HOWTO: Packing

Whoa. Hi there! Nice to see you again. Sorry I missed a couple days … I've been traveling a LOT, like, three-cities-in-three-days-lot, which accounts for my recent absence. (And for this post, a packing how-to.)

First off, a disclaimer. There is, of course, more than one way to pack for a trip, and more than one kind of trip. These instructions will be of no use to you if you are planning a six-month scientific expedition to the Arctic or the Amazon, have to attend four black-tie balls in five days, or have a lady's maid or valet. (if you have a lady's maid and are packing your own suitcase/valise/trunk … why do you have a lady's maid?). These instructions are really only good for fairly boring businessy-type trips, or short vacationy-type trips. But, that said:

1. The first rule of packing is to know your own strength. If you are planning to carry on a bag and cannot lift it above your head, you should not be carrying on that particular bag. (Obviously, if you are disabled and know you will have help in any case, this doesn't apply to you.) But packing more than you can lift is a recipe for disaster and will cause irritation to all your fellow travelers. In a similar vein, if you cannot drag your suitcase without it toppling over, you might want to rethink that eighth pair of shoes. Not only will your transit to the check-in line be wobbly and fairly ridiculous, the airline WILL charge you for the overweight.

2. The second rule of packing is to know your own style. This, of course, is something you should know for your whole life, not just for traveling, but you should especially know it for traveling. I hate and despise those traveling clothes that strip every last ounce of your personality from you in the service of being "easy to pack". (That dress in the link doesn't even have pockets! How is that travel-friendly?) When you travel, you should look like a concentrated version of yourself, in that your clothes are the ones in which you feel most like you. You'll be out of your natural element, so you can't rely on environmental clues to give folks an idea of what you're like.

For me, this means I usually pack a lot of dresses (duh), bright cardigans to wear over them, and, for the airport, A-line skirts with pockets.

Wearing the same thing every day (and/or washing things in hotel bathrooms) is not worth it. If you wash something, it never dries (and who wants to spend their time doing laundry on a trip?), and if you plan to wear something every day someone spills something sticky or stinky on you. Better to just pack an extra dress.

3. In my opinion, jeans are overrated. Unless this conflicts with Rule 2 for you (in that jeans are the clothing in which you feel most like yourself), ditch the jeans. First off, jeans are boring. I don't care how designery they are, or what unique combo of leg width-wash-waist level you've chosen, they are, in the end (and on your end), just a pair of jeans. My other beef with jeans is that they often act as an (overused) safety net. How often do people pack a week's worth of clothes but then end up wearing jeans every day? Travel should be broadening! (And, I hate to say this, but if you're going to a major metropolitan area, wearing something OTHER than jeans and sneakers will help you not look like a tourist, if that is a goal for you.)

4. Check the weather. Seriously. You'd be surprised how many people just assume the weather where they are going is just like the weather where they are. (You can't assume, for instance, that San Francisco in June is going to be warm.) There's this thing called the Internet, and a large part of it is just weather forecasts. I also understand there is an entire cable television channel devoted to the weather. Don't just check the forecast — check the average highs and average lows, too. And, on top of that, bring a sweater. Just in case.

5. Make a list. In fact, make several lists. I like to print out a calendar page (you can do this from Google Calendar pretty easily) and write down, for each day, what I'm planning to do, which then guides what I'm going to wear. A day spent in meetings will have a different wardrobe than a day spent traveling, sightseeing, or working in a hotel room. Pack the list! If you're traveling for more than a few days it's easy to forget what you were planning to wear when. Make the list very detailed, right down to your underwear. If the dress needs a slip, write "slip" on the list.

Make another list of things that you need that aren't clothes. I like to bring my vitamins (in an old-lady case), Emergen-C, a stretchy exercise band (to help me counteract bad office chairs), a little sewing kit, etc. If you travel a lot save your "extras" list and print out a new copy for every trip. Why remember more than you have to?

Do the same thing for toiletries — there's no percentage in taking up mental space remembering whether you packed a toothbrush or not. Make a list and check "toothbrush" off it. If you travel more than once a month, keep a toiletry set all packed and ready to go. (When you come home from a trip, replenish it right away.) I like to keep two sets packed: one in a quart ziplock bag for carry-ons, and a larger one for when I check baggage.

If it's a work trip, you should also have a work checklist: laptop power supply, charger for phone, ethernet cable, etc., etc.

