Turn coach into a first class experience by being a confident traveler. Networking opportunities often present themselves on planes and trains and I encourage my clients to dress for their travel day as part of their business trip. An added bonus: better service often comes to those who present a professional and stylish appearance.

When you walk into a hip restaurant, you expect patrons to be well dressed. It used to be in airports, aboard planes and even on trains that just the mere idea of travel meant people dressed up -- a sign of respect for the process. These days though, when you walk by first class one may wonder how a person scored their seat. While some look like they belong there -- perhaps a CEO, celebrity or wealthy family -- many travelers dress down, looking sloppy and disheveled.

I pack many of my clients, as well as travel for business myself, and here are my top tips for successful travel. Follow these shortcuts to achieve smart style and the benefits that come from landing on the best-dressed passenger list.

1. Dress for your day.

Consider what you wear to travel and treat the day as a casual work one. Be intentional with your style and dress like you belong in first class - casual, chic, and comfortable. Unforeseen upgrades like seat changes even when you're in Basic Economy do happen. A crew member is more likely to allow a last minute upgrade into an emergency row to a person who presents with a stylish, professional appearance than one wearing stained, worn clothing. Sit back and enjoy the extra legroom.

2. Grooming matters.

To save time on your trip, take care of major beauty and grooming before you travel. Get a trim, shape your beard, shave your legs, and do your nails in advance. If you know your airport has these services in an express spa, plan accordingly. Knocking these beauty and grooming to dos off your list saves you time and aggravation while also lending you a professional appearance while traveling. You never know when a brighter smile will lead a flight attendant to comp you a drink.

3. Cubicle on the go.

Invest in savvy luggage. The modern traveler should opt for a spinner suitcase to ensure you can move quickly, select a color that won't show wear and tear easily, and perhaps indulge in USB-compatible luggage. The business traveler often takes a suitcase into an office for a day meeting so look for hard sided luggage in metallic colors (ranging from grey/pewter to shiny black) that can easily be placed in the overhead compartment. A key to receiving last minute upgrades from friendly gate agents is to avoid checked bags. Consider your travel accessories and luggage to be an extension of your brand that efficiently creates your mobile office. 

4. Don't underestimate accessories.

Your handbag, briefcase, backpack, or computer bag can be a terrific ice breaker when meeting a new client in person or communicate an absolute lack of style and professionalism. Everything we say or do makes an impact - so does what we carry. Avoid showing up dressed for a business meeting but carrying a bag that looks like it's been hiking and holding family snacks. Choose a personal item that is bold and stylish or one that fades into the wallpaper. Either way, your accessories tell a story and I teach my clients to choose a visual narrative that is sleek, modern, and clean. 

5. Pack like an expert.

Less is more for the stylish traveler. To create the ultimate capsule wardrobe, try everything on (or at least lay it all out) before packing. Make sure you are clear on how to move from day to night in each ensemble and how your items can be worn more than once if needed. For a short trip, choose one color story that coordinates all your items for maximum versatility and add accessories such as shoes, belts, jewelry, pocket squares, cuff links, and patterned socks to help your look feel unique.

The rise of athleisure wear in business and a declining investment in personal style signals an opportunity for the savvy traveler to upgrade. The crew is in uniform and many travelers are wearing workout gear or overly casual clothing. All it takes to stand out (and perhaps receive an upgrade or two) is to be stylish, friendly, and polite.

Published on: Oct 18, 2019
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