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Do you still "practice pack" and if so, what new tip do you have?

Do you still "practice pack" and if so, what new tip do you have?

Old Jul 10th, 2002, 07:54 AM
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Do you still "practice pack" and if so, what new tip do you have?

I wanted a bit of procrastinating today as I began our packing process for a three-week biking/touring trip in France. As all of us know, this site is a great guilt-free way to waste a few moments (it's educational, right?) and my search on "packing tips" unearthed a delightful thread from around a year ago on "practice packing."

My kids were in hysterics to find out that they were not the only people on earth living with a perpetual practice packer.

Yes, I keep a packing list on the computer from every past trip (doesn't everyone?); and yes, I'm trying to fit three weeks into one 22" carry-on and one small backpack (that is the goal, right?). So today the two kids and I are cross-referencing our old packing lists over lunch, tomorrow we bring up the suitcases from the basement to make sure everything's in good order, and Friday is our first dry run.

My question goes to the other "professional" packers: since you last travelled, have you changed a packing system or packing habit?

My offering is that we have had to eschew our ziplock bag dependency. As other posters had indicated, too, there has been some sort of manufacturing change over the past few years. More often than not,we have had some problems with air leakage (causes the bags to puff out, not compress), so we resorted to paying the extra cash for the Packmate bags (packmate.com). We had good luck with them on our trip out West last month and we're hopeful that we won't have "puffy" bag syndrome when the plane lands at CDG this time.

For your information,when we stay in one hotel for an extended period, the bags aren't really useful anyway. However, we will be staying in seven hotels in the upcoming weeks, and it's great to just toss, toss, toss and dump, dump, dump when you have to find things and quickly repack. That's when the plastic bags are truly worth it.

And your suggestions are...?
Old Jul 10th, 2002, 09:35 AM
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Yes! I make a list and start mentally packing as soon as I know I am taking a trip. And I actually open the suitcase(s) in one corner of my bedroom several weeks before and start throwing things in the suitcase as I think of them, just so I will remember to take those things. Then about 1 week before my trip I actually start arranging things in the suitcase(s) so that if they don't fit I have time to decide what to leave behind and/or what to take instead. I guess I do this partly because I get so excited about my trips that I just can wait to get started.

Also - I just topped the previous post on this topic.
Old Jul 10th, 2002, 09:37 AM
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Not quite as fanatic as you, but still do the "dry run" to make sure everything is going to fit. Of course in the last couple of years I have incorporated into my luggage a 36" green duffel bag which usually gets taken out about 3 days into the trip and by the time I am ready to come home, I have to be careful and make sure I am not overweight. I like the idea from packmate.com, I had not heard of this site and will look into the bags there. I had gone down to the local Rand MacNally and bought some packing "envelopes" (I don't know what they are really called) which came in handy this year for some of my short-sleeved shirts. The best tip I got was a couple of years ago that has saved a lot of space. Gather up about a weeks worth of socks, underwear, undershirts and the like that are on their last legs. Not necessarily holey clothes but those that may need to ride into retirement. Use these undergarments on your trip and when you are done wearing them, just throw them away! This worked great for us this year, especially with washclothes (I hate packing a damp wash cloth in the morning, it is much easier to say hasta la vista and be done with it). Enjoy your trip to France!
Old Jul 10th, 2002, 10:07 AM
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I travel so much that I'm in a perpetual state of packing! (tough life, eh?) I keep a constantly ready toiletries kit, and medicine/laundry/repair kit (each the size of a paperback book) and I hoard dry cleaning bags and hangers. For dressier clothes, they are the best. The smartest thing I've started doing is purchasing small or travel-sized toiletries every time I see them, and keeping a huge stash of them in my closet, along with a list of everything that should be in my two kits. When I'm back in my apartment, I dump everyting out, refill and repack. Packing checklists are wonderful; while you aren't likely to forget anything, it is great to check things off and be able to put that concern completely out of your mind. So rest assured Amy, you are not compulsive, just very careful (and in good company!).
Old Jul 10th, 2002, 10:11 AM
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Oh, forgot to mention that I HATE packmates - they simply don't work for my kind of travel. My things get terribly wrinkled, and I end up with a bag that weighs about 100 lbs. If wrinkles/weight are not an issue, they are great, though.
Old Jul 10th, 2002, 10:18 AM
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Amy, A bit off subject but maybe applicable for your trip? British Airways judged my 22" carry-on by weight rather than size last trip (June 02) and I had to check it. Turned out fine, but better to realize ahead so you can consider this in how & what you pack in each bag.

