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Travel Tips: 4 Smart Tips on How to Travel Light
By Stacey Wittig
Last week I began my initial packing for my trip to London and Spain. The tricky business about this pack job is that after my business trip to London a la ballroom gown and business attire, I will be hoisting my backpack and trekking across Northern Spain. What to do with the high heeled-shoes and strapless accouterments to the formal evening wear?
I checked prices with UPS, DHL, FedEx and a boutique luggage handling company for shipping the biz clothes home. FedEx offers the lowest estimated price, but the actual price will be determined by the weight of my returning bag. Therefore, I need to pack as light as possible.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years:
1. Make a calendar of the days you’ll be gone. Write down the outfit you plan to wear for the morning- for me that’s work, and more formal – and then the evening, more casual. Include every item that you’ll need. What color shoes? Do you need a belt? Which one? What from the first outfit can you wear two days later? Perhaps the top you wear under your suit can double for a work-out T later on. I plan to first use a piece for business when it is crisp and clean, and then use it a second or third time in a more casual venue. Once you have everything written down, you can start to edit. Do you really need black, brown and navy shoes? Re-plan your wardrobe so you only need one pair of dress shoes, and one pair of comfortable, casual shoes. What from Day 4 can you wear again on Day 6? Mix and match. Get rid of anything that you can’t use at least twice. Once you’ve reworked your list, pack only the clothes on the list. Not one item more!
2. Try on everything before you pack it. You may need to run it to the dry-cleaner. By trying on that backless evening dress, you’ll remember the special foundation that you bought to go along with it. How does it fit since the last time wore it? Take your shoes out for a ‘dry run’. Will you really be able to comfortably walk around Europe – or wherever – in the shoes you are planning to bring?
3. Pack everything in the bags you plan to take several days before you leave. Feel how heavy your bags are. Do you REALLY want to be schlepping this much weight around the airport, the train station or the quaint bed and breakfast that you picked out on the internet – that has no elevator? Re-open you bag and take out 20% – or more – of what you already packed. How do you get rid of 20% of your packed panties? Get rid of 50% by using panty liners. Day 1 use fresh underwear with panty liner. Day 2 – throw away panty liner. Get rid of the extra hair products. Put cosmetics in small containers, don’t bother with your pretty, but heavy, designer cosmetic bags. Zip-lock bags are light and functional. Repack. NOW will you be able to lift your carry-on bag over your head to put in the overhead compartment without dropping it on the head of the person below? If not, start again from the top.
4. Tear out the pages that you need from tour books and leave the rest at home. Books are heavy. Duct tape is much lighter to ‘re-bind’ the book into a smaller version. Clear packing tape works well, too.
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Stacey Wittig, “Vagabonding Lulu,” is a travel writer based in Flagstaff, AZ. Her trekking adventures have led her up the Inca Trail in Peru eating fried caterpillars and roasted guinea pig, across the plains of northern Spain on El Camino de Santiago enjoying tapas and steamed barnacles, and through the vineyards of Cinque Terre sipping Chianti Classic. “Northern Arizona is a remarkable place to call home,” declares the wandering writer who loves sour cream enchiladas at El Charro Restaurant in Flagstaff, AZ.