Monday, July 9, 2012

All my bags are packed - travel tips

Remember the lyrics from "I'm Leaving On a Jet Plane"? All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go..

In those days, you weren't charged for checking your bags and you could check multiple bags.

Fast forward to 2012, when you pay for checked suitcases, starting at $25 a bag, and you must meet a weight limit. Argh!

Now more than ever, it pays to be a tidy packer. Gone are the days when you could pack 5 pairs of shoes for a weekend jaunt. Today folks try to cram all the clothing for a long weekend into a single carry-on bag.

I've always eyed up those dressing systems, where you select a skirt, two pants, four tops, and a dressy jacket/cardigan all in a non-wrinkling neutral color. Everything mixes and matches and if you have extra days, you just rinse them out in the sink. Anyone ever bought one of these sets?

Indispensable knits. Mix and match these nine versatile pieces. Premium Tencel lyocell fabric resists wrinkles, shrinking and fading. Breathable and comfortable for every season.
as seen at LLBean.com
My budget won't allow for such a bulk purchase, so I try to make do with what I have. Trouble is my closet is an explosion of bright colors, my waist a saggy accordion depending on diet or no diet, and my shoes tend toward comfort.

She looks put together
With conference season breathing down our necks, it's time to take a hard look at our closets for those far flung adventures. Even if you don't have the luxury of those travel sets, it's a good idea to stick to a color family. I don't have a lot of blue slacks, so for me the choice is black or brown?

I always seem to have black slacks that fit, and black looks professional so I often go black. But brown is different and sometimes it pays to be different, in a good way. Luckily, I have comfortable "dress" shoes in black and brown, so I can accessorize either way once I decide on the color.

For conferences, I go with two pairs of slacks, four tops, a dress-up outfit for the banquet, pjs, and one or two warm "toppers" (nice sweaters, blazers, or shawls) because I'm always cold in the conference rooms.

this is a much nicer pic than me with my sneakers
I usually travel in a pair of non-dressy shoes. They are handy for walking during those time-out moments, or for when I head out for meals. I travel in less dressy clothes, something like khakis or nice jeans, which double for casual clothes if I want to dress down for dinner.

The other travel tip I've learned is to carry a backpack. It corrals the overflow from the suitcase, and its where I keep meds, computer, and the see-through baggie of travel-approved liquids. That convenience makes it easier to get through the security screening - much easier to access the backpack than the suitcase, and no risk of underwear falling out at the wrong moment.

Also, many conferences have a service onsite where you can ship books or conference swag home. That makes for a lighter suitcase too.

And, if you're going to visit family (or close friends) and don't wish to travel with a suitcase at all, you can ship your clothing ahead of time through USPS or UPS, so that all you have with you is stuff for the plane. My Mom did this one summer when she came up to help with the new baby and it worked out great.

One last packing tip from me. When I have a lot to pack and not much space, I roll up each article of clothing tight like a fruit roll up. That really does save space. The downside of this method is you have to roll up the dirty clothes too or you'll never get them all back in your suitcase.

Do you have traveling tips? Chime in and share. I need all the help I can get.

Maggie Toussaint
mystery and romance author
www.maggietoussaint.com

28 comments:

  1. The thing here is that you're assuming you're going to fly to your destination. I almost never fly ... I don't have a problem with planes, but I ABSOLUTELY HATE airports. I'd rather take an extra day or two and drive to wherever I'm going. And once you do that, the easy solution is to overpack. Throw in a few extra outfits, more shoes ... what the heck, take two suitcases instead of one, saves the mental anguish of deciding! A LOT less trouble.

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    1. Hi Jim,

      It's nice to have that option to drive, and on some of my writing trips I often have a driving buddy. Other times I elect to fly because its too darn far for me to drive by myself. I have a personal 6 hour driving limit. I'm done after that - absolutely toasted. I live pretty far from most conferences and a lot of my family, so I'm stuck following the rules for flying.

      But I'm glad you've found a way to make travel easy on yourself. That's wonderful!

      Delete
  2. One tip I got from a well-travelled friend. When packing, don't fold your clothes carefully, roll them up. They won't crease. It worked.
    Jean

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    Replies
    1. I've tried that clothes rolling tip before and it does work, even for shirts you would normally iron. As soon as I arrive, I unroll my "hang up" clothes and they look great. Thanks, Jean!

      Delete
  3. I've actually seen women dressed like this in airport, clicking along the walkway, dragging a huge roller piece of luggage, and always one of those huge shoulder bags that are supposed to be purses. Not my idea of a purse. Teeny tiny, is my motto.
    In the early 90's, we began a lot of traveling--Europe a few times,well, all over the North American Continent, etc. An artist friend gave me suggestions such as you're giving, so I ended up with basic black pants, two prs of black shoes, shells of different colors, and 2-3 sweaters--everything went with everything else. I still dress like this today. Always solid colors--maybe a short jacket might be patterned, is all. But I "accessorize." Dangly bright earrings, pretty necklaces--all silver-toned with different settings and designs. I STILL do this today.
    Jim and I can really travel light--when we have to. But if we do road trips in my SUV--it gets filled with everything I can think of--you know that rule? What is it? Peter's Principle, or something like that? Give me space, and I will fill it up.
    That's a luxury to me.
    Good post!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Celia,

      You already dress for success! How lovely that you were able to incorporate that travel clothing idea into everyday adventures. Plus I bet it only takes you a microsecond to pack. I'm in there trying my stuff on, reinventing the wheel every time.

