Let me talk here about packing for a twenty-three day trip where we will constantly be on the move and have no real idea what the weather will be like. I am usually a belt and suspenders girl (I like to have back-ups for the back-ups). Michael likes to actually pack his suitcases for a trip about a week in advance. I think it through in my mind and do the actual packing the day before. I have learned that, like most people, I tend to pack too much. This time I was determined to pack as lightly as possible. My working premise was I would choose one color scheme, have all my clothes co-ordinate with that, and eliminate the need to pack one sweater for this outfit, one for that, etc. I knew I would be wearing jeans most of the time so that meant anything would go with them. I also wanted to pack a nice pair of slacks in case we went somewhere a little better than the usual tourist venues.
I decided to go with a blue jean and black theme, adding a little color with the various T-shirts I would be wearing. Layers are the way to go when traveling in unknown temperatures, of course, so I packed several cotton sleeveless undershirts, five long-sleeved T-shirts (green, purple, neutral stripes, white), a heavy navy sweatshirt, an extra pair of jeans (one to wear while the other one is being washed) and ten pairs of white socks to wear with my running shoes that I wore every day; and I packed ten pairs of panties (that I washed out in the room at night), a few bras, a jersey cotton nightgown and a jersey cotton robe. I also threw in a couple short sleeved T-shirts that I never wore, and the aforementioned nice pair of slacks (which I also never wore), two cardigan sweaters in lightweight but warm acrylic, and a light nylon windbreaker.
It actually turned out to be about the right amount of clothing, though I wish I had put in a pair of “Cuddle Duds” long johns and long sleeved shirt. And a hat. I carried a raincoat with hood, leather gloves and a warm scarf for around my neck, but I never thought to pack a warm knit hat. It was May for crying out loud, but after two days in Bath I began scouting stores to find one – finally able to get one at a sporting goods store. Take my advice – pack one. They don’t take up much room and do wonders for making you more comfortable. Disregard this advice if you know you will be in tropical climes, of course.
From experience, and watching travel shows, I learned the value of packing in large zip-lock plastic bags. You can put an outfit for the day in each one holding the underwear, socks, and shirt that you will need. Since I wasn’t sure what the weather would be daily I packed all underwear in one, socks in another, T-shirts in another and so on. You can squish all the air out of the bag as you close it and add an enormous amount of room to your suitcase by doing this. You can also easily find the various elements you will need to wear and be able to tell when you are about to run out of something. Also, when rooting through your suitcase you can just remove bags that can easily be put back in, keeping things tidy. I use this system now for any long trip. It also makes it easy to unpack in your hotel room – and assures that if there are “critters” in the room, they can’t get in your clothes.
Aside from clothing, I also packed a pair of earrings I had purchased for the trip. Usually I pack some of my favorite pairs, but on a trip to New England, while swatting at a mosquito that was buzzing my ear, I flicked off a small turquoise earring my father had bought for me. I had great sentimental attachment to it. We searched for almost an hour through weedy grass, being eaten alive by the aforementioned mosquitoes, with no luck. Not going to do that again. So, I went to the department store before we left, and found a nice, inexpensive pair of small dangle earrings of abalone shell bound by silver. They went with everything and had no emotion attached to them. Of course, they do now, but at the time I could have lost them and regretted it, but not mourned them. Think about it.
I decided I was not going to schlep around the fairly large shoulder bag I usually carry. Instead, I would put much of what usually went into the purse into a day-pack (like a backpack but much smaller and lighter). The day pack would carry tissues, my camera and extra batteries, a paperback book for reading on the plane, some office supplies (such as paperclips, markers, pens and rubber bands) and some first aid supplies such as anti-itch cream, Band-aids and aspirin. The day-pack could also carry a guidebook, maps, a small collapsible umbrella, a bottle of water and the emergency granola bar that has come in very handy on earlier trips when you get stuck somewhere and food isn’t available. I told you – belt and suspenders girl. It would also hold any small souvenirs I accumulated that day. In addition, I would be wearing a very small shoulder bag just big enough to hold my immediate “girly” needs of comb, mirror, lipstick and a little cash. It held about the same amount of stuff as a small fanny pack but much more stylish. As Michael previously stated we would carry most of our cash and our passports (except for airplane travel days) in money belts around our waists, under our clothes.
All of this (plus my make-up, nail file and other small sundries) fit into a medium-sized suitcase with room and weight to spare. Michael had much more trouble with his suitcase. He carries lots of extras, such as computer paraphernalia, and his clothes are bigger and weigh more, so he had a very large suitcase that just squeaked in under the weight limitations. He tells you about that, though, I think.
Oh, one more thing. You might consider packing a wash cloth (in a plastic bag) if you are used to using one. All of our bed and breakfasts provided towels, of course, but for some reason wash cloths (BrE – face flannels) were not provided.
Next up, What Michael Packed.
What do you find indispensable when traveling?