Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Packing Tips from a Frequent Traveler

A while back, I asked if you had any travel related questions for me, and I said that I'd answer then in a future blog post; this is that post. In my request for questions I received only one reply so I'll get to explore the answer to the question more fully than I had anticipated.

Robin Sue asked, "You must have packing down to a science, how do you pack? I would love some packing tips."

Before I get into my tips, some context will be helpful. I normally travel for business on trips that normally last between 3 and 6 days, but they can occasionally be up to 14 days. My work duties require that I check a medium-sized toolkit, and I also check a piece of personal luggage.

-Carry a good quality, rolling suitcase and a reasonably sized carry-on.
-Keep a dedicated set of travel toiletries if you travel frequently as this will speed your packing.
-Pack zip-tight freezer bags in case you want to bring something back that may leak, such as jam or even soiled underwear.

What to Pack
-Check the Weather of the destination to determine what special gear you may need to take with you.
-Always pack an extra pair of socks and an extra pair of underwear because you never know what might happen.
-Pack a wire coat hanger so that you can hang your clothes in the bathroom after a hot shower in order to steam the wrinkles out.

Packing for the trip
-Pack under the assumption that your checked bag will be delayed for one full day. Your carry-on should have all of the essentials that you'll need: a change of clothes, toothbrush, comb, razor. I even pack food, favorites include dried fruit, energy bars and chocolate.
-Make a list of each day of your trip along with what will be needed for each day. I usually break these into work/travel/leisure days as I wear different types of clothes on each of those types of days.
-Lay out your clothes to be sure that you have everything you'll need, checking items off the list as you go.
-Check your toiletries kit to see if you need to refill anything (ie: shampoo, razor blades, cotton balls, etc.)
-Pack tightly because things will shift and be compressed while in transit.
-Wrap any breakables well and pack them in your carry-on if possible. If this isn't possible, such as with a bottle of wine, wrap it well and pack it in the center of your suitcase. Placing a bottle of in a zip-top bag, wrapping it in a pair of jeans and then packing that in the center of the suitcase has worked well for me so far.
-Pack everything that you'll need upon checking in on the top, such as PJs and toiletries, so you wont have to do a lot of digging after a long day of travel.

Packing for the return
-Smaller bottles of liquid (local syrups, jams, etc.) can go into zip top bags and then be surrounded by clothes for padding.
-Pack used underwear and socks separately from everything else.

Well, Robin Sue, I hope that answers your question. If anyone out there has a favorite packing tip that you'd like to share, I'd love to hear it.

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  1. Yes these tips are of great use. I should keep a toiletries bag ready all the times instead of running around the house last minutes looking for things. I like the idea of packing a hanger to hang clothes to steam in the bathroom, haven't thought of that one. Last time I flew I had to throw away some jam that my friend made for me. I had it in my carry on and it was too late to check, so sad. Now for my sick and twisted sense of humor...

    ***"Pack zip-tight freezer bags in case you want to bring something back that may leak, such as jam or even soiled underwear."***

    I think you would be in a JAM if you soiled your undies. I don't think I would ever bring home soiled undies, they would go right in the trash! Of course none of us soil our underpanties or would live to admit it. So I guess this is why we...

    ***"Always pack an extra pair of socks and an extra pair of underwear because you never know what might happen."***

    Yes we may soil ourselves and be too embarrassed to pack our nasty knickers so extra pairs are a must.

    Great Post!

  2. I divide my packing: work clothes (uniform pieces) play clothes (since I am never sure where I'll end up, must be something doable for warm & cold weather) and jammy clothes (run around the hotel room/sleep stuff.) I also keep a dedicated make-up bag. ANd, I should get commission for this, because I am an evangelist about it:

    It just lays on top of your clothes and is only as thick as your thickest bottle.

  3. Robin Sue: Some people only buy underwear when they absolutely have to, and dealing with a soiled pair may be less painful than shopping for a new pair. With that said, I'll probably just toss the pair next time, it's such a hassle.

    No one usually talks about the practical side of stomach problems that happen when you travel, but they call it globe trotting for a reason.

    Bummer about the jam.

    Blondie: I have a similar kit, it hangs up, but mine rolls. I suppose I could lay it on top but I like having the zipper sections so if one of the bottle explodes then my clothes are still OK.

  4. Thanks for the tips! I liked the tip about getting wrinkles out with shower steam.

    A couple of my own packing tips:

    To help keep wrinkles from forming, I roll up pants and shirts instead of folding them. You have to be careful that there's no creases forming as you're rolling them up.

    Wine bottles won't fit, but for smaller glass bottles I've found shoes are a very safe place to put them in.

    Put heavier stuff at the bottom of a backpack or near the wheels of a roller.

    If you have a generic looking bag, put something on it so nobody mistakes it for their own. A bandana or scarf tied to the handle works well.

  5. I chanced upon to view your blog and found it very interesting. Great ... Keep it up!

  6. But for a BIG trip, you might want movers to just pack for you! haha I would suggest hiring a company that does both the packing and moving. I HATE to pack, so that would be a big plus for me!

  7. This is what traveler should consider. I agreed that before we go to our scheduled destination, we should check the weather first so that we can determine what special gear you may need to take.