My Top Travel Secrets: Clothes, Suitcases and More
September 3, 2015 • Travel
Imagine you’re about to take off on a fantastic journey. You’ve researched your itinerary, learned a bit of the language, and made all of your reservations. And then it dawns on you: packing light and traveling light would make all of the boarding of trains, planes, and automobiles oh so much easier. But say you aren’t up to speed on the new carry on baggage policies. Or perhaps you just don’t know where to start to pack that 21 or 22-inch suitcase – and by the way, did you know those measurements include the wheels? Because so many of my clients ask, this blog post captures my top travel secrets – everything from clothing choices to luggage and more!First things first – the suitcase. I’m currently traveling with this hard sided case from eBags. The upside is that the interior is well organized and manages to fit a lot into a seemingly small space. The downside is that it doesn’t expand for bringing any treasures home. An expandable option might be a bag from Swiss Army Knife. And although technically this is carry on size, some airlines like Lufthansa have weight limitations for carry on which would make this a moot point. Still, I always pack in this small of a suitcase because it’s just easier to maneuver.Along with my suitcase I carry a large, durable tote bag that counts as my purse or second carry on (I put my travel purse inside this, or pack it in my suitcase). Mine is older, but similar to this one from Victorinox. My strategy is generally to fill my suitcase with only clothes and an extra pair of shoes, and then put toiletries, electronics, reading materials, etc. into the tote bag. So how do you manage to get enough clothes into that small bag? I start by laying out the clothes I think I’d like to take and visually look at how they will fit into the bag. Then I pull the absolute must have items aside and begin packing them, filling up the suitcase until it’s full with the “would be nice to have this along” items following. I generally pack the suitcase full, whether I’m traveling for a long weekend, a week, or a month. The only difference on longer trips is that I know I’ll need to arrange for laundry along the way. In order to fit enough clothes into that small suitcase, you need to pack in mix and match, coordinated outfits, and in lightweight fabrics that can be layered if it’s cool, but that won’t take up too much space in your bag. Some of my must have items include the Wearever collection from J Jill. Other brands and stores have similar lines – lightweight, can be washed and dried, comfortable, and coordinated. I take a mixture of tanks, tops, cardigans, and pants (which I wear for evening) in this collection, and they all coordinate and fold very small.I also pack 2-4 very lightweight polyester blouses such as this one – not silk which requires too much care. I layer a tank underneath if I need extra warmth, or a sweater over the top. They work with jeans for the day, but with a sparkly necklace and black pants work for evening attire as well.I pack one black and one khaki pair of daytime pants, and my current favorites are the Discovery Pants from Royal Robbin. Royal Robbin says “these comfortable pants are made from durable Discovery Stretch Nylon-a quick-dry blend of nylon and spandex with a cotton-like feel that resists wrinkles, offers UV protection, and moves with you.” And they can be washed and dried in the sink and don’t need ironing. What more can you ask for? I also take 1-2 pairs of jeans if it’s going to be cool – the downside of denim is that it’s hard to wash and dry without sending out, but the upside is you usually can wear a pair of jeans a few times before they need washing. And nice denim will be in style in just about any cosmopolitan city in the world.Shoes are probably the hardest thing for most people to find for travel. If you wear your favorite athletic shoes you’ll stand out like a tourist. You might not care, but that sometimes means the locals won’t give you the best service, or it could make you a target for pickpockets. Find a comfortable black shoe and you are covered. I favor these slip ons – the Go Walk 3 Strike from Skechers. They have just about everything I need in a comfortable walking shoe: “high-rebound cushioning, a proprietary ‘SQUISH’ component, Goga Mat® technology inside the shoe, GO Pillars technology on midsole and outsole, breathable mesh for comfort, memory foam padding around the heel, and a multi directional traction sole.” It just sounds great, doesn’t it? In the past I’ve also worn an all black leather shoe with enough comfort and give, and a classic athletic shoe design in all black, but this slip on seems like the best to me. I also take a second dressier shoe or sandal, although I still make sure I can wear it walking for at least a half mile or so.I’ve spent years trying to find the perfect travel purse, which I just finally landed on this year. It’s the Longchamp Le Pliage Néo Crossbody Bag, and it has a few distinct features over other bags I’ve tried. The strap is wide, doesn’t twist, and holds the length you desire without slipping. The bag is flat on the bottom, allowing it to stand up on the counter when you’re looking for something, and also providing room to fit 1-2 glasses cases or something else that needs a wider space. There’s an internal pocket that’s zippered and I keep my wallet in there providing extra security from pickpockets. I actually use this every day, not just on travel, and it’s the perfect purse for me. I don’t carry a ton of stuff like some women, so you might opt for the larger Hobo bag from Longchamp.My final secret for packing light is to take the smallest sized containers of toiletries that I can get by with. For an eye cream, that might be a small container the diameter of a quarter. For lotion or other things I can’t live without, it would be one of these Leakproof Nalgene bottles sold at The Container Store. Unless you are going to the wilderness or a third world country, just remember you can usually buy what you need there if you run out, and it’s not worth wasting valuable space on big bottles or containers. I also live with the hotel hair dryer, the hotel soap, and the hotel shampoo, saving more space in my bag.
I hope this helps you get ready for your next adventure! You’ll find more information about packing here.
What are your top travel secrets? Share them with other readers today!