6. Use packing cubes. I know they seem gimmicky, but they are so useful. First of all, they make life easier for the TSA, and you really don't want to piss them off. Which would you rather have a stranger do: pick up your nicely-packed cube and peer under it, or rummage through a suitcase full of loose clothes, possibly dumping them on the floor? I've seen that happen, and it's ugly.

7. Shoes. Here's my rule for shoes: For any trip longer than three days, you need two pairs of shoes, but no more than three. (Four, maybe, if you have to bring a pair of fancy shoes for a party.) Two pairs is so that if your shoes get wet, or cause a blister (which they shouldn't because you have also packed an anti-blister stick to use on your feet), you have a pair to switch off to.

Also, if you bring the bare minimum of shoes and develop a sudden need for another pair, you now have an excuse to go shoe-shopping.

I don't have to say again that you shouldn't be wearing flip-flops in the airport, right?

You should not be bringing more handbags than you bring pairs of shoes, unless you are Judith Leiber.

8. Miscellaneous suggestions:

— if you haven't worn the thing you are going to pack in more than a month, try it on before it goes in the suitcase.

— always bring one more pair of underwear and socks than you think you will need.

— don't stress about wrinkles. Most hotels have fairly decent irons and ironing boards, and it takes less time to press something than it does to worry about what's going to wrinkle and what's not. I can usually iron everything I've packed in less than half an hour, while watching the hotel television (and there's always an episode of Law and Order playing in every hotel room, everywhere, at every hour of the day or night).

— shoe bags are nice. I'm just saying.

— special travel pillows, special travel alarm clocks, special travel hair dryers — all overrated. Unless you have a serious princess-and-the-pea sensitivity, you'll get along just fine with whatever's at your destination. (I don't get travel candles at all. Raise your hand if you think it's a good idea to light small smelly fires in a hotel room.)

— think: what would be the most inconvenient and irritating thing to have find in the city where you're going, on the trip you're planning? ("sanitary" supplies? A spare power supply for your laptop? Your special moisturizer? ) Bring extra of that.

— if there's any chance that you will be getting in late, make sure your toothbrush, face wash, and pajamas are the easiest things to find in your suitcase.

My suitcase from trip before last:

erin suitcase

I know I haven't said anything about rolling vs. folding, or how to cram your socks into your shoes to save space, compression bags, etc. I find I rarely need to do any of that stuff. I put the clothes in the cubes, put the cubes in the bag, take one last look at my lists, and go to sleep early enough that I can wake up in time to make my flight in the morning.

Have a good trip! Send me a postcard.

0 thoughts on “HOWTO: Packing

  1. i too make lists of outfits before i go to see how far i can (not literally) stretch what i’m taking.i love being able to say that i have worn everything i brought.

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  2. This is invaluable, Erin, and I’m going to show it to my daughter when she gets home. We had drama last week about her (17yo) having to fly to Canada with only a carryon bag. Oye.It wasn’t pretty. This would’ve saved us some arguments, especially because she’s a compulsive list maker. Thanks!

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  3. I also like to pick one color theme for the trip (assuming it’s a trip of not more than three or four days) and stick with that, so that everything can go together–it goes with the “only bringing two or maybe three pairs of shoes” rule. That way just in case you spill something all over your pants the first day, or you realize that you’re bloated and only the one skirt really feels comfy, or it’s FREEZING in the meeting room and you must wear that sweater every day, you can really mix and match much more easily.

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  4. Oh, Erin. You are a treasure. This made me laugh:Raise your hand if you think it’s a good idea to light small smelly fires in a hotel roomAnd I’m sick at home today with either the beginning of a nasty head cold or some truly dreadful allergies. In either case, making me even crack a smile is a major accomplishment. *applauds you*–Lydia

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  5. For some reason all of the Amazon links above are not working. No idea why.Packing cubes are little zippered mesh cases. Very handy, and a set of three runs about $20.

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  6. It’s slightly paranoid, but I always wear natural fiber pants (jeans usuallly) and sturdy shoes on the plane so I can easily escape incase of a crash (the sliding off the runway kind, not the plane falling from the sky kind.)I totally agree with Meara’s color coordinating idea. Neutral bottoms make that pretty easy.

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  7. I save all the zippered plastic bags that bedding comes in. Sheet bags are often perfect for packing one day’s outfit. Pillowcase bags for sundries. They are see-thru, free, reusable and fit perfectly into my luggage. An extra is handy for anything damp.

