THE ESSENTIAL URBAN GO BAG Always Be Prepared
There's a family emergency and you have to fly out as soon as possible. What do you pack? If you're smart, you're already packed because you have a standing Urban Get-Up-N-Go Bag already set aside for this exact circumstance. It holds the essentials you need for a few days in a different city that aren't wilderness-survival specific. And it doesn't have to be just for emergencies. Say you want to sweep your lover off their feet and hit that last minute destination vacation? Now you'll always be ready with this stripped down but well-equipped packing list for any occasion. Check it out.
The first item you want to pack is a nice pair of jeans -- emphasis on nice. Don’t come at me with faded work jeans; these should be dark wash jeans in a good cut that you’d be comfortable wearing with a blazer. This is arguably your most important item as a good pair can be worn for a long time without appearing dirty, and if done right, they’ll look good dressed up or down.
Pack two if you’re prepping for a weekend trip or a general Urban Bag. Otherwise pick about 4/5ths as many as days that you’ll be staying and you’ll be golden (you never end up wearing all of them if you're also bringing a dress shirt, etc). I’ve personally become a big believer in the plain white tee so I highly recommend taking one or two of those. They’re versatile and classic and most men look great in them -- just be careful not to spill on them obviously.
A Button-Down Shirt
Pick your poison here based on what looks good for you. Many men will opt for white or chambray here which I’m happy with, but you do you. It should look good worn on its own with the sleeves rolled up but also double as your fancy dinner shirt that will pair nicely with your blazer.
A Sport Coat
This is almost always a good idea. If you’re in a dressy industry it’ll already be a standard for you, but even for those of you who aren’t (freelance writers included) it still comes in handy. You never want to be the guy who can’t get into an impromptu fancy dinner because you don’t have a nice jacket, and even if you don’t think you’ll ever be that bourgeois, it can still function as an actual coat should the evening weather get cold. Feel free to dress it down with a t-shirt underneath if that’s more your speed.
A Nice Belt
I’m going to say leather here. In fact, are there other types of belts that men still wear…?
A Swim Suit
This works for hotels and pool parties and whatever else might pop up. If you weren’t expecting warm weather but are suddenly hit with a heat wave, the right swim trunks can double as shorts, so stay away from speedos. But also stay away from speedos in general. Another ancillary idea is to use your swim trunks as workout shorts if you plan to hit the gym while you’re away.
Pretty much pack as many as there are days that you’ll be gone. These are small and lightweight and you don’t want to skimp here. The other prevailing opinion would be to just pack a few and plan to buy more as needed, but that’s more in an emergency setting. For a standing weekend bag I say pack two pairs of each.
The Shoe Situation
The jury is out on this one. Basically you need two options to cover 3-4 scenarios. In an ideal world, you’d have dress shoes, casual shoes, athletic shoes, and some kind of beach wear. But that’s an absurd amount of shoes. For the weekend/Urban Go bag you can really only bring two (packing a pair and wearing the other). Some have argued that the best bet is a white sneaker that can be dressed up paired with flip flops, but I feel like that lends to a Steve Jobs / 90’s Suburban Dad vibe. Personally I’ve found the best match to be something more like a pair of chukkas and Nike Flyknits. Chukkas (or another brown shoe) tend to work in both casual and semi-formal situations, and Flyknits (or something like them) are great for working out and lounging, and also work ok for the beach (also they’re super lightweight and foldable).
A Dopp Kit / Toiletries
You’ll need your essentials here -- there’s no way around it so plan to leave room for this. If you’re packing a standing weekend bag in the event of an emergency where you won’t have time to pack your dopp kit, I suggest buying at least: a toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, and a disposable razor and leaving them in a ziplock baggie.
There you are with the essentials. Obviously go ahead and tailor your urban go bag however best works for you but that should be the core to get you going.