Packing light has never been easy for me and my husband. We call it “going full Griswold” but it’s not nearly as funny as Chevy Chase made it appear in National Lampoon’s European Vacation. We are at that certain age when shorts and tee shirts aren’t appropriate and we often wear more than one change of clothes in a day. He has very large and heavy size 12 shoes and I can’t seem to travel without about five pairs. And yes, we each pack our own suitcase, which leads us to part of our problem. Duplicates.
For our summer trips this year, we tried some new ideas that I had read about on the various travel sites I follow. It was difficult to break our old patterns and we weren’t totally successful, but we incorporated three ideas that did work.
- Use compression and zip lock bags to separate and protect clothing. We put our outfits (pants, shirt, socks, underwear) in gallon size bags, press the air out of them, and throw them in the suitcase. They keep the clothing reasonably wrinkle free and when we are finished with the outfit, it goes back into the bag dirty, thus protecting other clothing. You could even have a 3×5 notecard with “dirty” on one side and “clean” on the other in each baggie. Then you know what you need to wash when it’s time to do laundry. Take a few extra baggies of various sizes with you. They are miracle workers — in France I needed an ice pack and voila! My extra baggie full of ice worked wonders. Of course, you should practice being green by reusing the bags every time you travel.
- Pack large bags so that you only have to open up one at a time. It is such a pain to try to work around two large suitcases in a hotel room or someone’s guest room. I’m trying to forget what it was like when we traveled with kids, but I know it was even worse than it is now that we are empty nesters. If you use the baggie method of packing, you have everything all separated out and all you have to do is pull out one baggie for the next day for each person. The other piece(s) of luggage can remain in the car or stored in the hotel room closet until you need to break it open.
- Don’t take duplicate toiletries. It’s easy to forget to plan for this when people are throwing stuff into their personal carry-ons at the last minute. Even if one of you uses sensitive toothpaste and the other doesn’t, somebody can compromise for a couple of weeks. We used to take two sets of band-aids, two sets of shampoos and gels, two sets of painkillers, and sometimes two hair dryers … you get the picture. On our trip to France, we still ended up with two bottles of the medication we both take, and that was totally unnecessary. Give some thought to what you can share and how much you will need.
I’m determined to pack even lighter the next time. I’m looking for the perfect pair of shoes that can be worn with skirts and pants, has a relatively sturdy sole that can take a beating, and is deep enough to take my orthotic inserts. If you have found this pair of shoes, let me know!
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