Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer Packing

All my luggage for 10 days in China in July
I will stop talking about China, but I want to say a few words about packing.  Obviously, everyone has their own needs for what's to be packed away and schlepped along on a trip.  And every trip is different as well, as is the weather, which matters tremendously as to how much bulk is going to come along.

That said and admitted, I have developed a few tactics (it seems everyone has, but I find I pick up a few good tips every time I read what works for a fellow grown-up - not just a shorts, jeans and backpack - female traveler).  

This trip was going to be in hot weather, but might also be rainy from time to time and I'd be outdoors a lot (as is often the case when traveling).  I'd need to dress up a bit at least twice, for theater and party-type events.  I'd possibly go to a beach or country-side for hiking/walking, or both.  And I'd have a bunch of days of sight-seeing in the city.   I always bring running clothes with me wherever I go.  And, last but not least, I have no upper-body strength and yet must be prepared to bounce and drag my luggage down and up subway and/or train station stairs at either end of the flights.

With those qualifiers (which may or may not apply to anyone else!), this is what I came up with:

- short nylon casual rain jacket
- running outfit (shorts, bra, top, two pair socks, shoes, baseball cap, cotton undies)
- wide-brim squashable summer hat
- 1 cotton skirt/1 linen skirt
- 4 t-shirts (2 tank/2 short-sleeve)
- light sweater (I should have left this home; never wore it)
- light jean jacket (only worn on freezing plane, with capri-length jeans, t-shirt, scarf and sneakers)
- 1 pair nice slacks and woven linen sleeveless top
- underwear/bras selected to work with each item, and then I packed half of them
- toiletries (wet in the regulation-size baggie/dry in a similar-size clear plastic zip pouch)
- two dresses (one silk, one cotton jersey)
- two pairs well-worn flats (red, tan)
- swimsuit
- white gauze button-down shirt to wear over swimsuit, or over other things for light warmth or sun protection
- two tan shorts (one knee-length for city/one shorter)
- ipad/keyboard/ipod/charger and cords
- neck pillow/Bose noise-canceling headphones
- very little makeup/no jewelry except what I wore on the flight
- two books (Tina Fey's "Bossypants" was devoured on the outbound flight)
- a Longchamps foldable small backpack/handbag
- and, most importantly, passport and currency

The bottom line at the end of all this packing was - tada! - there was loads of room left in the bags.  Worrier that I am, I couldn't just accept my good luck.  Rather, I spent way too much time wondering what I must have forgotten!  In the end, however, I had just the right amount.  It was lovely to travel without so much choice and with it being so quick and easy to repack when necessary.  

There are three caveats, though, to make this happen:

1.  I had to do a little hotel sink hand-wash every few days, using the hotel shampoo for the suds.  Everything I packed could be hand-washed like this other than the dresses, skirts and nice slacks.  And it was necessary because it was hot and muggy and certain items were just not going to be wearable a second time otherwise.  (In winter, of course, one can pack a bit less and also wash a bit less.)

2.  Rolling up clothes for packing.  This is the most fantastic invention ever (which apparently I discovered late in life).  I can find everything so much more easily when it's in little rolled up units, and every nook and cranny of the suitcase can be used.  It's fantastic (yes, I know my enthusiasm is a bit over the top on this point, but it really works and anything that leaves me more room to pack my souvenirs is something to get excited about). 

3.  Making sure most everything can be worn with most everything else.  That means colors, or lack thereof.  For this trip, I had some red accents (flats and scarf), but everything else was either white, gray, navy or tan.  I tried to avoid black because of the heat of summer; in winter, I would have brought less white and tan and more black and gray.

If this isn't helpful to anyone else, at least it's going to remind me what to pack for the next trip - that just happens to have exactly the same type of climate for the same type of experiences.  Oh well, we must be adaptable, and I think this wardrobe adapted quite well.  It's a bit bare-bones and not accessorized at all.  But I reminded myself there would be time for accessories at home, which would happen soon enough.  And that was enough to keep me content with my light-weight travel companions.

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