The Very Useful Travel Wallet

I’ve been traveling a bit for the holidays, and every time I get on a plane, I’m reminded of the usefulness of travel wallets. This is especially true for international flights, when you might have multiple plane and train tickets, foreign currencies, important notes to yourself, and various travel documents. Of course, without a wallet, you can stuff all these things into your jacket, but it’s kind of a hassle to fumble through your pockets trying to search for things when you’re in a rush. Plus, I’m always worried that I might have accidentally lost something halfway through my trip. The idea that I could be stuck somewhere without my passport or ticket, possibly in a country where I don’t speak the language, is kind of frightening.

So, it’s nice to have a travel wallet to keep everything in one place, and know that nothing has been lost. Mine is from Chester Mox. It’s made from their “museum calf” leather, which they source from the same tannery that supplies John Lobb. There are two big pockets inside for things such as passports and folded up pieces of paper, and some slots for your ID and credit cards. I really like Chester Mox for their relatively affordable prices on small leather goods, but this one is on the slightly pricey side. However, since everything is made-on-order, you can request the same model in a different material, and they’ll quote you a lower price.

If you’re not deterred by the price on the museum calf wallet, you can also find really nice models from Valextra and Smythson, both of which can be found at Barney’s. Those are cut a bit more like coat wallets, which is useful if you don’t want to fold your travel tickets, but the length also restricts the wallet to the inside of your coat pocket (whereas the Chester Mox one can be slipped into the back pocket of your jeans if necessary). Brooks Brothers also has something with a long interior pocket, and Ettinger has various models made from their signature English bridle leather (a thicker, stiffer material that’s as hardy as it is handsome).

For something more affordable, there’s Tanner Goods and Duluth Pack. Saddleback Leather also has a really interesting design with an RFID shield. It’s sold out at the moment, but given that it’s a staple piece in their line up, it’ll probably be restocked at some point again.

When shopping for one, I encourage you to avoid the ones that are designed to just hold a passport and nothing else. At any international checkpoint, you’ll be asked to take your passport out of your fancy case, which makes having a case kind of pointless. A wallet that holds your passport, documents, tickets, credit cards, and ID, however? Very, very useful.

How I Travel
I travel a lot for both work and pleasure, and in my time traveling, I’ve learned one cardinal rule: pack as light as possible. These days, I try to only bring a carry-on and one personal item (my briefcase, which always contains my laptop and some reading material). In my carry-on is a small set of clothes – two grey trousers, four light blue or white shirts, one navy sweater, and a sport coat. I find that this is enough to get me through a few days before having to do laundry, especially since we’re not also counting the clothes I’m wearing onto the plane. Other things, such as shaving razors, soaps, and shampoos, can always be bought at the destination.
I like bringing a few superfluous things that make the trip more pleasant, however. For one, instead of wearing a sport coat onto the plane, I use a travel jacket I bought from Herno. It looks a bit like this one from Woolrich, but it has a hidden zippered pocket and no epaulets. Zippered and snap button pockets are useful for making sure things don’t accidentally slip out when you take off your jacket and carelessly carry it around. The idea of being in a foreign country and suddenly realizing that you’ve lost your papers, credit cards, and money just seems really, really bad. So I wear a travel jacket. Woolrich and Boggi have one this season (you may need to call Boggi’s actual stores to order), but you could also just wear anything lightweight and of a similar design. Just search around for “field jackets.”
I also use a travel wallet. These help keep my important documents and cards all in one place – passport, green card, identification papers, credit cards, health insurance card, boarding pass, and little slips of paper on which I’ve jotted down my hotel, flight, and train information. Having them all in one place gives me a peace of mind and some convenience. Many airports these days have multiple checkpoints where you have to show your papers to some official, so it’s convenient to have them ready and on hand. My travel wallet is by Chester Mox, who is running a Father’s Day promotion until Thursday, but you can also find some nice ones by Saddleback, Aspinal of London, Filson, and Tanner Goods.
There are a few other things I find helpful. Sleeping pills can get you through a long flight, but they also leave you feeling drugged. So instead, I eat Tianwang Buxin Wan, an all-natural, root-based pill that relaxes me enough to go sleep. It’s great on the plane and for when I’m trying to recover from jet lag. I also wear Bose noise cancelling headphones that a friend generously gifted me, and either soft suede driving shoes or a pair of canvas plimsolls. Feet tend to swell up during flight, which makes wearing hard bottom leather shoes extremely uncomfortable. Even if you take off your shoes, your feet can swell so much that they can be hard to put back in. Should you find yourself in such a situation, I recommend using my credit card trick.
And that’s basically how I travel - a carry on and my briefcase, along with a travel jacket, travel wallet, pair of soft shoes, and some things to help me go to sleep. These are enough to get me through fifteen to twenty hour travel schedules and still land in reasonably good form. 
(Pictured above: My travel jacket, travel wallet, and laptop at JFK airport)

How I Travel

I travel a lot for both work and pleasure, and in my time traveling, I’ve learned one cardinal rule: pack as light as possible. These days, I try to only bring a carry-on and one personal item (my briefcase, which always contains my laptop and some reading material). In my carry-on is a small set of clothes – two grey trousers, four light blue or white shirts, one navy sweater, and a sport coat. I find that this is enough to get me through a few days before having to do laundry, especially since we’re not also counting the clothes I’m wearing onto the plane. Other things, such as shaving razors, soaps, and shampoos, can always be bought at the destination.

