What do men need to pack on a short trip?

What do men need to pack on a short trip?

Q. I am going on a long-weekend trip and I could use some packing advice. I have more and less casual events planned and may use the gym or pool. So, it seems as if I have to pack as much for a short trip as for a long one. I really do not want to check a bag. At least, the events I’ll be attending are not formal. Do you have some advice that will make the trip work easily?

A. Well, you are right that most of the basics needed for travel are pretty much the same whether the trip is long or short. The only difference is that for a longer trip you need more of them. The trick is to picture yourself at your planned weekend events, and edit what you would normally want to have with you and what is not essential. There really is nothing wrong with wearing something twice.  

I agree that it is ideal NOT to have to check a bag. Besides eliminating the fear of a lost bag, the time spent (as well as the anxiety) in the airport is so much less. These days, air travel is stressful enough without adding worries about luggage. Despite what airlines prefer, a generous check-in size bag with wheels is what you want. 

With a larger carry-on, here are some tips.

  • Wear the bulkiest pieces on the plane; a suit, a blazer, or a sport coat, and maybe a layered sweater.
  • Put a rolled-up tie and a pair of socks in each shoe (in a plastic bag if there are issues of odor). Your trip does not require dressy lace-ups and/or you may not actually need a tie. But two ties hardly take up any room, and they add a lot of variety to the rest of your wardrobe – no one will notice you are wearing the same solid shirt when there are two different ties over it.
  • Place the heaviest items in the bottom of the bag: shoes, sneakers (if you are taking them), a dopp kit (carefully enclosed in doubled zip-lock bags). 
  • Rolled-up polos, Tees, and underwear can go along the sides of the suitcase. 
  • When packing a suit jacket or a blazer, you can eliminate wrinkles by cushioning with the clear plastic garment covers you get from the dry cleaner. Unbutton the jacket, turn it inside-out, fold it in half lengthwise while inside the plastic, and then line up the sleeves; or place one shoulder into the other. The plastic really does prevent most wrinkles. Even so, when you arrive, if there are any creases, hang it in the bathroom while running a steamy shower. Allow it to hang overnight.

I was discussing your question with another man and he mentioned his difficulty even coming up with a list of needs for a similar weekend. Here is a list of what I would think will cover most men for such a trip:

  • 1 blazer or sport coat
  • Perhaps a not-too-dressy, medium-dark blue or gray suit, depending on the events
  • 2 or 3 dress/business shirts, including one Oxford cloth button-down
  • 2 nice knit polo shirts in pristine condition 
  • 1 great-looking pullover sweater, either with sleeves or a vest
  • 1 short lightweight outer jacket if the place you’re visiting might require it (check the weather report)
  • 1 pair each of dress pants and khakis, plus jeans (if you are “a jeans guy”)
  • 1 swimsuit (if you might use it)
  • Comfortable shoes (or neat sneakers)
  • A belt
  • 3 or 4 pairs of socks and underwear
  • Your favorite accessories: watch, pocket handkerchief, braces, tie clasp
  • A book and a water bottle

As I mentioned above, airlines (and many fellow passengers) are not big fans of large carry-ons. If you are not in a tremendous rush upon landing or are in the back of the plane so you cannot be in a rush, you may want to jump on the offer to check your bag at the gate that is almost always offered. Those bags are guaranteed to be on your plane, are usually the first ones off, and save the hassle of carrying through the plane and off.  

Please send your men’s dress and grooming questions to MALE CALL: Lois.Fenton@prodigy.net

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