I Will Never Be Michael Noel
Returning from a 10-day trip to Boston, St. Louis and San Diego, I came to a very harsh realization that I will never be Michael Noel. Or Andrew Connell (although we were almost twins this week with matching pink shirts). Or Todd Baginski (because I can’t surf, and I’ll never be more than intermediate at skiing).
Let me clarify – this realization came not from my inability to code, or from Michael’s vast knowledge of SharePoint and other technologies. No, that would be too easy. I’m specifically talking about his uncanny ability to travel anywhere in the world for any length of time with one. single. carry-on. bag. It baffles the mind. I just don’t know how he does it. I had to check a bag for this past trip, and am amazed at how much crap that I lug around. I want to improve, so I’ve been thinking about how to travel as Michael does. And for this article, I thought I’d take a stab at figuring out how he does it. Of course, this is purely rumor and speculation – but I can’t be that far off.
So here are some ideas that may (or may not) help you minimize your carry-on luggage, so that maybe – just maybe – you can travel like Michael Noel:
- One pair of shoes. Michael wears nice leather shoes that look good with jeans, or with a suit. This is a smart move, as additional shoes will just weigh you down. And if you’re lucky enough to stop off near a beach or something, buy a pair of cheap and disposable flip flops. [Added weight/bulk to bag = 0]
- One suit jacket. Wear it onto the airplane, and make it your primary cold/wind protection. Bringing the matching trousers is good if you are client-facing, or making a presentation. [Weight to bag = 0]
- One pair or suit trousers. This is important for making presentations or holding client meetings. [Weight to bag = 2 pounds]
- One pair of jeans. Wear it onto the airplane. These are your primary casual trousers (see how I am using the internationally accepted term for pantaloons? In most countries “pants” refers to underwear. Bet you didn’t know that…) [Weight = 0]
- One extra pair of underwear. That’s right – one to wear, the other as backup, with nightly sink washing. Additional underwear is a luxury you don’t need. I’m not sure if this is his technique, so I chalk this one up to pure speculation. [Weight = mere ounces]
- One thin sweater. To help you mix up your wardrobe options, and to help you layer for colder regions. [Weight = maybe 1 pound]
- One collared, button shirt. This can be worn with the suit, or with the jeans. Solid color or white is recommended, so that its not too distinct should you have to wear it two days in a row with clients. Iron-free is ideal, so you can wash-and-wear. [Weight = <1 pound]
- One collared golf shirt. Another strategic wardrobe tool that should be a solid color, allowing you to mix and match. [Weight = <1 pound]
- One t-shirt. This should be worn on the airplane, and be of good quality – again, so that you can wear it with the jacket, with the jeans, or with the entire suit for a business casual / Duran Duran kind of look (because I know that’s what Michael shoots for). [Weight = <1 pound]
- Two pair of socks. Same as the underwear – one to wear, the other to be washed each night. [Weight = ounces]
- Minimal toiletries. Deodorant and toothbrush. That’s it. You don’t want to be tied down to a small bottle of cologne. Cut your hair short enough that some hot water and finger combing is all that you need. Don’t shave unless you’re home. [Weight = ounces]
- Electronics. You’ll need a small laptop or an iPad, your charger, a smart phone with camera, and some ear buds. That’s it. Anything else will weigh you down when you’re running from the bulls or being chased by Madagascar monkeys. You don’t need it. [Weight = <5 pounds]
- No souvenirs. Why buy something that you’ll need to carry, when you can just take pictures? Nothing says “I love you” like a link to pictures on Facebook that show you eating really exotic food and checking out wonders of the world? Or you can purchase something, and FedEx it. [Weight = 0]
- No exercise gear. Thinking about running or some other exercise while you’re abroad? Forget it. Unless you have a +10 bag of holding (which, fyi, don’t exist outside of your D&D fantasies), you just don’t need the additional burden of running shorts, shirts, and shoes. My suggestion: walk briskly in your leather shoes, while “pumping iron” with your bag. Repetition is the key. And throw in a little extra soap that evening when washing your clothes in the hotel sink. [Weight = 0]
I think that’s it. Roll it all up tightly, and shove it all into your tiny little water-proof leather briefcase, and you’re good to go. With what you have on your back for your initial flight, your bag should only weigh around 10 or 11 pounds and fit nicely into the bulkhead, giving you plenty of leg room.
Maybe Michael brings more with him. I’m not sure. Maybe he has successfully figured out teleportation. Or maybe he’s one of those people who doesn’t sweat, minimizing his need to wash and bathe like the rest of us. I could probably ask him his secrets, but that would be too easy….
I used to work for a travel mag, so this was an oft-debated topic. Here are my suggestions:
1) roll all your clothes you’re not wearing very very tightly–if they’re linen or another wrinkle-prone fabric, don’t bring them.
2) Put the larger items into as many large ziplog bags as needed, and put the smaller ones in ziplock sandwich bags, and push all the air out before sealing
I’d also, depending on where you’re going, pack a very light windbreaker–patagonia makes one that literally rolls into a pouch the size of a baseball
And, if it’s a longer trip, think about bringing one pair of nice, comfortable canvas sneakers–you’ll look fly and be able to walk more