Travel Divas Know These Savvy Basic Packing Tips
These days with many airlines charging for even the first checked bag, it is very important that you know how to maximize the space in your luggage, even when checking a bag instead of carrying it on with you. Along with maximizing the space, getting clothing to your destination wrinkle-free is also important. Here are some tips to accomplish just that, along with reminders for your health and safety.
First, weigh your empty suitcase. Older bags (even soft-sided luggage) can weigh 15 pounds or more empty. New, lightweight luggage can weigh as little as seven pounds, yet is built to withstand abuse with durable frames, fittings, and fabrics. Weigh your luggage after packing and before you leave for the airport to ensure your bag is under 50 lbs. If carrying luggage onboard with you, measure and re-check the height, length, depth, and circumference of your carry-on and compare to the air carrier's website to see if it conforms. Very few carryons actually fit those little "Check Your Carryon Sixe" boxes at the boarding gate due to wheels, outside pockets, and expanded compartments, but you will risk having your bag gate-checked if it is terribly ill-fitted to the required overall dimensions for carry-ons.
Take only what you need. There are two ways you can do this:
1. Lay out everything you plan to take, and immediately put half of it away.
2. Keep a diary each day for the number of days you will be travelling. Make note of just how many changes of clothing you actually use in a day. Chances are it is much less than you think you use. Then, adjust your packing list accordingly.
Pack your heaviest items at the bottom of your bag, closest to the wheels. This will keep your bag from tipping, and prevent heavier items from shifting and causing wrinkles.
Wear your bulky clothes and heaviest shoes on board the aircraft to maximize luggage space and minimize weight.
Try to pack clothing that you can mix and match. Choose a neutral color as a base for slacks or skirts and add colorful tops for variety. Ladies: be sure to have at least one knee-length skirt and a top with sleeves for touring churches and other holy sites. Shorts, for either sex, are not allowed in these places.
Choose clothing that is easy to care for -- natural /synthetic blends are best for wrinkle resistance, hand washable, and quick drying (synthetic attributes), wicking away moisture from your skin and keeping cool (natural fiber attributes).
Roll t-shirts, sweaters, and wrinkle-resistant pants to avoid hard creases or folds. Place these items in packing cubes or large ziploc bags and pack them around the perimeter of your bag.
If you choose not to roll your clothes, then fold them as close to their natural fold lines (seams, etc) as possible.
Bring a collapsible tote that packs flat in your carry-on. In transit, use it for snacks, magazines and paperbacks, etc. When it's time to go home the tote can be used as an extra suitcase for gifts and souvenirs.
Pack moleskin, new well-cushioned socks, and really broken-in shoes. You will be walking more than your usual, and blisters are to be expected.
Place neckties and handkerchiefs in the pockets of shirts or blazers that you intend to wear them with.
Bring a simple laundry kit with you so you can do quick washes in the hotel sink: a sink stopper, clothesline and single-use packets of detergent.
Bring a reliable, compact stain remover so you can be prepared for any situation. Make sure it can tackle a variety of fabrics and stains.
Scarves can be the ultimate travel accessory; they weigh nothing, take no real space, can be belts or head coverings in churches and mosques. I tend to buy them on location as functional souvenirs.
Bring a can of fabric relaxant to remove wrinkles static cling, and freshen your clothing. Leave steamers at home.
If you depend on prescription eyewear, bring an extra pair of glasses, sunglasses or contact lenses. Carry a copy of your prescriptions for medications, as well. It is best if your pills, etc. are in their original containers, but if you prefer those little pill organizers, do be sure to have your prescription from your doctor's office in your wallet. You don't want to learn about anti-drug laws the hard way.
When traveling with a companion, pack a change of clothing in each others luggage - that way you'll have something clean to wear if your luggage is lost. If traveling solo, pack a change of underwear and socks in your carry-on. Do the same with copies of your passports.
Travel insurance is a necessity. Make sure you understand completely what it does and does not cover before you purchase a policy.
Leave your expensive jewelry at home.
More tips next time!