The Pain Free Way to Pack For Travel
The word “travel” comes to us from the French word “travailler” meaning “to work hard.” No wonder there’s so much labor involved.
They say getting there is half the fun, but getting ready for when you get there is at least half the irritation. Nobody likes to pack, and most can’t figure out the most pain-free to get the deed done.
We break it down for you. Follow these Steps to Packing, and let’s see if we can take some of the “work” out of it.
As a wise man once said, “A vacation is where you take twice the clothes and half the money you need.”
And speaking of the clothes, if you’re traveling out of the USA you should heed the wisdom ofDavid Sedaris, American humorist:
“Comfort has its place, but it seems rude to visit another country dressed as if you’ve come to mow its lawns.”
In most other countries shorts are only worn in beach settings and jeans are not allowed in churches.
Here are some tips:
Pack wisely, and it’ll all fit in a carry-on bag
The news that American Airlines will begin charging $15 for a checked bag on domestic flights reserved on or after June 15 comes on the heels of announcements that carriers will charge for a second bag, which come on the heels of announcements about fuel surcharges. You may not have control over the cost of gasoline, but you can keep the fees down by remembering this: Less is less.
If you can fit it into a carry-on bag, you won’t pay the extra fee. Further, you’ll free yourself from the hassle of lugging a bag and waiting for it to appear (or not!) on the baggage carrousel.
Make a list!
I know this is more difficult for guys than stopping to ask directions, but the first time you arrive and have forgotten underwear you’ll see the value of this step!
The best approach is to write down what you are going to be doing each day of your trip. Then coordinate outfits including underwear, socks, belts for each activity, each day.
Spread out everything you’ll need for the trip on a bed
Then carefully put back at least half of the clothes you’ve assembled. Less is usually enough.
Pick two colors
And stay with those, that way you can mix and match. Try to take something you wear at least twice. Dark colors and patterns show less dirt and wrinkles. Cordovan (burgundy) shoes go with everything.
First, pack your belts
Pack your belts along the circumference of the suitcase. Shoes filled with socks, ties, and underwear can go along the bottom of the case. Place shoes in plastic bags (so polish doesn’t rub off on your clothes).
Next go in trousers
If you pack more than one pair you can place them in the bottom of the bag, waistband to waistband in the center of the case with the legs hanging outside.
Add tissue or dry cleaner’s plastic bags (make sure there is no writing on the bags that could come off on your clothes). Using tissue between or plastic bags around clothes allow them to slide instead of crush. Trash bags work just as well.
Then pack shirts
Pack shirts with a “long fold” so that the front horizontal fold is below the belt line. You can pack some socks or underwear in the neck to keep it in shape.
After that pack suit jackets and sports coats, folded this way:
To fold a jacket:
(this is difficult to describe although once you do it you’ll be fine!) I’ve included a couple of different descriptions and an illustration.
- Hold the center of the collar at the top with your left hand so that the back of the jacket is facing you. Fold the right side back to the coats middle seam.
- Grab the right sleeve by the inside lining at the shoulder seam and pull it out so that the shoulder is inside/out.
- And smooth flat the right sleeve. I’m not sure this is all that crucial! Just make sure that the right side of the jacket is hanging down fairly straight.
- Then tuck the left shoulder into the right inside/out shoulder. They should fit together snugly.
- Position the left sleeve flat on top of the right sleeve.
- Then start smoothing everything flat.
- Fold the jacket in thirds, or in half. This is from top to bottom not side to side!
First, push one of the shoulder pads inward, so that it inverts or reverses itself, sort of turning itself inside-out. You don’t need to pull the sleeve inside-out, you just push the shoulder pad so that it inverts.
Now, with one shoulder pad inverted, fold the jacket in half vertically (i.e., with a vertical fold down approximately the center of the back). As you do this, put the inverted shoulder pad inside the jacket and nest it into the other shoulder pad (where your shoulder would go if you were wearing the jacket).
That’s the key. What you’ll have is a jacket that’s folded in half vertically, with the two shoulder pads nested together. Now, just fold the jacket into halves or thirds horizontally (horizontal folds) so they fit inside your bag.
Extra tip: before folding the jacket horizontally, lay a piece of plastic (garbage bag) on top of it, and fold the plastic up with the jacket. The plastic will help prevent the formation of wrinkles, because the plastic will help the two sides of fabric slide past each other, rather than bunch together and cause wrinkles.
Here is an illustration of a slightly different version.
1. / 2. Fold half the jacket back and put the sleeve inside-out.
3. Fold the other half of the jacket back.
4. You now have the lining exposed on a half jacket.
5. Fold in thirds
The difference is that the sleeves of the jacket are inside/out, but you still put one shoulder into the nest of the other shoulder.
Upon arrival the fold lines should fall out after the jacket hangs up a while or steam it by hanging it up in the bathroom with the shower on for a few minutes.
On top goes another layer of tissue or plastic.
Think through what you need first out the bag and pack that last.
Ties should be rolled up and placed in the jacket pockets, inside shoes or you can invest in a tie case. Now fold over the pants legs. Top with golf sweaters, shorts, and close the lid.
Go Light on items that take up space and add weight, like hairdryers, etc. Most hotels have these in the rooms or available from the front desk. And you can copy only the pertinent info about your destination from travel guides and just take those pages.
Size does matter
The liquids/gels restriction for air travelers means you must fit your shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, makeup and perfume into a clear, one-quart zip-top bag that you carry on. Those items may be no larger than 3 ounces each.
Buy sample sizes at most grocery/drug stores (even Target).
Finally, if you can’t find what you want, buy it at your destination and leave it behind.
Shoes are a problem for travel
It’s not their weight; it’s their profile. Shoes take up a lot of space, use the “cavities” for stowing socks and underwear.
Men may need to limit themselves to the pair they’re wearing and the pair they pack. The shoes that are packed should be the smaller of the two pairs.
Don’t overlook packing a pair of driving shoes/ or other soft shoes for relaxing in the room or wearing to the pool.
Undergarments that wick moisture away from your body are a traveler’s new best friend because they can be washed in the sink and will dry quickly, even in the most humid climates. Instead of seven pairs of underwear, you can get by with two, as long as you’re willing to wash them each night. Look in the athletic wear clothing section; look for garments labeled “microfiber.”
Don’t even think about a different colored outfit for each day you’re gone. Instead, choose a basic color scheme, and make sure every piece you’re putting in that bag works with every other piece. It’s a suitcase, not your closet, so you don’t need everything.
Take more shirts than pants
If you wear tan or gray pants today, few people will know if you wear the same ones tomorrow or the next day. Change shirts instead.
For “dressy” trips, take a suit and a second pair of pants and change the shirts and ties. For more casual situations, think sweater and sport coat instead of a jacket.
And if you forget something, you can always buy if after you arrive.
That’s all it takes. Now if someone says “We need a fourth, can you be on the plane to St. Andrews in an hour”, you’ll be ready, and won’t have to think much about what you need, or worry that you’re going to forget something.
Happy traveling and be sure to let us know if you need a ride to the airport.
— Andy Gilchrist