How to Travel Stylishly, Arrive on Time, and Earn Free Upgrades (or, Why I Always Fly with a Sport Coat)

I've traveled for work these last couple years, and my brief experience hardly makes me an expert. In that short time though, I've stumbled into a few key flying tips I'd love to share:

1.    Bring noise canceling headphones. You'll often be jet setting with a screaming baby or barking dog, and sometimes you'll be lucky enough to have both on your flight. Better yet, you might find yourself sitting between each in your comfy economy middle seat. Save yourself a headache and drown out the noise.

2.    Hydrate before your trip. Drink lots of water leading up to the flight. You'll end up visiting that luxurious airplane bathroom a couple of times, but you won't feel dried out and gross during the trip.

3.    Wear a sport coat.

That last lesson is my favorite, and conveniently (for this blog) it's menswear-related, too! Wearing a sport coat brings a lot of convenient benefits when you fly, including simplifying packing, improving your flight, and providing you with tons of wardrobe options. Aside from headphones a sport coat is the one thing I always fly with, and after I describe its benefits I know you'll agree.

 

Benefit #1: Packing is a breeze. When I travel it's often for a few days at time, so I can afford to pack lightly. My goal is to pack all my clothing into a single carry-on so I never waste time in the airport's version of a waiting room: baggage claim. The easiest way to accomplish that? Pack 6 or 7 outfits in that carry-on using only a few wardrobe staples. I pack slacks and 2 button down shirts, and then wear jeans, a polo shirt, and my sport coat on the plane. I've gotten efficient at packing those staples, and I'm ready to go in less than 20 minutes. Best of all, this technique saves space in my suitcase, freeing up critical souvenir space when I see something I want to bring home to my wife. Getting ready to travel is now a breeze and best of all, I'm convinced the sport coat gets me extras at the airport, too

 

George wouldn't be in this situation if he'd taken our sport coat travel advice. Less is more, George.  Image courtesy of Business Insider.

George wouldn't be in this situation if he'd taken our sport coat travel advice. Less is more, George.
 Image courtesy of Business Insider.

Benefit #2: You get flight upgrades. I'll come clean - if you're thinking this one's shenanigans you'd be half right. But I recently got moved to an exit row aisle seat while wearing my sport coat, and I've never been pulled aside for extra security screenings when I sport the coat. In those instances correlation likely doesn't equal causation, but I'm going to assume the sport coat had something to do with that travel luck and call it a day. Ignorance is bliss.

Benefit #3: Your travel wardrobe expands. Once I arrive in Denver or Atlanta or Nashville or wherever I'm traveling, I can easily mix-and-match my shirts and pants to suit any event. Even better, I can swap the slacks for jeans during casual evening activities. I'll wear one of our handcrafted wooden pocket squares to spark conversations at networking events. And the suit jacket gives me the versatility to dress up the jeans or make the dress slacks more formal, ensuring I'm stylishly dressed for every business occasion. And I'm convinced the sport coat will help get upgrades at hotels just like it has at the airport - I'm still waiting for that suite upgrade, though.

 

There you have it, an stylish travel hack that helps make business trips a little more pleasant. I can sympathize if you're traveling coach wishing you could upgrade to business class - I'd love to be a part of that world, with all the leg room and lie-flat seating I can imagine. But take comfort knowing you'll look great while traveling, and maybe your sport coat will at least get you bumped into a roomy exit row seat!