The Art of Packing for Non-Frequent (and Frequent) Travelers

OK, for those who travel a lot, you probably have the packing game down to a science. A routine. You know what to take, how much to take and how to pack it.

Maybe you can skip this article.

But, 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 is your version of packing, then this primer on how and what to pack may be helpful.

Remember the adage:  “Pack half of what you think you need and bring twice the money.”

And the one, absolute rule that has gotten me in trouble, but I still adhere to: If you pack it, you carry it! Unless you’re traveling with your sainted mom.

Experienced  travelers know that how one packs is as important (or more) important than what gets packed.

How you pack depends on where you’re going. If you’re spending Christmas at Aunt Milly’s or Cousin Don’s, then you can borrow their stuff if you’ve left something at home. There’s bound to be hair dryer or an extra jacket.

Consider these tips:

• Cross pack. Put some of your clothes in your partner’s suitcase, and some of his/her clothes in yours.  If your suitcase doesn’t get there when you do, you’ll have some clothes to wear until it does.
• Practice pack. At least once before you leave, pack and unpack your bags.  Taking your clothes out and putting them back, twice, actually has the effect of revealing what you can leave behind.
• Roll sweaters up tightly. It’s not the bulk that causes them to take up so much space, it’s the trapped air.
• Different colored suitcases for easy identification can be helpful when you’re tired and cranky at the end of a flight and suitcases all look alike
• Buy a quality bag with lots of zippered compartments and a good shoulder strap for carrying.
• Some travelers warn that thieves have been known to circulate at airports and check out ID tags on the assumption that if you’re at the airport, probably no one is at your house. Buy an  ID tag that folds down.

For most travelers, it seems  the single most important item to pack are a pair of good, very comfortable walking shoes. You can do without almost anything else. But not without good shoes.

Best wishes for a wonderful 2014!

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Comment by Kaleel Sakakeeny on December 21, 2013 at 2:05pm

I think baggage handling, Donna, has gotten much better! Maybe more tracing technology, or a happy result of heightened security. 1% is certainly well within the margins of acceptability, I'd say. Surprised it's that low

Anyway, thanks again for writing in. Have a wonderful Christmas and a very special 2014. Cheers!


Comment by Donna Esposito on December 21, 2013 at 10:30am

Did you write this article for me? I know I should pack less!

Last year I read in one of the Toronto papers that about 1% of checked luggage is mishandled. I don't know how much of that is lost and how much is just late because it was put on the wrong plane. Travel articles always warn against checked luggage but I don't travel as much as those writers do so I'll keep taking my chances. So far the worst that has happened was a bag arrived late on a return trip home and they delivered it to me the next day but I guess regular travelers like journalist and business travelers travel enough so the 1% is more of a threat.

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