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Confessions of a Bad Packer.
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Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 1:50 pm    Post subject: Confessions of a Bad Packer. Reply with quote

Hi, my name is Erin and I am a bad packer.

Yesterday I bought a new carryon bag as my old one was on it's last legs. The new one is so cute, it looks like a doctors bag! Anyway that got me thinking about what I am going to bring on our trip next month, and it scared me a little bit.
Whenever we go on a trip we stay in one location so bringing a ton of stuff is alright. Not this time. This time we are taking planes, trains and automobiles to the various places we will be visiting. The one perk is that I will be using a friend's house as a home base for part of the time, but it is still a bit of a haul to get there.
I always pack about three times more than I should, and have no space saving ideas. Help! I really want to cut it down so it isn't a burden.
"It's watery....and yet there's a smack of ham."

"It's hot ham water."
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Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Erin! since you won't be in any one place for too long no one is going to see you wear the same outfit more than once so remember that when packing. Take a few wash and wear type outfits and if you need more---well you could be forgiven for having to do some shopping!! Do remember to pack some of your Christmas cake, all darkness and moist, just in case you need an evening snack with your excellent hot chocolate Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
Vivant Linguae Mortuae!!
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Joined: 02 Aug 2005
Posts: 63
Location: Northfield, MN

PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Erin,

Most of my over-packing came from bringing too many shoes, which in turn stemmed from wanting to match shoes with all the different outfits I was bringing along. I realized I didn't need to have pairs of black AND brown shoes (multiply by dress and casual versions) if I only stuck to clothes from a related color palette, so I usually just pick clothes that will all go with the same set of shoes - usually in the black/grey family.

I also like multi-purpose shoes. So I now pack only a pair of very comfortable walking shoes that can also go with skirts (like mary janes with a rubber sole), and on the plane I wear a pair of mid-heeled tall leather boots - can be worn with jeans, trousers, and skirts. Depending on my destination and the amount of walking to be done, I sometimes dispense with the walking shoes altogether. Of course, the boots don't work as well for warm climates, but Europe in the winter, spring, or fall should be fine.

Last tip - buy some cheap travel-sized plastic containers for toiletries and fill them up with your favorite products. Wrap in a plastic bag to avoid spillage and stuff them in your packed shoes.

Have a great trip!
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Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most of my closet is black and grey, I think I can do that.
I have always been a bad packer, bringing what if clothes and by that I don't mean what if it rains but, what if I'm having a fat day or a tall day. Yes I really have them both. Since we moved here and there aren't many reasons to wear heels I tend to look for any reason to bring them. I have already resigned myself to the fact that that isn't going to happen this time. Phil has issued threats if I try.
"It's watery....and yet there's a smack of ham."

"It's hot ham water."
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Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good advice.

I also used to overpack badly. Sometimes even now I allow myself to daydream that I will wear a specific outfit on holidays ... and it never makes it out of the suitcase... but in all I am much better now.

I use a similar method to that mentioned.

As it is winter here now, I would look at how many weeks I was away for. If it were three, I would pack as such (allows time for washing - even if just handwashing in the hotel sink...)

one pair casual trousers (ie jeans)
one pair better trousers (ie cords)
one pair nice trousers (ie tailored slacks)
one pair of good comfy walking shoes (trainers/flat boots/whatever)
one pair of nicer shoes (for wearing out somewhere special - but still practical)
one really nice blouse (for wearing with tailored slacks)
4 shirts or long sleeve knit tops (for mixing and matching with all trousers)
one casual jumper (ie polar fleece)
one dressy jumper (ie pretty knit)
5 pairs of socks
5 pairs of underwear
toilettries... which I then pack into smaller bottles as suggested above.

One pair of trousers and shoes etc would be worn on the plane, so you really do wind up with alot of room left in your suitcase.

I do indulge in 2 different colour lipsticks and 2 (small) different colour eyeshadow pallettes. This way you can change the look of the same outfit by changing the makeup you wear.

