Travel Advice From Emmitt Smith (& How To Apply It)

Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith has spent much of his retirement traveling and recently shared some travel advice with Bloomberg.


Travel Tips Published October 24, 2019   |   3 minute read

According to the article, Smith “estimates that he spends 100 nights a year in hotels." The NFL’s all-time leading rusher clearly knows how to make a home on the road.

Here are some highlights from the interview:


Pack light.

“If you don’t have to go to baggage claim, you can save time on the front and on the back end.”

Sure, you’ll save time at baggage claim—that’s obvious. You’ll also save time at home and your hotel. If you know you’re only packing for a carry-on, you’ll be more decisive in your choices. At the hotel (see below) you’ll set up shop quicker by packing light.

Keep a toiletry kit in your carry-on even when you aren’t traveling. That way, you’ll never forget it if you have to pack hastily.


Make your hotel your home.

“The first thing I do when I get to my hotel is I unpack all my clothes. I hang everything to get all the wrinkles out, set up my computer, and act like it’s my house. When I was playing, I would do that so I could focus as soon as possible, and it’s the same philosophy now: Get there and make that hotel room your room.”

Smith isn’t the first person to share this advice, but the fact he applied it during his career carries weight. For Smith, unpacking immediately helped ease the challenge of playing on the road. For you, it can effectively end your traveling—you’re now at work.

Roll don’t fold your shirts—this will help reduce wrinkles and also make them easily sortable once you get to your hotel room.


Should you get room service? Emmitt says yes.

“So I try to stay consistent: I’m a breakfast guy, so I’ll eat an egg-white or two over medium, have some bacon and toast, and then in the evening, I’ll find some fish or chicken.”

Smith has a good reason for his reliance on room service: He’s famous—very famous. But there’s merit to his point about consistency. It could lead you to eat healthier while eliminating time spent looking for quality restaurants near your hotel. It also creates bonus work time: You may find yourself finishing that email or reviewing your day’s notes as you await your order.

Personalize your room service meals by bringing your preferred coffee beans with you on the road.


Don’t sleep on the plane.

“What I try not to do on a plane is go to sleep. I wake up drowsy, and I can’t get back to my regular energy, so instead I try to keep myself at my usual level. I’ll get on my laptop or do some reading, but it depends on how long the flight is.”

This is a personal preference. Some people like sleeping on planes. Others do not. Even if you are an avid plane sleeper, perhaps you feel the same drowsiness Smith alludes to. To offset this, master the art of the power nap by setting alarms for 30 to 40 minutes from the start of your nap and sipping some coffee right before you fall asleep to get a boost when you wake up.

If you plan to sleep, plan to sleep well—bring a sleep mask and noise-canceling headphones. You may not need them, but if you start to doze off, the quality of your sleep will be improved.


Pack one pair of shoes.

“Dress shoes are key. I’ve found that you can reduce your load by packing an outfit that goes with more than one pair of shoes. You start to add it up, one pair or two or three—simplifying your life makes it easier to travel.”

Better yet: Wear the shoes you plan to match with the multiple outfits. It will save you space in your carry-on luggage. Need an idea of what shoes to wear? We have a blog to help you.

Getting dressed for work can be a somewhat mindless chore—it’s so routine we almost sleep through it—but if there’s certain outfits you like, make sure they're clean and ready for your business trip and wear shoes that match.

You wouldn’t think someone who became world famous from his success on the ground would have worthwhile travel advice (perhaps Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis aka The Bus is more suited for this?), but here we are. Emmitt Smith, Hall of Fame running back for the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals, recently shared some of his travel hacks with Bloomberg.

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