style. This reversible jacket from Everlane is made from 100 percent recycled down and feathers, and it packs into its own pocket, making it an excellent travel pillow, too. The Errant Pack has a water-resistant, sleek, and roomy design that can take you anywhere from the office to an adventure in any season. Lastly, Cole Haan never disappoints. I love these waterproof boots because I can trudge through the snow without getting my socks wet, while at the same time still looking stylish enough for a night out.
More from SmarterTravel:
- The Best New Travel Shoes for Men
- The Best Winter Shoes and Boots for Travel
- The Best Travel Pants for Men and Women
Tyler Schoeber is a production specialist, photographer, occasional writer, travel style guru, and general Renaissance man at SmarterTravel. Follow his adventures on Instagram at @tylerschoeber.