Packing Insanity?

I’m an over-packer. Yes, I admit it freely. I lived by the philosophy “even if you don’t think you’ll need it — you will, so pack it anyway.” Ha Ha!

Despite my tendency to over-pack, I have yet to pay any additional baggage or weight fees. How is that possible in an age where airlines charge you major dough for every thing, including the air you breathe on the plane?

That’s easy – I plan!

If you’ve read My Vacation Methodology, you know I’m not a carpe diem traveler. My travels are planned as detailed as possible. This includes packing for a trip.

My "Travel" Shelf - where my insane packing begins
My “Travel” Shelf – where my insane packing begins

If you’re like me — constantly worrying you’d forget an item — creating a packing checklist is the easiest way to ease those worries.

CHECKLISTS ARE FUN!!

For every trip, whether business or personal, I always create a packing checklist. My checklist is more than simply a list of clothes and toiletries; my list includes travel tips, weather and flight information, and reminders about items to complete before your trip like putting the mail on hold (forgot to do this once; landlord was not happy).

There are plenty of web sites with suggested packing lists designed to help travelers pack for their adventures wherever that adventure takes them.

The three sites I use frequently are Travels’ Checklist, SmarterTravel’s The Ultimate Packing List and Packtor. I used these three because they are free to print, and in some cases, customizable to fit your desire.

I normally begin packing about 1 to 2 weeks before I leave for an international trip. My friends and coworkers are perplexed by this and think I’m overly excited about my vacations.

I do have a rational reason for packing early. Packing early affords me the chance to figure out how everything is going to fit in my luggage, how much the bag weighs, and if I need to buy any additional items … or even another suitcase. Waiting until the very last moment to pack always leads to that dreaded “I think I’m forgetting something” feeling — and that’s one feeling I don’t need on vacation!

CARRY-ON vs. CHECKED

Once I have my checklist printed, the next thing I do is decide whether I’m doing carry-on only or checking luggage. This decision depends on various travel details such as airline baggage restrictions, vacation locations, duration of vacation and souvenir requests.

For Adventure 2018-Summer Edition, I’ve decided to do carry-on only because I’m flying mostly regional airlines. These flights tend to have strict baggage restrictions and very expensive checked baggage fees. Additionally, I’m only visiting two locations on this trip instead of my average four. Thus, I have no need for a larger suitcase.

For many of my international trips, I have made very good use of my one free checked luggage allowance for two important reasons. First, it allows me to pack bulky items and  liquids I need that I can’t pack in my carry-on, like my special hair oil, prescription cough medicine and that winter coat my mom makes me pack, lol.

My second reason is a tad bit more … strategic — and benefits my family and friends. As many world travelers know souvenirs are a must. It is so important I schedule time in my itinerary for souvenir shopping. And like my packing, I tend to go overboard with souvenirs, mostly for myself as much as for others.

shot glasses.jpg
Shot glasses are my souvenir Achilles heel

Now, how does that one free checked bag come in handy? See, I pack most of my essentials in my carry-on and only a few things (like that winter coat) in my checked luggage. Thus, my checked bag is nearly empty and has plenty of room for souvenirs. Since most airlines allow you one piece of checked luggage on an international flight, shipping souvenirs home is almost worry-free.

England Souvenirs 2015
Souvenirs from England 2015. All packed in one checked suitcase.
ireland gifts 23
Souvenirs from Ireland 2017. All packed in one checked suitcase.

WARNING — my little “trick” comes with a price. Every single time I’ve done this, my luggage and I have been “randomly” selected for additional security checks. I don’t know, maybe security agents think I’m bringing illegal quantities back with me (I’m Not!). If you don’t like being “randomly” selected every time, my trick may not be your best option.

This year I’m trying something different — self-made electronic postcards like this one. Cool huh?

Ireland-postcard
Self-made electronic postcard. All you need: your favorite photos, cheap photo editing software/app and a little imagination! Saves a bundle of $£€

PACKING ESSENTIALS – WHAT GOES INTO MY BAG!

Since I’m only doing carry-on for this trip, I’m focusing on packing only the essentials — clothes, medications and camera. For clothing, I’m a casual kind-of-gal! I’m more comfortable in jeans, t-shirts and trainers (sneakers for my fellow Americans).

carry on

My normal clothes list consist of:

2 pairs of jeans/belt 6 casual shirts (T-shirts, short-sleeve)
2 pairs of Casual pants/shorts 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes
1 Long Sleeve Blouse (Theatre/Special Event Night) 1 Lightweight Jacket
1 Hat (sun protection) Undergarments

packing 2

You’re probably wondering about the sundresses and swimsuits. Well, I don’t wear dresses often and I don’t often go to the beach. However, if a day in the pool is on the itinerary, rest assured a swimsuit is added to the packing list.

