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The BEST advice I've read here - what to pack and what to wear

The BEST advice I've read here - what to pack and what to wear

Jun 15th, 2006, 06:04 AM
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The BEST advice I've read here - what to pack and what to wear

Author: justretired ([email protected])
Date: 06/15/2006, 08:41 am
We just returened from an almost 3 week trip to Northern Italy ( the trip report is coming- my husband, Larry, wrote it and he's editing it now before posting it). Even though everyone suggested that we bring only carry-on size luggage (21 or 22" bags), we decided to take 2 24" ones. This was smaller than previous trips. We were concerned that, in the spring, we would not know the weather, and might need clothes for a variety of temperatures.

We had rather chilly and cloudy days, and never wore the clothes we had brought for hot weather. I was glad I had the layers and wore 2 fleeces several days. Even so, I hated having such large suitcaes and am DETERMINED that I will listen to everyone next time. I just had too much stuff. ( my husband doesn't agree, but them again, he carried all the electrical chargers- both digital cameras, his PDA, and our cell phone- things we feel we need for our trips).

The steps on the train and the bridges in Venice really are a pain with heavy luggage. OK, there are several types of trips. If you'e staying in one or 2 places-let's say you rent a villa for 2 weeks- having lots of lugagge might make sense since you only have to move it once or twice. But, when one moves around a lot, heavy large suitaces are a real nusiance. In the end, my husband wound up shlepping both bags on and off the train and through Venice- our hotel wasn't FAR from the Vaporetto stop, but it was up and down a bridge and up a long flight of stairs.

OK- you're on your honeymoon, so maybe you need more. But, here's what I hope to do next time. I will wash out things at night. I will wear the same clothes several days. I will coordinate my clothes so that I can wear everything I bring with everything else I bring. I will resist bringing a favorite outfit because it looks good on me. I will use a hotel laundry sevice. I will bring 2 pairs of good walking shoes, knowing that one might get wet, but I wlll not worry about an outfit beiing ruined because I don't have the right shoes. In the end, I wore my trusty black SAS lace up walking shoes- they went with everything and felt wonderful on swollen, sore feet. I will not bring our medicine cabinet with me, which is all likelihood, will just stay packed in one of the bags. (I know I can buy anything I need if I need to) Well, maybe I'll just condense it! I will bring layers, knowing that weather can change and be varied- I'm from New England, where it changes hour by hour.

One things I would not worry about is looking like a tourist- you are one. Although Italians are stylish and the women often wear heals on cobblestone streets, they also wear jeans and walking shoes (especially in the countryside). This is the first trip I wore jeans, and I was happy that I brought them. They were perfect for cool days in the lakes and Dolomites.

It may take you a few years to become a lighter packer- it's really not such a bid deal, and as I siad, it is your honeymoon. I'm in my early 60s and remember the days of taking 28 or 30 inch bags.

Have a wonderful trip and congratulations,

starrsville is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 06:06 AM
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Oops! Don't know what happened to the heading.

Justretired, I hope you don't mind my reposting your post with a new title - but I think it is wonderful advice!
starrsville is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 06:12 AM
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I so agree about packing light, even though, when traveling with a family of 5, it is a relative thing for us. I agree that you need to think about the type of vacation you are taking and the luggage assistance that will be available.

Last summer we took the kids to Disneyworld for 10 days. We all packed everything we wanted because face it, on a trip like that, as long as you're willing to tip, you never have to lift your own bags! I knew that our trip to Italy, that involved cars, planes, trains and boats, would be different. My family blessed me for insisting on only 22" suitcases for us all. (I do admit, however, that the stairs on the bridges in Venice were still a killer.)
missypie is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 06:27 AM
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About that medicine cabinet...I understand what you are saying and somewhat agree...but once when I needed a routine OTC medication, on a Sunday, and there was about one pharmacy in the entire city open I really wish I had brought along some palin old antihistamine.

Eventually I got some but you know what I mean. It seems like when you need whatever it is it is always the middle of the night somehow.

Why DO people think they need more on their honeymoon...if anything I think they would need less!
Dukey is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 06:40 AM
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Regarding the medicine cabinet - I agree that it's nice to have an assortment of over-the-counter medicine especially in the middle of the night. I try to take a one-day supply of many different OTC meds - just put each kind in a tiny ziploc or cut off part of a card, sometimes staple the dosage to the package and put all in a larger ziploc. This takes very little room, but provides medication for inconvenient times, then allows time to get whatever is needed at the pharmacy when it is convenient. We have certainly needed this little medicine cabinet many times over the years and been glad to have it in the bag.
blh is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 06:42 AM
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Justretired- Thanks for the excellent and interesting post!!

Just the other day I finally had to say to a poster who didn't like the advice she was receiving (to pack in a 22" roller) "well go with your bigger suitcase then and let us know how it works out" -lol. Experience being the best teacher, and all that.

So your post fits right in to several other discussions this week on the forum.
suze is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 06:48 AM
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Regarding bringing medicine...since I travel with kids, I bring everything, but it all fits nicely into about a 10" x 6" makeup bag. I was just thinking about this yesterday. In March, my family went to Costa Rica...we used EVERY medicine I brought, plus we bought painkillers and antibiotics over the counter. We had upset stomachs, headaches, toothaches, ear aches, you name it. On our trip to Italy, I again brought the whole arsenal...we took a couple of Motrin...that was it (and the trip was twice as long.) You just never know...
missypie is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 06:49 AM
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Thank you - starrsville and justretired. There's nothing like first hand experience. I pack lighter & lighter as we take trips - even car trips and cruises. Even if you think you won't have to 'lug' the luggage - there will be a time that you will have to (for whatever reason).!!

