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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Packing for Vacation

I recently returned from a three week trip that put my organization skills to the test. We were travelling to many different cities by train and so I needed to consolidate as much as possible to make the trips easier to manage. While it is a little easier on plane trips to have more luggage, anything more than two maneagable bags for train rides is crippling, especially if you are on a tight schedule. I actually was able to pack everything for the trip into one 25" roller case and a small, sleak and stylish black carry on that doubled as my purse when site seeing. There were two tricks to only having one piece of luggage. First, I needed to be realistic about the items I would need while away and second I needed to be clever about the way they were packed. As you could probably guess the first task is much more difficult. It takes some research and a lot of mental discipline to pair down to the essentials.

Deciding what to pack
Before looking through my closet I wrote down all the things I would be doing on my trip, and what kind of clothes would be appropriate for each activity. Once I had a visual list of the types of clothes I would need, I started to look for crossover opportunities. For, instance shirts that could be dressed up for dinner and casual for lunch, or shoes that could handle lite activity for site seeing but look good for a nice meal. I found that staying away from patterns expanded my wardobe options. Solid colors were easire to mix and match and could serve both everyday and casual dress activities. And that when chosing between two types of items, it was better to go with the item that could be dressed up. For instance, I only took one pair of jeans, because a pair of comfortable cacky slacks were be suitable for sight seeing, and then can be dressed up with a jacket in the evening for a nice dinner. I found that the same could be applied with shoes. A comfortable pair of dressy shoes can be appropriate in far more scenarios than a pair of sneakers. But the key is COMFORTABLE! Remember there is nothing stylish about being uncomfortable.

I also did some research on our trip before packing. I was particularly interested in laundry services. I found that hotels in europe are expensive when it comes to doing your laundry, but still worth it if it means only having one bag instead of two. But the real bargain is finding a laundry mat that will pick up and drop off. I found that for about a third of the price the hotels charge laundry services were available from local laundry mats. That was my option. Over three weeks I had my laundry done twice and it was well worth it. In fact the cost came to about $30 which was easily justified by not having to lug around another bag or two.

Once you have decided what is going, the second challenge is packing. I found that Eagle Creek makes small packing bags that allow you to separate shirts and pants easily while also offering a wrinkle free method that also reduces the amount of space needed in my bag. They made it easy to get to the items I needed without displacing all other items in my suitcase. I highly recomend these to anyone for any trip, no matter how long or short.

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