Tuesday, December 20

In a Packing Pickle?


Every time I go to pack I tell myself the same thing: I will not overpack this time.  And yet, each time I always do.  This Christmas, I am determined to pack as lightly as possible because instead of taking a cab to the airport (for $45 each way!) I'm taking the subway (which means going up and down two flights of stairs, plus going though a turnstile each time) and then the bus to the airport (for only $2.50 each way!).  And then I'm putting that $85 I'll save right in my figurative piggy bank. 

So here are a few tips to help you pack for the holidays...

1. If you can, buy a suitcase with 4 wheels.  My parents got me a new suitcase for my birthday and it has made traveling so much easier.  I once bought an L.L. Bean duffle bag that could (and has) easily fit a full-sized adult in it.  Unfortunately, it did not have wheels.  Unfortunately, I stuffed it full and took it on a 2-month trip to Australia.  Unfortunately, the ground transportation was a 15 minute walk from the airport.  Unfortunately, it happened to monsoon the day I arrived at the airport. 

2. Take the time to make a travel tolietry case, and keep it stocked in between trips.  Buy a small tolietry bag and a set of empty travel size bottles.  I think it's better to buy empty containers because a.) you can fill it with the exact products you like and b.) in between trips you can refill your bottles instead of tossing the half-empty bottles. 


3. Lay everything on your bed that you plan to pack before putting it in your suitcase.  You'll have a much better idea of what should stay and what can go.  I like to match outfits before I leave to make sure I'm maximizing the room in my suitcase.  Say a sweater only matches with one other thing, ditch it.  Everything in your suitcase should be able to be worn at least twice, with the exception of a fancy Christmas outfit. 

4. Remember that we live in the 21st Century.  Almost anywhere you go for the holidays will have a computer and a washing machine.  Sometimes I pack without remembering this fact and end up with twice as much as I need.  So for instance, if you're going to be gone a week, you do not need 7 pants of pants, 7 shirts, 7 pairs of underwear, etc.   

5.  Be realistic about your holiday plans.  I have plenty of clothing that I would love to wear over the holidays- fancy dresses, new jackets, cute tights.  However, if my Christmas this year is anything like my past 22 Christmases, I will wear a dress once and the remainder of my trip will be spent in my comfy-cozies, hanging out with my family.  (If you are unfamiliar with the term comfy-cozies, it means anything that you would wear during a 6 hour movie marathon, i.e. sweaters, leggings, wool socks, pajamas). 

6. If you have more than 2 of any of the following, you have packed incorrectly:
  • Bras: One nude and one dark colored bra will get you through a week.
  • Jeans: A single pair of jeans should be sufficient, but if you're having decision anxiety, pack one dressy pair and one casual pair.
  • Shoes: A pair of boots and a pair of nice shoes will be sufficient.
  • Pajamas: Why would you need multiple pairs of pajamas?
  • Coats: Most people can get by with one jacket, but Christmas can be tricky because sometimes you will do a physical activity (sledding, football, etc.), but you also might need a coat that is appropriate for church or a party.  In this case, I think packing two coats is fine.  However, if you pack three coats, you are going into crazy territory.


7. Pair down your carry-on considerably.  Your carry-on should have just a few things: an oversized scarf (which can double as a blanket or sound barrier from a crying child), a book, a wallet, a cell phone, an iPod, and a snack.  I try to only travel with my laptop if absolutely necessary.  Again, refer to tip number 4 if you're afraid to travel without your laptop.      

8. Wear your heavy stuff on the plane.  If you're taking a bulky sweater or a coat, wear it on the plane so it doesn't take up too much room in your suitcase.  Plus, if your suitcase gets sucked into the dark airport luggage abyss, you won't be freezing for a week. 

9.  If you're having a hard time parting with something for a week, just imagine how embarassing it is to be the last person on the plane trying to shove an overstuffed backpack into the overhead compartment.  Imagine how much you start sweating on your upper lip from all the stares and how somehow your midriff will always become exposed when you reach your hands above your head.  Now, remove that extra pair of shoes you were planning on taking home with you...

Aren't you excited to be that effortless traveler, strolling through airport security and baggage claim with ease?

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