I like bringing a few superfluous things that make the trip more pleasant, however. For one, instead of wearing a sport coat onto the plane, I use a travel jacket I bought from Herno. It looks a bit like this one from Woolrich, but it has a hidden zippered pocket and no epaulets. Zippered and snap button pockets are useful for making sure things don’t accidentally slip out when you take off your jacket and carelessly carry it around. The idea of being in a foreign country and suddenly realizing that you’ve lost your papers, credit cards, and money just seems really, really bad. So I wear a travel jacket. Woolrich and Boggi have one this season (you may need to call Boggi’s actual stores to order), but you could also just wear anything lightweight and of a similar design. Just search around for “field jackets.”

I also use a travel wallet. These help keep my important documents and cards all in one place – passport, green card, identification papers, credit cards, health insurance card, boarding pass, and little slips of paper on which I’ve jotted down my hotel, flight, and train information. Having them all in one place gives me a peace of mind and some convenience. Many airports these days have multiple checkpoints where you have to show your papers to some official, so it’s convenient to have them ready and on hand. My travel wallet is by Chester Mox, who is running a Father’s Day promotion until Thursday, but you can also find some nice ones by Saddleback, Aspinal of London, Filson, and Tanner Goods.

There are a few other things I find helpful. Sleeping pills can get you through a long flight, but they also leave you feeling drugged. So instead, I eat Tianwang Buxin Wan, an all-natural, root-based pill that relaxes me enough to go sleep. It’s great on the plane and for when I’m trying to recover from jet lag. I also wear Bose noise cancelling headphones that a friend generously gifted me, and either soft suede driving shoes or a pair of canvas plimsolls. Feet tend to swell up during flight, which makes wearing hard bottom leather shoes extremely uncomfortable. Even if you take off your shoes, your feet can swell so much that they can be hard to put back in. Should you find yourself in such a situation, I recommend using my credit card trick.

And that’s basically how I travel - a carry on and my briefcase, along with a travel jacket, travel wallet, pair of soft shoes, and some things to help me go to sleep. These are enough to get me through fifteen to twenty hour travel schedules and still land in reasonably good form. 

(Pictured above: My travel jacket, travel wallet, and laptop at JFK airport)

Dopp Kits: A Nice Accessory for the Traveling Man

Dopp kits are designed for men who need something to hold their toiletries while they travel. They were invented by Charles Doppelt, a German leather-goods maker, sometime in the early 20th century. Doppelt scored a contract with the US Army during WW2 and provided millions of American GIs with them while they fought abroad. When these soliders came home, they brought their dopp kits with them and thus began their civilian use. 

Now, unless you’re off fighting a war, nobody needs a dopp kit. You can get along fine by triple bagging your toiletries in plastic bags when you travel. Unless you’re hanging out with really lame people, nobody’s going to judge you for it, assuming they even notice. However, these pouches are still nice to have. There’s something about them that help you feel a little less like you’re living out of a box, and they inspire a better sense of organization. With plastic grocery bags, even if I bring my nicest ones, my toiletries randomly wind up on different tables in my hotel room. As well, dopp kits just feel a bit more “grown up,” and that’s what this site is all about, right?

So for readers who travel, I thought I’d run through some dopp kit options. I’ll separate this out into three price tiers.

Over $100: Mulholland Brothers sells some nice basic models in both waxed canvas and leather. Nothing fancy here, just your standard dopp kit in great materials. If you want something a bit more interesting, there’s this Kenton Sorenson, which will darken to a beautiful patina over time. Jack Spade also makes some. My personal dopp kit is by Jack Spade and I love it, but I’ll admit that I think their products are slightly overpriced for what they are. However, Jack Spade dopp kits go on sale every once in a while at Gilt and Nordstroms, so check there. Lastly, there is Col. Littleton, which looks amazing, but is pretty expensive. 

Between $50 and $100: As with a lot of things, Filson and Orvis always makes very nice mid-priced items. There’s also this leather piece by Buxton Accessories, which has one of the nicer organization systems I’ve seen. 

Under $50: If you’re on a tighter budget, there are many dopp kits priced under $50. The first is Lands End’s SeaGoing and Square Rigger models. The SeaGoing is designed for really wet environments (perhaps if you’re bringing your dopp on a boat) while the Square Rigger is a bit more traditional. There are also affordable waxed canvas options by Marc New York and J Crew, as well as a leather model by Dopp Delegate. Additionally, Potterybarn has one you can monogram. I’ve handled this one before and wasn’t very impressed with the leather but - well - it’s $39. Lastly, MUJI has a variety of affordable options - this one’s $17. Jesse uses a MUJI bag not unlike this one and recommends them, and I can see the hook coming in real handy for situations where you can’t take up a lot of counter space. There are more here.

As for what to pack in your dopp kit? For me, I work off of this list:

The Essentials: Travel size bottles of shampoo and conditioner; toothbrush and toothpaste; floss; nail clippers; facial scrub; lotion; hair products; Q-tips; hand salve; a comb; deodorant; sunscreen; and a shaving kit. 

Optional: Lip balm; Band Aids; Tylenol; $20 bill; LintUps; breath mints; ear plugs; Emergen-C; condoms; and my own soap (since hotel soaps usually suck). 

Also, be sure to squeeze out the air from your travel sized bottles. This will help make sure they don’t explode during the flight. You can buy travel sized bottles at almost any Longs Drugs or Walmart, or online through Flight 001

Lastly, a word of caution when selecting your dopp kit. The goal here is not to get the biggest sized bag you can. It’s much wiser to know what you typically bring and buy an appropriate sized bag for your gear. If you get something too big, it will just take up unnecessary room in your luggage, so know thyself before buying.