Devotional – The Man in the Mirror – Courtesy of C3 Journey and Jim Crumbley

It is Wednesday before Thanksgiving and I hope that as you read this blog you are able to be thankful for many things.  This time of year is always a good time to reflect on the small things in life we often take for granted.  Be sure to take some time and count your blessings this week and if appropriate be sure to reach out to your loved ones and tell them what you are thankful for (including the fact they put up with you!)

I was reading C3 Journey’s blog today and came across the post below.  It is a very powerful message and one of which I believe more men should take heed.  If we can face the man in the mirror then anyone else who has an opinion doesn’t really matter.  The important part of us as men is to not deceive ourselves when we look in the mirror.  Take a long and honest look at yourself and if changes need to be made, don’t hesitate to do so.

I will now turn it over to Jim Crumbley.

It seems to happen to me at least three to four times a year. I hit a wall. I get lazy and an old habit creeps back. I focus on my own strength and an old attitude returns. When I should have been warmed up and ready to roll towards an opportunity, my faith gets unexpectedly stretched and I pull up lame; unable to push through.

My first thought is to blame my circumstances. “I just don’t have the time.” At other points, depending upon what is going on, I cast responsibility on someone else. I focus on their attitude, their controlling nature, and/or their insecurities as the reason for my own wall.

Then, I look at the man in the mirror.

  • It is the man in the mirror who has full authority over my destiny. While it may be true that others can be controlling or insecure, my wall is mine alone. I
  • It is the man in the mirror who holds me back from what God is wanting me to grow through.
  • It is also the man in the mirror who can push me forward in faith to God and the full realization of His Kingdom in my life.

I don’t always like what I see in the mirror. Some images, some truths about who I am are difficult to accept. But just like in the physical where I can wash, shave and clean up; I can be washed by the water of the word and see myself as clean again. Even in my weaknesses and failures, I am clean.

Walking in faith is a defogger for my vision. Seeing clearly, the man in the mirror no longer holds me back but encourages me to face where I am weak, make some tweaks to my life and grow through my temporal challenge.

Whatever difficulty I am dealt, at some point it will pass. What remains is the man in the mirror. The stronger he is, the stronger I am.

When you get what you want in your struggle for self (money/riches/fame)
And the world makes you king for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that man has to say.
For it isn’t a man’s father, mother or wife,
Whose judgement upon him must pass,
The fellow whose verdict counts most in life,
Is the man staring back from the glass.
He’s the fellow to please, never mind all the rest,
For he’s with you clear to the end,
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test,
If the man in the glass is your friend.
You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But the final reward will be heartache and tears,
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass. 

– Dale Wimbrow, 1934

Jim CrumbleyJim uses his life experiences and experience in the Marine Corps (the good and the bad) to strengthen the church and build people. He and his wife Dona are on the Pastoral team at the C3 Church in Lawrenceville, GA.

Male Depression – 10 Things You Should Know

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Movember is nearing an end and while it is always sad as we get closer to the day we have to shave our ‘stache, there are women everywhere who are counting down the days!  It isn’t too late to MG866-Made-in-Movember-Campaign-Photos-2014-Media-Images-Portrait-3-LowRes-RGB-Logodonate money to the cause, you can visit this link to help us find a cure for prostate, testicular cancer and to help men around the world battle mental health issues.

One of the largest obstacles to properly treating depression in men is that the look and feel of depression to a man is not the same that is is to women.  Thus many men all over our country are misdiagnosed or even worse, missed completely.

The shocking truth is that men completed suicide at a rate three or four times that of women.  Thus it is very important we educate ourselves about male depression and how to identify the unique symptoms in men.

The following are 10 things you should know about male depression, compiled from Johns Hopkins Depression and Anxiety Bulletin and other sources.

1. Depression affects about 6 million American men and 12 million American women each year. But these numbers don’t tell the story of men, and older men, in particular.

2. Suicide in men peaks in the 20s and again in the 60s and 70s.

3. Many men experience “depression without sadness,”which makes it more challenging for primary care physicians to make the diagnosis of depression. Some of the symptoms of this kind of depression include severe anxiety, physical discomfort,sleep disorders, and diminished energy and self-confidence as some of its primary symptoms.

