Tips for Packing Light and Wisely
It may go against learned patterns, but our travel experience reveals the need to pack very, very light, particularly for long trips. It took a hernia (from helping a travel companion with her heavy suitcase), countless backpacking trips, and an inventory before I learned the technique.
I recently returned from a 4-day trip with one overhead bag. Last summer, I took a four-week trip with that overhead bag. For the most part, the same apparel went both times.
Here are some of those learned tips for travel in Europe and similar areas:
- Essential apparel should include two basic sets in an easy care fabric:
- Women: slacks, skirt, tank or short-sleeved top, and jacket, preferably one that goes with both sets. A pashmina can be an excellent accessory, unless traveling to the tropics! Two scarves, two sets of costume jewelry. (Learn how to tie scarves to create many looks.)
- Men, two pairs of washable slacks, two each of knit and woven shirts, and a travel suit jacket. Two ties, unless not necessary.
- Proven companies include REI, Chico’s and similar stores, TravelSmith, and Territory Ahead.
- For both: a pair of walking shoes that can double as dress shoes is a brilliant choice. Mephisto, Clark’s, and Bass are possibilities. Select a second pair appropriately and always include flip-flops for the shower. Comfortable hosiery and minimal pairs, please!
- Swimming apparel, as necessary. Do not pack a towel—they are heavy and easy to purchase if needed.
- A hat if heading for rain or sun.
- One jacket or coat that can be worn on the plane and used for casual and dress.
- An inexpensive store such as H&M may be available at your destination for that additional t-shirt or pair of slacks. These can always be left in your room when you depart.
- Before you put anything in your suitcase, place everything you may take on your bed or your floor. Evaluate each item carefully. Will you definitely, positively, wear it often? If not, leave it home.
- Never, ever pack anything you have not worn and tested thoroughly. Never pack anything that needs fixing or alterations.
- Be absolutely positive the article of clothing is comfortable, launders easily, and does not require extra care such as ironing.
- Never take more than one outfit for the same kind of event. Use carefully chosen accessories to create a different look with the one or two basic outfits.
- Jeans, although beloved and basic, are heavy. They take a long time to dry and are not recommended.
- Toiletries weigh a lot and often spill. Take a minimal amount, buy there, and leave behind. You think people in Europe don’t use toothpaste or hair color? Think again!
- Pack all liquids into a one-quart freezer bag, doubled, making it easy for airport security to inspect. This needs to be easy to reach in your carry-on.
- Avoid that mistake that so many of us invariably make: leave home that Swiss Army knife that you will inevitably forget is in your carry-on. Airport security has more of them than most sporting goods stores.
- Never take a pillow! Come on!
- If you take valuable jewelry, be willing to be parted from it. It just is not worth the hassle. We will not even share the numerous stories we have heard.
- Always pack a small sewing kit and a travel clothes line.
- Take a test run with your packed suitcase. Go shopping with it and lug it around the mall for an hour or two. Take it into a coffee shop or restaurant. Did you feel free to move easily? If you saw a shady character, would it be easy to get going with your bag?
Pack for fun and flexibility or pack to be a workhorse. It is your choice. And, if you pack light, get amused by watching all those in the airports and streets who did not! Some never learn; just do not travel with them.
Bundling - Efficient Way to Pack and Minimize the Wrinkles
Pack light, pack smart. How many times do you say this to yourself, only to arrive at the airport with a bigger bag than you want? Then you arrive at your destination, unpack, and find your clothes badly wrinkled. Ugh.
Learn about bundle wrapping, not folding, and you may save space and arrive wrinkle free. Bundle wrapping may allow you to reduce your suitcase size, something you will enjoy over and over.
Bundle wrapping? Tell me more! Bundle Wrapping Demonstrated