I have a bit of a reputation as a travel pack-rat. I tend to pack for every possible contingency. Not so long ago, I couldn’t bear the thought of carrying on my luggage for fear I would miss some precious toiletry or outfit combination. After multiple instances of lost luggage and missed meetings, I broke the checked luggage habit. But I am still guilty of packing an oversized briefcase that carries an assortment of electrical chargers, gadgets, and various personal effects. But before you judge me too harshly, aren’t we all a little guilty of clinging to a few never-leave-home-without items? Whether a purse, wallet, briefcase, folio or messenger bag, we all have our travel safety blanket that brings us comfort and security knowing they are there when we need them.
This week, I paint for you the portrait of three seasoned travelers – Tyler McPheeters, Chris Andrus and me – through the contents of our ruck-sacks. In college, the three of us started a company together and have now joined the ranks of the Big Four Accounting/Consulting world. And though our company affiliations and the services we provide are different, we share one thing: we are constantly on the road. Tyler is a Senior Manager with Deloitte Consulting and focuses on PeopleSoft. He is on the road nearly 100% and has served clients on the west coast, east coast and everywhere in between. Chris is a Director with KPMG and advises his clients on a variety of technical accounting issues. Chris also travels extensively for his clients and has become an expert at finding balance on the road. And then there’s me…y’all know me so I’ll skip the pleasantries. The three of us have been friends for years, went to school together, and often share stories about making life on the road work for us so I thought no better three people to profile than three Hoosier alums and Big Four consultants.
So, without further ado, I present to you the contents of our bags.
When it comes to personal travel, I basically pack like I will be gone for a month and never actually what I end up needing (hmm, wise move to bring my sweatshirt to the Florida Keys…). However, my approach to business travel is if I can live without it, it doesn’t make it into my bag.
I rank packing for work somewhere between washing the dishes and doing taxes. I would pay $30 a week to have someone figure it out for me in exactly the way I like it. However, until an app appears on the iPhone to take care of that for me, I have developed some tried and true techniques to make it easier on me.
- All my clothing is non-iron and I can go several weeks between doing laundry
- Toiletries are all non-liquid based (generally grab free toothpaste from the hotel front desk)
- All my miscellaneous accessories such as toiletries and chargers are duplicative with anything I keep at my house- they are in my bag at all times so I never am without power/means to proper hygiene and never have to remember to pack them. This includes a spare electric razor.
- Most of my shirts are either white, white with blue accents/designs, white with black accents/designs (I think the color choices may be part of the AICPA guidelines) and can go with basically any pair of pants I have. This ensures minimal brain power is expended, typically in short supply, on clothing choices.
- I always bring five days of clothing, regardless of the trip duration. My travel can, and often does, change mid-week.
When traveling for work, my personal time is usually filled up with the following (in order of frequency):
- More work
- Working out
- Watching TV
- Suitcase – Briggs & Riley Domestic Expander Carry-on Upright – 21inch height is critical for universal overhead compatibility
- Bag – North Face Borealis Backpack
- Laptop – HP Elitebook Pro 840. This brick serves two purposes: (1) spreadsheet surfing and (2) strengthening my back as it lug it around the country
- Pointing – N/A – A mouse is for amateurs
- Phone – iPhone 6 (128GB) + Blackberry Curve 8300 (circa 2008) for work…you mock, but I have 3 days battery life and a keyboard
- Tablet – iPad Air 2 (128GB) + Verizon/T-Mobile 4G (do they make other tablets?)
- Headphones – Klipsch x10 in ear passive noise cancelling (no battery required, effective against engine noise, crying babies, and the dude yapping the entire 6am flight from ORD to LGA)
- Harmonica – N/A
- Note-taking – KPMG standard issue note pad most times…cuz I am thrifty (cheap)
- Speakers – N/A – I have a Soundlink mini that I love for personal travel, but it doesn’t fall into my “lean and mean” business travel philosophy
- USB – I carry the iPad power adapter – everything, save my laptop, can be powered via this thing. For emergencies, from time to time I carry a USB battery I got for free at a firm sponsored event
- Coinage – Coins? What century is this? Are they still legal tender?
- Badges – All badges from all clients as well as my drivers license
- Connectivity – Firm issued air card
- Chewy – Is there a type of gum that is not chewy? …sounds horrific….I like 5ive (I think that is how they spell it) spearmint
- Snacks – Cliff builder energy bars
- Breath Remediation – My breath smells like a petunia (or spearmint, when i am enjoying a piece of chewy gum)
- Trading Cards – Business cards
- Shades – Maui Jim Guardrails – they have a flexible frame so they can handle abuse from travel
- Workout Accessories – Nike mesh and running shorts, lifting gloves, and Bose MIE2i sport headphones (for those keeping track, the third pair of headphones in my bag). I just wear the undershirt I work to work that day as a workout shirt.
- Abacus – 10-key calculator (I am an accountant – it’s mandatory)
For me, I pack for every contingency. Call it my Cub Scout ethos or perhaps my pack-rat-itis, but whatever it is, my bag is fuller and heavier than most. I’ve accepted it as a weekly ritual to hand my bag to my driver only to be asked “what you got in here, rocks?” The truth is: I do. Intrigued yet? OK, here goes…
- Suitcase – For some reason, I tend to break suitcases easily. I usually end up buying a new one every year because the zipper breaks, the canvas tears or the wheels or handle breaks. So, I traditionally do not spend a lot on fancy suitcases. I typically use a Samsonite rolling suitcase; anything that can be easily checked and carried on an airplane.
- Bag – Tumi Messenger Bag
- Laptop – Standard issue Dell Latitude E7240. If I had my druthers, I’d opt for a sleek and sexy Mac, but alas, I’ve got what I’ve got. I did choose the smaller sub-notebook option vs the larger, heavier model. After all, I have to leave room for all the other junk.
- Pointing – I hate touchpads, eraser-head pointer sticks and track-balls. The wireless mouse, for me, is non-negotiable. In fact, I just broke my latest one: the Microsoft Arc (new model) and I am in the process of finding a new model. I just picked up the Logitech MX Master and I’m getting used to the ergonomics.
- Phone – iPhone 6 (128GB). Yep, I’m an Apple fanboy.
- Tablet – For the longest time, I couldn’t find a good business use for my