Packing for Your Trip
What to wear? The question assumes more urgency when you’ll be away from your closet for an extended period of time. You want to cover contingencies but not pack so much you can’t carry your suitcase.
CLOTHING Choose clothes appropriate for the climate. If you are leaving a cold climate and heading somewhere warm, consider leaving a set of warm clothes in the car at the airport, or with friends if you are being picked up.
Stick with one basic color scheme. Dark is preferred – one which won’t show marks and wrinkles so much. Personally, I only wear black because they don’t make anything darker. Choose one or two accent colors in scarves, jewelry, etc.
For tropical vacations or cruises, lighter colors and one or two basic dresses will get you through all but the most formal of events.
A great swimsuit cover-up can be a lifesaver, and your trip is the perfect time to shop for something fun.
If you are going to Alaska you will not regret taking a warm coat. I don’t care what they tell you– it can be cold in the summer, too! I wore my giant faux fur coat in September and was the envy of the other cruisers. This was after I froze on my previous trip in August.
A shirt can layer over a dress in place of a jacket. Take multiple thinner items which can be layered instead of one bulky heavier piece. Silk Thermal underwear is perfect for cooler climates. It’s warm, it’s light, and it won’t make you look like the Abominable Snowman. A sarong is a fantastic item to bring, as it doubles as a skirt, dress, shawl, beach towel or even top sheet. You can even use it as a bag or table cloth in a pinch!
Consider local customs when choosing cloths: don’t pack shorts, regardless of your sex, if you are traveling to the Middle East or other Muslim countries such as Indonesia Malaysia and Turkey. And unless you’re heading to a beach town in Europe, shortie-shorts aren’t usually the thing ladies of a certain age wear in public.
You won’t be allowed into key churches in European countries including Italy and Spain dressed in them either. And ladies, pack a scarf you can pull up over your head if need be.
Shoes are always difficult…try to wear your heaviest/bulkiest pair while traveling.
3 pairs of shoes are recommended:
• Comfortable for walking–“test drive” these and break them in well before you leave home.
• Sandals or flip flops
• Dressier pair for evening wear
OVERSEAS PACKING If you are used to the US generous luggage allowances on planes beware that on most overseas flights not departing/arriving in the US you are restricted to 44 pounds per a passenger, which is not much.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHILE PACKING
• If you bring anything that needs electricity e.g. hairdryer,electric razor, camera battery charger, you will need to bring an adapter
• Cheap hotels often provide a hair-dryer and iron on request
• There are disposal replacements for razors or batteries
• Baseball caps and tracksuits scream “American Tourist” – if you want to blend in consider alternatives.
• Clearly mark your luggage with a distinctive tie or other mark so you can retrieve it easily from the luggage carousel
• Be familiar with the security restrictions for carry-on items particularly fluids. 3-1-1 for carry-on luggage = bottle of 3.4 ounces (100 mg) or less (per volume); 1 quart transparent plastic bag hermetically sealed; 1 bag per passenger placed in the inspection container. One quart size bag per person limits the total volume of liquid that each passenger can carry.
However make sure that you carry essential items such as prescriptions with you, in quantities that will see you through 48 hours if your luggage is mislaid
• Make sure you carry on to the plane your ticket, or E-ticket receipt, passport and a pen. You will invariably have to fill in an arrival form and customs declaration form – which are normally distributed in flight.
Consider packing only what you will need for a few days. if you’ll be gone any length of time, you can replenish locally. You may not get the products you’re used to, but chances are you’ll find something that will work.
My tip: if your hair looks horrible, be the one holding the camera or wear a cute hat.
HOW TO PACK YOUR BAGS Before you start lay everything out on a spare bed or other space so that you can see it all. Now might be a good time to reassess what you actually need to take!
Start collecting items a few days early – particularly if you are taking out of season clothing this is easy to do. If you are taking items you are regularly wearing it will remind you to add them to the pile as you launder them and to stop you accidentally wearing them before departure! Remember that what you are wearing on departure day and your toiletries are included in the pile too.
One of my friends packs her oldest things and leaves them behind as they become soiled or boring. That leaves a smidge more room for shopping…
• To get the correct weight distribution heavier items should be near your back and higher in the pack
• Use plastic bags or packing cubes to keep similar items together
• Pack electronic and breakables near the center padding them with clothing. Putting small items inside socks can work
PACKING A SUITCASE
• Place heaviest items at the bottom, especially for pull along bags this adds stability
• Pack fragile items towards the center
• Fold similar clothes together i.e. all trousers, all shirts folded together to minimize creasing and pack efficiently
CARRY ON SUGGESTIONS Check what is provided by the airline before taking a lot of stuff on board. Many international airlines, particularly Asian carriers, provide an enormous number of TV channels, movies and audio options, even in coach class. There is no point bringing the DVD player or iPod/iPad on board with them! American carriers and budget airlines provide nothing, but entertainment can be hired for a reasonable fee -which might save you carrying your electronics just to entertain the kids for the return flight! Also check for food and drink services – same applies – its struggle not to over-eat on some airlines. Carry on sufficient clothing in case your luggage goes AWOL for 24 hours. If you are going to a beach location or a hotel with a pool you might want to include your swimsuit as well.
Essential prescription medicines are a must! And their prescriptions, spare glasses if you need them. A book or two in case of delays. If you are taking a laptop you will need to carry it on. Also make sure that you can power it up if you are requested to do by security. If you have a camera or video I carry those on two just to protect them from damage or theft.