4. Men—more commonly than women—are likely to feel angry, irritable, and frustrated rather than sad when depressed.

5. Men tend to cope with depression differently than women.  Instead of withdrawing from the world, men may act recklessly or develop a compulsive interest in work or a new hobby. Instead of crying, men may engage in violent or risky behavior.  I see this all the time with guys.  When we feel down or “off” we think if we drink, do drugs or have copious amounts of sex we will feel better.  These are only temporary solutions and often only make things worse in the long run.

6. Men are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol when in the midst of a depression, perhaps to find relief from the pain of depressive feelings. This can make it difficult to determine whether a problem is specifically alcohol-or-drug-related or whether it is primarily depression.

7. Men often report physical symptoms more often than women, such as headaches, joint pain, backaches, dizziness, chest pain, and digestive problems. However, they are often unaware that these symptom are linked to depression.

8. There may be genetic differences between depression in men and women. Five years ago, researchers from the University of Pittsburg identified 19 chromosomal regions linked to one form of major depression, but only three of them were significantly linked in both men and women. The other 16 were only linked in one sex.

9. A worrying recent trend is the increasing rate of suicide among younger men, a trend not seen among young women. The majority of these men have no asked for help before their deaths.

10. The higher suicide rate among men is a worldwide phenomenon. A few exceptions to the general rule exist, for example, among elderly women in Hungary and in some Asian countries. The reasons why men are more likely to kill themselves are complex, but risk factors include unemployment, social isolation, chronic illness, and certain occupations that have access to the means of suicide.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression please do not wait to get help!  Today is the day, don’t delay!

Grooming Tips for Movember

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Movember is moving along very quickly!  Today we are going to turn our attention to grooming.  This is something you should be paying attention to daily.  Too many men are walking around looking and smelling like a complete disaster!  Thus, it is time to address some serious grooming issues that we as men seem to have.

If you are serious about finding a good looking woman to spend some quality time with then you have to ditch the teenager approach to grooming and start acting like the grown ass man you are.  A beautiful woman has no desire to share their life or bed with a nasty, unkempt man, unless of course you have ALOT of money.  Even then why would you want to embarass yourself by having all that money but looking like you woke up in a cave?  Besides read below and you will find out a well groomed man earns more money than his poorly groomed peers!

Here are my top five tips when it comes to personal grooming.

1.  Get a Real Hair Cut

Are you still going to the barber for a $10 cut?  Do any of the following words appear in the name of the place that cuts your hair: great, cheap, super, clips, cuts, cost or cutters?  JUST STOP!  For the love of everything please stop!  Nut up and go get your hair cut at a real salon or place specializing in cutting men’s hair (this does not mean a barber shop!)

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I personally recommend The Art of Shaving.  (Editor’s note: The Art of Shaving made me take their link down.  Apparently they don’t like publicity.) Not only do they do a great job but the whole experience is designed for men.  They also offer other services and products specific to men such as a straight razor shave.  Yes you will pay more for the experience ($40 at my location in Manhattan) but they take great care of you (shampoo, conditioner, hot towel and eyebrow trim if needed) and you will look better too.  Get your hair cut at those other places and there is no telling what you might look like when you leave.

Stop wearing the military cut from when you were 20 years old.  You aren’t enlisted in the Army any more.  Still rocking the mullet?  No way you are getting laid on a regular basis unless you are paying for it.  Think the faux mohawk is in style?  What are you living under a rock?  Is your hair down to your ass?  What are you John the Baptist?  C’mon men it is time to straighten up and fly right.  Your wife/girlfriend/special friend will appreciate the upgrade trust me.

 2. Stop With the Cheap Cologne Shower

Nothing is worse at the gym than the guy who steps out of the shower and then decides to create a cologne fog in the locker room.  Well wait there is one thing worse: the guy who works out, doesn’t take a shower and decides to mask his funk in a cheap cologne whirl wind.  If you can create a huge fog that creeps across the entire locker room than you probably are using cheap cologne and probably dream about being on reality T.V.

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You KNOW the smell I am talking about.  Despite the cleaver commercials, woman do not enjoy the smell of Axe body spray. Some may even argue it is not an improvement over your “natural” body odor.  Drop the cheap shit and spend a little cash for some high quality body scent.

