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?

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