The Flying Professor - Part I: Don't leave home without these
    By Fred Phillips | January 1st 2012 10:37 PM | 7 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Fred

    After a dozen years as a market research executive, Fred Phillips was professor, dean, and vice provost at a variety of universities in the US, Europe...

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    Courses, speeches, and client meetings take me to faraway places, sometimes on short notice. Here are some hard-won tips about this kind of traveling.

    Google "packing lists" to find advice on how to fill your suitcase. I won't go there. Instead, this entry, Part I, lists only essential items you might not think of. Part II will focus on trip prep – tasks to do before leaving home.

    Preliminary note #1: Sometimes the destinations are places with high crime and/or extreme climate.

    Preliminary note #2: This list is just from the goodness of my heart (!). I don't know whether the vendors have affiliate programs, and I won't make money if you click through from this blog.

    Clothes and shoes

    • Travelsmith clothes, for men and women, are good-looking, breathable, immune from wrinkling, usually machine-washable, and have lots of secret, zippered, pickpocket-resistant pockets.
    • Rockport walking shoes have steel inserts in the soles, and decent arch support. They are sufficiently rugged for light hiking but clean up well enough for business casual. (Sorry, no walking shoe suggestions for the ladies.)
    • 2-tone dress shoes are da bomb. My black-with-brown-trim slip-ons go with brown suits or black suits (or blue or gray, natch), and save me from carrying an extra pair of shoes - or from having to plan, "This trip only gray suits, 'cause I'm only taking black shoes..." or similar sites, or your local shoe store.
    • My Wolf River midweight hiking boots have survived fifteen years of hard use all over the world. Way comfortable. I've only had to replace the laces, though the heel is getting kinda thin now. I've not been able to find these on the web lately :-(
    • My Dad told me, always pack swim trunks, they're light and you never know when or where you'll be able to get in a swim. Good advice. And you never know when your hotel will have a nice hot tub next to the pool.
    • I think you already know to take layers instead of a bulky coat if you're going somewhere (variably) cold.

    Software and cloud stuff

    • Don't fail to install Prey on your PC or Mac. If your laptop is stolen, its camera will send a picture of the next user to Prey HQ. Yes, computers have been recovered this way!
    • Of course, put your presentation files on Dropbox. Even if you lose your laptop and all your USB drives, you can still access your file for that important presentation.


    • Going to a country where your US cell phone doesn't work? Buy a Mobal phone. Charges slightly high when you do use the phone, but no monthly charges, nor any other charges, when you do not use the phone. You pay only for calls; this is not one of those deals where you pay for a whole month even if you make only one call. Nice service too, and the phones work in at least 99 countries.
    • A Kindle. Beats schlepping a pile of books! And keeps you from going nuts when you're hurtling at 30,000 feet for 10-hours in one of those overgrown toothpaste tubes they're pleased to call an "airliner." (Yes, Amazon does have an affiliate program, but I didn't use it in this link.)
    • Take an ethernet cord, and one of those double plugs that lets you splice two ethernet cords together. Hotel rooms without wireless may have Internet access through ethernet. However, if they supply a cord at all, it may be too short for you to work comfortably.
    • Electrical plug converters, natch.

    Accounts and financials

    • Get a credit card featuring "no foreign transaction fees." The Marriott Visa card is a good one, and you accumulate generous Marriott points.
    • Carry a folder with all your frequent flyer cards, car rental discount codes, and hotel points program membership cards. Or print out all the numbers on a sheet of paper in your travel file. Reason #1, if your client books your flight, chances are they'll forget to enter your FF#. Reason #2, your travel plans may change - you're re-routed on another airline, or you miss the train and have to rent a car - so have those numbers handy. Oh, yeah, reason #3, if you're a premium member, there's usually a dedicated phone number where you'll get extra good service when you need to change those reservations.

    Odds 'n' ends

    • After I got robbed in Peru, I bought a Magellan's VaultPro Max utility bag. Steel mesh in the strap and bag body mean the bad guys cannot cut through it. The secure shoulder strap is supplemented by a belt clip. Way cool.
    • Small USA and hometown gifts. I carry t-shirts, fleeces, ball caps, refrigerator magnets, etc.
    • Carry a spare bag just in case you can't resist shopping. The bag can be ultralight and collapsible, but should have a zipper closure so light-fingered locals can't reach in and snag your souvenirs.
    • Take photocopies of your passport. All kinds of possible uses. Allows you to leave the passport in a hotel room safe.
    • If you intend to participate in sports, take gauze, medical tape, band aids, ointment, and ibuprofen.
    • In certain regions, yes, you will need to bring your own toilet paper.

    Let me know you find this list helpful. Bon voyage!


    Besides Dropbox, there are many other alternatives. One such versatile and productive cloud app is Zukmo. They provide a similar and more comprehensive information management service for consumers which is available as a free edition. The primary features are Content aggregation from multiple content sources (bookmarks, Google docs, desktop files, twitter, embedded multimedia, RSS feeds, notes and web clippings), File synchronization with the ability to sync files between workstations and the cloud, Indexing of all content gathered so that it can be searched in a centralized manner, Mobile access to all content through an Android mobile app with basic features of searching and viewing user content as well as a mobile website launched to access everything from any mobile device.

    After I got robbed in Peru, I bought a Magellan's VaultPro Max utility bag. Steel mesh in the strap and bag body mean the bad guys cannot cut through it. The secure shoulder strap is supplemented by a belt clip. Way cool.
    I have a much more frugal alternative: carry a fake wallet with low denominations of foreign currency. Meanwhile strap the real thing around your ankle. -it's worked in every perilous place I've ventured.
    I carry a McDonald's cup with a lid and a straw.  It has no drink in it, just my wallet stuff.  Have you ever had your used McDonald's drink cup stolen by a pickpocket?   

    I thought not.  :)
    Fred Phillips
    Yes, the so-called mugger wallet is a great suggestion - the idea being that if someone flashes a weapon at you, you throw the fake wallet to the ground and run. I do carry one.

    My real wallet is too small for my cell phone and camera, so I carry the Magellan bag too.

    McDonald's cup no, Starbucks cup maybe. Funny that you mention it - I just finished a thriller by Boyd Morrison (who has a PhD in industrial engineering, I'll try to recruit him to Science2.0). The kidnapping in chapter 1 is effected as the perp 'accidentally' picks up the victim's latte from the barista and smoothly slips a roofie into it before the victim taps the perp on the shoulder and innocently asks, Excuse me, did you pick up the wrong coffee?

    Property crime is increasing in some areas, as economies get poorer and people get more desperate. However, before the discussion gets too paranoid, I want to note that in most European and many Latin American countries - perhaps unlike in the US - muggers are mostly interested in robbing you and not at all interested in hurting you.
    Thanks for sharing your appreciation for TravelSmith - really interesting site you've got here! By the way, we have a really great sale going on now.

    Fred Phillips
    OK, Kim, when will you start an affiliate program? Better selection of sizes would be nice too.
    Thanks for posting.
    "Electrical plug converters, natch."

    I carry a 6 or 4 socket power board. Only one converter required and you can charge at airports instead of one charger hogging a whole socket.