Welcome to my first link-up edition of Travel Tuesday! I know I didn't give you much notice, but I'm hoping to get at least a few participants. Feel free to link up through next week, and also please link up any old travel-related posts you'd like to share if you don't have time to write a new one this week. The html code for my Travel Tuesday image is below:
So, as I said, today I'll be focusing on the art of packing. I've mentioned several times before that I almost always pack in a carry-on, no matter how long the trip. There are three very simple reasons for this: 1. I don't trust airlines. I'm always afraid they're going to lose my bag or damage my luggage, and I'm simply too impatient to wait at the baggage claim after a flight. 2. I don't want to pay any more fees than necessary. 3. I can almost always fit what I need into a carry-on and a backpack/purse, so why bother with checking luggage?
Many of my friends are skeptical of how much I can fit in a carry-on, but I promise you: it can be done. Last summer, I interned in Atlanta for six weeks before traveling in Africa for 24 days, and guess what I packed in? That's right, a rolling carry-on suitcase and a big purse. That's it! Just for your reference, here's what I packed in my suitcase for my three weeks in Africa (I meant to blog about this way back when and never did, but I still had the list saved on my computer!):
two pairs capri pants | one pair sweatpants | swimsuit | 24 shirts/tank tops | four pairs shorts | three pairs Norts (that's Nike shorts) | three pairs sandals | one jacket | one sweater | five dresses | one skirt | underwear | socks | six-pack of washcloths | granola bars | flavored water packets | assorted first aid supplies | antibacterial wipes | chlorine tablets | flashlight | assorted toiletries, including shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, etc. | locking bag for passport/valuables | bug repellent wipes | four clothing hangers | shoulder bag
I must admit, years of experience have taught me how to cram all that into one overhead-bin-sized suitcase (not to mention the books, laptop, camera gear, multiple chargers, prescription medicines, paperwork, extra clothes, etc. that I kept in my purse), but here are a few general packing tips:
- Whenever I travel, I always make sure to choose one color scheme for my clothes. Usually, this means picking either brown or black. This is more important in winter, when I can't fit my brown boots and my black boots, or my green coat and my red coat, but it helps in the summer, too. So for your basic pieces (shoes, belts, jackets), pick one neutral color and then pack outfits around that color.
- As I've mentioned before, I wear my bulkiest items on the plane to save room in my suitcase. This usually means running shoes, jeans and a jacket of some type, plus a scarf.
- You're going to want to bring home souvenirs, so make sure to leave room. I was able to bring home some artwork, jewelry, fabric and gifts for my entire family because 1. I knew I would use up my granola bars and some of my first aid supplies during the trip, which gave me more room, and 2. I bought really cheap washcloths at Ross before the trip and left them in the apartment we stayed in, along with my clothing hangers.
- Use dryer sheets inside your shoes and between clothes to keep everything smelling fresh. Likewise, always bring a plastic bag to keep dirty clothes in. You don't want them mixing with your clean clothes throughout the trip. (Except apparently plastic bags are illegal in Rwanda. Oops! Good thing its customs process wasn't very stringent.)
- If you're going to pack in a carry-on, don't forget the 3-1-1 rule for toiletries. I bought plastic 3-ounce squeeze containers at Target for less than a dollar each and filled them with shampoo, conditioner and body wash. I wasn't sure if they would last me the whole trip, but I knew I could always buy more bath products in Africa if necessary. (Just FYI, they did last.)
- I feel like this is pretty obvious, but remember to keep all your valuables and irreplaceable items (e.g. laptop, valuable jewelry, money, passport, travel itineraries, prescription medicine) in your purse or backpack in case you have to check your carry-on at the gate. I always like to keep an emergency set of clothes in my purse, too, just in case my bag gets lost. This means—at minimum—clean underwear and socks (and a T-shirt if you can fit it), a jacket or sweater, toothpaste and your toothbrush.