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  8. I have a small (60″ x 60″) down filled microfiber throw that I fold in 4ths and then roll tightly and secure with stretchy headbands (need those too) stowed in my carry-on for the plane or wherever. So good to have your own blanky! Also, I have a small heart shaped pillow that is stuffed pretty firmly and has a button tuft in the center…..upside down, the v is a great place to put your neck and then your ear in the depression of the tuft and your hairstyle will last. When I’m traveling, I always sleep on my heart!

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  9. Must be Amazon is having problems. All the links were working around 10am (MT) when I was looking at them.

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  10. I don’t mind doing laundry during a trip. It needs to be Real Laundry tho, with suitable arrangements for drying clothes (line dry is fine).Otherwise, I use a very similar packing style. My partner and I can go on week long family visits with all our things in 1 carry on size bag. For longer trips, we prefer 2 bags. More bags means more space for airplane reading…

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  11. Cripes Baloney! I was trying to avoid thinking about posting my 13-year-old son by plane to Germany in about a month’s time for a language exchange, and now you write THIS!I’m not so much worried about his packing (let’s face it, I’ll be doing it – though there is the mess that will be posing as the homeward bag ten days later – euch!) but his managing to do the airport/airplane/airport segue without losing his passport, wallet and cool – can you buy instant travel nous, street savvy and good quality common sense anywhere on Amazon? And when do you stop worrying as a mother? I was thinking maybe ‘When their feet are bigger than yours’ might be a useful rule of thumb, or ‘When they can beat you in an arm-wrestle’. But we’ve moved past both those staging posts now. Help!

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  12. I take skirts for the exact number of days we will be gone. I take tops for that number plus one, along with a top of the “opposite” season, so, one long sleeved top with the short sleeved ones in summer. Wear the cardigan or jacket. One pair ballet flats, 2 pair heels; the flats are an absolute must have on return red eye flights. I dump all liquids and pastes on the way back, so I don’t have to fool around with TSA to get the midget toothpaste back through security. I’m with you on the lists; my household laughs, but no one ever forgets anything with Mom’s checklists. Oh, yes, and I packed for hubby and me in a small rolly suitcase for 4 days. He thought I was nuts to try, until it was closed.

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  13. I’ve been a rather careless packer recently, because I travel every week to university and back, and generally pack the same things all the time…But I still have some experience from all my holiday camp travels and similar events.Having toothpaste and toothbrush and pyjama in an easily reachable place is vital. Not just when you’re going to arrive late. Every time. Believe me.When travelling abroad, I usually carry a small purse I’ve woven in art class – the point of it is, it’s exactly the right size for my money purse and passport (and tickets and other similar things), so I always have them at hand.This might sound silly, but I usually carry with me my groundhog softie puppet that serves perfectly as a pillow… I wouldn’t carry a special pillow, unless it’s travel by bus – that can get VERY uncomfortable. Last time I travelled by bus I was really glad my friends lended me a pillow.Undergarment (socks in particular) rule is also important. When I go somewhere where I’m likely to get wet or dirty, I take more than one pair in addition. Usually two.As to shoe bags, I simply put my shoes to those plastic bags you always end up getting in stores, no matter how hard you try to tell them you have your own… Of course, it’s not the best option for stilettos, but I don’t wear those. :-)Because I usually travel by train, I generally prefer backpacks to suitcases. Suitcases are quite impractical when you climb into the carriages. Moreover, backpacks have the awesome pockets on the outside, where you can put all those little things that you’ll need to have at hand. But that’s really only a railway travel guideline.Heh, I sound like a know-all-understand-all-don’t-tell-me-anything kind of person. That wasn’t intended.

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  14. Eirlys – no sparks of brilliance from this end, just some encouragement – I think as a 13-year-old I was a better traveler than I am now simply because I was terrified of looking like a kid so I tried so hard to be on top of everything. S’long as all his ID is tucked somewhere easily available yet not pick-pocketable (back pocket is out) he should be fine. Good luck telling him all that stuff though!And I love this list. I’m a light packer and so many people just can’t believe you can travel with anything smaller than a steamtrunk. For a weekend trip. My current record is managing a 8-day cruise and Disney World trip in a backpack. Skirts were my friends (nice enough for cruise, cool enough for park, and pack well) and two pairs of shoes got me where I needed to go. Everything was folded then rolled to fit in as tightly as possible. Ziplock bags held the undies and socks (I pack by type rather than day). I’d much rather fit a lot in and then spend a little time ironing then pack loosely and still probably iron. The one downside to packing tight? EVERY TIME I pack especially tight I win the extra-security check lottery. And because my suitcase packs from the top, it means pulling EVERYTHING out. Sigh. Last time the TSA person (who was, btw, very nice) called over her friends to see how much I’d stuffed into a little bag. Thanks??