Here is the deal: cologne will actually smell differently (based on your body chemistry) once it is applied so be careful you don’t just buy something that smells good in the bottle.  Spray a little on your wrist, rub it in and make sure that it works for you.  If you don’t like how it smells then pick another until you find something you (or she) likes.  A good quality cologne is going to set you back at least $70 but it is worth it.  If you have ever seen a look in a woman’s eyes when she tells you how good you smell you know the price is worth that look alone, even forgetting what might come after.

If you are not sure if something smells good ask one of the store employees.  If you let them know you want to buy something but that you insist on it being the right thing you won’t have to worry about them selling you something bad or giving you a dishonest assessment.  My two current favorites are Hermes and Spice Bomb (It even looks like a grenade!)

Not sure where to buy cologne? Here is hint: no truck stops, gas stations or Wal-Marts.  I recommend you walk into a Sephora near you and check out their huge selection.  They can sample something for you for free once you find a good smell.  This will allow you to test it out  2 or 3 times to decide if it works for you.  If not, go back and do it again until you find something you like.  It is a beautiful thing.  Please just ditch the cheap stuff!

Additional Note:  I hope you realize cologne is supposed to be appliedto your body NOT your clothes.  If you are spraying it on your clothes you are missing the purpose of cologne.  It should be applied to your wrists (spray on one wrist and then rub wrists together) and/or placed behind your ears or right below your Adam’s Apple.  The idea is that as your body heat rises and you sweat (even just a little) the scent will escape from skin pores.  I am sure you can figure out why that might be helpful in certain situations with the ladies.

3. “Hey bro I can see your nipples!”

As many of you know our entire country went through a heat wave from hell several weeks ago.  Seemed everywhere you looked people were literally catching on fire.  During a heat wave such as this, one of the worst places to spend any time is in the subway.  However, there is no excuse for losing your cool and walking around a city like you are a Neanderthal.

There is a reason why someone invented the undershirt or the A-Shirt (aka tank top/wife-beater etc.)  One of these reasons is to protect your outer garment from sweat, sweat stains and the like.  Two weeks ago I was waiting for the subway on the platform and this dude comes walking down the stairs dressed professionally so I assumed he was going to work.  There was only one problem, his dress shirt was clinging to his skin as if someone had just dumped water on him.

He then proceeded to push his way on to the next train pressing his sweaty and disgusting body upairplane_robert_hays_ted_striker_sweating_profusely against other people.  Why someone didn’t punch him in the face and knock him back onto the platform to await the next train is a mystery.  If this is you, you should never, ever under any circumstances be allowed out of the house.

You can avoid this fashion, grooming and personal hygiene disaster by simply wearing an undershirt.  I always wear some kind of undershirt especially in the summer to avoid this very thing.  As long as I am wearing a t-shirt I never have issues with sweat stains or the like during the summer.  Even if all you have is a tank top or A-shirt at least wear something to absorb your sweat before it can seep through your shirt.  I have no idea how this guy in the subway managed to get through his work day looking like that.  Can you imagine going into a 10am meeting with someone like that?

that-guy

4.  Trim it

downloadEar, nose, eye, facial and pubic (yes pubic) hair should be getting some attention from you on a regular basis.  If you are 21 you probably don’t have issues with the ear or nose hair…yet.  However, your eye brows probably need attention.  Don’t be like this dude on the left.  Most of you I am sure are taking care of the facial hair (although I highly question many of the beards you all walk around with). However, you don’t want a cluster of trees growing out of your nose when you try to get some hot woman’s digits at the bar.  Same is true for your ears.  I am sure you own a mirror. Thus you should be able to see there is a problem so just take care of it.  Less than 3 minutes a day keeps Big Foot away.

If you have purchased an electric razor set there is usually an attachment that is capable of trimming ear and nose hair.  Otherwise you can pick up a small pair of body hair scissors just about anywhere they sell beauty products.  I recommend getting them here.

You should also avoid the ultra manly “uni-brow” look that somehow goes unchecked in society.  Tweeze those suckers.  Wax ‘em.  Do something with them because great googly-moogly that is a terrible look to be sporting these days.

