The art of packing  your suitcase for a long trip

By Linda Ferrara 

          You’ve decided it’s time to get away.  It doesn’t matter what time of year it is.  You are anxiously in need of some much desired “away” time. But one of the constant disincentives to travel is the need to pack for a trip and to know the requirements. It takes work to decide what to take with you. There is always the fear of, “What if I don’t bring enough?” 

          My advice is to take only what is essential and what you will really use. Most people take far too much, and suffer the inconvenience of having to drag all their bags and personal belongings around, but never using much of what they are lugging. When packing, you need to be very critical and relentless in minimizing what you take. Take it or leave it! 

          There are decisions to be made initially that dictate what to bring. Where are you going?  What time of year is it?  How long is the trip? What activities and entertainment do you plan? And finally, what is the weather forecast for my destination? Be sure to access www.weather.com, one of many excellent sources for daily and weekly weather at your destination.  

More to consider: Your activities might be outdoor or indoor functions. Are you hiking, biking, skiing, touring or just relaxing to get away. Museums? Art shows? Are all activities adult functions? Is formal clothing needed? Are grandchildren involved in your trip, requiring s more active schedule? All of these factors affect your packing decisions. It is important as a first step to make a list of everything you need before you begin selecting clothes. 

          Let’s begin. What size suitcase are you taking for the trip? People are amazed that my husband and I take one suitcase and a small carry-on for all of our belongings. Last summer that was it for two weeks in Europe. How? Coordinate your wardrobe around a color theme for your destination, allowing you to mix and match. As an example, I took one pair of black slacks and a black skirt and had five tops and a jacket, accessorizing with scarves and belts. I wore an outfit on the plane that could be immediately used if for some reason the luggage was delayed. My husband took two slacks and five shirts with two sweaters. He wore a jacket on the plane as is his custom. (It definitely gets you better service and treatment.) 

          Now that you have everything laid out that you are going to bring, choose what suitcases and carry bags are suitable for your trip. Next, begin the most effective packing step. How well you do this step determines the ease and convenience of your unpacking and repacking at your destinations. Begin by placing your clothes on hangers, and put them length wise in the suitcase. Alternate between horizontal and vertical placement to prevent wrinkling. It works! When you arrive at your destination, your clothes should be quickly be hung in the closet. In this way unpacking at your destination takes three minutes, and the clothes are ready to wear. You can begin enjoying your vacation immediately. 

          For the ladies take only what is necessary for cosmetics. Remember if you use carry-on luggage that there is a limitation on the ounces that can be carried onto the plane. I put my cosmetics in a medium Ziploc bag. My husband brings a shaving kit bag that also contains a small medicine kit with aspirin, sunscreen, antiseptic ointments, basic first-aid items, etc. Keep in mind your need for prescription medicines. In addition, consider the need for camera and gifts, and don’t forget the all-important airline tickets or maps. The right amount of cash and personal checks should be carried to supplement credit cards and ATM cards. Another important point! Remove all  nonessential items from your wallets and purses that won’t be needed on the trip. That means much less needs to be replaced in the unfortunate case of losing a wallet or purse. 

          It is prudent to have extra copies of key documents stored separately in your possession. These include your health insurance cards, credit cards, driver’s license and passports. These duplicates are important just in case the originals are lost or stolen. One last thing: If you are leaving your car at an airport, keep your keys in your pocket, not in the suitcase. If you arrive home at the airport and your luggage is delayed, that mistake can cost you an expensive cab ride home.  

          You are now packed and ready to go.  Enjoy each day, and relish the journey. 

Linda is a frequent traveler, both internationally and within the USA. These tips result from numerous packing and travel experiences. She can be reached at [email protected]


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