What Not to Pack, Wear, or Carry on Your Next Trip
by Cheryl Ford, Sr. Organizing Specialist and Designer
When was the last time you “under packed” for a trip? Perhaps you can’t remember.
Recently I went on four back-to-back trips; two for business and two for pleasure, ranging from four to fourteen days in length. The first business trip entailed driving to a small town east of the mountains for a few days to move a client. The clothes I packed were for getting dirty and a few to put on after work to go out to dinner with my co-worker. I didn’t under pack, and I didn’t over pack, and only used one roll aboard sized suitcase. I did over pack with extra books to read, snacks, a computer and my portable music speaker...all that surely I would be able to enjoy in my hotel room at night. It didn’t happen because I was too tired. I did wear most of my clothes multiple times. Overall I’d give myself a “B+.”
The second trip was to visit my daughter in the Virginia countryside, with horses to ride and dogs to climb upon on my lap. I was also told to bring barn clothes for an excursion to a friend’s working farm. I was glad to fly an airline that let me check for free so I took advantage of it. I packed riding boots, old jeans, some sightseeing outfits, a few dressier options for a party, and a spare duffle bag for shopping. I wore half of my clothes and washed that same half once. On the way home I checked the extra bag with my souvenirs but that now meant schlepping two bags instead of one in and out of my daughter’s car, and through baggage claim. Grade “B-.“
Trip number three to Montana consisted of two weeks of client work, with a break to visit relatives. Three days before departure, the forecast of sun and 70’s, changed to snow for at least the first part of the adventure. I dutifully added my down coat and more long pants to the suitcase, and consciously left my packable duffle at home. At least I could use the coat as a pillow on my red-eye flight. I used my coat the first day and then it hung in the hotel closet for the rest of the trip. The higher temperatures came back sooner than expected, and I had to make an emergency trip to Costco for some warm weather clothes. I still did two loads of laundry at the hotel, and my evening dinner attire didn't begin to compare with that of my co-workers. My zealous purchase of gifts for upcoming birthdays resulted in an unplanned stop on the way to the airport for an extra duffle bag, costing me both time and money. Grade “C-.“
The last trip, a vacation, was to a tropical climate for 10 days. I packed several sets of shorts and coordinating tops, a few hot weather skirts, and a casual dress. I ended up living in my favorite and oldest beach cover-up for 80% of the time because it was the most comfortable and most versatile. I even started shopping for a second one, a bit dressier for going to lunch and sightseeing, but I couldn’t find one. The speaker was used almost daily, but I can’t say the same for all of the extra books. Once again, the clothes I washed at the resort were only half of what I originally packed, overall earning myself a “C“ for this trip.
The moral of my journeys?.....Don’t try to pack for perfection, but rather pack smarter, not harder. Take a look at a few of my old and new lessons learned about travel and packing.
Most people can’t afford to travel with a private butler or a pack mule. If European travel is on your agenda, plan to carry what you pack up and down hotel stairs where there may not be an elevator or on the stairs between train platforms, or across cobblestone paths in front of your B&B. Wheels on suitcases are great, right up until the point when they are not. My favorite tour guide always advises to pack your suitcase and then take it for a walk around your neighborhood. Odds are you will be editing out some of your must-haves. Other options for those situations include using a large backpack with or without wheels or a medium weight duffle bag with a strong and comfortable shoulder strap.
Wash and Wear
Fabric content and color go hand-in-hand when it comes to packing smart. Pick a neutral hue, like black, white or beige and add only one or two accent colors. Keep it simple and accessorize with scarves and costume jewelry. Stick with natural fabrics, such as lightweight cotton, washable silk, bamboo, or try a “performance” synthetic fabric that is designed for hot or cold climates, yet takes up little room in your suitcase. Do some research to see if any dual purpose clothing is an option for your trip such as pants or skirts that zip off at the knee to become shorts or a shorter skirt.
Carry On Please
Believe it or not, it is possible to go on a trip of several weeks in length and not have to check any luggage. I rarely check any bags, for multiple reasons:
It forces me to pack light.
I don’t have to pay baggage fees.
There are no lost luggage forms to fill out.
It is much easier to volunteer to be bumped in exchange for a free flight at a later date.
I learned this the hard way on route to Paris. My friend and I could've arrive sooner than our original flight, but because we didn't have our luggage by our side for an international flight, we weren't eligible for the deal.
You don’t see flight attendants checking their luggage as they have perfected the art of packing. They do it with a high-quality, durable rolling suitcase that will survive taking them across the country or around the world and back on a regular basis.
In a Nutshell
If you are like me, I’m sure you have returned from many a trip wishing that you would have packed smarter, but you’ve probably never wished that you had packed “more.” To help you pack smarter for your next trip remember to:
Limit the size and weight of your suitcase before you start to pack, not after.
Pay attention to where you and your luggage will have to work it’s hardest and adjust your packing style and type of suitcase accordingly.
Pack a color coordinated dual purpose wardrobe made of lightweight washable fabrics. Leave the one time use, and bulky items at home.
Pack only paperbacks that you will read and can leave at your destination or, better yet, invest in an ebook . Rip out the pages of your travel guide and carry only those that are applicable.
You can never pack too many zip lock bags. Their uses are endless and they take up no space.
Don’t pack items “just in case.” Most likely you wont need them or they can be found where you will be traveling, i.e a hairdryer, iron , laundry bag, etc…
One of my girlfriends and I have the same “someday“ dream trip in our heads. Grab a taxi to the airport, buy a first class ticket to Paris. The only items we'd carry are our purses and passports and the clothes on our backs. We'd then purchase only what we need when we get arrive. Now thatwould be an “A+“ trip. I can still have hope for that dream trip, as hoping and dreaming costs nothing!
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Now You See it, Now You Don't
An easy way to stretch your travel dollars is to have a piece of luggage that can do double duty and serve your needs for many future vacations. This carry-on tote has a zippered expandable section when your souvenir shopping disagrees with your original luggage space allotment.
Unzip it when you need more space, zip it up when you don't. Carry it by the handle for short jaunts or add the shoulder strap for longer ones. The nylon, easy-to-clean fabric, also makes it a great choice for carting wet towels and sand-filled shoes from the beach or pool.
When you get home don't toss this beauty in the closet. Use it for school, containing your commuting to work essentials, or have it accessible for an unplanned picnic or last minute weekend road trip.
Hang on to That "Just Back From a Refreshing Vacation" Feeling
Whether you have taken a vacation or not this year, you may need to give your house a vacation too!
We can help you do that by getting any or all of the areas of your home organized and redesigned, giving your house a new look and making it feel as refreshed as if you'd given it a week off. We can make your bedroom and closets resemble your favorite hotel room or your kitchen as workable as that of your favorite celebrity chef.
Give us a call at 425.670.2551, 509.392.7064 or 877.342.8592 to discuss your needs and see how we can put together a team to help.
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