Finally, pubic hair.  I am not going to bother listing the research here but you can Google many of the benefits to trimming your hedge.  I am not recommending a complete shave of the nether regions.  I always thought it weird that dudes preferred the pre-teen look.  I know some women really dig it so it is up to you.  The world is your oyster bro, be free if you want to.   I simply recommend a little weekly maintenance to keep it fresh.

Let’s not forget your arm pit hair.  If you suffer from excessive body odor and/or deal with over active sweat glands in the pits sometimes trimming that up will help reduce the smell and help keep the area drier.  Botox is also something you can consider as apparently it helps to reduce BO and reduce the amount of sweat your glands produce.  That is a more expensive option and not full proof.

 5. Your Face is Your Only Real Asset – Take Care of It

I hate even admitting the truth of this statement.  My wife has finally succeeded in convincing me the importance of a skin care routine for my face.  For those of us who are slower than others this means more than just washing your face.  This more than anything else on this list is going to cost you but you have to do what it takes to stay at the top of your game.  You only get one face so you have to take care of it.Screen-Shot-2012-11-27-at-2.24.37-AM

Here are the things I recommend but based on your individual situation you might want to involve more items:

  • Pre-shave oil, gel or lotion – check out Art of Shaving for products.
  • High quality shaving cream – I personally love Burt’s Bees shaving creme but there are a ton of really great products out there.  Barbosol is cheap…for a reason.
  • Face Scrub – I recommend Joe’s Face Scrub which you can purchase here but there are plenty of great products.  You can usually pick up good stuff from Ulta, Sephora and sometimes even Target.
  • Face wash – no preference on this just make sure it works with your skin type and doesn’t dry out your face like a mummy.
  • Moisturizer – I hate to admit to even using one but I do.  I have had the most success with Lab Series.  you can get it here.

First impressions are always key and since your face is the first thing a woman is going to see you need to be sure you are taking care of it.  Don’t use being married as an excuse not to take care of yourself.  Studies show that attractive people earn more money, have greater success in their job search and get promoted quicker and more often. As men we don’t like it when our wives or girlfriends “let themselves go” physically so why is it okay when we do the same?  Suck it up and take care of yourself!

Until tomorrow, make it a better day!

Andrew

Real Men Wear Tights!

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Good Afternoon Gentlemen!  I hope you all had amazing weekends!  Things are a bit crazy here at the Better Men blog as we are in full moving mode as we transition our lives to St. Louis.  It seems awfully weird to not really have a home but we are making the best of it.  Due to the craziness of moving you may notice the blog will be a bit light between now and Thanksgiving.  I will do my best to put things up here but it might not be too successful.

Eric and his beautiful family. Just to be clear, Eric is the one with the glasses.

With that in mind, today’s post is courtesy of my really great friend (and future Godfather to my daughter) Eric Whitehead.  Eric is an extremely talented artist, actor, producer, writer, father and husband (at least that is what his wife says.)  If you want to learn more about Eric please visit his website located here.  He also is involved in a very funny web series that cracks me up all the time.  If you want to check out more on the web series please visit the Facebook page.

Without further ado I will turn it over to Mr. Whitehead, proceed sir!

About once or twice a year I pack up my computer, a couple hats, and a large chunk of my wardrobe, and I leave my family to go live with a group of (mostly) complete strangers for an extended period of time. I become a different person. I grow a beard or mustache, don horn-rimmed glasses, and/or let my hair grow past my chin. While I am away, I almost exclusively eat chicken and broccoli for dinner (because I’m lazy, not because I’m healthy), and I drink copious amounts of protein shakes. At times I wear a full three-piece suit, and at other times I am completely naked in front large amounts of people. And yes, very, very often, I wear tights. And sometimes a teddy bear costume.t0053

Yep, I am a CIA operative. Just kidding, I’m actually an actor. I am not famous unless you ask the blue-haired lady who just exited seat H23. I have not been in a movie with Robert DeNiro, and I have not been on Broadway (although I have, rather confusingly, worked at a place with “Broadway” in it’s name). I do, however, work very hard at what I do and have made a living in the entertainment industry since I graduated college almost a decade ago. I am just like the vast majority of working actors in the US.

“Great,” you say, “but who cares?”