I always pack a face cloth into my cabin bag and a bottle of evian spray. I use these to keep my skin hydrated and if you moisten teh cloth and pop it on your face during the flight you don't get to your destination all dried out and red eyed. My toilettries bag and medications always travel in my handluggage along with a change of underwear. We have had lost or damaged luggage far to many times now to not preprepare.

Big tip is to go to the beautician and ask for sample packs of moisturiser and cleanser etc. This way you save space and can chuck the little containers/sachets as you go.

We also use a packing system to hold our clothes in teh suitcase. It is by a company called eaglecreek and is a series of fabric pouches which you place all your clothes into. It comes with instructions that also show you how to fold things to make the most of space in your luggage. As we travel alot it is a very good investment and very practical.

Ziplock bags are my other pet thing in luggage. I put any liquid (shampoo etc) containers in a bag and close it. THey are see through if customs wants to go through your bag, but prevent spills. Also any medication can go in there and be kept visible but together. Makes a good soap container that does not take up any room or weight. A few extra bags also come in handy for damp washing etc. I usually throw in a few of each size to cope with any and all emergencies. The big ones are good for wet walking shoes..... last thing you want in a suitcase with all your clothes etc.

Good luck!! Wink
If you cannot feel your arteries hardening, eat more cheese. If you can, drink more red wine. Diet is just "die" with a "t" on the end. Exercise is walking into the kitchen.
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Joined: 13 Oct 2005
Posts: 90
Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I may be jealous, but I'll still post... I have lived out of one carry-on for two weeks in Europe or Central and South America.

Layering clothes is good - so you can take one sweater, which might be bulky, but 3 thin shirts to rotate wearing underneath. Jackets with zip-out vest liners are nice - depending on the weather fluctuations you can wear just the vest, the jacket alone, or both on cold days.

I love and for travel clothing and accessories. Especially their wrinkle resistant options, and quick-dry clothes. We have the Tilley's travel socks and underwear - they say 2 pair of each can get you around the world! Laughing Sounds like a small thing, but the less socks I have to pack, the more souvenirs will fit. And socks are one of those things that can take ages to hang dry. A few choice pieces go far and make good investments. For men, the shirts that dry overnight and breathe are awesome, too, though for warmer or more tropical destinations usually.

I also recommend not carrying a purse if you can manage without one. I keep money, credit cards and my passport in an around the neck or belt-flap pouch hidden away. Camera around the neck and lipgloss in a pocket. Sometimes you need a day bag, though, with map and more. You'll want it to be comfortable and fit over your shoulder so your hands are free. Also, those bags that zip into themselves, and become wallet-size, are great. Can fit in a pocket until you need it, then open it up to hold that baguette, block of cheese, dessert and small souvenir purchases that might come up.

Sometimes these options can be found in local sporting good stores too. Pocky's shoe suggestions are good. To me, comfortable walking shoes - real walking shoes, not just your most comfy loafers - make a huge difference. One extra pair if you need that is dressier for evenings out, but not all day sight-seeing.

I also like to bring a couple colorful thin scarves. Makes you feel less sloppy or like you are wearing your pj's or jeans pulled out of the hamper if you have a nice accessory tied around your neck.

OK, I'll shut up now...
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Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 1196
Location: buried under a pile of books somewhere in Adelaide, South Australia

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 12:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My idea of packing heaven is travelling with carry-on luggage only and nothing else.

This rarely happens as we're usually taking a bike/kayak/kids with us. The closest we got was when we went to Thailand last year - 26 kg of baggage between 4 of us. Coming home was a different story - 140kg! Lots of shopping and a double folding kayak in huge bags.

And when we go camping it's even worse! 8 jerry cans of fuel, 100 litres of water, enough food for a large army for a fortnight. Our 4WD usually looks like the Beverly Hillbilly's truck, but without Granny in her rocking chair on top of it all, and our kids reckon I'm getting old enough to be able to do that!

So I don't think I can add anything sensible to this discussion. We're off camping again tomorrow, with kayaks, bikes and the works.