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  15. Eirlys: Sorry to tell you, but I think you never stop worrying (at least I don’t – & my daughter’s 21 & in England for the summer.) I’ve also started worrying about my mother lately. Which brings me to my retentive packing tip: I usually copy my list & add to suitcase so I can check it for homeward travel.Thanks, Erin – I must look for packing cubes (never noticed them before…)

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  16. Although I do make lists, I am very much a more casual dresser when traveling. My vacations are usually a good part adventure vacation – 15 hr flights, teeny tiny boats; trekking to tribes, backpacking everywhere, sleeping on couches, floors, etc. I need clothes that can take a beating and be respectful to different cultural values. I do usually carry 1 kaki coloured pant, 1 button down, and a wrap skirt to pull over my pants if needed. I do laundry – it’s either that or have the whole backpack smell like you wouldn’t believe!! 3 pairs of shoes – no matter how long. 1 hiking boot, 1 day shoe and 1 slip on for the plane and showers.If I stayed in cities, I would probably bring more me clothes. I just can’t make pretty fun me dresses and then have them get thrashed in the mud. 8 )

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  17. Wow, this is great Erin as well as all of you who commented. I don’t travel much and so when I do, I take waaay to much.The least useful thing I ever packed was a flashlight for a camping trip in Alaska in July.This summer I have a trip to Europe that includes a very formal wedding in Paris, France (Islamic couple) and two weeks of renovating a building into a Buddhist prayer center in England. If anyone has lists of what I should pack I’d love to see it!Annie

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  18. When checking bags, I always take one change of underwear in my carry-on. Simply priceless if you get stranded without your luggage.I also always pack everything in ziplocs (especially the 2.5 gallon ones, if you can find them). Ziplocs are waterproof, so your clothes remain dry in case your bags get wet.Also, tuck a clean copy of your packing list into your suitcase so that you can verify that everything you packed gets re-packed.

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  19. Good advice, I am a notorious over-packer which creates for needlessly heavy and overstuffed suitcases.

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  20. Travel clothes without pockets are unpardonable. You need pockets. Nice, deep, secure pockets.I always roll stuff up–socks and underwear per day, rolled inside the dress or shirt I plan to wear that day, so even if I have to find my clothes in the dark, whatever I pull out will match.The weather thing is important, too–I had a friend visit in October, from somewhere in the upper Midwest. I live in South Texas. All she packed were heavy fall clothes and, when she got here, it was 90+ degrees and 90+ percent humidity. I didn’t think to say anything because she’s an experienced traveler and I thought she’d check. Oops.

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  21. Great tips, Erin! For myself, I just bought a box of the extra large ziplock bags and packed each outfit in that and squeezed the air out. Then when you are done wearing, you can put your dirty laundry back in there.Also…if you have a black bag like every other human, I clear taped brightly colored paper around the handle. That way if they try to grab it off the baggage carrier it obviously isn’t theirs. That’s how Northwest found my bag after they ripped off the tags in transit and it got lost.

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  22. I love small smelly fires! Especially in hotel rooms — the last couple of times I traveled I bought scented candles and found they made my hotel room feel less institutional and more “mine”.Other than that, thanks for pointing out packing cubes — i’d never heard of them, but I’ll get some before my next big trip.

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  23. Vespabelle, it doesn’t sound paranoid to ME – I dress, and pack, on the off chance the plane will crash and I will have to walk out of somewhere really inhospitable.Erin, how much goes into each “cube”? I’ve been packing my shoes – and other oddments – in ziploc bags, I’m interested in knowing the superior value of the cubes, and how much they hold.