I just finished 3 weeks in Europe in only my 22" roller suitcase & was still a bit overpacked. I could have done with at least 1 less of several items (i.e., long pants, t-shirt, undies, tops). Even though everything FIT in the bag I could have gone lighter still and not missed a thing.
Old Jul 10th, 2002, 10:25 AM
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I hate packing so never do it twice. I have traveled enough by now that I have a pretty good idea what is going to fit into my suitcase. At the last minute, if it seems a little too full, I leave out something. I always do a checklist ahead of time, writing down all major items of clothing I intend to pack (leaving off socks, underwear, misc) and I asterisk stuff that is sort of not mandatory but a maybe, and leave that to pack towards the top so I can omit it if necessary.

I don't keep lists on the computer, but I do put a simple handwritten list on the first page of my travel notebook/journal as to my packing list (copied from the one I use to pack).. after I return, I mark the items I ended up wearing most, those I never wore, and note what I would have liked but didn't have. I included a note on the temperature and any reason why I might not have worn something that was unusual (weather mainly). On that list, I write in any purchase I made that I wore during the trip. Those lists have really been useful to me on subsequent trips.

Just wanted to mention that you can't carry on a 22" suitcase any more on any international flight I've been on. I used to do that, also, but have not been able to get it aboard in the last few years, they are tightening up on size restrictions (in theory it is an allowable size, but often they won't allow it, I think maybe it won't pass the plastic size form even when empty, but definitely not when packed unless it didn't bulge even a bit) and now you can only take one carry-on anyway, so my smaller tote bag is all that is allowed on board.

I don't do plastic bags.
Old Jul 10th, 2002, 02:17 PM
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Christina: I'm wondering what airline(s) you tend to fly from US to Europe, because we've had no problem carrying our 22"s on USAirways. We did years ago on British Airways, which was just as well because I remember overpacking that trip anyway. Have probably taken five, maybe six trips to Europe in last two years and we did carry-on on USAir each time.

However, I know we could not take them on European airlines (Air France, Swiss Air). That's fine. We like doing the extra work of transferring our luggage to another airline anyway once we get to CDG. That method has helped us through three types of strikes, two in Italy and one in France. That way, the luggage doesn't go until we go. I know there are "pack everything" and "pack nothing" advocates on this site...potential labor strikes are a good reason to pack as lightly as you can so zigging and zagging isn't a problem.

Janice, if you're doing business travel, you're absolutely right...ziplock bags are useless; drycleaning bags are your friend. For biking/hiking trips, though, air compression is a godsend. We need to compress polartec stuff, heavy socks, rainwear, even long underwear. Wrinkles are not a problem with this kind of stuff. We also can compress our dirty laundry until we hit the laundromat.

Eric, I am a firm believer in the "throw away" method of packing if we're on a relatively relaxing, no laundry vacation (with three weeks in a 22" on a biking vacation, we're stuck with a "Tide/shampoo in the hotel sink" method). However, I have a far better use for those "holey" socks. I've put this on the Fodor's site before, but you may be shocked that I use socks as my "washcloth" substitute. With two athletic kids and a marathon runner for a husband, I always end up with a laundry basket full of mismatched socks. They are sparkling clean but have no mates (The Mystery of the Washer). I turn them terry side out, pack one per person per day, and that's our European washcloth method. I know people have had problems with maids picking good washcloths out of the trash; no one has ever returned these socks!
Old Jul 10th, 2002, 02:35 PM
Sherri Kardell
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I spent years traveling to Europe on business( about 4 times a year ) so now I can be ready to go anywhere in the world in 4-6 hours.
If my dry cleaning can be ready and I know the weather conditions.
Old Jul 10th, 2002, 03:36 PM
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We have been on 30+ cruises... I consider myself somewhat of an expert at packing but I'm worried about the luggage we'll be taking to Europe in August. We'll be gone 26 days, including a 13 day cruise with 3 formal nights. I always mix and match and I'm careful not to take to much. Now here's our problem... we are taking an inter-Europe round trip flight on Air France... couldn't get around it. Air France is quite serious about their baggage limit... 1 carry-on each, weighing no more than 22 lbs. My carry- on empty weighs 8 lbs! Then they allow 1 checked bag each, weighing no more than 50 lbs. My checked bag weighs 11 lbs. empty. And, Air France charges $5 U.S. for each lb your over-weight!! I don't know how to pack clothes for our cruise, clothes for our land portion, look decent and be within all the rules and regulations. Should we just figure on paying for over-weight. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you
Old Jul 10th, 2002, 03:45 PM
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Beware of Air France, I had a jacket that I couldn't fit in to my suitcase so I stuffed it into a plastic carryall and they wanted to charge me over $100 additional luggage. I had one small carryon and one suitcase. This was within Europe too. I suggest that you take separates that can be worn dressed up or casual, such as black skirt, camisole and jacket, with nice jewelry.
Old Jul 11th, 2002, 04:56 AM
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Sandy: You certainly would have reason to "practice pack" for your impending itinerary. You know, I was just thinking the other day that I'm glad I didn't have to pack for a cruise...our one experience was my heaviest packing ever, and I didn't gain any knowledge in hindsight because I don't know what I could have left out.
Old Jul 11th, 2002, 06:54 AM
David McCahan
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Zippered plastic "sweater" bags work extremely well for us. They are lightweight, flexible, and see-through on one side. In one go my short sleeve shirts, in another my long-sleeve shirts. My underwear and socks (Tilley) go in another, etc.

