Read the experts' advice on what to take, what to leave home, and suggestions for packing carefully.
Next to flight delays and long lines at the airport, packing is probably the least pleasant part of travel. Deciding what to take – and making it all fit – frustrates even the most seasoned traveler. However, that does not have to be the case. With careful pre-planning and some useful tips on how to keep clothes neat and organized, packing can be quick, efficient, and easy. Packing expert Michele Marini Pittenger offers these tips on carefree packing.
Packing List: Make a list of what you need. This accomplishes two things: it speeds up packing and lets the traveler know what might be missing in the event of lost luggage. This list should be kept in a wallet or handbag.
Soft- or Hard-Sided Luggage: Next, consider soft or hard-sided luggage. The choice depends on personal preference and what is being packed. For instance, when packing delicate equipment, hard-sided luggage is preferred. However, soft-sided luggage is available in durable fabrics like Cordura – nylon and ballistic nylon – a puncture and tear-resistant fabric, as well as leather, canvas and vinyl.
Packing Well: After opening the bag on a smooth surface, the traveler should place shoes, hairdryers, toiletries and other heavy objects in the bottom of the case opposite the handle. Wrinkle-free items such as jeans, T-shirts, lingerie and sweaters can be rolled to cushion heavier items.
Next, add suits, slacks and dresses. Start with the heaviest clothing first and leave the ends of the clothing hanging over alternate sides, folding one garment over the other to simplify packing. A jacket’s collar should be at the hinge of the case to allow the width of the shoulders to remain smooth. Then, button the jacket and fold the sleeves over the front. Each item should be placed one atop the other by alternating edges so the case is fitted evenly and smoothly. Zip trousers closed and fold along natural creases.
Plan to use the wide side of the case for wide-shouldered clothing and wide skirts. The narrow direction of the case should be used for slacks and narrow items. Then, fold the clothing beginning with the item second from the top and working to the bottom, always smoothing the wrinkles while folding. When all the ends are folded into the suitcase, the entire ensemble will be interwoven and can be removed together. Its removal does not disturb the entire ensemble.
There are three reasons for packing in this manner: easy removal, cushioning without the use of tissue, and eliminating clothing shift.
Selecting the Right Travel Gear: For overall success, whether it be a garment bag, carry-on, or pullman, selection depends on packing lists and mode of transportation.
Travel Accessories Enhance Convenience: Before leaving home, travelers should find out if their hotel offers hairdryers, irons and other amenities. If so, there is no need to waste packing space. If amenities are not available, bring along sample sizes of cosmetics and toiletries. Fill small plastic bottles or use unbreakable plastic containers with tight-fitting lids; vacuum-sealing kits, once confined to kitchens, are even available. Frequent travelers keep a pre-packed toiletries/cosmetic case in their bag. Many lightweight travel accessories, including appliances, voltage converters, money pouches, irons, and more, are available for purchase in your local travel goods store.
Everything, Including the Kitchen Sink?: For those who pack too much to carry, many wheeled luggage systems have built-in luggage carts that hold up to three pieces of luggage, making it easier to transport. Virtually every type of bag is available on wheels – garment carriers, carry-ons, duffels, even backpacks!
Lost Luggage?: Last but not least, if your airline loses your luggage, go immediately to the baggage or customer service office in the airport. This is usually located near the baggage claim area. Complete the reporting form and refer to the packing list made prior to beginning your trip. Receipts for newly purchased travel goods, expensive clothing and other items of value help when making claims.
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