10 Packing Tips for Smarter Travel

6. If you are traveling to cold climates (or in a shoulder season where there is the potential for large swings in temperature), buy a packable puffer coat. 

There are puffer coats that wad up into tiny balls with travel pouches that are perfect for this kind of weather and they weigh almost nothing.  I took my puffer coat to Europe in November two years ago for a river cruise and then to Charleston this year in early spring when it got into the 40s during their food and wine festival.  You never know when you are going to need a coat for colder weather and this is one of the easiest ways to bring one along.  They are a great investment if you travel frequently.

This puffer coat is made my Bernardo. Notice the scarf. ;-)

This puffer coat is made my Bernardo. Notice the scarf. 😉

7. Keep your clothes fashion basic (see No. 5 above) and the shoes will follow.

This is a toughie for me.  I’m a shoe-aholic. Think back to the very first tip.  This is pretty much in the same category. You aren’t going to wear ALL those shoes you packed.  Ain’t gonna happen.  Realistically, after a long day of excursions or sightseeing, chances are those high heels aren’t going to feel so fabulous on your feet, especially after they’ve already been swelling up on an airplane, so pack lower heels or flats that you can wear with a few outfits.

Do you really need all of these shoes?!

Do you really need all of these shoes?!

I usually start with a stack and then back down from the madness.  I love shoes and they can definitely make an outfit, but really…10 pairs of shoes for anything less than a world cruise seems excessive.  Think black and silver or gold if you have evening attire and good neutral casual walking shoes for daytime.  If you’re going to be touring in older cities with cobblestones and uneven pavements and streets, be sure the shoes have good support.  On summer trips, I have been known to pack several colors of sandals (black, brown, neutral, and metallic), but I always seem to wear the silver ones.  They go with most everything.  Just sayin’.

8. Plan your carry-on bag carefully. 

Pack delicate items you don’t want damaged or potentially lost by the airlines if they are checked.  Valuables, like jewelry (which should be costume, just to be safe) and handbags that you don’t want crushed, medicines, cameras, etc. should be carried on board with you.  Also, be sure to have an extra TSA lock for your luggage with you.  I recently had a situation when boarding a plane where the agent at the gate insisted I check the bag.  It made no sense since I was in the first group boarding.  I told him no way with valuables in the luggage and no lock on the bag.   As it turns out, there was no problem with storing the bag directly above my seat.  It’s a small soft-sided roller bag.  However, you should be prepared for this situation and if there are valuables of any kind in your carry-on bag, pack a lock in case they require checking it while boarding the plane.  And put anything you can fit into your personal item (second carry-on) before checking the bag.

Your luggage should fit easily into the overhead bins

Your luggage should fit easily into the overhead bins

9. Your second carry-on should be a soft-sided handbag/tote.

One of my favorite pieces that I own is a larger bag that doubles as a, shall we say, “ginormous” handbag.  This is the second piece you are allowed to carry on board the plane (a personal item) and you might possibly have to endure having at your feet for the duration of the flight (if the overhead bins are full), so take that into consideration when making a purchase.  Invest in a fashionable soft-sided piece that will be large enough for your purse, computer, iPad, phone, and anything else you can’t seem to stuff into any of your other luggage.  This is also the bag that you want easy access to when searching for a book, magazine, or lipstick.  Bags made of leather or coated fabric, are perfect for the job, since they’re soft and expandable and will hold more.

Our tour guide in Heidelberg had the perfect over-sized bag for travel

Our tour guide in Heidelberg had the perfect over-sized bag for travel

This carry-on bag is also a great place to store that chic scarf you’re wearing once you get a little toasty on the plane.  And be sure to keep one of those mini spray cans of facial misting stuff handy for when your face gets dehydrated.  And it will.  The very first refreshing facial mist (to my knowledge) was made by Evian, but many companies make travel sizes of different versions now.  As an alternative to the mist, you can squeeze past your flight companions and head into the restroom and splash water on your face, but that’s not nearly as savvy, so bring the spray.

By the way, my handbag of choice for plane travel is a backpack from Longchamp and it has been for many years.  They are stylish and durable.  I then carry a small cross body bag (like this one) when sightseeing so important items (such as my passport) will be secure and accessible in front of me.

My stylish Longchamp bag travels with me wherever we go

My stylish Longchamp bag travels with me wherever we go

10. Carry your own water – Literally.

This includes both the plastic bottle of H2O and your luggage.  This is an old military saying about the need to take care of yourself and not expect others to do it for you.  This tip is from the hubs and probably the one that matters the most, at least in our house.  If you can’t carry your own luggage, then forget about it.  If you want the 10 pairs of shoes, three outfits a day, including those turquoise slacks, then you best be able to haul it all down the stairs and place it into the trunk of the car and wheel it through the airport and hotels all by your lonesome.  If you can’t, then you need to downsize and pack again.  Unless you are Melania Trump and have a staff to carry around your entire matching set of Louis Vuitton luggage, then pack less.

** Don't let this be you. Pack light and pack smart.

** Don’t let this be you. Pack light and pack smart.

11. This is a bonus tip – Pack in advance and not at the last minute.  You will always over-pack and miss important items when you wait until the last minute.

My suggestion to you is this – Make a list of necessary travel items and then lay out the clothing and other stuff (shoes, handbags, jewelry, etc.) that you think you want to take.  Do this several days in advance, so you have time to reconsider.  Weed through what you can give up and then roll and pack what you can’t live without in the suitcase.  Neatly.  If you can pack it all in there, zip up the bag (not on the expandable setting), and pick it up and manage that piece of luggage along with your carry-on bag and cheater “handbag” with minimal or no assistance, then you’re good to go.

If you’re traveling alone, perhaps some nice gentleman (hopefully young and good looking) will be willing and able to assist you when you can’t quite seem to get that bag of shoes and handbags into the overhead bin.  This is when easy access to that lipstick may come in handy.  Just remember, years from now, he could be telling you to “carry your own water.”

May your next trip result in a suitcase full of dirty clothes and a mind filled with wonderful memories!

Bon voyage!

Sunset in Barbados

Sunset in Barbados

* Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

** Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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