10 Packing Tips (Updated)

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email saying “I know you have written blog posts about packing tips, but I can’t find them. Can you please send the links to me?” I did, and as I was perusing the posts, I realized that some things have changed in the past five years, since this post first appeared. So, it is time for an update. (Also, there is a handy search bar on the left side of the blog, or on the bottom if you are on a mobile device, so you can find old posts yourself, if you so choose.) 

Travel, particularly via air, is no fun these days. From the banning of beverages to the fee frenzy, it is all very annoying, to say the least. It is because of these inconveniences, and the fact that schlepping large suitcases through foreign train stations sucks, that I began packing as lightly as possible. I have traveled through Spain and Italy, and countless domestic trips, with one carry on suitcase and a purse. How did I do it? By following my 10 Packing Truths. Trust me, they come in handy.

  1. I will not send out laundry at a hotel, or on a cruise, when it costs roughly $6 to have one tiny pair of underwear laundered. So, I need enough underwear in my bag to last the entire trip, through all of my clothing changes. UPDATE: Check with your travel agent or cruise line, while this still holds true for hotels, many cruise lines offer a bag of laundry for a set fee. If you are taking a two week cruise, and can send out a bag for $50, it is probably worthwhile.
  2. I will not bring things I’d like to use, but in reality won’t. For example, sneakers. I’m not going to the gym on a ship to lift weights, and I won’t humor myself into believing otherwise. UPDATE: I have, in fact, gone to the gym on many occasions on cruise ships. However, it is important to know when you will and when you won’t. Going to see a lot of new sights? You’ll probably spend more time sightseeing than in a hotel or cruise ship gym. Going on a cruise to ports you’ve already been? Well, maybe there is a chance of a workout. Be honest with yourself.
  3. Everyone has shampoo – hotels, ships and the friends I choose to stay with. No need to bring my own. (And if your friends don’t have shampoo, you need new friends.)
  4. I will not bring more than three pairs of shoes. One walking shoe and a maximum of two evening shoes, but preferably one. On my upcoming Alaska trip, which is nearly two weeks, I will bring 1 pair of hiking shoes, 1 pair of evening shoes and a pair of flip flops to wander the ship. No more is needed.
  5. I must have reading material for the plane, train and any other transportation. I will take as many books as I need to stay occupied. My husband just got a Kindle, so his book reading has suddenly taken up a lot less space. More on that once it is actually used for any length of time. UPDATE: I can’t stand reading on an e-reader, and neither can FKGuy. So it is actual books for us, and they take up some space. It’s okay, though, I don’t take too many shoes, and we swap books when we have finished.
  6. Never wear shoes that tie to the airport, at least while you still have to remove them in the security line. I, for one, do not want to be behind you when you need to retie the perfect bow. Wear slip-ons. UPDATE: If you get Global Entry, or TSA pre-check, you get to keep your shoes on! How civilized! More information on that here.
  7. The question is not “How much luggage can I take?” but rather “How little luggage can I take?” UPDATE: This particularly holds true now, as we are flying Delta from Key West, and under no circumstances are we allowed to check more than 1 bag each.
  8. I take one purse. Period. Next.
  9. I generally bring an umbrella with me when I travel, even in my carry-on only world. Why? Murphy’s Law: If I have an umbrella it won’t rain. If, however, said umbrella is at my friend’s house in Florence, while I am out touring the city, it will almost certainly rain.
  10. I stuff shoes with underwear and socks. I thought everybody did this, but apparently I was mistaken. Use the otherwise unused space, and your shoes keep their shape. FKGuy has large shoes, so I can stuff about three pairs of socks in each shoe. That is a good use of space.

Travel with less. Nobody cares if you are wearing the same clothes more than once. If you hate it that much in photos, you can always Photoshop in a different pattern to your shirt. I promise, you are the only one that cares.

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