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A packing we will go

Wed, May 26, 2010

Aliceann Toole, Lifestyle

We have a family joke that all of our luggage resides in Devon, England because every time my sister Meg comes to the U.S., at least one of our bags goes back with her. Last week Meg returned home to England after a visit, and her 20 pounds of excess luggage cost her $250!

Now in Meg’s case, she takes back all the goodies and comforts that she can’t get in Jolly Olde … Jiffy cornbread mix, vidalia onion salad dressing (Costco-sized packages), Cheerios, chili sauce, new undies, flannel sheets, scrapbooking paraphernalia (costs SO much less here … or does it?) and whatever else may take her fancy on a particular trip.

Here is our takeaway from this particular experience … if she had purchased an inexpensive suitcase to hold her 20 pounds of extra “luggage,” she would have paid the airline $50 for an additional bag and saved a bundle.

When it comes to luggage, I’m a much better car traveler … I grab clothes on hangars out of my closet, stash undies, shoes and toiletries in a Vera bag, throw in my fan (can’t sleep without one), my own pillows, a whole box of books and voila! When I fly, I have to check at least two bags … one with the fan and pillows and one with my clothes. I never even TRY to go the carry-on-only route.

Anne McAlpin, a travel expert who has flown more than two million miles and traveled to over 67 countries has a ton of practical, time-saving and money-saving ideas on her website: http://www.packitup.com/pilot.asp. You’ll find a downloadable packing check list there too. She, and many other veteran travelers, make similar suggestions for packing light (check out her site and see how she took a week’s worth of belongings to Italy in her carry-on bags … it’s pretty amazing):

  1. Lay out all of your clothes on the bed BEFORE you pack. Then try to eliminate half.
  2. Keep clothes in one major color palette to cut down on the need for accessories.
  3. Use shoes as receptacles for rolled-up underwear and other small items. Pack your shoes in sealable plastic food storage bags to keep dirty soles away from clothes.
  4. Tightly roll soft, wrinkle-resistant articles like tees, cotton pants and jeans and place them along the base of the bag. And don’t wait ’til you arrive to iron (trust me, you won’t feel like it); ironed clothes lie flatter and may be placed over the rolled-up items.
  5. Wear your fine jewelry and put other valuable items in your carry-on. Also carry on your medications, a change of underwear (or an entire change of clothes), a copy of important documents (your driver’s license  and phone numbers for your credit card companies, for example) glasses and/or contacts.

Did you know you may still lock your luggage with TSA-approved locks … a master key will open them should TSA want to do a bag search. How cute are these Belle Hop matching locks and luggage tags that sell for under $30 on ebag.com? You’ll find lots of other online sources if you search “TSA approved suitcase locks,” and most run $10 to $20.

To distinguish your bags and make them easier to spot on the carousel, tie a brightly colored ribbon or pom-pom on the handle. Or have some fun with luggage tags like these from flight001.com. The vinyl retro design is $10 and the PVC “jet set” tag is $18. The site has many others to choose from.

P.S. I am not associated with any of the companies I mention. I just enjoy finding and sharing fun things.

4 Responses to “A packing we will go”

  1. MyThoughts says:

    I always over pack. Would rather have too much than be caught up short.

  2. Aliceann Toole says:

    I’m right there with you on the over-packing, but there are times when I’ve really needed to pare down for a business trip that required casual, business and dressy. So I’m always open to ideas.

    If you want to see something that is extremely useful (and kind of a hoot to people like us), check out onebag.com. The author refers to his plan as bundle packing, which makes me think of the old hobo carrying his belongings wrapped in a bandana and tied to a stick. However, the principles really work.
    : ) aliceann

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