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Packing Tip from Billionaire Aviator Howard Hughes

IQ Editors


You've probably heard of Howard Hughes.

Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed him in the 2004 Oscar-winning film, The Aviator. And late in life, he notoriously devolved into an obsessive-compulsive (OCD) recluse of the richest order.


Before that, however, he was a high flying renaissance man and billionaire.

Born into a wealthy oil family in 1905, and inheriting a fortune at age 19, Hughes went on to build a multi-billion dollar aerospace empire—partly to feed his need for speed as a thrill-seeking pilot who, as luck would have it, managed to survive four plane crashes in his 30s and 40s.


In July 1938, he set a world record by flying around the globe in 91 hours.

Years earlier, he founded a Hollywood studio where he produced box office hits including Scarface (1932) and the aviation war film, Hells Angels (1930), which he also directed. (Pictured below: an aerial combat scene from the film.)



Years later, he bought up huge swaths of land and casinos in Las Vegas, inadvertently transforming it from a seedy mob-land into the glamorous entertainment mecca it is today.

As an aviator and business mogul, Hughes did a lot of flying over his lifetime. And as a fitting end for an aviation pioneer, he took his last breath on a plane, dying mid-flight of kidney failure in April 1976.

According to his close friend, legendary actor Cary Grant, Hughes was a minimalist when it came to packing. (Pictured below: Hughes and Grant greeting each other before a flight in 1946.)



"Howard owned only two suits," Grant recollected in the 1980s during a one-man show in which he shared stories from his life and illustrious career.

"He never owned a tuxedo. If he needed one, he’d borrow one of mine. I’d show up at the airport with matching luggage. Howard would drive up in an old car and a brown paper bag with a change of underwear."

Ah, the eccentric habits of OCD billionaires!

Suffice it to say, if Howard Hughes can pack light, so can you. Maybe not paper bag light because, well, that's just weird and would likely get you on a government watch list.

But certainly carry-on light.

Check out our pro guide, How to Pack Just a Carry-on, and corresponding podcast episode, so you can travel lighter and more carefree during your next trip.



Photos: LIFE Photo Collection