Doing what you like is freedom
Liking what you do is happiness
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Pesto Man

Joined: 17 Jun 2005
Posts: 185
Location: New Orleans Louisiana

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 2:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Erin, remember whenever in doubt...don't take it (if you are can in all probability GET IT THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Having just gone through simmilar experiences, my only regrets on the way over were taking too much, (while on the way back I didn't take (back) enough) Remember every item you haul with you is a potential treasure you cannot return with

Oh and my wife swears by her silk thermal underwear Smile Light, warm, and packs down to nothing!!!

have a great time!!!!!!
I would like a gin martini, straight up, olives on the side, as dry as my wit, as clean as my conscience.
and... as cold as my heart!!!!
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Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Posts: 450
Location: a Dutchie in HongKong

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am SO going to use all your advises! I am a good traveller but a bad packer as well, and very good at the 'what ifs', especially the 'what if I spill a large coffee....' Smile.
I do recommend the colorful scarves or thin pashmina's as well: especially when wearing neutral colours it can brighten up your outfit and they often helped me through airconditioned evenings in restaurants and theatres and so on. I always take one in my carry-on as well, together with some underwear, some toiletries (but sunscreen can go in the suitcase) and something to eat and drink.
And I love my set of 'spacebags'that I bought in the USA: if you stock up on souvenirs you can put some clothes in there and roll them to a vaccuum and voilá, they take only half the space. They will wrinkle a little, so that would mostly work on casual things and on your way back home Wink

Last edited by swan on Wed Jan 04, 2006 10:11 am; edited 1 time in total
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Joined: 02 Aug 2005
Posts: 63
Location: Northfield, MN

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Me again.

I'm packing this very minute for a trip overseas, which reminded me of one or two ideas I forgot to mention before.

I used to pack massive amounts of reading material for long trips - bulky, heavy, and I would get library books or books I wanted to keep, so I would get stuck lugging them all around and back home again. Now I hit the used bookstore and invest a few dollars at most for books to get me through the first part of the trip. When I finish reading, I leave the books behind at a B&B or hostel (for other readers to discover) and hit the used bookstores in whatever city I'm in for a fresh set. Cheap, saves space - and on the way home, that space can be used for cookbooks from your destination. If you have a PDA and can stand the eye strain, you could even download books from the internet and have unlimited reading material in a very compact space. I tried this once, and it made my luggage lighter no doubt, but I didn't like squinting at the screen so much.

Sweaters can also be bulky. Unless I'm going to a frigid climate, I instead like taking pashminas or a warm wool shawl to throw around my shoulders - warm, and packs flat.

Good luck with the packing and your trip! No matter how much of an overpacker you are, I think you're probably still miles ahead of my college self when, naive and foolish, I left for a study abroad year carrying AN ENTIRE STEREO in my suitcase (and not a small boombox either). God only knows what I was thinking!
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Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great idea about the books, that is a big problem of mine. NERD CONFESSION: I bring my thesaurus everywhere. It's not the small one either, it's the giant Oxford one. I think it may be time to invest in a smaller one for travel.
"It's watery....and yet there's a smack of ham."

"It's hot ham water."
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tea leaves

Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 57
Location: boston, the home of the bean and the cod

