Comments by Mary Gallagher
A slightly different twist on packing for travel.
Now how many articles have you seen about efficient packing? Ten items to always take, ten items to eliminate. How to live out of a backpack for three months, use old clothes and throw them away enroute. pack two colors, layer your clothes and thousands more. Of course no one talks about how depressing it is to wear the same black pants and top for two weeks, see the same black or gray outfit in every one of your vacation photos! I personally have never worn jeans, they never dry, are heavy to carry and not flexible enough for weather or “social” changes.
I used to think how great it was to drive instead of fly because I could load up the car with shoes, different coats and hats that would have been squished in a suitcase and cost extra baggage fees. Then with unlimited space in a car you can buy more stuff!
Well this fall three to four weeks we slept in more than 20 different beds, hauled our stuff up and down elevators to the 24th floor, stairs to the second and third floors, across a lot of parking lots, driveways, broken sidewalks and more. Every few nights more gets left in the car and I’m happy with fewer and fewer options.
A few days ago we left for a quick couple of nights away and I packed a backpack with everything including my tablet, medications, shoes and more. I still came home with a few things unworn.
We returned a couple of weeks ago from a week in Florida, then London and and another week in Paris. Experience has taught me that you better be able to lift and carry your suitcase up and down a lot of subway stairs, onto trains and busses, drag it a few blocks to your B&B and up those two to five flights of stairs because that is the name of the game. You brought it you lift it!
As it turned out we still had to resort to private transportation to catch the EuroStar from our place 15-20 minutes by train out of London. The same to Charles de Gaulle airport.
I don’t throw away my underwear on a trip as so many advise because I like expensive underwear and if it’s raggy it gets thrown away at home. But I do bring the fastest drying I own as I’m not going to pack 14 pairs of underpants in a backpack!
Another thing that I’m liking more and more is tops made first for exercise like a V neck shirt in bright colors. They don’t wrinkle, dry fast, layer for warmth and brighten up dark separates. One pair of black exercise tights can be worn under slacks or a skirt if the weather turns cold.
A long time ago coming from a trip from Texas to Tennessee the temperature dropped substantially and our little group looked like Michelin men as we wore everything we had! My silky pajama bottoms were perfect liners under slacks.
Caught in an overnight stay at the Atlanta airport recently it was probably 30 below through the night (slight exaggeration but cold) again having extra clothes in my carryon meant putting them all on. We did look pretty funny getting off the plane in Charleston where it was about 82. Now you can ask me anything about nighttime airport maintenance.
Over the years many companies have sent us samples of various travel products and different envelopes, sleeves, ,mesh boxes for organizing our packing but my first choice is still regular zip lock bags in a variety of sizes and you can buy those larger storage bags with handles made of heavy duty plastic and sealing tops at Dollar Tree for a dollar. There are two or three sizes. Even if you roll your clothes all the tops can go in one and then bottoms in another. As you’re closing it squeeze out most of the air. After a few days one can be converted to holding laundry. They weigh nothing and if for some reason you lose or throw one away it was a dollar not $10.
It’s easy to buy shampoo, toothpaste and other similar essentials in foreign countries and fun when you get home to have your toothpaste in French to remind you every morning of that great time you had. But it takes time to go into Boots or some other store and buy these items just like it takes time to stop at a laundromat. We recently had to wash clothes in Fredonia, New York and were able to combine that with a spectacular breakfast next door at the Upper Crust Bakery and Cafe on Main Street. However not everywhere is safe to leave your clothes and it can easily eat up two hours of valuable sightseeing time.
Shoes are the worst and I recently found a pair of boots that fit right and looked so good but weighed so much! Get the best you can for walking miles and miles and the lightest weight not only for your feet but carrying in your luggage. Some foam liners or thick socks can be a real foot saver too.
My last tip is if you don’t carry laundry soap and I usually don’t except perhaps in the car just use a little shampoo to wash anything out. In Paris I used one of those laundry soap pods and one of my Dollar Store large bags. Dissolved the pellet in very hot water in the bag swishing it around. Threw in a few items and agitated it all in the kitchen sink. Same for the rinse. Worked great and easier than trying to find a river and rocks! Be sure to buy the laundry soap pods that are not liquid. Our place in London had a washer and no dryer (very common) but it was so damp it would have taken days to dry anything.
The rule is lightweight everything and be careful what you buy if flying. I got charged an extra bag fee by American Airlines because I had a shopping bag with a fragile gift meaning my carryon had to be checked!