Nine tips for Packing Smart
The Christmas decorations are stored away; the holiday parties are long over; and the football season soon comes to an end. It is time to consider 2012 vacations. Whether you travel far or near, make your plans early. Airlines, except Southwest, charge for luggage. One checked bag, a carry-on and a shoulder bag or backpack are all you need for most destinations. The size of the checked bag depends on how long you will be away and the activities planned.
Traveling is traumatic enough without the complication of lost luggage. Follow these nine tips before you leave home and eliminate the frustration of nothing to wear.
- Plan two bags: Pack two bags rather than one large. To cut costs, check one bag and carry the other on. Domestic airlines allow fifty pounds per piece, one carryon and a purse or briefcase. International changed their allowances to usually fifty pounds. One checked bag and a carryon, organized properly, provide the clothes necessary to get you through most vacation activities.
- Keep a travel list. After we were notified of a last minute opening to fill a vacancy on a cruise roster, I crammed my usual two weeks of deciding and packing into three days. In my stateroom, I remembered the belt left on a hanger, the watch on the nightstand, and the jacket behind the closet door. Since then, I have a packing list that eliminates the worry of what to take on any trip. Record your favorite travel outfits and tape it in a prominent place (the closet door, a bulletin board, or inside the suitcase). Check off items as you pack. Substitute a new outfit and remove an older.
- Limit colors. As you make your travel list consider the following: pack interchangeable outfits, choose dark colors, and use two-piece ensembles. Take either basic black, brown or another dark solid color for pants, shorts, and skirts. Consider only one dark color to eliminate the need for more than one pair of matching shoes. Coordinate with colorful shirts/blouses/blazers. Women should avoid one-piece dresses and jumpsuits. Instead invest in a multi-colored lightweight reversible skirt. With two tops for each side, the skirt makes four outfits. Three pairs of shoes, and sometimes only two, should carry one through a trip; comfortable walking shoes (sandals or flats for women, loafers for men), dress shoes, and depending on your destination, tennis shoes. You’ll wear the heaviest pair. Again, basic black fits most occasions.
- Keep necessities ready to go. My husband’s shaving kit and my make-up bag contain duplicates of grooming essentials as well as non-prescription medications. Both are ready for travel at a moment’s notice. Add your prescription medications and basic daily grooming liquids (in 3 ounce containers in a quart size Ziplock bag) at the last minute.
- Pack from head to toe. Before the trip, lay each outfit on a bed. Check from head to toe if everything is there, i.e. jewelry, top, bottom, underwear, socks/hose, shoes, and belts/scarves/ties.
- Pack complete outfits. Never pack all casual clothes in one bag and fill the other with dressier. Or all shoes in one and clothes in the other. In the carry-on, include three days of underwear plus one each of a casual and dressy outfit, basic makeup/shaving kit supplies, and all jewelry. Wear a pair of casual shoes that match and pack the other pair in the carryon. Now if a bag doesn’t catch up with you for three days, or longer, you have clothing for most any occasion.
- Pack light. Rather than a purse or briefcase, use a bit larger shoulder bag or backpack, which will hold the purse or briefcase. Include reading material, snacks, and travel documents. Organize ticket, itinerary and any other documents in a page protector for easy access. The days of putting one suitcase in a larger size, in order to have an extra filled with souvenirs and gifts for the return trip, are over. The extra checked bag adds expense. Instead, add a larger collapsible nylon or canvas shoulder bag or backpack to your suitcase than the one you originally carried at the trip’s beginning. On the way home, use it and pack the smaller one. If you think it may need to be checked, make sure it zips. Otherwise, determine the size according to what you want it to hold (purse or briefcase, lunch/snacks, souvenirs and/or gifts, documents, and reading material). Once your luggage is packed, weigh it. Stand on a scale first without your luggage and then with one bag. Determine the difference. Costs for extra weight run high.
- Plan Your Travel Outfits: Wear the heaviest jacket or blazer, bulky pair of shoes, or sweatshirt on the plane. Make sure the travel clothes coordinate and interchange with other outfits in your carryon.
- Identify Your Luggage. Before you leave, put some distinguishing feature on your bags. VisiTags may be purchased online with your printed name. Snap them around the suitcase handle and you’ll see them quickly. When you describe your lost luggage, you can say something other than “it is black.” Otherwise, adopt these identification ideas. Add a large white tape X. I saw a suitcase labeled with white tape, “This is not your bag.” Colorful yarn pompoms work well; just remember to use an unusual color. Too many people choose red. Be creative. Unfortunately airlines don’t reimburse your full value of totally lost luggage and contents. Still, carry a list of contents.
By packing smart, you will save yourself time, expense, and frustration. You’ll also have appropriate outfits to wear at your destination whether the luggage arrives late or never shows up.