Also, I tend to stick with neutral colors, therefore mixing and matching my digs is a snap.

Another tip to help you pack the most without using too much space? Use the Roll!

I actually learned this tip from my older brother, an Army veteran. He told me instead of folding my clothes, roll them instead. I was surprised at how much room I saved in my luggage. Of course my clothes wrinkled more, but I didn’t mind since I only pack t-shirts and jeans mostly. The one nice shirt I do pack … well I iron that anyway before I head out to the theatre or that special event.

Side note: When selecting my vacation accommodations (hotel, AirBnB, resort, etc.), I always ask if they have laundry facilities or a laundry service. If trying to save a few bucks, I Google to see if there’s a Laundromat nearby. If money is really tight or time constraints are a challenge, I wash my clothes in the sink and hang them to dry. Packing a travel-size packet of (powder) laundry detergent does world of good.

Whenever my itinerary/schedule allows, I spend a little time in the laundry room. Perfect time to catch up on some reading or write about my recent travel experiences.

laundry-facilities cromer country club
Cromer Country Club’s laundry facilities (May 2017)

Next on my list are my toiletries. Given airline security restrictions and luggage space, I pack only my TRUE toiletries essentials:

Toothbrush w/cover & toothpaste Deodorant
Hair brush/comb Baby Wipes/Lysol Wipes/Hand Sanitizer
Medications Pepto Bismol Caplets
Lip Balm/ChapStick Rubber Bands – helps squeeze clothes down to minimal size
prepack
I prefer to pack my own kit, but in a pickle, pre-pack kits are lifesavers.

Very short list I know. However, I don’t normally pack travel size bath soaps, mouthwash, shampoo or conditioner unless I have a long layover (six hours or longer) or an overnight layover. Why? Many hotels, resorts and a few AirBnBs offer complimentary toiletries — and I use them! There have been many trips where I brought back the small bottles of soap, lotion and mouthwash I’d never used. All is not lost because these items are simply repacked and ready to go for the next adventure.

When I used my own soap during an adventure, I usually bring home the hotel’s complimentary toiletries and handed them out as souvenirs. Oh yes I do!

Almost forgot! The most important item, next to my passport, I make sure to pack —

SHOWER SHOES!

Packing shower shoes is one tip from my military deployment days that has stuck with me, and I’m so glad it did. No matter how clean your room is bacteria and other biohazards still lark on the bathroom floor (and on the hotel room’s floor in general).

Also, shower shoes can prevent slip and fall accidents. During my 2016 Italian Adventure I forgot to wear my shoes on a quick late night trip to the bathroom. Let’s just say I spent the next day with a monster headache, knee pains and a slightly sprained wrist. Ouch!

shower shoes
NEVER FORGET THE SHOWER SHOES!!

PACKING ESSENTIALS — HAND-CARRY (Backpack or purse)

The #1 item I always hand-carry is the most important —

My PASSPORT!

My Passport is the only item I can’t easily replace. As much as I like Tom Hanks’ movies, I don’t want to play out my own version of The Terminal. Therefore, I always hand carry it or keep it on my person. My passport is better protected than my laptop. That’s how much this small item means to me!! If you’re a world-traveler, or want to be – invest in quality RFID Blocking Wallet, or RFID Blocking sleeves.

Passport - Never leave home without it. Whether traveling internationally or domestically, your passport is usually always accepted as a official government identification.
Passport – Never leave home without it. Whether traveling internationally or domestically, your passport is usually always accepted as a official government identification.

The next items are pretty standard:

International credit cards/emergency cash – Notify bank/credit card companies of travel plans. Many constantly monitor for transactions that may appear out of your ordinary habits so fraud attempts can be deterred. Notifying your financial institutions can reduce headaches of having your account frozen and needless phone calls to confirm activities.
Travel documents (Health insurance card, hotel reservations, plane tickets, etc.) Headphones/iPad (w/charger)
Mobile Phone w/international calling plan Glasses (w/case); Extra pair of glasses
Pen for filling out immigration and customs forms Camera (w/charger & memory cards)
Books/E-Reader Electric Converters

A few items and tips I use to pack my luggage:

Packing cubes (when time doesn’t permit the Roll) Pack socks inside my shoes
Travel-size first aid kit Use plastic wrap to prevent liquid products from bursting
Leave the jewelry at home Pack a power strip/extension cable for electronics

I know there are more expansive lists and things to consider, but what I’ve listed are my essentials and they almost never change. This list has helped me enjoy all my travels almost worry-free.

Nevertheless, I’m forever learning new tricks and tips as I travel this beautiful world.

Determining your style of packing is essential to your vacation enjoyment. It is a key element that can either put you on the path toward adventure serenity, or become the first scene in a vacation of horrors.

As always …

HAVE PASSPORT, (& Shower Shoes), WILL TRAVEL

security check

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