Today (19 August) is Men’s Grooming Day, so what better time to re-think that checklist and arrive at your next overseas meeting looking more James Bond than Mr Bean?
Kevin Leung doesn’t rate himself as a grooming expert, but as British Airways’ commercial manager for Ghana and Kenya he does do plenty of business travel.
Over the years through trial and plenty of error he has worked out a pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight routine that will ensure you arrive looking the part or at least better than all the other rumpled guys who flew in on the overnight red-eye.
Don’t leave your packing until the last minute. You will forget something important like a belt or cufflinks. Fold your clothes carefully along the seams or better still in tissue paper. This minimises wrinkles. Think about what you’ll need, when and pack accordingly. That way you won’t have to rumple all your carefully folded clothes as you burrow for a shirt to wear to your first meeting.
Plan your day. If you’re flying in the evening try to leave some time for a run, brisk walk or light gym session. You’ll be sitting for 11 hours or more, so a little pre-departure cardio will do wonders for how you feel when you land.
After a long, hot shower or relaxing bath, apply plenty of moisturiser. According to Leung, this is one of those hard-earned lessons.
“The air in aircraft cabins is, by necessity, kept pretty dry. This helps prevent the airframe corroding, but it also sucks the moisture from your skin. That’s why you look wrinkled and puffy the next morning and cut yourself shaving.”
The problem is less apparent on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which has a composite fuselage, so the cabin air can contain more moisture. If you’re not on a Dreamliner, the top tip is moisturise, moisturise, moisturise.
It’s a good idea to wear natural, breathable fibres such as cotton. If you’re lucky enough to be flying in one of the premium cabins, you can change into something comfortable onboard. If not, then it’s a good idea to layer. Put a light jersey or sweatshirt over a cotton shirt or T-shirt. Also remember your skinny jeans may turn heads in the terminal, but might not be ideal for sleeping in. Oh, and wear sensible shoes. Airports involve a lot of walking and your brand new cap-toe Oxfords are just going to give you blisters.
Have a drink, but don’t overdo it. Aircraft cabins are pressurised to 8 000 feet. This and the dry air don’t combine well with alcohol, at least not if you plan to look and feel human the next day. Rather than have that second whisky, settle for a straight water instead.
Before landing, the essentials you’ll need in your cabin bag are: face/ hand wipes moisturiser (of course) and a dry shampoo.
“You always wake up a little groggy and it’s amazing how using a cleansing face wipe can make you feel clean and refreshed. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it,” says Leung.
Apply some moisturiser and if you’re really getting into this suave traveller thing, de-zombie with a suitably masculine revitalising eye gel.
Although you’ll have taken the advice to bath or shower before departure, you’ll inevitably feel grubby. The face wipes will only solve part of this problem, but a dry shampoo will do wonders to restore your lank, greasy hair to its normal sheen.
Finally a roll-on deodorant or solid cologne will ensure you’re ready to hit the ground running – rather than the shower.
Before you get too carried away with your onboard routine, it’s important to bear in mind that any liquids or gels in your hand luggage may not exceed 100ml.
Assuming you’ve spend your day in meetings, by the time you get to your hotel room you’ll probably be exhausted. Even so, the first thing you should do is unpack your suitcase and hang up your clothes. If the shirt you plan to wear the next day is looking crumpled and you can’t be bothered to iron it (let’s face it who can anyway?), then hang it up in the bathroom. The steam will help get rid of some of the creases.
Then, if you can, try to get some light exercise in the hotel gym or by going for a quick run. If you can’t work up the enthusiasm for either then take a brisk walk around the block and use the staircase to get back to your room.
Make sure you stay hydrated and keep up the moisturising routine.
“Most of these travel hacks are nothing new, in fact many of my female colleagues have been applying them for years. Although men may be somewhat slower on the uptake, what I can vouch for, from plenty of experience, is that they work,” says Leung.