Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Packing Tips for your vacation

How you pack your bags can make the difference between a carefree vacation and an exercise in frustration. Whether you’re traveling for a week or a month, taking the time to pack well will have you singing your own praises once you’re out on the road. Here are a few tips to remember the next time you’re ready to head out.

Prepare your gear.

Make sure your luggage is going to make the journey. Clean out any remnants of past trips—receipts, beach sand, old candy wrappers. Oil zippers and wheels to keep them moving smoothly. Mend any tears in backpacks or bags, and bring a small sewing kit for on-the-go repairs. If your suitcase is soft-sided, consider shoring it up with a piece of cardboard tucked beneath your clothes.

Divvy up your stuff.

For most trips, two pieces of luggage will do the job: a wheeled suitcase and a small backpack or personal bag. The wheeled bag lets the ground bear the brunt of the load, and the small bag helps you keep important items close. In the suitcase, pack things that you can afford to lose and that can be replaced with relative ease. In the small bag, carry the essentials you would need if your luggage was lost or damaged—clean underwear and a shirt, a toothbrush, contacts or glasses, and your medications. Include some comfort items as well: sunglasses, lip balm, a book, and a snack. You can also pack a foldable duffle bag, in case you can't leave something behind that you had to have! You can pack all your dirty clothes into the duffle bag for the return flight home.

As for the really important things—money, credit cards, and personal identification—disperse these throughout your belongings. Store your passport and driver’s license in separate places (preferably with one of them on your person), and put copies of your passport in both bags. If you have more than one credit card, stash them separately.

Pack less than you think you need.

Remember that whatever you bring with you will be yours to manage—hauling it through airports, and, if you are on an escorted tour with many overnights, unpacking and repacking every few nights (one nice benefit of river cruises or ocean cruises is that you only unpack once). So, try to reduce. Weed out anything that you are not absolutely certain you will wear regularly. Be ruthless and make the hard decisions before you leave—it’s far better than having to toss something out mid-trip.

Take double duty duds.

If you’re going to be traveling from city to country, or through a variety of climates, you’re not going to be able to bring a whole different wardrobe for each locale. So, choose items that can do double duty, like pants that can go from sightseeing at the Louvre to dinner at a chic cafe along the Seine. The short sleeve shirt you wore while traversing the boiling streets of Rome will add a layer of protection against the rainy chill of Holland when worn under a long-sleeve shirt. Also, bring clothes in fabrics that are suited to traveling—sturdy, washable fabrics that can stand being crunched into a suitcase, and preferably those that will air-dry quickly if you have to wash them out in your hotel sink.

Get clever about the way you make it fit.

Experiment with rolling and folding your clothes to find how they fit best. Bulkier items like sweaters often fit better when laid out flat at the top of the suitcase. Take advantage of hidden spaces, like the insides of shoes, to tuck in rolled underwear and socks. Heavy items like shoes should: a) be packed on the bottom of your suitcase and b) be kept to a minimum, three to four pairs max—sneakers for sightseeing or working out, casual sandals for easy walking, dress shoes for hitting the town should suffice.

Consolidate your toiletries.

Think of your morning routine, and then miniaturize it. Take just what you use every day, and leave the rest. Pour lotion/shampoo/conditioner into travel-size bottles. Don’t take the whole box, bag, or bottle of something when you only need a week’s worth.

Leave room for souvenirs.

Whether your budget is big or small, you’re bound to pick up at least trinkets here and there. If you’re not much of a collector, don’t worry about it too much; but if you’re planning on buying out the entire stock of an indigenous peoples’ craft market, you might want to make some space. Anything really large should probably be shipped home rather than lugged around, but smaller items should be able to find a place in your bag.

1 comment:

Cara said...

A well-done, perfectly-organized packing will definitely make one's trip enjoyable and comfortable. A bulk percentage of travelers and backpackers are from the retirement population - the people who have travel plans on their to-do list upon retirement. These kinds of tips would truly help them, as they need less hassle when traveling especially to a far country. A vacation well-spent is worth memorable as soon as they come back home and settle down.

- Cara Larose