If images of jumping on your suitcase as your partner quickly snaps the locks shut, or sitting on the thing while you’re doubled over tying the straps are your version of packing, then this primer on how and what to pack could be for you.
Remember the adage, “pack half of what you think you need and bring twice the money?”
It’s true. But my favorite is this: If you pack it, then you carry, pull or lug it.
If you’re traveling to see friends or family, you can probably borrow stuff if you’ve left something at home, like a hair dryer or jacket.
But beyond that, artful packers know that how you pack is more important than what you pack.
Some hard-earned tips learned on the road
• Cross pack. Put some of your clothes in your partner’s suitcase, and some of his/her clothes in yours. The same applies to your kids, if you’re traveling with any.
This way if your suitcase doesn’t get there when you do, you have some clothes to wear until it does.
• Practice pack. At least once before you leave, pack and unpack your bags. It’s a great exercise because taking your clothes out and putting them back, twice, actually has the powerful affect of revealing what you can leave behind.
• Again, pack only what you can carry yourself, and not just a few steps. What you can comfortably walk around the block carrying or holding.
Don’t expect someone else to carry what you packed.
• Roll sweaters up tightly. It’s not the bulk that causes them to take up so much space, it’s the trapped air. This technique makes them more compact.
• You’re tired and cranky at the end of a flight and suitcases really do look alike, so add a distinguishing feature.
• And not any suitcase will do. Splurge. Buy a quality bag with lots of zippered compartments and a good shoulder strap for carrying.
At the risk of sounding paranoid, thieves have been known to circulate at airports and check out ID tags on the assumption, usually correct, that if you’re at the airport, your home may be empty. Buy a “secret” ID tag, one that folds down.
The New York Times article on packing quotes an American Airlines captain as saying he always travels with laundry soap and especially food that he carefully wraps in plastic baggies which he tucks inside his shoes.
And the peripatetic Rick Steves has lots of tips, specifically for men and women, and some wise safety ideas.
Bottom line? Travelers who travel well pretty much always travel lightly.