George Esquivel is a man who knows a thing or two about travel. As the Creative Director of Tumi, and designer of his own eponymous line of footwear, he easily travels at least 6 months out of the year. We were lucky to catch up with him for a quick chat about the items he can’t leave home without, the countries he’d like to visit and the reason he’s an overpacker.
City you call home?
Orange County, California.
How often do you travel?
Last year I traveled 150 days. This year will most likely be the same or more. I’m typically gone 7-14 days per month.
Number of countries visited?
In the past 12 months, I have visited China (twice), Japan (once), England (twice), France (4 times), Italy (4 times), and Germany (3 times). Before the year is up I will be back to Europe 1 or 2 more times and possibly Hong Kong as well. I’m also in NYC every month for 7-10 days.
Aisle or Window?
Aisle. I don’t like to disturb anyone if I need to get up.
LAX–JFK on Virgin America is really great. Internationally it depends on where I’m traveling to. I just flew Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and it was a very pleasurable experience.
I love coming home from traveling so for that reason it would have to be LAX (Los Angeles).
What brand of luggage do you use?
I only travel with Tumi. Currrently I’m using pieces from the Alpha II collection in the grey/orange color combo.
What brand of carry-on do you use?
Tumi. My carry-on depends on the length of the trip. But I always have a carry-on that will get me through at least 1-3 days should my bags get lost or delayed.
What are the travel essentials you can’t leave home without?
I always have a pack of gum–I feel it’s very impolite to speak to anyone after a long flight that typically involves food, something to drink and possibly some sleep without first making sure you won’t blow them away with your breath. My Blackberry and iPhone. A Field Notes notepad, to write all of my to-do lists, and a pen. And I always have a few facial wipes with me.
Are you an overpacker or an underpacker?
I’m definitely an overpacker. Typically my trips get extended and I don’t like to have my clothing laundered or dry cleaned by a hotel (too many of my items have been ruined over the years). I also like to be prepared for weather changes or whatever occasion may arise.
What’s your travel uniform?
Airplane food or bring your own?
Typically the only airplane foods I eat are fruit and veggies. A lot of times I bring my own snacks (fruit, nuts, trail mix, protein bars).
Sparkling water or cranberry juice and soda (trying to cut back on Diet Coke)
I like to either watch a movie or if I need to I’ll listen to a book on tape while I’m working. Falling asleep for a short nap while listening to some great music is also a good way for me to relax.
Gadget you can’t leave home without?
I can’t leave home without my Blackberry for emails and texts, and my iPhone for music and social media. My iPad mini is also a must.
How do you deal with jetlag?
I drink a lot of water and if I need to stay awake I’ll drink a Redbull just after I land in whatever country I’m visiting (I don’t drink coffee).
What’s your exercise routine when you’re traveling?
I don’t really have a travel routine, I just try to exercise as much as possible while traveling.
Best travel advice?
I learned years back that there is no sense in getting all worked up about things out of my control such as flight delays and lost bags, so my advice would be stay calm and try enjoy the experience and look at it as an adventure.
Worst travel experience?
My worst experience was being stuck in Europe for a few days due to weather with no change of clothes or toiletries. That is why I now always carry 1-3 days worth of needed essentials.
Do you have any travel rituals/superstitions?
Typically when I first board I write down everything that’s on my mind on my trip “to-do” list, that way I can relax and check out for a few hours.
Where are your favorite places to travel to?
I always love Paris and Milan–I have so many great friends there. I just returned from Hong Kong and on this most recent visit that city and the people left a very positive impression on me!
Where haven’t you been yet that you’d like to visit?
I would love to visit Israel, Lebanon and Egypt. I have never been to that part of the world.
Favorite purchase/souvenir from your travels?
Over the years I have made many cool purchases but my favorites are things I have found at flea markets in Europe…those items range from old silverware to gloves to leather accessories.
George Esquivel photographed in Paris