Flight001aFor those that enjoy travel, and for those that travel a lot, whether for business or pleasure, there are times when it seems it takes the whole day just to shop for travel items and accessories you need to get ready for your trip. But the premise behind one international travel product company, Flight 001, is to make accessible, everything needed for your travels under one roof.

Brad John is the co-founder, and says when he and his business partner first came up with the idea they were working together in New York’s garment industry. They concocted the plan while on a trip to Paris back in 1999, and by the time they landed, they knew they wanted to open a store that would “offer interesting and fashionable travel products–that could be found all in place.” At the time, Brad says, “There was only black in the travel market. We were also one of the first to introduce color in travel accessories.”

A few months after that flight, the first Flight 001 in New York’s West Village. Today, the company is thriving, with six stores domestically including locations in New York, LA, San Francisco, and six stores internationally including locations in Sydney, Singapore and Malaysia, plus an online shop. Pronounced “Flight One,” the company takes it’s name from the first continuous transcontinental flight once operated by Pan Am. Brad says they were inspired by jet flights and the 60’s. (Think the eye candy of “Mad Men” long before that show was conceived.)

The Top 5

Flight001cAs we’re in the spring travel season and the summer travel season will be here before we know it, I asked Brad about some of their best sellers, as well as some items I found that seemed pretty clever as well.  One of the things that Brad noted, and I certainly concur with, is since 9-11 it’s been all about the carry-on and security when traveling. Just about everyone is concerned about “carrying on” now, whether it’s having the right bottles to get through security, or airlines charging for extra for carry-on and checked bags, or having a bag that’s easy enough to lug around on the train—this is certainly something that as a traveler you can’t avoid. So, it makes sense that the current #1 best-seller both in the U.S. and abroad is the F1 Spacepack system. It’s described as a packing system devised to “making packing easy and organized”—there’s even a video on the site showing you how to maximize the way that the system works.

Flight001bThe #2 best-sellers are luggage tags in bold colors. (Right in time to coordinate with your new “color blocked” trendy outfits!) Many have fun sayings on them including: “Don’t Touch My Junk”, “Check Out My Hard Body,” and “Take Me Home.” And with many prices well below the ten-dollar range, you can buy a few without breaking the bank.

#3 on the list is Lipault luggage – a sophisticated system that gives you multiple packing options, but I’m personally more interested in #4, the F1 “Go Clean” series. I have to admit, in the past I typically used plastic bags for this. But after one recent business trip, the tagline on the “Go Clean Pack Bags”– “Keep your filthy shoes away from your clean clothes,” makes me think it would be a worthwhile upgrade. The #5 best-seller is Hideo Wakamatsu tarpaulin luggage.

Flight001dSome of the funky accessories easy on the wallet include a folding travel cup, mini-wipes in mint or “juicy orange”, paper soap, and EZ towels. The towels expand to 9in X 10in and are bio-degradable. If you’re a big “Mad Men” fan, there are plenty of retro dopp kits, cases, and baggage tags—but don’t be offended if someone says, “Excuse me, Stewardess!” if you use them, as they’re authentic looking.

One other cool invention, “Jerry the Travel Humidifier” uses your own water bottle to act as an instant moisture source. While I’d call this a bit of an extravagance, I can’t deny that it’s a clever concept that fits in your luggage. It’s surprisingly small, but I can’t vouch for it’s overall effectiveness. 

It’s The Journey Too

Flight001fBrad’s top travel tip? “It’s all about the organization. If you organize your bag, your trip will be organized. I don’t get flustered or excited about anything because it’s organized. I have my back-ups in case something happens–take my precautions to make the journey wonderful. I think the journey (including the airport) is as much fun as the rest of the trip.”

When I asked Brad what kinds of products he uses when traveling he was quick to respond, “Hard sided luggage. I’m a neat person, and I feel that hard luggage allows me to be neater. Plus you can’t over-pack it. It will always fit in the bin. Also, I think it looks cooler.” Noted.

One Country Per Year

The company has issued a challenge to travelers called the 001 Country Per Year challenge with—you guessed it—the goal being that you visit one new country each year. The mission behind the challenge is to promote cultural connections around the globe. Each week they feature an “ambassador” with images and tips from their travels-open to all. When I asked Brad how many countries he’s visited he said, “I think, 27. My challenge for this year is Sweden. I’ve never been to that region. Last year, I went to Australia.” Not a bad challenge to take on!

The Travel Attitude

Brad has done a lot of traveling, to say the least. I was a bit surprised to hear him say he finds the whole “process” better now than a few years ago. Even with security. But he summed it up nicely. “Sometimes I see other passengers huffing and puffing. But this is the world we live in now. Be prepared, have a good attitude, unless you live in a cave you know you’ll probably have to take off your shoes at some point…so be understanding. A traveler’s attitude can make all the difference in your trip.”