Lean in. I’m no Sheryl Sandberg and can’t offer any suggestions for working like a man to achieve your career goals. However, here’s one way you can travel like a man and inject some sanity into your vacation preparations.
Let’s take an informal poll. What is the thing you dread most about traveling? I have a hunch that packing is near the top of most lists. I troll for ways to streamline the process, convinced there exists a system to diminish the Home Alone chaos that begins each of our family vacations.
One of the many suggestions I’ve read, considered and promptly ignored through the years is “maintain a pre-packed toiletry bag.” As we got closer to departing on a family cruise and visions of forgotten children danced through my head, I decided this was the year to pack my kit bag in advance.
Choosing a proper vessel was challenge number one. I’ve always envied a man’s ability to travel light, so I first checked out traditional dopp kits, like this one by Filson.
Since I’m an optimist by nature, I figured I’d throw in my toothbrush, deodorant, comb, a crisp $20 bill and be on my way, whistling and smiling like a WWI doughboy.
Not a chance. Even though I’m low maintenance when it comes to toiletry requirements, the kit bag swelled and refused to zip once I added my makeup bag and a couple of travel-sized bottles of lotions and potions.
Next up, REI’s Muy Grande Shower Kit.
When open, this bag features mesh nets for containers, a small, clear zippered bag for 3-oz. bottles for easy TSA retrieval, and a separate rollup with zippered compartments. I slipped my razor inside one and realized I would no longer reach into a bag and slice up my hand. I’ve evolved!
To decide what to pack, I went through my normal daily ablutions. Shampoo, comb-through conditioner, shave. I transferred my regular products into tiny bottles, purchased a small comb and a duplicate of my favorite razor. I threw in a bar of wrapped, hotel-sized soap, in case I found myself somewhere (it’s never happened, but you never know) where soap was not available.
Next, deodorant (full-size), baby powder (travel-sized). I dismissed the body lotion, realizing I’d need to replace the little bottle after every trip. Let’s live dangerously, I thought. I also opted to discard my anti-aging solutions. Two weeks without aggressive intervention isn’t going to make me look any older than I already do.
Contact lens case and solution. My eyeglass case.
On to makeup. On a regular Tuesday, it’s a bit of concealer, a dusting of loose face powder, a sweep of bronzer, a dab of creme eyeshadow, mascara. I took those products from my vanity, moved them to a sweet, petite Muji bag and put my tweezers and eyelash curler in compartments with the razor. Then I headed to Sephora and bought all new. There’ll be enough of the leftovers to get me through many trips. I know there’s a prohibition about using over six-month-old makeup, but getting sick from eyeshadow can’t be as bad as getting sick from expired chicken, so to hell with it.
Two anti-frizz serums, a packaged toothbrush, toothpaste and voilà. I felt comfortable that I had a sufficient quantity of unguents that I could publicly present myself and not scare off the locals. Before attempting the zip test, I made sure to label the identical goo-filled bottles with my favorite purchase of 2013: A Brother P-Touch. If you come into my house, don’t stand still too long – I’ll label you. Consider yourself warned.
My toiletry bag was the first thing I plunked into my suitcase, days before our trip. On departure morning, I felt positively masculine. I showered and walked out the door instead of racing around with a handful of Ziploc bags, stuffing my bits into them. If you’re looking for an easy to accomplish resolution, I suggest you pack your travel kit bag. Smile guaranteed.