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  24. Renovations are construction work. If you’ve done construction before, just pack sensible clothes. If you haven’t… construction workers tend to wear an undershirt type T shirt, possibly layered under a long sleeve buttoned work shirt with jeans. Closed toe shoes or work boots (as opposed to sneakers) if there will be heavy equipment on site (that includes large piles of material). Hard hat if there is any risk of falling materials. All weddings are very formal *g*. A very formal daytime wedding is a different matter from an evening wedding tho… dress accordingly. It’s never a bad idea to ask the bride or her mother for dress code advice. It’s hard to tell what is conservative and formal enough to suit the grandmothers in the family if you’re not used to the culture :).

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  25. Eirlys: It’s essential to travel with a copy of one’s passport, and all other documents (plane tix etc). To that I will add: scan the passport plus documents and email them to yourself and the traveler. In event of loss, it’s a simple log-on, and there are the docs, anywhere with an internet connection.Carry-on: can’t emphasize enough to carry a day’s worth of essentials and one change of clothing, for loss of the big check-in bag (too much experience with this)Europe: Flying between cities, the luggage weight restriction is really low (shockingly low)–check that out first.Change of venue on a longer trip: think about sending items home (if I can find a Mail-boxes etc. in Milan, you can too)or, bring items you can throw away as you move from one climate/location to another. If your size is average, you can pick up basics in most cities and flea markets these days.happy tripping

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  26. My favourite item of travel clothing has been a beige A-line lined linen skirt that I got from Banana Republic three years ago. Man, that thing can travel. Once linen is comfortably crinkled, the wrinkles don’t matter. I can sleep in it (hello overnight trains across Europe) and stay cool and comfy walking about. Oh, and I can wash it and it dries quickly. Yay again for linen!

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  27. Tomorrow we’re off to Costa Rica for a week, this time my honey and I have decided to speed our travels by packing only carry-ons.We found this site very helpful.http://www.onebag.com/pack.htmlEspecially check out the bundle wrapping method. I was surprised at how much more clothing (than the recommended list) I was able to fit in the carryon!

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  28. Because our trips are usually work trips I bring loved old roomy cotton blouses…the sort I wear around the house. I find when I wear these I fit in with the locals better…and that leads to all sorts of interesting things. If you wear Travel Smith type clothes you are gonna meet folks who wear Travel Smith clothes. (Nothing against them…just don’t look like any local I ever saw)

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  29. Frog Princess, we are sisters of the traveling skirts! My favorite item of travel clothing has been a fig-colored matte jersey skirt with a subtle asymmetrical flounce, which I got from Banana Republic, um, a really long time ago. It’s got a spot that I hope only I can see, and a few snags, but I just haven’t been able to find anything as versatile and flattering. I’m going to have to just copy it eventually, as there are none turning up on eBay.Re technique, packing cubes are great. I have the eBags small-medium-large set, and I’ve been filling them as follows: real clothes in the largest, so they get folded the least (not that I ever bring anything that needs ironing, but still); pajamas, slips, scarves, and any other secondary garments go in the medium one; socks, underwear, and brasaka smallsgo in the small. And then I have a case for toiletries, and another small packing cube for all my wires and gadgets and chargers and such. Shoes go in a shoe bag. So nearly everything is in a tidy packet, and I know just where everything is.(I tried the bundle-wrapping method anonymous mentions above, but I found it tedious to have to unpack everything to extract one item.)All of that goes in the suitcase (which was a rolly bag but is about to become a fancy, lightweight business-casual backpack, because wheels will not save you in the Paris metro).Then, in my handbag, there’s what I think of as the Without Which Not. As in, Items Without Which I Am Not !@$#% Going Anywhere. These include my “3-1-1 bag” of contact lens solution, toothpaste, and eye drops; another Ziploc bag with glasses, lens case, one of those disposable face washing cloths (which I generally think wasteful, but half a sheet is all you need to freshen up in an airport/airplane bathroom), toothbrush, mini-deodorant, and a couple of packets of antiseptic hand wipes. Also in my handbag (which is big, as you may recall) go the laptop and cable (with appropriate international plugs), iPod, phone, camera, tiny jewelry roll (which in addition to jewelry always contains at least two safety pins), Smith’s Rosebud Salve (it’s a lip balm! it’s a hand cream! it’s a perfume!), usually a book, at least two pens, a folding fan, a handkerchief, a pack of tissues, my green pashmina, . . .Okay, I carry too much stuff in my handbag. And except for the laptop, most of these are things I haul around every day. But the theory here is that (1) anything I really don’t want stolen stays with me, and (2) if I get separated from my suitcase and for some reason have to spend an entire day or night either in the airport or in a complimentary lousy hotel room, I have everything with me that I need in order to not feel disgusting until I am returned to polite society.I do not follow this custom without cause. I’m just saying.And, of course, I make lists, cross things off as I pack them, and bring the lists with me. And at some point toward the end of my trip I write a Trip Postmortem. This mostly consists of a list of things I should or should not have brought. For example, spare laptop battery? Totally not worth the weight. Antiseptic hand wipes? It is impossible to bring too many. Should I have printed out a map beforehand? How about a list of wifi hotspots? What’s the best route from airport to friend’s house? This document goes on my computer in a folder called, cryptically, Travel, and I look it over before the next trip.