Well, what makes me a bit of an oddity in my line of work is that I have been married to the same amazing woman my entire professional career. Neither my wife, nor I, has had anything remotely close to an extramarital relationship, and we are the tired proud parents a joyful, brilliant, and incredible sixteen-month-old son (thank you very much!).

Typical trashy fare for US Weekly

As you may know, the entertainment industry is notoriously brutal on relationships. A quick perusal through Us Weekly reveals any number of couples splitting up or becoming “consciously uncoupled” (please just call a rose, a rose). And although the magazine deals mostly with celebrity gossip, it’s my experience that celebrity couples are just a small slice of the greater entertainment-industry-relationship pie. On a recent job I did, every single actor over the age of forty had been divorced at least once, and only two of them had children either by birth or by marriage. Only one of the actors is currently married, and only one other is in a serious committed relationship.

Now I honestly say all this without a hint of judgment. I really do have the utmost respect for every single one of my fellow actors. Life is tough when you’re on the road and away from your loved ones, as anyone who travels a lot for work can attest. And sometimes the repercussions of decisions made in youth can be extremely far reaching. But it is my opinion that fidelity is especially difficult for people in my profession.

For one, we are required to interact very intimately with our fellow castmates within days (sometimes hours, minutes, or even seconds) of meeting them. We put our arms around their waist, lift them, kiss them, give them physical and emotional support, and experience very deep connection and, dare I say, love. Everyone needs to feel loved and accepted, but artists, including actors, experience a very acute sense of joy, satisfaction, and exhilaration when we feel Production_01noticed and appreciated. That, coupled with the fact that our co-workers are mostly very attractive people (it’s an industry based on looks and types, after all) who are usually also our roommates on the road, and it is easy to see how the chemistry between one another could be extrapolated into a torrid love affair. Indeed, the “show-mance” is how many long-term relationships are started, so the effect cannot be underestimated.

But I believe the problem does not lay in the inherent and intense feelings we feel toward the people we share the stage or screen with. Yes, this is an added difficulty that requires an actor to feel very deeply for someone he or she may be attracted to. But at a core level, the feelings are the same as a tension filled glance shared between two co-workers, a brush of someone’s arm on the street, or the faint smell of cologne on the subway. All of these moments serve to create a fantasy world outside of the reality in which we live. But the thing about fantasies is that they don’t really exist. Yes, I can (and must, at times) grab hold of a fantasy and live in that fantasy for a short period of time. But I cannot try to live permanently in the fantasy because it can never be fully grasped. It will always be slipping from my fingers, drawing me in, pulling me away, keeping me from a life fully realized.

So how do I keep from trying to live in the fantasy?

Save the fantasy for football, baseball, basketball and hockey.

By never putting myself in a situation outside of the bounds of rehearsal or performance where the fantasy can be grasped. A good friend of mine once told me that he never, not even for a second, believes he couldn’t cheat on his wife. If put in the right circumstances, any person can, and would, cheat. It’s human nature. So, as soon as I leave rehearsal or exit into the wings, I make a conscious effort to remove myself from any circumstance that could allow me a millisecond to live in the fantasy. Because that’s all it takes, isn’t it? The door closes, there’s a spark in someone’s eye, and the fantasy comes to life. I do understand that sometimes life makes this difficult. We can’t, and shouldn’t, live our lives completely isolated from other people. There will be meetings, dinners, and intimate rehearsals. But whenever a fantasy knocks, I can’t allow myself to open the door, even to tell it to go away. I hide nothing from my wife. I am completely honest and open with her, and I trust that she is honest and open with me.

The crazy thing is, the fantasy isn’t always another person. In every marriage there is a vow that is made. Between “sickness and health” and “death do us part,” there is an underlying voice that says, “I choose you over me.” And in every divorce or break up, someone, somewhere along the line, said, “I choose myself.” “I choose one thrilling moment over years of trust.” “I choose my yearning to be accepted by my peers over the pain and stress it may cause my family.” “I choose my dissatisfaction over your happiness.”

When push comes to shove, I will always choose my family and my relationship with my wife over my job. She would never, ever force me to make that choice, but she would never need to. In every audition I go to, in every contract I sign, in every job I book, I carry her heart in mine. We make every major decision together, balance the pros and cons, and move forward the best we can. It is not always easy, but we always choose to live our lives together in full acceptance of every part of each other.

