My esteemed editor commented recently that since I travel so frequently, I must have some good packing tips to share. I’m guessing she assumed I’m one of those people that can travel for a weekend or a month with nothing more than a carryon. Oh honey. I usually have a suitcase devoted just to shoes!
Nowadays, upright, rolling luggage comes in all sizes, and the pieces clip on to each other so it’s easy to be prepared for anything … from soaking in the hotel Jacuzzi to attending a black tie affair.
However, I don’t always travel like Cher. For sailing trips and casual tropical destinations, especially via prop plane, a duffle bag is more convenient and still holds plenty. Clothing for warmer climates is usually lightweight, small and easy to roll. Friends have commented that the parade of outfits coming out of my little bag is like a Volkswagen Bug from which 50 people emerge, one by one.
Part of the secret is preparing a packing list ahead of time. I keep a database of clothing options for all climates, modifying the appropriate list for my anticipated itinerary, and yes, I’m anal. I also keep a travel checklist that I print out before each trip, reminders of mundane tasks like stopping the newspaper and mail.
My toiletry bag is packed and ready to go at all times, including medications. Antibiotics are a good idea – my doctor has no problem prescribing them, just in case, especially when I’m leaving the country. I also keep packed a voltage converter and adapters, and travel hair appliances, travel iron and travel alarm, whether or not they will be provided at my final destination.
A few other things I don’t leave home without are scented candles for romantic evenings, a corkscrew, nightlight, laptop with music CDs and DVD movies (for long airport layovers) and something called “Wrinkle-Free,” a small can of magical spray that instantly smoothes wrinkles from most fabrics (available at luggage stores).
Other essentials: a sports coat for hubby, even for casual destinations; a bathing suit, even for cold climates, and a jacket or sweater, even for warm ones. Having to buy a jacket in Finland was an interesting experience – the language is truly foreign.
On a recent trip to Europe I went from day to night with six items of clothing I purchased from Chico’s. The mix and match tops, tanks, skirt and slacks are all from their “Traveler’s” line … they practically disappear when folded or rolled, are machine washable or hand-washable in your hotel room, and hang dry in a flash. They refuse to wrinkle, they’re lightweight but warm and can be dressed up or down with scarves, jewelry and hats.
Finally, I should mention that while visiting Chile, I was pick-pocketed twice in the same day. The next day I returned home to find my home had been burglarized. First order of business for my husband and I was a champagne toast to celebrate our otherwise wonderful trip and our good health.
Positive attitudes notwithstanding, I don’t recommend the experience. I also don’t recommend carrying a purse with a shoulder strap in a third-world country, or in any large city, for that matter. Flashing money isn’t wise, either, and on that note, by all means, pack the jewels (carryon only), but use the hotel safe.
Plan for safety, comfort, and above all, looking great. Pack it in. After all, what sets us apart from the animals is our ability to accessorize.
Reprinted from Style Magazine