When we arrive we can move bags around with great ease and stack them in closets if need be. Packing is a snap with them as they stack neatly in our rollie cases.

A small investment which has paid off many times.
Old Jul 11th, 2002, 07:05 AM
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Every time I pack, I take less. The only exception is for a long stay in Paris; I'm "living" there, so a few more items need to be brought.

We've been advocates of disposable clothing for years; t-shirts and turtlenecks that have one or two more wearings in them or have a stain on them "it looks ok under a sweater" but how many of us just let it hang in the closet. Toward the end of the trip, we start throwing away stuff, giving us room for all those lovely souvenirs!

I've learned to pack more socks and fewer "justincase" clothes (if I get invited to a ball, I can rent a dress); I've learned to take no electrical things; I take out the batteries in my little flashlight/booklight combo, camera, etc. so the equipment doesn't turn on accidentally (I always throw in a couple of extra batteries as well); I make sure the pens I bring a) work b) don't leak; MECHANICAL PENCILS!; i/o of washcloths, I pack the Dove or Olay facial cleansing cloths - sturdy enough to work as a washcloth and with enough soap imbedded I can get a full shower out of 'em; SHOWER GEL i/o bars of soap (no goop to pack and it washes clothes); I pack more film than I think I'll need (I never come home with unused rolls); journals that open flat (spiral bound work best) for easy writing (picture balancing a bound book open on your lap and trying to write in it and now you'll understand the joy of spiral bound).

My packing list is hand-written, scratched out and added to over the years. I xerox it and lay it in the lid of the open suitcase. As I throw stuff into the suitcase, I check off the list. I start packing about two weeks before the trip, which gives me time to buy anything I might need without rushing.
Old Jul 11th, 2002, 09:01 AM
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About 2 months before I go, I start laying clothes on my spare bed and mixing and matching. I have a little box that I put all my little things in, like ear plugs, clothes line, etc. as I think of them. I also have a packing list for clothes and one for incidentals, which I use to cross things off the night before I leave. I use packing envelopes from Travelsmith for most of my clothes and ziplocks for heavier items such as sweaters or fleece. After dealing with a very heavy 22" last year, I'm really trying to think "weight" with everything this year, even down to how heavy my journal is and do I really need 2 books, or just one large paperback.
Old Jul 11th, 2002, 11:36 AM
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Actually, I have a suitcase that is only 21" I think (21x9x15 or whatever measures to 45), not 22", and it generally is not allowed on board although I don't push it because now you can only have one carryon anyway, so it doesn't really matter. I always have a tote bag in addition to my main suitcase, so my suitcase is not my one carryon. I fly European carriers to Europe, mainly Air France. Air Canada would not allow it, either, from US to Canada, and that time I did try to convince them.

As I said, now that airlines only allow one carryon, it would be impossible for me to pack for a long vacation and not check something. I don't think I've had a weight problem, however, I don't think my bag would weight over 50 pounds, it's just that I have a small carryon for books, camera, maps, valuables, etc., some toiletries, anyway (I do put a Tshirt in there in case my bags get lost for a day so I have something to sleep in).
Old Jul 12th, 2002, 01:34 AM
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I gave up practice packing years ago, just keep a mental checklist. It takes me no longer than 1 hour to pack for a 2-week trip, and I always pack at the last possible moment so that clothes are as wrinkle-free as possible when I arrive. My clothes are always clean and pressed before I hang them in the wardrobe, including T-shirts (arranged in sections by colour groups - how sad is that?) so I just take them out of the wardrobe, off the hanger and into the suitcase, folding as little as possible. I choose my clothes for a trip so that I need to pack no more than 2 pairs of shoes (wearing the heaviest pair to travel in) and everything can be worn at least twice by mixing and matching. I always pack all my toiletries, sun cream, etc. in my hand luggage (using travel size products or decanting larger sizes into plastic bottles you can buy from a drugstore) along with a change of underwear, at least one clean Tshirt and a swimsuit, in case my suitcase gets lost (its never happened yet but I like to be prepared!). On a long flight I wash up and change my clothes as near to landing as possible so I arrive looking reasonably fresh.

I cheat a little bit on the weight restrictions for carry-on luggage by wearing or carrying a raincoat with large pockets in which I put the heaviest bottles of toiletries. You are allowed a coat and handbag in addition to a carry-on bag and its amazing how much weight loading up your coat pockets can save. Once I've gone through check-in I can put the bottles in my carry-on bag and no-one is any the wiser. I've never had a problem going through security scanners (avoid any metal containers, of course!)
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