 

And that’s the beauty of commitment. As I do as an actor on stage, I lay myself completely bare in front of my wife, and experience the freedom to be nothing other than exactly who I am.

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Shows open and close. Movies come and go. Series begin and end. But through it all, someone is always there, telling me they love and accept all of me with every decision, word, and action. So I will always do the same. I made a vow nine years ago, and I take responsibility for that vow every day of my life because it is who I am. Gay, straight, artistic, logical, sensitive, stoic, emotional, tall, short, muscular, thin, moneyed or poor are not what define a “real” man. A real man takes responsibility for every aspect of his life, and fights for what is important to him. So as I pull on my tights, surround myself with beautiful, unique, and amazing people, I will always say, “Kristin Sheffield-Whitehead, I choose you. You and no other. Forever.” Real men wear tights.

Until tomorrow make it a better day!

Fashion Friday – Dopp Kit Essentials

Gents!  Happy Friday!!

This morning marks the last time I will ever be in New York City and still be a New York City resident.  It is bittersweet and the last two weeks have been really hard to get through.  I am excited for the next chapter in our lives, especially having a new little girl on the way.

As part of our packing I had to get a long term Dopp kit together as I will be without most of my household goods for the next two plus weeks.  I recalled coming across a really great article on how to build a proper Dopp kit on The Art of Manliness.

What, you might ask, is a Dopp kit?  It is okay.  I didn’t know what it was called either.  This is what a finished Dopp kit looks like:

Ahhh…of course you know what this is, you just didn’t know the proper term. It’s cool.

Unlike many women who require a small suitcase for their toiletries, a traveling man needs only a few essentials to be happy. Nevertheless, a man needs a place to stow these items. Enter the Dopp kit.

Let us take a journey into the history of the Dopp kit.

The History of the Dopp Kit

Charles Doppelt, a German leather-goods maker from Chicago, invented the Dopp kit during the early 1900’s. The small pouches became known as Dopps, in recognition of its creator. Doppelt scored a contract with the US Army during WWII to provide the toiletry pouches to millions of American GIs. The bags became a hit, and demand for Dopp kits soared when American men returned home from war.

My memories of Dopp kits include looking over my dad’s black leather one. It was worn from years of use. As a child, I was always amazed at all the stuff he could put in there. It was almost like a doctor’s old medical bag.

Building your Dopp Kit

The Bag

The first thing you’ll need is the bag. These aren’t difficult to find. You can get a nylon travel bag for under $5 at any big box store like Target or Wal-Mart. They’ll get the job done.

But if you want a Dopp kit with class, leather is the only way to go. Sure, it will cost you more, but it will last forever, age nicely, and become something you enjoy owning and toting around. It’s something you’ll be able to pass down to your sons and grandsons, along with the stories of the places you took it. You can find a nice leather Dopp kit at most department stores. You can also buy nice affordable leather Dopp kit for $35 online. If you’re lucky, you can also score a vintage leather Dopp bag on eBay.

The Supplies

After you have your bag, it’s time to fill it up with the stuff you need to keep you well groomed while traveling. Most of things we suggest are common sense, others you might not have thought of, but will be happy to have on hand during your adventures.

  • Travel bottle of shampoo
  • Bar of your favorite soap
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss
  • Shaving supplies: razor, brush, and cream
  • Nail clippers
  • Lip Balm
  • Band Aids
  • Safety Pins
  • Aspirin or Tylenol
  • Lint Roller
  • $20 bill
  • Extra pair of contact lenses

Organizing the kit

One of the things I remember about my dad filling up his Dopp kit is the care he took when packing his supplies. Everything had its place. The way you place supplies in the pouch will ensure safe arrival to your destination.

If you will be flying with your Dopp kit, keep in mind that pressure changes on the airplane can cause your shampoo and cream bottles to explode. This will create a big mess and a lot of disappointment, especially if you went ahead a bought a nice leather kit. To avoid a mess, try this hint: Before placing a bottle that holds liquidy materials in your bag, squeeze the air out of the bottle right up until the cream reaches the tip of the hole. Without this excess air, your bottles will be much more likely to hold unto their contents during flight.

What do you carry in your Dopp kit? Did we miss anything that you think is essential to have? Drop a line in the comment box and let us know.