Put Away the Fanny Pack, Please


Okay. So if you happen to still have a fanny pack, please go immediately to Blog #1 and start reading from the beginning. Everyone else, settle in and we are going to talk about traveling in style this week. I have been in (and am still in) Nashville, TN for the past few days enjoying a place I have never been, and it just got me thinking about how much I love to travel. I get pretty restless staying in the same spot for too long. I love Charlotte, but if I don’t get out every 30 days or so, I start to go a little stir crazy. So last fall, I made a deal with myself to try and travel every month, and so far, so good. I have been to NYC twice, Kansas City, Mississippi, St. Louis, LA, Miami, Destin, Atlanta, and now Nashville. I am headed to Wyoming in 2 weeks, Italy shortly thereafter, and NYC again later in the fall. Seeing the world is so important to me, but I also like to do it in style, so buckle in for some ideas that I would like to share.


First off, I like going to new places. Someone asked me last year if I could only try new places, or always go back to my favorite places, which one would I choose. Other than NYC, I would choose something new all day long. Of the 11 places above, 7 are new to me. I like to stay at local, boutique hotels when possible. This week I have been at Hayes Street Hotel. Super cool. I prefer to eat at local hotspots and drink local beer, wine, cocktails, and even sodas. Things that you can only get in that city, for example. This week it has been Hattie B’s hot chicken. Sriracha chicken pizza and a grapefruit IPA at a local brewery. The list goes on. If there is a sporting event in town, I try to go. No sporting event here this week, but I am running the Music City 10k here tomorrow morning. And if there are friends in the city, around the city, or on the way to the city, I have to make an effort to get together for a drink or bite to eat. We stopped in Asheville on the way and had lunch with my long lost Mars Hill friends Lynn, Sergio, and Dionne. I also very much like to hit the local shops that are unique to the area. I hit Kith in Miami and NYC. WISH in Atlanta. And today, Imogene + Willie in Nashville. Bought the softest t-shirt you can imagine, along with a very unique beaded necklace. People always ask me where I get my clothes, and lots come from these one-offs in other cities, and it typically leads to great conversation.


I do have two quirky things that I personally like to do when I travel. If the city has a Major League Baseball team, I have to go to the stadium and get an on-field fitted hat. Talk about a good conversation starter. I was wearing my Cardinals hat at Office Depot last week, and it led to a rousing discussion with some stranger about St Louis. Happens all the time. And the second, I like to see how the real people live in each place I go. Touristy places are fine, but I like to venture off the beaten path, sometimes to edgy areas of town, just to feel the true flavor of a place. Not recommending it per se, but I personally enjoy it.


When I travel, I take two leather bags and a book bag. One is the softest black leather bag from Cole Haan, and the other is a tan leather bag from Jack Spade. My book bag is a multi-blue leather bag from Coach Men, and it allows me to be hands-free, which is great. If you are still using your book bag from high school, think about burning it. You are not fifteen any more. Traveling with these three bags does wonders for me. First, they don’t look like every other black rolling suitcase, so if I am flying I can find them very easily. Second, when I arrive at the hotel, they always get commented on. As with many things in life, I find that valets, bellhops, and hotel staff typically remember unique individuals, outfits, and bags. So when I arrive anywhere, I try to arrive smiling, wearing a unique outfit, and carrying a unique bag. Put a $5 or $10 bill in their hand upon arrival, and I find that I am treated like a king all week. Which I love.


Two obvious, but relevant challenges for this week. If you travel with a 50-year old, black rolling suitcase, it is okay to switch it up a little and put some actual style into your travel gear. And if you aren’t traveling as much as you would like, start strategizing on how to do so. I need to see the world, and I am figuring out how to do so one month at a time. If you want to come with me, let’s go!


Have a great 4th of July and a great week!-Benj


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