Packing it in: Ten Easy Steps to Travel Light
By: Sharon Mosley
It may be a weekend getaway or a month at the beach (don’t we all wish), but chances are you’ve got a little vacation time planned for this summer. And we all know that before we jet off to those sandy shores in the sky, we first have to do the hard stuff: pack.
So, before you dust off the suitcase and start throwing in everything from your closet, take a deep breath and read on. Here are 10 steps to packing light:
— Step 1: Make a plan by thinking about what you’ll be doing on your trip day by day. As we incur more and more airline baggage charges, it’s especially critical to travel light. That means not taking 10 pairs of shoes and five handbags. Pare it down. You’ll be glad you did when you’re late for your plane and schlepping through the airport.
— Step 2: Stick to neutrals. Mixing and matching is critical when it comes to making the most of your travel wardrobe. I usually like to pack black and white pieces as well as one bright accent like turquoise to break things up. Of course, your color palette will also depend on where you’re going — brighter colors for tropical destinations and more neutrals for outdoorsy trips.
— Step 3: Keep it simple. While it may be tempting to have an “outfit” put together for each day, it’s usually not realistic and your suitcase will probably not close. Make sure your travel pieces will do double duty — use a huge scarf for a swimsuit cover-up as well as a shawl for cool nights; tunic tops also make great cover-ups. Swimwear tops can act as layering pieces with coordinating long skirts or breezy palazzo pants.
— Step 4: Think knits. You’ll probably pack a few pairs of jeans (white jeans are one of my basic summer travel pieces) but lightweight wrinkle-free knits, particularly tops, are perfect companions for easy vacation dressing. Knit separates will take up even less space when they are rolled up in your suitcase.
— Step 5: Bulk up. If you do need to take bulkier items like a trench coat, or a sweater, wear these pieces on the plane to save space in your luggage. But do leave full-size toiletries at home. Think ahead and purchase travel-size containers before you leave on your trip, especially if you like to use a special shampoo, makeup, sunscreen, etc.
— Step 6: Consolidate. There’s nothing worse than being behind someone in the security line who is loaded down with everything they own when looking for a passport or plane ticket. Get organized before you get to the airport. I carry a small pouch purse inside a large tote bag that I can pull out at a moment’s notice. The smaller purse has plenty of pockets for documents, glasses, phone, keys, etc. It also doubles as an “evening” handbag/clutch when the occasion calls for it. The larger tote can be used as a beach bag, too.
— Step 7: Zip it. Plastic zipper bags in all sizes are a great way to keep clothes separated and free from snags, as well as protect “leaky” toiletries from spoiling your suitcase full of clothes. Tiny plastic bags are perfect for stashing jewelry inside packed shoes.
— Step 8: Comfort is key. No, you don’t have to wear clunky athletic shoes to be comfortable. There are plenty of great stylish walking shoes available now; they are comfortable sans all the logos. Never wear a pair of shoes that you’ve just bought and haven’t been “road tested.” You may be stuck with bad blisters for your whole trip.
Step 9: Choose strategic accessories. You can easily dress an outfit up or down just by using different accessories. Headbands, scarves, necklaces and earrings take up little space in your suitcase and can instantly change the mood of an outfit.
Step 10: Don’t get caught in the “tourist” trap. You can pack light and still be a stylish traveler. It may take a little more planning before you step onto the beach, but it’s worth it. Don’t make the mistake of wearing your ratty jeans and sweatshirt with your visor and fanny pack on the plane.
You may think you can hide behind those giant sunglasses and that camera slung around your neck, but we know who you are! Tourista!
Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association. To find out more about Sharon Mosley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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