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Stress Free Packing

By Mary S. Gilbert

The Roads Traveled


Checked luggage can be the bane of travel. How frustrating to spend time in baggage claim, waiting (endlessly!) for the carousel to (finally!) spew forth your suitcase, when you could already be experiencing new adventures.

I recall taking an overnight business trip to Chicago with a colleague who inexplicably checked her bag. It wasn’t because of the state of her physical abilities. Perhaps she thought it would be more convenient. Unfortunately, thanks to a major snafu with O’Hare’s baggage system, we waited more than an hour for her bag to appear and almost missed our meeting.

A worse scenario occurred on another trip when I checked my suitcase. The airline lost it, and three days of my weeklong trip to New York passed before they at last located it and delivered it to my hotel. In the meantime, I’d had to spend precious hours searching for clothes to tide me over, hoping my luggage would soon resurface.

Those instances helped reinforce a valuable lesson – packing can be pivotal to the overall enjoyment of your trip. Particularly important for me when traveling on planes and trains, or when switching between multiple hotels or rental properties, is to use only carry-on bags and limit the weight so I can handle them myself. It all boils down to packing smart, and packing light.

Here are some of the basic strategies I follow:

• Make a packing list. Base it on your itinerary and activities. Begin this process several days before you leave so you have a window to purchase any needed items

 • Allow plenty of time to pack so you can do it with careful thought

 • Edit ruthlessly. I fly with a rollerboard and a backpack. Period. For years now, my travel mantra has been “If it doesn’t fit in my two carry-ons, it doesn’t go.” If all else fails, though, ship extra items ahead of time to your destination

 • Roll, don’t fold clothes. Rolled clothes generally take up less space, and they’re less likely to develop creases.

• Pack valuables in a personal bag. Money, passports, extra glasses, and medications shouldn’t go in rollerboards, as sometimes they get checked depending on cabin space. Pack pills in zippered plastic bags instead of their bottles.

• Pack neutrals. Black, navy, grey, and khaki go with everything. Accent with a few colored scarves or accessories.

• Pack layers appropriate for the climate and changing weather.

• Limit jewelry to what you wear on the plane.

Happy travels!

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