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Sam Davidson's blog

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How I Travel

I'm hitting the road today, heading to Texas for a few days to keynote the National School Foundation Association annual conference. Next week I head to Alabama for a day. Between now and the end of the year, I'm headed to Las Vegas, Florida four times, and probably Texas again. In other words, I get around. While others are much more warrior-like than me when it comes to being on the road, here's a snapshot of how I travel in order to save money, take what I need, and save time:

One rolling suitcase and a small bag

No one likes checking bags. You'll usually pay extra fees and you only add time to your journey as you wait for bags to pop up on the carousel. If you travel often, invest in a good rolling suitcase - something lightweight yet sturdy, with a large exterior pocket and expandable zipper when you need the extra storage.

A good, small bag is also a necessity for your laptop or smaller items that you'll need when in your destination city. It'll also fit under the seat in front of you on a plane for easy access. When walking through the terminal, it can sit on your rolling bag for an easier walk to/from your aircraft. Bottom line: your luggage should make travel easier, not more difficult.


I got a SCOTTEVEST last year for my birthday and no single item has made travel easier. The vest has multiple hidden pockets for your iPhone, wallet, keys, headphones, travel documents, or quite literally anything else you want on your person. The best part is that when you go through security, you just slip off the vest and you're done. No need to empty your pants pockets and then pull your phone out and then your change and then remember where you put it all.


I think they're delicious (some people don't), so I usually pack 3 or 4 PowerBars for each trip. When in a bind (delayed flight, no good places to eat, restaurants are closed), they can serve as a meal replacement or a hearty snack. Find out which energy bar you like and take a few. It beats paying $3.00 at the airport for a Snickers, and it'll keep you happy during a layover (McDonald's won't, trust me) or after a long day at a conference.

One pair of shoes, one outfit per day

Some people can't fathom fitting everything for a trip into a single rolling suitcase. These people pack too much. I understand that some days, you don't know what to wear until you get up and look in your closet, but that shouldn't be the case on the road. Just pack one outfit per day. Then, when you wake up, you'll know what to wear because you won't have any choice but to wear what you packed. Limited choice can be a good thing sometimes.

Also pack only one pair of shoes that can go with every outfit. People who go somewhere for three days and bring 12 pairs of shoes aren't allowed to travel with me. I wear a comfortable pair of shoes for transit and walking around; I take another for the event, most often my brown, sturdy Kenneth Coles that go with jeans, khakis, and corduroys.

A good rule of thumb: count how many days you'll be gone and pack that many shirts. There's no need to bring extra. "But what if I spill something?" you ask. You have two options: 1) Get better at not spilling; 2) Look for the nearest one-hour dry-cleaners.


As I've said before, Tripit is the best app when it comes to keeping track of travel plans. Go get the free version. Now.


If you subscribe to magazines, save them for when you travel. I've got a stack of four I'm taking with me today. They're the perfect thing to read when taxiing or below 10,000 ft. And they also come in handy when stuck in an airport and can be a welcome diversion from staring at a glowing screen. What else am I going to look at? Skymall?

Rewards cards

If you are not earning rewards with every purchase or reservation while away, you are wasting money. Did Ryan Bingham teach you nothing? Even if you only fly once a year, start earning frequent flyer miles. Get hotel and rental car points. Those things can be redeemed, people. And even if you travel rarely now, things can change in an instant and you'll be up the air more often before you know it.

What about you?

What do you travel with (other than a dozen pair of shoes)? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below.

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