Wednesday, February 14, 2007

More On Travel Packing

Having just returned from a trip with 2 coworkers I thought I'd share some more travel insights. I've always assumed that people who travel regularly think about their packing. I was wrong.

I took a carry on sized roller suitcase for a 4 day trip. It was a little more than I needed, but I wanted the extra room for the trade show goodies I'd be coming back with. My coworkers showed up with suitcases almost twice the size of mine for the same amount of time.

So here's some things that I'd like to add as tips and tricks to travel packing:
Pack thin. I've already mentioned this in my previous post, but it can't be said enough. Pack a thinner garment rather than the thicker one that is its equivalent unless you really do need the thicker item.
Pack with multi-tasking in mind. If you can use it more than once in more than one way, that's a good thing. On the trip I just took I traveled from Colorado to Las Vegas. It is colder in Colorado and warmer in Las Vegas, so rather than packing a scarf and hat for the cold at home and a sweater for the air conditioning in Las Vegas, I packed a light weight shawl. At home it served as a scarf/head covering and in Las Vegas it kept me from getting chilled in the air conditioning. It's thin, so it packed small and I packed one item instead of three.
Pack only what you need in your toiletries kit. DON'T pack the shampoo bottle, the hand lotion bottle, etc just like they are at home. Put some in a smaller bottle; just enough for the trip. I take the shampoo bottles from hotels, empty them of their contents, and fill them with my preferred potions. I suggest testing to see how many days you can get out of one of those bottles by using them at home. You'd be surprised at how small it can be. I've actually found that the bottles sold in stores for traveling are too large for a 1 or 2 week trip. They're more for continual travelers.
Pack what you need and leave what you might want at home. I indulge myself in one or two small items that I might want, but when flying I try to resist the urge as much as possible.
If traveling somewhere without laundromats, hotel hair driers, and hotel ironing boards, plan accordingly. Many hotels around the world offer laundry services, so plan that into your budget and take fewer clothes. If going into remote regions, pack a ziplock bag of powdered laundry detergent. Get a hairstyle that is lower maintenance. While I like to use a hair drier at home, I can very easily get along without one. I realize that some don't have that luxury, so perhaps you could try decorative scarves or some other solution that packs light. Or just take something else out of the suitcase so that you can put a travel sized hair drier in. Don't pack something that will need ironing, or learn to pack things like pilots and airline attendants do so that the creases are where they don't look bad.
Can you carry it? If not, there's a problem. When I went to Las Vegas this week, my bag weighed between 15 and 20 pounds. One of my coworkers weighed in at about 30 pounds. When we got on the airport shuttle I was able to easily carry my bag into the shuttle and put it on the top rack. She managed but the weight and size of her bag meant she had to struggle with it. On our return trip we had added about 15 pounds of paper samples, booklets, and brochures, so my bag weighed in at about 30 pounds and hers was just short of 50 pounds. I was still able to carry my bag, the size making the weight more managable. She didn't even attempt it, leaving it for the driver to take care of.

Do you have some travel packing tips?

Travel Journal Kit

...What I like to take.
1. The journal
2. Pen: One that I like but won't mind losing
3. Sketch pencil: 5B or 6B
4. Plastic "stick" eraser
5. Travel size watercolor set
6. 2 travel style brushes: a 6 round and a 0 round
7. Mini waterbottle: unless I'm also carrying a waterbottle for drinking
8. Water dish: a large plastic pill box works well
9. Mini scissors: Like those on my multi-tool. However, traveling by plane makes this difficult unless I pack it.
10. Glue stick
11. Mesh bag for everything

Travel Journal Instructions

Book board or good quality matboard
Decorative paper
Drawing paper
Card stock
Linen binding thread
Paper or plastic CD sleeve

X-acto blade
Cutting mat
Metal ruler
Curved needle
Glue brush

Book boards- cut 2 at 5"x6"
Drawing paper- cut 35 at 10"x6"
Cover stock- cut 7 at 2"x6"
Decorative paper- cut 2 at 6"x8" and 2 at 4 7/8"x5 7/8"
Linen binding thread- cut 1 at 80"

Drawing paper- fold in half to a finished size of 5"x6"
Cover stock- fold in half to a finished size of 1"x6"

Signatures- starting with the cover stock as the base stack 5 sheets of the prepared drawing paper. You should have 7 signatures when you're done.
Covers- glue the larger sheets centered on to the boards. Fold the corners of the paper around the board and glue. Fold up the sides and glue. Glue the smaller sheets on the side of the boards that have the folded edges.
Binding- mark the holes for sewing on the boards about 1/8" in from the edge. Mark where the holes go inside each signature on the inside fold. Then, using the awl, pierce each hole. Thread your needle and sew everything together using the coptic stitch.

Map Fold Instructions

Here are the instructions for the map fold I mention in my Travel Journal entry.

Travel Journals Discovered and Fine Tuned

While my every day ideas, notes, and sketches are recorded into my pocket moleskine I like to create a special journal for vacation. A handmade one.

They started when I found instructions for making one in a magazine. I decided to try it with a few modifications. The instructions called for 7 signatures made from 5 sheets of paper cut and folded to 5"x7". I decided I wanted something a little smaller, so I made it 4"x5" and bound it using the coptic stitch.
I had a lot of fun filling the journal throughout our trip. I wrote in it, drew in it, glued in business cards, maps, images clipped from brochures, etc. By the end of the trip I had decided what I really liked the idea of a special travel journal and what I wanted to do differently in the next one.

