Yes, you could probably cram everything you need for two weeks in Europe into a carry-on and save the fee many airlines now charge for checked luggage. That’s if you wear the same jeans and t-shirt you wore on the plane. Most of us need quite a bit more. However, it’s easy to get by with only one medium-sized checked bag, and in fact you’ll be a happier traveler than those who saddle themselves with their entire wardrobe. You just have to pack wisely.
Here are a few suggestions from a traveler who has packed foolishly (what was I thinking, jamming in that velvet jacket and high heels I never wore?) and has learned to do it right.
– First, if you are buying new luggage, don’t get black, the most common color on the airport carousel. If you already have black, tie a bright bow or colorful strap on the handle. It makes for easier identification.
– Jeans take too much space. True, a huge percentage of travelers, especially the young, wear them, but they’re bulky and take a long time to dry. Pants in a lightweight, wrinkle-free fabric are better.
– Choosing mix-and-match clothing makes it easy to have different outfits. I have finally got the knack of doing this, mostly, and it does work
– Take slacks, skirts and shorts in dark colors — black, navy, gray — and simple styles. Use scarves and accessories, which need less space, as your brighter accents.
– If you pack 3 shirts or blouses, 1 nice jacket or sweater, 2 pairs of slacks, and 3 changes of underwear and socks, your basics are covered, clothing-wise. For shoes, women need 3 pairs: sandals, walking shoes, and nice flats or low heels. If you’ll be hiking rough terrain and need boots, wear them on the flight.
– Wherever you are going, even the tropics, take a sweater. Airplane cabins are often cold — and some are now charging for blankets. Also, you’re likely to face chilly air conditioning wherever you go.
– Carry prescription drugs in their original containers. I’d prefer putting them in plastic bags, but there’s always the chance they will be confiscated if they’re not labeled. A note from your doctor is extra insurance.
– Keep other pills, such as vitamins, in zip-top, snack-size bags instead of bulky bottles; or, for the amount you need for a day or two, in film containers (remember those handy, pre-digital camera items? I kept the empty ones for this purpose).
– Carry valuables such as good jewelry and money, with you; don’t pack them in checked luggage. It’s better not to take valuable jewelry at all.
– If you pack liquids in your carry-on bag, be aware of current requirements. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) applies the 3-1-1 rule:
3 — ounces, the maximum size for any liquid or gel. This includes toothpaste.
1 — quart-sized clear plastic zip-top bag to hold all containers of liquids.
1 — plastic bag per passenger.
– Take a small bottle of eyedrops. The airplane cabin atmosphere is incredibly drying. For the same reason, drink lots of water. I drink at least a cup an hour in flight. Yes, it means trips to the lavatory, and that’s a good thing — the body needs to walk and stretch often.
Happy packing, happy travels.
Written by Marilyn McFarlane for EuropeUpClose.com