How to Pack
You've worked out the details, made your reservations, and the big day is fast approaching. It's time to pack! Here are a few tips on how to have what you need with you, but not have to lug around a huge suitcase (or more!) or pay extra charges to the airline.
1. KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Most airlines will charge you $25 for your first checked bag, and $50 or more if you want to check a second bag. There are also weight issues. Go over 50 pounds with your bag and the cost goes up. You are allowed one carry on bag at no charge. So, whenever possible, get everything you need into one carry on bag. You will save money and you won't have to deal with multiple bags at every stop along the way. How do you consolidate into one small bag?
2. COORDINATE YOUR WARDROBE
This goes for both men and women. Make sure everything you pack is mix and match. Every pair of pants/skirt will go with every shirt/blouse, and so forth. So, if the shirt gets dirty, another one will still go with your favorite pants. Coordination is also key with accessories. NEVER take more than one extra pair of shoes. Shoes take up a lot of space, tend to be heavy, and no one will ever notice you have the same dress shoes on as yesterday! In fact, probably no one will notice what you wear at all, so keep it simple.
3. SYNTHETIC IS BETTER THAN COTTON
Synthetic fabrics are lighter, tend to stay cleaner, and can usually be washed out at night and will be dry by the next morning. Cottons are heavier, get dirty faster, and take a longer time to dry. Also avoid wool, even when it's cold. Layer your clothing to keep warm, and avoid the bulkiness of wool.
4. LEAVE THE BLING AT HOME
Who are you trying to impress with all the jewelry? Unless you are visiting family, on most trips you have never seen the people before and will never see them again. Leave the jewelry at home. Don't risk losing it or having it stolen.
5. MAKE COPIES
Make copies of important items like your passport, your itinerary, and your credit cards. Also, if traveling outside the US, be sure to call your credit card companies to tell them when and where you are traveling. Otherwise they might decline charges, which is embarrassing and a huge nuisance.
6. BOOK AHEAD
If traveling outside the US, book as much as you can ahead of time, as it saves money. For example, rental cars in Europe are twice as expensive if you walk up to the counter instead of booking from the US.
7. PACK EARLY THEN REVIEW
I try to finish packing a few days before the trip begins. I let it sit for a day, then I open up the bag and go through everything to see what I don't really need. In addition to your carry on, you are allowed a second bag, such as a shoulder bag, purse, computer case, etc. Try to leave space in that bag so you can shift things around at the airport if needed. It also gives you room to buy things along the way.
We once traveled in Thailand with a woman who had an interesting approach to packing. Before her trips she would go to goodwill and buy clothes for the trip. Then, during the trip, instead of worrying about how clean the clothes were, she would simply leave the item she had just worn in the hotel room. Her bag would get lighter every day, and she had room to buy souvenirs.