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  30. I have six pairs of shoes with me on a seven-day trip — sneakers for exercise, flip flops for the pool, three pairs of dress flip flops, and one pair of casual flip flops.I think I’ve broken two rules and Erin’s heart. Don’t fear, Erin! I wasn’t at the airport. And I look nice.

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  31. Pretty much everything that I know from lots of travel has been said. I have a couple of tips. Because of the strict luggage limits I decided to weigh my suitcase – 22 lbs! I bought a fish scale at Wal-Mart for a couple of dollars and then went shopping for a new suitcase. My new one is 11 lbs. I also love packing cubes and it keeps your clothing neat.On my last trip I brought my own blanket in my carry-on. It was one of those polyester things. Too bulky – for my next trip I’m going to look for a cashmere shawl that will double as a blanket.I also love my Sony Reader for travel because I can take 80 books with me (I never take that many of course but I could). DH gave me this as a gift when they first came out and it was about $400. However, I saw them at Costco for $149.

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  32. “…(You can’t assume, for instance, that San Francisco in June is going to be warm.) …”HA!!! When would it EVER be warm in San Francisco?The San Francisco Bay Area is the Land of the Amazingly Disparate Micro Climates. I live in Silicon Valley, about 50 miles to the south. Today, June 6, 2008, at 4:30 pm, it is 98 degrees at my house. In San Francisco it is Fair and Windy and…. 66 degrees. YES, a 30 degree difference.Many times I have had the following conversation with relatives and friends visiting from out of the area: Them: “We’re going to drive up to San Francisco and spend the day.” (They are wearing shorts, tank tops, and have no jackets or sweat shirts.) Us: “You should get out of those shorts into some long pants and bring a jacket and some additional layers with you.” Them: “But it’s June and it’s hot. We won’t need any jackets.” Us: “You will freeze your a** off in SF in those clothes, escpecially after the sun goes down and the fog rolls in and it’s both cold AND damp.” Soemtimes they listen, sometimes they don’t, but it’s always much colder than they expect. Always.This is why people come home with San Francisco commeorative sweat shirts.CMC

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  33. I second (or is it third) the frog princess’s comments about linen. I’ve got two quite old Brook’s Bros. linen shirts without which I could not travel.

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  34. “small smelly fires in a hotel room”LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I agree with every word.Except about the jeans and tennis shoes. In California anything but will make you look like a tourist.Being the bonafide Fashion Rebel that I am, I look like a tourist every single day. (I love people who avoid jeans, tennis shoes/trainers and have an aversion to flip flops and plastic gardening shoes.)

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  35. I cannot agree more about the psychological torture that are “travel clothes.” Once upon a time I was talked into buying a whole set of them for a trip, and ended up spending the entire vacation ill at ease and uncomfortable. NO MORE.

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  36. My main travel tip is – never take only one pair of shoes, unless you’re only going for a day (and even then…). I once took a pair of fairly flat slip-on shoes that went with everything I was wearing for the next three days. Fabulous! Until the heel got caught on the hire car at the airport, and pulled it off :-(. I have a question for ADAD’s lovely readers – DD and I are considering ~3 weeks in January in Europe. She wants to stand on a bridge in Venice, both of us want to ice-skate under the Eiffel Tower – both things we could possibly dress for, except how do you dress for weather that cold out of a suitcase? We live in Melbourne Australia (which gets cold, but doesn’t snow), so as big-city people we’d like to continue to dress that way, not like we’re on our way to a ski resort.I’m thinking updated vintage (of course!) – snug little black scoop-neck straight sleeveless dresses, either wool or heavy knit, with those washable merino knits that the high-tech camping shops sell that resist odour, some wool tights and either comfy flat boots or flat mary janes. I’m not sure what to do about a coat. Rainproof? Wool?Would this make me look less like a tourist, and would I avoid frostbite?

