Sunday, August 23, 2009

~ Packing Hints & Tips (Originally Published 2/3/08)

I am devoting this particular entry to the chore of packing.
Packing for any trip can be exciting but we tend to over-pack and take along every incidental we can think of, don’t we?

My personal travel guru is Rick Steves. If you haven’t ever caught any of his travel shows, they air only on Public Television but you can get tons of hints and tips on everything related to travel on his website. His series “Europe Through the Back Door” was instrumental in turning me on to overseas travel and I’ve been a fan of his ever since. I could go on and on about all of his shows and everything I’ve learned from reading his books but suffice to say you need to check out his stuff on your own whenever you’ve got the time.

Rick’s mantra regarding packing is this: Pack light. You’ll hear him say it over and over again; you’ll never be lugging a couple of suitcases up a hill while you’re running to catch a train and thinking, “Gee, I wish I’d packed more stuff.” I took what he said to heart on my first overseas trip and plan to do so again on this one. I packed one suitcase/bag that could fit into the overhead compartment and carried a backpack on the plane with my necessary flight stuff. That was it. It was hard to do and even with that, I think I packed too much, but live and learn, eh? I have found (and used) all of these websites and then whittled down all the information to make my own packing list. Find one you like and do the same. I guarantee, you’ll travel better if you do.

The first one is, of course, Rick’s packing list. Keep in mind that he is a man and women must make adjustments but the fundamentals are there. His website also has recommendations for what women should pack.

The second site is fun and informative. It’s called, The Art & Science of Packing Light. It’s a great website that offers tons of tips on what to pack and how to pack it. The author also provides bits of science and information on the how’s and why’s of packing. All in all, a wonderful site you’ll probably bookmark it and use over and over again.

(*Note to readers. As of this re-posting, the site for the universal packing list appears to be down at this time. If you wish to try again in the future, The Universal Packing List is an interactive list that lets you input information about how you’re traveling, what the weather will be like, what you want to take and the type of place you’re staying at and then generates a list of the items you should pack based on the information you feed into it. It generates a pretty lengthy list but it might clue you in on something you didn’t think about AND it lets you email that list to yourself and/or your traveling buddies for further review.

The last site I love to use is The Independent Traveler’s Interactive Packing List. This is a great resource because it also allows you to input your own information by checking off the box next to over 100 listed items (and there’s even some space for you to add your own personal stuff) then when you’re done checking off, you click the button and the list is generated for you already categorized by heading. All that’s left for you to do is print it and/or email to yourself and use it!

Don’t forget to check with the airlines and the national transportation websites to update yourself on what items can be carried onto a plane legally because you know that stuff is always changing. Also, if you’re planning a trip outside of the country, make sure you know their rules about carry-ons also. For example, in the UK, (until last week, this was relevant for all airports but was recently lifted for London-Heathrow) carry-ons were limited to one bag only. That means that when I get ready to leave the UK, if my laptop is in a bag or backpack, that’s my carry-on limit and all other bags must be checked. Although I don’t necessarily like checking my baggage, I’m more inclined to feel better about doing it on my way home than on my way out because at least at home, I know I’ll have extra clothes.

Anyway, I hope these websites come in handy for you and as it gets closer to my travel date, I’ll let you all take a peek at the bag that I’ll be taking with me!

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