Hate schlepping heavy bags when you travel? Detest hanging around the luggage carrousel waiting for your bag to come down the chute? So do we. Get some advice from the experts:
• Dry-cleaning bags. Veteran travel writer/columnist Donna Carter packs an outfit in a plastic dry cleaning bag to keep it wrinkle free. “I use one if I’m packing a very nice evening dress, good suit or fancy jacket,” she says. She leaves the piece of clothing right on a lightweight hanger and when she gets to her destination immediately hangs it up. “Works every time,” she says.
• Pashmina. Family travel writer Kate Pocock of Toronto says her “must-pack” is a pashmina. She says, “it will keep you warm in overly air-conditioned buildings in the tropics, also in cool northern climes.” It also doubles as a headscarf in Arab countries and as an extra blanket on airplanes. “For me,” admits Pocock, “my pashmina is my Linus blanket when travelling.”
• Assorted Zip-lock bags. Judy Wade, a Phoenix-based travel writer with over 30 years of packing experience says she uses the larger sizes for things such as wet swim suits and muddy running shoes, medium ones for toiletries, and small sandwich-size bags for film, prescription medication, a partially-used bar of soap, a mini-first-aid kit.
• Plastic bags. James Yenckel, 16-year travel writer for the Washington Post, now contributor to Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel Magazine and assorted daily newspapers, also packs everything in plastic. Two or three shirts or pair of pants to a sweater bag, he says. Underwear in one bag. Socks in another. He says, “the bags protect these items from wrinkling, it’s easy to unpack and repack, and the plastic bags keep clothing from getting wet when luggage sits in the rain on the airport tarmac.”
•Outfit rolls. Toronto travel writer and columnist Jane Stokes says if you’re packing for grandma, or anyone else travelling with your child, pack complete outfits rolled up together, perhaps one outfit for each day. “If clothes are rolled with care,” she says, “it also keeps them amazingly wrinkle-free.”
• Fold and roll. Travel writer and author Sally McKinney of Indiana also subscribes to the “fold and roll” packing plan. She groups pants or skirts and tops in the colour sets she plans to wear, adds companion pieces in folded layers, then rolls each set into a coil. “With the coils placed in the suitcase sideways,” she says, “I can easily see which set I want.”
• GorTex. Author and travel writer Judi Lees of Vancouver says since most of her trips are outdoor-oriented, she’s learned to rely on her hooded GorTex jacket. “It really is all-weather proof,” she says. “Even though I check weather temperatures before I leave and find that it’s going to be a warm and sunny I always take my GorTex and never regret it. I just took it to China and it was terrific on a Yangtze cruise.”
• Throw-aways. Shirley Linde, editor of SmallShipCruises.com goes the disposable route: toothpaste tubes that just have a few days left in them, a toothbrush that is due for replacement, the panty part of old panty hose. She throws then away day-by-day and returns with a lighter suitcase. She adds that most cruise ships keep their dining rooms and show lounges “way too cold” so she always packs a versatile jacket or sweater for evenings.
• Multi-functional clothes. Florida-based Janet Groene, author of 20 books, lived on-the-go, happily homeless for ten years. “Multi-functional clothes are the key to living out of a duffel bag,” she finds. “Take extra-large tee shirts that the whole family can use as shirts, nightwear or swim suit cover-ups. Learn to tie a sarong as a skirt, dress or cape. For city travel, she has a button-front dressing gown. She says in a pinch she adds a belt and scarf and wears it as a dress.
• Shower Caps. With 30 years of travel writing under her belt, Carole Terwilliger Meyers of California should know a packing tip or two. She says she reuses dried shower caps in hotel rooms to wrap around cosmetic products that might drip. “I also use them to wrap up particularly nice soaps to finish using at home,” she says.
• Foot-savers. Toronto-based Anita Draycott offers this advice: “How can you experience the best of a place if your feet are too sore to take you anywhere?” She reserves most of the real estate in her bag for shoes: trusty Birkenstock sandals, Rockport walking shoes and a pair of flats that won’t embarrass her at dinner.
Anne Dimon is the founder of www.traveltowellness.com Canada’s leading website for spa and wellness vacations. She is also the spa expert for TravelingMom.com and shares her passion for travel with her daughter.