If there's anyone you could call "well-traveled," it's Michael Williams and Liz Cebron. Williams, a style expert and founder of A Continuous Lean, a website for menswear enthusiasts, has spent the last ten years traveling the world to scout the best fashion, travel, and shopping experiences. As the VP of Brand Innovation at Madewell, Cebron frequently journeys between New York and her native California, where the pair lives in Mandeville Canyon. Since marrying in 2014 and giving birth to their first child, they've hardly slowed down, collectively logging over 250,000 miles last year alone. In between jaunts to Italy and Japan, they love to relax on Kauai, their favorite vacation spot, at least once a year. To help us prepare for the madness of holiday travels, we reached out for a few of their favorite tips on making the most out of our carry-ons.
How he packs
“To me, packing is planning. The better you lay things out before you go, the better prepared (and dressed!) you will be on your trip. Everything I bring should have versatility and utility—that way things can mix and match depending on the situation or activity. I always plan my outfits and try to think about what I am going to be doing and let that dictate how much stuff I can bring. If there are a million connections, train rides and lots of cobblestones (like in a lot of Italy) I think twice about a big rolling suitcase and go light. That will mean doing laundry or wearing things a few times, but I find that a lot less stressful than a lot of luggage can be.”
When he travels
“A lot of times in Europe I find that an Airbnb can make things a lot easier. You can book a flat with a washing machine and plan your clothes accordingly. The lighter you pack, the happier you will probably be. The one exception where I want to stay in a nice hotel is when I'm in a city like London, Paris or Tokyo where the hotels are amazing and so much more enjoyable than an apt. In this case, a hotel laundry spurge won't kill you, and you can still pack light.”
How he stores it
"I am a big advocate for Rimowa aluminum four-wheeled suitcases. I like them because they look cool, are easy to maneuver and are lockable inside a hotel room like a personal safe. Most people don't realize that Rimowa's are much less expensive in Europe and you can get a refund for the VAT. So it's worth buying on the continent, even if that means doing so at the Frankfurt airport. The North American Rimowa's are produced in Canada, but the European products are made in Germany. I want the genuine article, so I always advocate buying abroad. A perfect juxtaposition from the steely Rimowa is an old school leather bag. My favorite leather bag brand is Minnesota-based J.W Hulme. This zip-top tote is perfect for a carry on and gets a lot of use in the day-to-day otherwise."
How she packs
“Don't unpack what you don't have to. I keep my monogrammed Madewell transport tote as my carry on and use pouches within to separate my travel essentials into two categories: 1) chargers and cords 2) in-flight essentials like a Lunya eye mask, earplugs, True Botanicals face mist, Olio e Osso.com balm, and hand cream. I have extra sets of everything in this bag (chargers, etc.) so I never have to unpack it when I get home. Same goes for my toiletry kit; I use small TSA-friendly size bottles to pack all of my favorite clean beauty essentials. That way I won't forget anything, and I can just put in my office and pick up and go for the next trip.”
When she travels
"My goal is never to check a bag, so I always try to pack as little as possible. The best way to do this is to pick a cohesive color scheme based on your destination. I mix it up based on where I'm going and how I'm feeling. I generally skew towards blues, but I'll do more white if we're going to somewhere with umbrellas in the drinks. I pack flats whenever possible (my new favorites are custom sandals from Amanu Studio in LA)— you can fit four pairs of flats for every one pair of heels — because you can get more options in less space. And a vintage army jacket works with everything."
How she stores it
"I'm an AWAY suitcase believer. My friend Jen started this line, and I have been using it as my go-to carry on since it launched. AWAY has all of the perks of a luxury wheelie bag, but is so lightweight that when I have to lift it into the overhead bin or up a flight of stairs, it's just night and day lighter than a traditional suitcase. Plus they have a lot of fun customization options."
How she simplifies
"I also have a travel uniform which I wear pretty much every time I fly. It includes a cashmere J. Crew sweater, Madewell jeans, a tee, and Vans slip-ons. After experimenting with a variety of shoes—loafers, sneakers, Birkenstocks (which will occasionally set off the alarm)—I realized Vans are the best because not only are they are comfy and great to wear with everything once you get there, but they are also super easy to slip on and off on the plane."