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Packing Tips: Pack Right = Pack Light!

I love to travel and spend lots of time on cruise ships selling my jewelry as I have for years. I have learned a few packing tricks along the way that can make your vacation more fun and give you less headaches. The more experienced a traveler, the lighter they pack. How? Planning ahead is the key!

The anticipation and preparations for a vacation are part of the experience. I make a list of what I’m going to bring, make sure everything is laundered and ready to pack. Then I lay it all out on my bed and give it a second look. Everything must do double or triple duty or it doesn’t go into the suitcase!

My Newest Discovery: Neoprene!

I recently returned from a few weeks in the Mediterranean on a beautiful Six Star ship! I am happy to report that my newest travel clothes scored a six-star rating as well! Neoprene is a manmade knit fabric, often also called…wait for it…scuba knit! I discovered this incredible soft fabric last year in the form of a double sided Italian made jacket and matching classic-lines cap-sleeved dress. Bingo! I could wear those two pieces in four different ways, taking advantage of the double sided fabric with matching patterns on each side. Wow! My goal this trip was to see if I could come up with an entire working wardrobe using neoprene with pieces that mixed and matched together. Fortunately, I have been sewing since I was a little girl and am even able to draft my own patterns, but you could do the same thing with some seriously targeted shopping!

I keyed in on one main color, red! I generally don’t wear red but I have a new collection that is all about red, so I decided to go all in as I was going to be showcasing my red jewelry. I made a red jacket and red dress, a grey jacket and grey dress (the grey is double sided, so it reverses to black jacket and black dress) and a cream colored jacket. I tossed in my original grey print neoprene jacket as it looked super with the grey/black dress (both sides!). A pair of grey shoes worked with everything. All of the pieces were simple, classic, and super comfy! I got nearly as many compliments on my clothes as I did on my jewelry! Best of all, the clothes didn’t wrinkle.

Let me know if you have found any other fabrics that travel especially well. I’d love to hear!

Basic Packing

Step One: Clothes and Shoes

Check your vacation itinerary and count how many travel days and how many vacation days you will have. Select clothes that travel well (don’t wrinkle much) and coordinate your clothes around one or two basic colors. For airline travel, I like to dress in layers so that I can peel off or layer up, depending on the temperature. I have a soft large shawl that I pack in my carry on, wrapped around my electronics, so that I can stay warm at night or try to sleep on long overnight flights. (I am not fond of using the airline’s blankets. I have some concerns about their cleanliness!)

Separates are excellent as they can mix and match to create several different looks with a few basic pieces. Be sure to bring a lightweight long-sleeved jacket or top even in the summer as restaurants can be mighty chilly even in the summer.

My cruise wardrobe basics are generally navy and white or black and white. Classic black pants can be paired with a dressy top for a dressed up look, wrap a colorful (and lightweight!) shawl around your shoulders and you are dressed for the evening. A less dressy top with the same pants works equally well for daytime activities.

I use the zippered packing cubes out of lightweight fabric to pack my clothes. I use different ones for underwear, daytime clothes, work or evening clothes, or tops and bottoms, sport clothes, depending on the type of vacation I am packing for. These can then be arranged into your suitcase easily, shoes tucked around them, and clothes stay much neater. You can even unpack the cubes right into hotel drawers if you want. Easy and organized!

If you will be walking a lot during your vacation, bring one pair of comfortable walking shoes. For the leanest of packing, I pack my comfy sport shoes, a pair of sandals, and one pair of neutral closed to shoes that I can wear with anything. Easy and light!

Step Two: Accessories

It goes without saying that I’m very particular when it comes to the jewelry I bring on my cruise vacation! But, a vacation isn’t the time to bring a different set of accessories for each outfit or each day. I follow the same rule as with my clothing: everything must do double or triple duty. Depending on the type of vacation I am taking, a colorful scarf or two can change up an outfit.

For jewelry, I stick to simple basics for daytime and bring a jazzy pair of earrings that can dress up any outfit for evening attire. I also bring a small pouch that stores all my jewelry that can be locked up in the cabin or hotel safe. When I am traveling, I don’t wear any jewelry except my wedding ring. I have everything packed safely in my carry on luggage.

I spend time selecting the right purses or bags to bring on a vacation. The key is my “travel bag” purse that holds all essentials when traveling by car or plane and that will also work as my “excursion” bag if I am on a cruise. I need to be able to carry my camera and or phone, maps, sunscreen, bottle of water, as well as travel documents, wallet and ID. Security is an important consideration and I have spent lots of time searching for just the right bag. I now have one that has steel mesh lining and wire cables in the straps, an RFID pocket for passport, IDs, and credit cards, and several safety locks on zippers. You can disconnect one side of the shoulder strap, wrap it around the arm of your restaurant chair and relock it. I feel safe with this bag. I carry only the necessities and often wear it across the chest, messenger bag style.

For all of your accessories, think simple, dual duty, and don’t bring much. Try out your travel bag before the trip to make sure it will work comfortably. Again, planning is the secret to packing light and packing right!

Step Three: Toiletries and Electronics

Here is the perfect time to pull out those cute “free gift with purchase” cosmetics. I save a few empty hotel-sized shampoo bottles to refill with my favorite lotion or laundry soap. And it’s not necessary to fill them to the top! Bring only a half tube (or small travel size) of toothpaste. I made sure to have sunscreen, something for bug bites (just got a bee sting last week on my vacation!), a few band aids and medications. Unless you are going someplace very remote, don’t bring everything but the kitchen sink! When in doubt, leave it out!

Most hotels and ships are outfitted with hairdryers, so leave yours at home. Pack toiletries inside of a leak proof bag, just in case. I no longer travel with perfume. No matter what kind of container and double bagging I do, I always get a leak. Instead, I have a small bottle of spray that goes on my hair that smells delightful (and it doesn’t leak!)

My best electronics tip is this: I travel with a lightweight power strip! While that might seem to violate my own packing rules, as an experienced cruise ship traveler I have found that this saves me lots of time and frustration. It depends on your lifestyle, but we travel with cell phones that have chargers, cameras with chargers, and a laptop that also needs to be plugged in. After juggling many chargers in the one outlet in a cabin, I purchased a power strip just for travel and I leave it in my suitcase when I get back home so that it never gets forgotten! I put a tag on each charger cord so I know which one goes with which gadget!

Step Four: The final round up!

Plan ahead and bring as little as possible. Remember that you are going on a vacation and not participating in a fashion show! I can pack all the clothes I need for 3 weeks into one side of my large suitcase. Choose luggage that is easy to maneuver. Don’t pack your suitcase completely full; leave room for souvenirs! Toss in a few pieces of bubble wrap just in case for packing breakable treasures you are bringing home.

Be prepared for the off chance your luggage will be delayed in reaching your destination if you fly. So pack for survival: Put a little of everything you’ll want and need in a carry-on or travel bag.

Be aware of airline and cruise line restrictions in what you can bring. Check airline and cruise line websites for details. If you frequently travel internationally, do check out Global Entry from the US government website. It gives you automatic TSA precheck for domestic travel and saves you a TON of time when returning to the US at the customs check.

Packing light makes vacationing easier. Less luggage = less hassle! So pack right by packing light! Happy traveling!


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