Packing Tips

Given that many of my vacations have been as long as five or six weeks, friends have often asked me how I pack. How many bags do I take? Isn’t it difficult to decide what clothes to bring?

And the answers are as follows: I pack with comfort, ease and flexibility in mind, I check only one regular-sized suitcase for a trip of one week or longer, and take only one carry-on bag with me as well, and no, it’s very easy.

If I’m on a shorter get-away, then I usually take only one generously-sized handbag, in which a smaller one is also hiding, and a size-limit-compliant carry-on roller bag, too.

If I pack a suitcase, it must roll. It must be lightweight,too. For example, I love my new “extra light weight” bag by Lucas luggage that I found at TJ Maxx a few months ago. And it’s a beautiful shade of purple, too!

I’m not a fan of hard-sided luggage and never have been…  …especially nowadays with stricter weight limits imposed on our checked bags, why waste that limit on hard-sided luggage when we could use it on shopping?

And speaking of shopping, I always slip a lightweight nylon or canvas duffel bag inside my checked suitcase in case I buy things that won’t fit otherwise. Along with some extra tissue paper and bubble wrap just in case, my suitcase is still easy to manage and I am prepared.

For carry-on bags I prefer backpack style; the weight is more evenly distributed, and I have much more stamina this way. At some point, we simply have to toss at least some of our vanity, because especially for long flights with multiple stops in between, for example when I go to Thailand, there’s a lot of walking around airports, and if I had a shoulder bag instead, my right shoulder would be tired and achy before I even arrived at my final destination.

For the longer trips, I always pack in my carry-on at least two or three days worth of clothing, just in case there are any problems with luggage arrival. It’s rare that our baggage doesn’t arrive with us, but it can happen.

Shoes are very important! I love to walk, and will often spend 10 or 12 hours out per day, walking nonstop, which means I have to be wearing very comfortable footwear, and leave my beloved Richard Tyler burgundy suede high heel pumps at home…and Viola Davis knows. She’s a terrific actress and a smart traveler. Read this interview with her: Viola Davis Interview

Being an avid walker also means I have to bring solid shoes or sandals that have good support with me. My favorite brands so far have been Ecco,Timberland and Aerosoles.

Ecco always seems to sell various styles of comfortable, nice looking, good feeling, genuine suede, black, low sandals but with some support, that are very versatile.

With Timberland, I have had more luck buying men’s sandals then women’s. Go figure…

The comfortable Aerosoles I have usually serve me well as a dressy pair of shoes or sandals for a night out. I am pretty impressed by this label’s ability to often get right what other brands cannot- women’s footwear that looks good, feels good, and is good for our feet, too.

Especially for travel and for most of the rest of the time, too, I wear sandals and shoes made out of genuine leather, suede or cotton, (or jute if they are espadrilles). These organic materials are the best for our feet because they breathe, and synthetics do not.

I tend to bring at least two or three pairs of footwear, even for a long weekend because my feet and leg muscles like change. And if there’s any cool weather, I bring at least one pair of boots- preferably knee-high and low or no heel, but with some support, because they feel good and look great with jeans and skirts or dresses.

Cotton and silk, wool and linen are the fabrics I prefer to wear, traveling or not. Those organic items breathe, which is simply not true of fabrics born out of a petrochemical process (which is almost all you find anywhere, anymore).   😦

And for the record, I had once read that silk dries seven or eight times faster than cotton, and so I always packed silk underthings, and they did dry super quickly after being hand-washed.  Those were the gold old days, indeed. Still, though, in warmer weather especially, silk blouses and tunics are my best friend on vacation, because silk is so easy to hand wash, and it dries very quickly.

If I’m going to a sunny locale I always pack a visor in addition to my sunglasses. It seems I’m often close to the equator where the sun is very strong, and the visor, which I find much more comfortable than a hat, does a nice job of protecting me from the glare.

If I am going to be swimming in the tropics, I love my sunglasses that hook around behind my ears. The first time I found a pair, was at a flea market in the Savoie region of France. I fell in love with them. They stay on whether I am swimming laps above or under water in a pool, or riding waves in the ocean. They are awesome, they don’t fall off. I can’t understand why more people don’t wear them.

In the pool, or in the water at the beach, I love them, because why deal with nasty glare if you don’t have to?! I have looked but not seen them here in the US, other than online thanks to a Google search. In case you want to try for yourself, here is a pair by RayBan at a discounted price:  RayBan Outdoorsman 3030.

I found them once or twice on ebay, too.  I also lucked out and found some at a market in Borneo… lucky me!

On another note, don’t you just hate polyester or acrylic underwear?  Does nobody make 100% cotton anymore, or understand the importance of it?  I miss the days of easily finding 100% silk lingerie at good ole’ Filene’s Basement, or even at Victoria’s Secret, which has since become Polyester Central. No, thank you.


Do you have any packing tips? I’m always looking to learn…

Your Travel Cutie