So my next book was 4 1/2"x6", big enough for postcards. I also began writing in it before the trip. I put in our flight and hotel info as well as a few things we might want to go see in the different places we were going. Throughout our trip I collected tags, tickets, business cards, and stickers that I glued in. Pages with maps or information were folded using the map fold and glued in. I even glued 2 pages together along the edges to create a pocket for putting brochures in. I also did sketches when we were still long enough to do it and intended to glue photos on the extra pages afterwards, but never did.

The third journal I made was adjusted once again. I decided to try the recommended 5"x7" size. I also upgraded the paper to good quality, light weight drawing paper. It really ended up being a versatile size for arranging the things I collected and added as well as sketching. But... I just couldn't quite convince myself to be comfortable with that size. My biggest regret was not putting a closure on it like I had the first 2. I couldn't tuck things in it to glue in later without losing them.

I decided to explore some very different options on the fourth one. I bound single 5"x7" sheets together with metal, hinged rings. My intent was to be able to add, move, or subtract pages as I needed to. I also decided to try a horizontal format. While it worked, I came to the conclusion that I like the coptic stitch binding and vertical format better. In addition, I'm still not sold on the 5"x7" size. The one thing that I did and really liked was that I put a sleeve in the back cover for the CD of digital pictures we took.

So, here's my plan for travel journal number 5.
1. Use the good quality, lightweight drawing paper.
2. I'm going to make it 5"x6" so that it's still big enough for postcards and putting the photo CD in the back cover.
3. I'm going to try using a simple elastic closure. My previous ones have been pretty, but a little cumbersome.
4. It will be bound with coptic stitch.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Travel Journals

Wikipedia defines travel journals this way:

A travel journal, or road journal or travelogue , is an initially blank book carried by a traveler for the purpose of documenting a journey. Clippings, tokens, or tickets may be included as they are collected. The journal may also include notes written by acquaintances. Some journals feature hand-drawn illustrations, or even watercolors, of friends and places. A travelogue may also contains details of bad experiences.

How to Keep a Travel Journal:
Do you keep a travel journal? For those that already do then I'm preaching to the choir here but maybe I can offer some new ideas. And for those who don't...I mean, you really should. Because you think you'll remember that hilarious interaction with a local character or those amazing, off-the-beaten path dining spots...but maybe you won't.

My favorite ready-made journal:
The 3.5"x5.5" lined pocket Moleskine.

All time favorite travel journal? Handmade by me.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Travel Packing

This might not technically be a "creative" topic, but I've gotta talk about it. I've done enough traveling to know about packing, but I'm always looking for a better, smaller way to do it. I've got 2 short business trips, 2 vacation trips, and a few romantic long weekends coming up this year and so packing and travel have been on the mind.

I did a search of the internet to see what kind of packing lists I could find and it's interesting to see what people have put together. I've gone ahead and made my own list. I don't get too specific on most things since every trip is different, but there are a few things I consider before pulling out the suitcase.

Have to have on every trip:
A book to read- I find traveling a good time to get reading for pleasure done since everyday life seems to get in the way of it.
My moleskine and/or a travel journal- I need to have someplace to record creative ideas and thoughts as well as recording the memories and experiences of the trip.
2 pairs of shoes- A lot of the lists say to pack only 1 pair of shoes and 2 if you must. I must pack 2. My feet benefit immensely from changing my shoes from day to day and, unlike men, we women are expected to wear something nicer than tennis shoes when we go out to a nice restaurant.

Things I like to take:
A sketch kit- I like to do at least a few sketches when we go places.
A digital camera- I really like being able to take a lot of pictures, to delete the ones I don't like, and then to store them all on a small CD when I get home.
A craft project- I only do this when we're driving (not flying) and it's usually embroidery or crocheting since they travel well.

These are the usual things to take and should be adjusted according to the type and length of the trip as well as the time of year. Longer trips should have days for washing planned to keep from taking too much:
Toiletries- Girls usually have more than boys and some girls a lot more than others.
Under things- Unmentionable but one for every day.
Shirts- Blouses/dress shirts for business and t-shirts or casual shirts for vacation. A different one for every day.
Pants/Skirts- Slacks/skirts for business and jeans/casual pants/shorts/skirts for vacation. These can be worn more than once so you can save space in this category.
Socks- I always take one or two pairs extra. You never know if you might get your feet wet and need a dry pair.
Warmer layers- Dress jackets, sweaters, and undershirts.
Jackets/Coats- Appropriate to the season. Fleece and gortex are always good choices.
Fluff and frills- Jewelry, scarves, ties, hair things. Take something to help you dress up a bit, but don't take anything too valuable.

The key to packing light lies in 2 areas. Pack less and pack thinner. Pack less just means that you only pack what you will wear, not what you might wear. Pack thinner means you take out the bulky aran sweater and put in the basic fine knit one. Or you might pack the silk undershirt instead.

I'm still working on the suitcase. Some people advocate wheels and some are opposed to wheels. I'm definitely a wheels person if I'm traveling by air and a non-wheels person traveling by car. When we went on vacation to England we took the train instead of a taxi as close to our B&B as we could. Then we walked the remaining 5 city blocks. I was very glad of the wheels both in navigating the Underground and walking from the station to the B&B. However, I find wheels get in the way when I'm getting a bag in and out of a car trunk.

How do you like to pack?