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Our Members' Packing Tips

(March 2000)

I have always considered myself an excellent packer. Perhaps all those years as a flight attendant paid off; the more often you have to pack, the better you get at it. Most of the time I end up wearing everything I bring with me. Rule of thumb: if you find yourself coming home with unworn clothes, you've probably packed too much.

You have probably read about all sorts of ways to pack in order to save space and avoid wrinkles. There's the "pack and roll," the "pack in plastic," the "pack flat," and the "put stuff in shoes" methods. Instead of focusing on how to pack, though, concentrate on what to pack. A successful packer is organized, and a checklist is always a big help. One big thing I've learned over the years is to have a toiletry kit filled with travel-sized bottles that is always ready to go. Make sure your kit is leak proof, because if you do have a leak you don't want it to reach your packed clothes. Another thing I've learned is not to fill bottles all the way to the top, as liquid expands in a pressurized aircraft.

Here are some other tips:

· Check the weather forecast before you go. Know what to expect, and pack accordingly.

· A carry-on bag should always include a change of clothing and all essentials. In particular, never check your medication; always carry it with you.

· Always bring a sweater or a jacket with you on the plane, as the cabin can get cold. Be sure to choose one that coordinates well with your travel wardrobe so you may use it at your destination, if necessary.

· Supplement your limited wardrobe by packing great accessories. Jewelry, scarves, and the like can give a previously worn outfit a whole new look.

· Lastly, check out the most recent airline carry-on restrictions. If you are trying to take on too many items, or if your suitcase is too large, you may be forced to check your bags at the gate.

Okay, enough of my tips! Here is what some Smarter Living readers have to say about packing and luggage. (Note: these tips were compiled from Smarter Living's previous forums and are no longer available on the new forums)

Luggage Tips

"On a recent trip to Peru, we had the valuable contents of our luggage stolen, including our used film with our invaluable pictures! The thieves, who are likely to be airline workers or customs, did not steal anything from within the compartments we had locks on, so take the time and put those locks all over your bags."
-hellenmarvis
posted 11-24-1999 09:58 a.m.

"When traveling on business, particularly for a large multi-national company, never identify your company name or logo. If there are any hijacks or hostage taking, you could be targeted due to the company you work for. Many people have their business cards lamented, and use these as their luggage tags - this is not a good idea."
-Lou
posted 11-24-1999 11:33 a.m.

"Laptop carrying cases scream at a thief "valuable contents…steal me!" Line a section of a good quality carry-on bag with a couple of layers of bubble-wrap (a couple of large bubble envelopes would also work) and carry your laptop in there. Your laptop and accessories will suffer less from the damaging effects of dust if kept in a strong zipper-type plastic bag during travel. Perhaps not so cool looking but better than being red-faced and computerless!"
-jmforte@htc.net
posted 11-24-1999 03:32 p.m.

"Whenever I fly, I always make sure my luggage tags show the address of my destination, be it my hotel, the address of the friends I'm visiting, or what have you. I also include the phone number. This proved its worth the time I had business meetings in Europe and, due to aircraft problems that made it necessary to reroute me, my luggage arrived a full day after I did. Because I had the hotel's name, address & phone number on the tag, my luggage did at least get to the hotel, instead of getting sent to my home!"
-singndance
posted 11-24-1999 06:09 p.m.

"It is becoming more and more difficult to differentiate between your luggage and other people's luggage when it comes off the airplane in busy airports. Your search for your pieces of luggage will be much easier, it you tie a distinctively different colored ribbon around the handle of you luggage. You can spot your luggage immediately as it comes down the baggage chute."
-drlcan
posted 12-07-1999 03:29 p.m.

"If you plan to save time by carrying on your luggage, make sure you get on the flight very early. Otherwise, the bins on the plane fill up quickly and you have to have your luggage checked in, which defeats the purpose of not waiting for your luggage at baggage claim."
-ghamid
posted 12-14-1999 10:28 a.m.

Packing Tips

"My husband and I carry soft backpacks, so we pack clothes that we are tired of and items that can be worn Unisex on our trips. This way we can travel lighter and as things are worn, we can leave them instead of worrying about washing and re-packing them. In addition to lightening our loads and leaving room for gifts, new clothes etc., in some countries the maids can use these clothes and really appreciate them."
-tdlady
posted 12-01-1999 12:10 p.m.

"Save the plastic covers from the dry cleaners. Use a hanger for each item of clothing and cover it with plastic. Be sure to button all buttons. When you reach your destination, simply hang everything in the closet. Unpacking is easy and your clothes are wrinkle free."
-GBPRETT
posted 12-01-1999 07:30 p.m.

"Hate the accumulation of dirty underwear you end up toting all over the countryside of your travels? Here's an idea to avoid this and do some spring cleaning at the same time: Pack up your old underwear--the items with small holes and somewhat stretched-out elastic--and simply discard it after you wear it. You'll come home with cleaner bags, less laundry and you'll have extra drawer space for your new travel purchases!"
-ettu's eemala
posted 12-02-1999 01:06 a.m.

"When packing for an airplane trip, I always make sure that my medications, one change of clean underwear, address/phone book, and morning toiletries are not packed in my luggage. These things go in my purse or backpack so that I have them at the hotel on arrival no matter what."
-Terrie
posted 12-07-1999 11:28 a.m.

"Add your best traveling advice to help future travelers. Mine are: Buy compressor bags at an outdoor shop to compress many of your clothes into a tiny bag. Get a wire lock if you are nervous about security. You can use it to lock your stuff to any secure structure."

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