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  37. Anne – as a European I can tell you something about European winters. πŸ™‚ Good thing is to wear several layers of clothing. Short sleeves, long sleeves, sweater, jacket / coat. Usually, when you have enough layers on, you don’t even have to wear those heavy winter coats, which is definitely helpful for travel. Warm socks to put over your regular ones are also very nice in cold winter days. If you wear dresses or skirts, wear a slip under them.That way you’re prepared for any kind of weather. You can take a layer off when it’s warmer than you expected, or put one on, when it’s colder. (BTW, a good place to do this are public toilets, when you find them… You know, when you realise the slip under your skirt is too much, or that you need those warm socks…) Winters have been rather unpredictable recently. Including snowing. Sometimes it snows heavily, sometimes there’s almost no snow.But anyway, shoes should, definitely, be water-proof. Snow is water. πŸ™‚ And it’s no use if you wear warm wool things, but get wet feet… That doesn’t mean you should wear rubber boots. πŸ™‚ Hm, but when it really snows, boots (not rubber) are nice. They’re high and the snow cannot get to your feet. And they usually also look fashionable, if that’s what you pursue. Therefore I’d be against the mary janes.But I cannot tell you much about the problem of looking like a tourist, because I have no idea how do people dress in other countries in winter… I mean, it differs from country to country. Moreover, here in the Czech Republic, in the old centre of Prague in particular, it is often the tourists who wear the fanciest clothes…Some more general tips. Stacy (I think) wrote that she marked her suitcase handle with something. So did I. I used yarn, a lot of it.I also love travelling in skirts. I have one long, mock-wrap one my mom made for me, and that was the best for travel in summer. It kept me cool when it was hot, because it was flowing, and kept me warm when it was cold (like in air conditioning), because it was long and had more layers in front. Unfortunately, it got torn and doesn’t look nice anymore. But now I have a similar one, although not wrap, so I think that’s going to be the next generation of my travel skirts. Both of them have a crushed look, which also helps to hide occasional wrinkles.

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  38. Amazing.All things I have considered at some point in my many last minute travels and yet somehow I STILL manage to pack only 20mins before I leave. By throwing everything into the case and then sitting on. And then re-opening it to remove the cat that has invariably hidden in it.My one major tip? Don’t pack when drunk. Although you may find some lovely surprises (like a favorite painting or a book of piano music) you certainly won’t have packed anything useful like underwear!

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  39. *blushes*I wear flip flops just about EVERYWHERE. Including airports, but I don’t travel much so it doesn’t matter, right?When I do travel, it’s usually for SHOPPING trips, so I’ve learned to pack my clothing in a smaller suitcase, and pack THAT into the one-size-larger suitcase. That way I leave with one.. come back with TWO!This has only backfired once, when I didn’t pay attention to the checked bags rules. I had to pay $25 to bring my 2nd case home. Grr.

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  40. To this I would add the concept of the Wardrobe Grid, especially for trips of more than a few days.(This one’s especially attractive to those who love to work in Excel as well as make lists! But it can be done on paper too.)In brief, potential travel garments are entered into the grid on the X and Y axes. Everything that hangs from your shoulders goes on the X axis (coat, jackets, dresses, tops one item per column) and everything that hangs from your waist goes on the Y axis (pants, skirts one item per row). Each item on the X axis gets a number as well (since some of these things can be worn together); if you are in the habit of wearing skirts over pants then your Y axis items will need numbers too… ;-)Then… if something on the X axis works well with something on the Y axis, colour in the square where they intersect. If tops 8 or 11 work well with a particular jacket and pants, write “8” and “11” in the square where the jacket and pants intersect as well. And so on. If a combination needs a particular pair of shoes or whatever, note that too.Pretty soon, after charting how your clothes work together, you’ll have an excellent idea of which garments will give you the greatest number of combinations. You’ll also be able to spot the things that you won’t wear so much because they only go with one other garment or require shoes that you won’t be able to wear with anything else.All this is very handy when you’re packing to ensure that you get the maximum number of possible outfits from the minimum number of garments.The best instance of it working for me was when I moved to the States to work a few years ago. My main wardrobe was going to take two or more months to arrive and there was a limit to what I could take with me on the plane. By making a wardrobe grid and choosing clothes that I could combine in lots of different ways, I was able to get by at work for a couple of months without feeling I was wearing the same thing every week.

