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On Packing

July 29, 2010

When you travel by yourself you have to become good—really good—at packing. You don’t have the luxury of sharing with anyone (shared laptop, toiletries, etc.) so the burden you carry is completely your own.

TravelPro Crew 8 22" Rollaboard

TravelPro's Crew 8 22" Rollaboard

Several years ago now, I purchased a TravelPro 22” rollaboard suitcase (not pictured) on clearance at Macy’s for $30 and a coordinating shoulder carry-on tote for $10. I was fairly new to travel and unfamiliar with the TravelPro brand, so I didn’t realize at the time what an awesome deal it was. In retrospect, that purchase has been the single best 40 bucks I’ve ever spent. Together, these two pieces comprise all the luggage I need to travel. The rollaboard fits perfectly in the overhead compartment (handles out) and the shoulder tote contains all I could possibly need on the flight and goes under the seat in front of me. My travel packing mantra is “If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t go” and I’ve saved myself many a checked bag fee by sticking to this rule.

I keep my load down by sticking to a few basic rules:

  • Packing primarily neutral colored clothing (white, khaki, brown, navy, olive, denim, and/or black) and mixing and matching my tops and bottoms for different looks each day. I may take a pair of jeans, a white skirt, and a pair of khaki capris and alternate these with different more colorful tops. Makes life so easy.
  • Choosing items that fulfill multiple uses. Years ago I purchased a black strapless jersey dress from J. Crew that I can dress down with flip-flops or sandals or dress up with heels. Many looks from just one dress plus the jersey material stays fairly unwrinkled, making it ideal for travel (please, J. Crew—bring the long strapless jersey dress from Fall 2001? back in brown and navy and I’ll love you FOREVER!). I also touched briefly in a previous post about finding a pair of slip-on shoes that I can use for walking about the city and hiking on flat, well-maintained trails in the woods.
  • Living without my laptop. This is particularly hard because I’m a bit of an internet addict, but I’ve found that I can obtain a lot of the information I need by using my cell phone’s browser. Let’s face it—spending too much time on the internet on vacation means I’m not out exploring.

I’m still coming up with new ways to cut weight from my luggage and I’m learning a lot by perusing the real travel pros at Budget Travel’s Ultimate Packing Smackdown.

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