      If we drive, we tend to fill the car. For those car trips, we have road food, pillows, a blanket, and whatnot for our destination, plus the suitcases. I tend to take a bigger suitcase than I need because a lot of the places we visit have nice stores and I like to shop!

      I often worry that if we have a flat and have to get all the stuff out of the back of the vehicle to change the tire that we will look like the Clampets from "The Beverly Hillbillies."

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  4. Great tips, Maggie. I always pack too much stuff that I'm never going to wear. Loved the fruit roll-up packing. Very clever--except the dirty clothes part. LOL

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sarah,

      Packing has always mystified/intrigued me. I like having the right clothes for the occasion, but I hate having a lot of clean clothes at the end of a trip. I invariably dump the suitcase in the laundry room and wash everything. I guess that isn't wasted effort.

      One other thing I forgot to mention is I always pack an emergency outfit. Nearly 30 years ago we drove 12 hours to visit family and arrived just in time for a funeral. All we had were summer clothes - shorts - but we went anyway. Now I carry something that will double for a "nice outfit" - not necessarily black but serviceable, if you know what I mean.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  5. Maggie, great tips. I traveled by air in 2010 and couldn't believe how much it cost. The Airline put Andrew and I in different seats and I had to pay $5.00 just to sit next to my son on every leg! Sigh... Prior to that I last traveled in Oct 2001 (for my sister's wedding) and it went considering 9/11.

    I always travel with a backpack. You can shove so much in it and being a mom, there's always something I need that wouldn't fit in a purse.

    Smiles
    Steph

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    Replies
    1. Hooray for the backpack brigade. I find I like the backpack even more than a tote or a smaller wheeled bag. You're right about it being handy. I can fit my computer in there, my kindle, my hoodie, notebook and paper, pens, meds, snacks, promo items, and more.

      I wish airfare weren't so high. Everything seems expensive these days.

      Delete
  6. Hi Maggie, I could write a whole book about the art of packing in half an hour. As you say so well, I coordinate. Actually I choose a color theme for each trip. Last time in NY I went green: one green pant, a green skirt, several printed green shirts or twins, green shoes. I tried not to look like a zucchini or a cucumber! For my vacation in St Thomas with my BIL, I went red. Of course I take the matching accessories. Overseas I like go black or brown. It's easier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How fun to know that you coordinate, and even cooler, that one of your colors was green, a fav of mine. I have a lot of green slacks. I keep buying those khakis that are washed out green, but I can never find socks to match. I need to hit a big department store soon and stock up.

      It makes sense to choose a color theme - then it all works together. I'd love to travel with a red clothing scheme. I need to think how I can make that work. How many books do I have to sell to get a whole new wardrobe?

      Delete
  7. I have a friend who is able to pack a whole wardrobe in a ruchsack. I think she's a witch. All I can suggest is take things that wash and dry overnight. And don't forget your Kindle. That alone allows me to travel with one less suitcase!

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    1. Hi Jenny, LIke you, I used to travel with at least 4 books. On vacation or travel, I go through about a book a day. Now with Kindle, I load it up ahead of time and off I go. I take my Sudoku book for those take off and landing moments where they make you turn the electronic devices off.

      I envy your friend's ability to pack in a ruchsack. I'm very attached to my stuff and need to carry all of it with me...

      Delete
  8. Timely advice, Maggie, as I'm off to the RNA conference next weekend. However, as I'm driving (only about 100 miles), I shall no doubt take everything but the kitchen sink. I always overpack!

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    1. Hey Paula, For driving trips, I'm like you and pack with a little more freedom. I like having options and not being constrained by the space of a carry-on suitcase.

      I hope you enjoy the RNA Conference!

      Delete
  9. Now you post this blog! I just came back from a trip to Alaska and road trip to Chicago. In my flying experience the last couple of times, the planes were so full, they took the carry ons and checked them. We checked ours through to the the destination. Otherwise they will have them available plane side as you disembark. Very easy. I have tried the roll up method too,and I understand the clothes aren't wrinkled. But, um, I guess I didn't have the right materials for rolling as I had wrinkles. Enjoyed your post.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi JQ,

      Gosh if I were going to Alaska, no way could I get everything in a carry-on. I would need a serious suitcase for the layers I'd need to pack. I admire your adventurous spirit and ease of travel.

      Thanks for stopping in and brightening this place up.

      Delete
  10. Rolling clothes is also my preferred way to pack for an upcoming trip. Great for saving space! Besides, I'm not too great at folding. :)

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  11. Haven't thought about that song in years, Maggie. I loved it when I was a kid! Thanks!

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    1. Hey Joyce, thanks for stopping in. I'm a sucker for songs too.

      Delete
  12. Thanks for the vital tips! All travelers should be armed with this knowledge. These airliners are charging a lot for extra baggage. In some places it would be cheaper to rather buy some extra clothes than to pack them in.

    ReplyDelete
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