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  41. On a recent vacation, I rolled each outfit before packing it in the cubes. So, each blouse and skirt combo were rolled together, t-shirt and denim capris made a separate roll, and a dress was rolled up by itself. Underwear was put in the same cube around the other rolls, as were plastic bags to put dirty clothes in. In total, I had five or six outfits in the one large cube.Since the t-shirt and capris were for a two-day camping trip in the middle of my vacation, they were packed into a smaller cube that was placed in a tote bag. I have a toiletries bag for all the essentials and I threw that in the tote bag too.As other people have mentioned, it is good to identify your luggage somehow. I have some very bright variegated rat tail cord that I wrap around the carry handle on my suitcase and I have the same cord wrapped around the handle of my carry-on bag.Prior to 9-11, I had finally managed to get to the point that I could travel with just carry-on bags, but I haven’t done that since, mostly because I’ve wanted to take things on my vacation that I can’t put in a carry-on bag.Speaking of which, I’ve decided that a necessary travel item for me is a corkscrew! On two travel occasions, I had an opportunity to have wine in my hotel room in the evening. The first time I ended up buying a screw-top bottle of wine. The second time, my sister gave me the bottle of wine and she gave me an inexpensive corkscrew as well. That stays in my [checked] suitcase for future traveling. I may even add my stainless steel wine goblets as well, so I have something elegant to drink from.

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  42. The sad thing? I probably carry more Stuff to the office, every day, than some of you ladies traveling for a week. But there’s never knowing what the INDOOR climate will be either! This usually means, from the inside out, I will have available: a tank top; a long-sleeved T; a jacket; silk thermals, top AND bottom (perfect for trips to Europe in the winter!) extra socks; an extra pair of tights; a wide lightweight silk/wool/lurex wrap; and the Usual Bucket of Meds. Plus my boots. Yes, it is summer, yes, I wear boots. Today, in fact, I hope to go buy a nice pair of flat black knee-high canvas boots! However, it’s (somewhat) comforting to think that, in a pinch, these clothes would also see me through an unexpected long trip. Silk thermals also make nice sleepwear. (I carry incidentals ranging from an itsy light to a reversible screw driver, because You Never Know. I also carry a tape measure, because … You Never Know.)I did just get Summer Packing Trips in my email from Dressingwell.com. For Underwear, for Summer Travel for men: “Boxers and briefs get the job done.” For women? “Summer fashions call for a variety of undergarments and not having the right ones on the road can be problematic. A strapless bra, racer-back bra and tee shirt bra in black and beige make for a good travel starter set. Seamless panties are a must for form fitting and sheer bottoms. Be sure to pack body slimmers and the like for outfits that require them.”Because nothing says “Summer Travel” like underwear that squashes you. I would rather wear an actual corset, thanks. Instead, how about offering clothes for women for summer travel that don’t require body binding? I am all about The Good Bra (or even The Good Corset, as needed), but as for rearranging other body parts when it’s hot and I’m traveling, I’ll pick a flattering outfit that’s comfier and kinder. I find that dresses that are bias cut, or at least partly bias cut, in a nice linen, look beautiful and feel comfortable. One of my favorite travel/nontravel dresses is a bias silk dress, and I have a nonperfect body that I put in it, too. Vogue Patterns actually has it in their “Discontinued”, but for once in my life I actually bought something before it got away; I recommend it highly as being very kind to a lot of figure types. For anyone else who might like this Travelin’ Treasure, I pass it on here (Vogue 8230, if my link fails):http://www.voguepatterns.com/item/V8230.htm?tab=out_of_print/very_easy_vogue_dresses_br_includes_koko_beall_designer&page=1

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  43. I don’t know what a packing cube is but my dad is a supervisor for TSA and he says the best thing to do is roll your clothes and put em in a ziplock bag. Not only does it make it easy for them to look through, it makes your clothes more compact, and amazingly less wrinkly. I usually sit on my ziplock bags full of clothes to get all the air out and be able to zip them better. It’s worked every time!

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  44. mmmm Wardrobe Grid… and works for ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ undergarments, accessories and shoes, too! Oh my! Yvonne, its genius! Thanks for the suggestion!

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