About bringing the 'drug store', we used to bring full bottles & containers of many things - now I just bring about 5 of whatever we want. That will get us thru the night and we can get more in the morning.
maryann is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 07:02 AM
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I 100% agree and then some! I always end up carrying to much on trips. I even ended up sending home a suitcase full of unnecessary clothes by Fedex on one trip! I also had the same experience in Venice- lugging heavy suitcases up and down stairs. NEVER AGAIN I told myself!

Yet the next year I did the same thing! Go figure! There's just always that one hundredth item that you think you just cannot live without for three weeks!
But justretired is right...if you're moving around frequently (like I always am) do laundry...pack light.
JAGIRL is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 07:24 AM
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Well said, retired!
Tiff is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 07:25 AM
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I have to admit that I am 32, going on my belated honeymoon to Germany, France and Switzerland for 25 days and I plan on only taking a 22" suitcase w/ wheels, my camera bag and a bag/purse that I can criss/cross across my shoulders. I don't need to be warned twice
katzen is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 07:30 AM
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But make sure to at least take an empty bag or leave space in the suitcase for souvenirs! That's the trick to packing light. Having space for all that cool stuff you want to take home with you.
JAGIRL is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 07:36 AM
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This thread if good timing for me! Thank you justretired (me too!) and starrsville.

I have to purchase a new piece of luggage. I got rid of all my old ones and the only one I have left is a 29incher. I am never again going to use that suitcase, lol.

I was going to buy a 22inch but all of my family said "no,no, it is too small". Well I am going to buy a 22incher..I know it will be perfect for me. Love all your thoughts justretired.
LoveItaly is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 07:37 AM
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Oh, LoveItaly. The big suitcase will be perfect for storing out of season clothes!
starrsville is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 07:40 AM
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Packing light has more to do with the weight of your suitcase and how much you put into it than the size. I have smaller -- 19- and 22-inch suitcases that weigh a couple of pounds more than my newer 24-inch softside.

I'm always puzzled when I read lists like 10-12 pairs of pants, 10 tops, and three or four pairs of shoes plus other items crammed into a 22-inch and then call it "packing light" because the suitcase size fits the carryon limit.

If you stuff a heavy, 22" full of clothes, medicines, shampoos, guidebooks etc., it will be heavier to carry up stairs than a lightweight 24" with a well-planned, coordinated wardrobe -- and then there is space left for purchases on the return.

I'm no kid and I carried my 24" on and off trains and up and down three flights of stairs in Italy last year. But you're right, it does take time to learn what to take and what to leave out; I trim it down every year.

As you learned, layering, and a bit of clothes washing is the way to go. I hope you had a great time on your trip. I'm looking forward to reading the report.
Luisah is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 07:44 AM
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Good morning starssville, that is what I do! It worked out perfect. Take care!!
LoveItaly is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 08:31 AM
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On our trip to Italy last year, we packed very light, worked around a neutral color palette, and didn't have to check a bag on the way there. It was wonderful! My friends go to Florida for a weekend and can't pack it all in a carry-on bag, so they still can't believe we did it!

One thing I did that worked out really well was to purchase an inexpensive expanding duffel bag before the trip. I found it while walking through Walmart one day. The entire thing folds into a size of about 10x10x1" and has a zipper to keep it all folded. It opens up to a regular gym-size duffel bag, but I was able to store it in the front pocket of my suitcase on the way there, then at the end of the trip stuff it with dirty clothes (or anything non-breakable) and check it. This way I had plenty of room in my suitcase for the wine & souvenirs we bought.
sherhatfield is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 08:38 AM
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We have two of those Walmart duffle bags. On the way home from Italy, both were filled with dirty clothes, leaving our carryons for masks and other delicate items.
missypie is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 08:50 AM
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another good idea for the trip home - take an empty space bag or pack mate vacuum bag. Then on the way home you can use it for dirty clothes. They compress down to about 20%-25% of the volume so nets you a lot more space in your bag. Don't be tempetd to fill the space bag(s) on the trip over - that just defeats the purpose of getting more space for purchases/souvenirs
janisj is offline  
Jun 15th, 2006, 09:00 AM
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After some decades of traveling the globe, if anything, I take MORE stuff, pack even MORE outfits, tops, shoes, toiletries, pharmaceuticals, odds and ends -and am very glad I do-because when I dress casually but well, and have the clothes and accessories with me to dress up in the evening if I so choose, or when I have the clothing to change twice a day, if desired-in other words, where I have a number of choices/outfits I can put together that DON'T serve a dual purpose, I find that I'm much more content, and feel somehow more grounded, than if I take the standard advice to go with less.

A lot of travelers don't really care what the locals think of how they present themselves to the world in terms of clothing and look- that's fine, but I do.

As I've said before, I've found that one tends to get better service in both shops and restaurants the more one blends in with the local crowd so there is a distinct benefit in not looking like the prototypical "tourist" when abroad.

So for those who want to pack light, great-there's no question that doing so causes less travel stress-but, face it, stress comes with travel-you can attempt to minimize it, of course, but it's still there-it's just a matter of degree, is all. Where traveling light might reduce travel stress in one area, it can always pop up in another, so I see no good reason to do so. I am definitely less stressed when I have the things I want with me,(even when I don't end up using half of them) than if I travel with less and have to do without.

Spygirl is offline  

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