Hacks for the Traveling Man: 11 Quick Fixes for Dressing and Grooming Problems on the Road

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When it comes to traveling, some men are careful packers. They make a list and carefully lay out the clothes they need for their trip a day or two before their departure. Other men are last minute packers, rushing around the house, throwing things in their bag while reassuring themselves that they won’t miss the plane if they speed 5, and then 10, and then 15 miles over the speed limit. And then of course there are men who aren’t packers at all – they let their wife do the packing for them.

No matter which kind of packer you are, you’ve very likely experienced that nagging feeling on the way to the airport – ”I know I’ve forgotten something, but what?” And sure enough, once you got to the hotel and unzipped your bag, your heart sunk as you exclaimed, “I can’t believe I left my _____ at home!”

Travel can be a wonderful experience – but it also brings a special set of problems. Everything at your immediate disposable is contained in a small bag. And even when you do manage to remember to pack everything you need in it, problems will arise during your travels that you’re forced to fix on the fly. But you can’t always run to the store for a solution, and when you’re staying at a more exotic location or in more rustic accommodations, the hotel’s front desk or gift shop may not have what you need.

Thus the small “emergencies” that arise while away from home can really put a man in pinch, and if he can’t figure out a solution, the pickle is apt to create for him a good deal of stress – especially if he’s on an important business trip where every detail – including his appearance – is crucial.

To avoid this anxiety, be prepared. By learning a few hacks, you’ll know how to fix many common dressing and grooming problems that could arise during your travels. Allowing you to get on with your trip while hardly missing a step.

1. Problem – No Shaving Cream

Solution – Use soap, conditioner, or lotion instead after you take a shower. Although not formulated specifically for the skin, any of these will do the job of allowing the razor to glide over the skin and insulate the face from razor burn. By taking a shower first, you’ll soften the hairs. Also, use a new razor blade if possible as you’ll want as clean of a cut as you can get.

Tip – Hand soap is meant for the hands, and can be too harsh for your face’s more sensitive skin, so try to use a facial soap if available. Also, some people claim that not only is shaving cream unnecessary, going without it actually gives you a better shave. So you can always forego the cream altogether and shave with only water – although it’s best not to try new experiments on your face if you have an important meeting to attend during your trip.

2. Problem – Your zipper is stuck.

Solution – Rub a bar of soap along the zipper’s teeth and slowly work the zipper free. Liquid soap and conditioners do not work as well but can be substituted in a pinch – use a tiny amount as you don’t want a stain all day in this area.

Tip – Drop the trousers off at your local tailor shop when you get home and have them replace the zipper ASAP – it’ll cost less than a new pair of trousers.

3. Problem – The unfamiliar dry/cold climate is causing your skin to break out in a rash/flake and your lips are cracked.

Solution – Use a light amount of skin protectant or petroleum jelly to help soothe your skin and lips. Unlike lighter lotions, skin protectants provide a heavier layer of protection and can be used on the lips for longer lasting protection.

Tip – Use an old contact lens holder to pack the petroleum jelly in a small container that won’t be thrown away by airport security. Also, don’t use it on your face if you’re prone to acne as it can cause breakouts. Speaking of which, if you get a pimple, dabbing it with a bit of toothpaste before bed will reduce its redness and puffiness by morning. To learn more about skincare for men, listen to this interview with skin care expert Sam Hossa.

4. Problem – You have an iron, but no ironing board.

Solution – Clear off a flat and clean surface that can take the heat (tables, firm beds, clean floor) and lay out a (preferably) white towel. There you have it – an instant ironing board.

Tip – Before using a hotel iron on your white dress shirt, run it across a white cotton towel or on the inside of the bottom of your shirt. You want to make sure there isn’t anything melted onto the iron that would stain your shirt or that the water inside hasn’t formed rust. Also, use the setting just below the recommended one at first – older irons can run hot and damage clothing. Want to know how to iron a dress shirt? Click here.

5. Problem – Your perfectly shined black shoes have a huge scuff mark.

Solution – Use a cotton napkin or towel to try to buff it out, transferring the wax and polish to the scuff. If you’re in a hotel, or have access to the convention center staff, ask for a complimentary shoe buff kit. If none of this works, find a black marker and carefully color the discolored area black.

Tip – Scuffs happen, and of all the problems I’ve listed here, this is the least important one. Polish your shoes the night before, smile, and look people in the eye. Don’t get worked up about small things.

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