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

there is hope Erin! Having travelled widely since college here are some things I swear by...
pashminas are king! or queen as the case may be....I never travel without at least 3. I travel for business and meeting rooms are notoriously cold/drafty. They are good on the plane, while reading in bed, as an extra blanket, a liner against harsh hotel sheets, keeps hairstyles in place in wind or convertibles ( add sunglasses for the riveria)
Take almost empty things of toothpaste, hairspray etc and discard on last morning.
I swear by black on the bottom and color on top. Black pants, cords, jeans, skirts ( long & short) and one black sleeveless sheath. I also usually limit to one or two colors on top/ pink and black, aqua and black...
I usually only take rolling laptop case and roll on suitcase on plane, as I have to be able to carry my own and also keep up with very long legged male colleagues who race through airports
When I travel with my husband and we have 2 suitcases I put 1/2 of each of our clothes in each suitcase. That way if one is lost I or he still has some clothes ( learned the hard way when British Airways lost luggage for 3 days)
I limit my jewelry to things I can live without for obvious reasons
cashmere sweaters are also great for 3 season traveling. In summer change to 3/4 sleeve cotton t shirts. You can layer both for winter/very cold climates.
For walking shoes I swear by Giraudon loafers that I got from Garnet Hill
Very thick black rubber soles but sleek and fashionable. Geox also makes good ones. I take one pair of black slingback low heels for dress up and a small ( tiny) black evening bag
I never wear shorts unless I am at resort, but cropped pants, khakis are fashionable everywhere
In summer I switch to khakis as they are lighter than jeans
Can't help you with the book/reading material issues, I am guilty as charged.
I also use Caudelie's vino/herbal spray for keeping my skin hydrated during flight. Before flying make sure to put a super heavy duty body moisturizer on all over to keep the rest of your skin comfortable on a long flight. I keep a small mesh bag next to me in the seat pocket with chapstick, tylenol, face spray, shoutwipe, tissues and a water bottle. That way I don't have to keep reaching up or down for things. Also the mini ipod with podcasts to catch up on.
and my best travel tip.....always sit in the back of the plane. You can board first, there is always overhead space then, once the food carts go by, you can walk the aisle, close to restrooms, and by the time you get off the plane any checked luggage is usually up or close to coming up!
Enjoy your travels!
"Nobody can teach you how to make the perfect cup of tea. It just happens over time. Wearing cashmere helps of course."
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Joined: 28 Mar 2005
Posts: 31
Location: San Francisco Bay Area

PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 8:50 pm    Post subject: my packing list Reply with quote

two pairs dark-colored cotton pants with a tiny bit of stretch: These are not too heavy and dry quicker than jeans, don't wrinkle or need ironing, work for both casual and more dressy, accomodate fat days, and can be paired with silk long johns if it's cold.
one pair yoga pants and camisole to sleep in

one (or maybe two if it's very hot) skirts with a dark background (My favorite does not wrinkle and has an elastic waistband which I hide under the tops.
It works for both day and going out at night)

one pair of comfortable walking sandals to wear with skirts
one pair of comfortable walking shoes (wear on plane because the sandals take less room) that can withstand some rain-or- Rain boots if it's likely to rain all the time (mine also double as snow shoes)
one pair of smallish hiking shoes if I'm sure to be hiking
Travelling is not the time to try out your heels. Find another excuse close to home!

one or two stretchy dressy tops
4 or 5 short or long sleeve t-shirts depending on the weather
one or two cardigans (black and maybe a pretty color)
one silk long john top if it's cold

one trench coat (grey or bright red)

7 pairs of socks and underwear
swimsuit even if I don't think I'll need it
one scarf that goes with everything and is good for adjusting temperatures

All this fits into one carry on size roller/back pack suitcase. It also has a zip on backpack into which I stuff papers and books. I confess that I struggle getting the book weight down. I do bring paperbacks and leave them as I go. I also scope out English language bookstores in places like Paris or Barcelona. I also usually have at least a couple guidebooks.

I take one smaller carry on with toileteries, a book, ear plugs, pillow, and so on. I can carry all of this stuff by myself up and down stairs and so on.
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Joined: 07 Nov 2005
Posts: 47

PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2006 11:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Confessions of a Bad Packer. Reply with quote

I once went to Italy with all of the "right" sensible things I was told to bring. I was miserable and frumpy. Bring things you love... and if you can wash them out in the sink that is great too.

Good luck! Sounds like a real challenge.
Life is a flow of love.
Only your participation is required.
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Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Penrith (where jacarandas remind me of change), New South Wales, Australia

PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2006 3:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Our daughter, Sophie, is the Queen/Princess/Nobel Prizewinner/etc etc etc of packing....that we travelled together for 10 weeks...she the expert..her mother the not...proves something!

talk about The Odd Couple journey!!!

When she comes home from work I will ask her for a few words to describe my packing style... Wink

At some airport in the States...having to open my suitcase to find the rolls of film (advised by the dude in charge)...all in one plastic bag?..don't be sooooo here, one there, perhaps one under here...

The world looking on....oh my what a memory...
"I've never accepted the external appearance of things as the whole truth. The world is much more elaborate than the nerves of our eye can tell us." - James Gleeson
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