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Old Dec 13, 04, 8:18 am   #1
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Overpackers Anonymous?

I can't help it. I pack like a princess on the Titanic - I keep telling myself I *need* those sixteen hatboxes.

Seriously, a lot of my travel involves going to the theater on business. I need to be dressed, and I'm usually going to the same place along with the same people several days in a row, so the temptation to try and vary outfits is huge. Dressing nicely is also part of the fun of being on vacation for me; if one is going to fabulous places, one wants to look fabulous (so as to blend in with the fabulous surroundings, of course.) I try to stay prudent; I kept a 10 day trip to France, Holland and Belgium to one medium suitcase and a medium roll bag, for me, an act of almost monkish discipline. Still, you regret even that much when you're taking trains and buses every two days. I'd lose a lot of packed weight if I didn't bring my laptop - but a) I'm usually on these trips to write and b) I'd be miserable.

I've got a two-week UK trip anticipated in June which will involve going traveling in and out of London repeatedly for short 2-3 day stays, but also being in the theater most every night. Any tips from more sage packers on how to keep it light, yet suitably fabulous?
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Old Dec 13, 04, 2:45 pm   #2
  
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Such an important question! The real key to super-light packing is ditching the notion of being fabulous all the time. Generally on vacation one is on one's own. No one you meet will ever see you again, and besides, what other people think about you is none of your business. Of course, it's different if you're working, or if you have to bring, for example, a tuxedo. Nevertheless, here's what I use as a rule of thumb, courtesy of my mom the master packer:
  • 1 set of underwear (socks, t-shirt, etc. ) for each day up to 10; after that, have some laundry done. Wear 1 set, pack 9.
  • 1 pair of pants for every 2-3 days, up to 4. Wear 1, pack 3.
  • 1 shirt per day, up to 6. Wear 1, pack 5.
  • This is the hard part: 1 pair of shoes. Total. That's it. Get something you can dress up or down. Wear them on the plane.
  • One sport coat or blazer, or the jacket to a suit whose pants were accounted for above. Wear it.
  • One piece of outerwear, if needed. Wear it.
Never bring anything you don't know exactly when you'll wear. And always wear the same thing on the plane on the way home that you wore on the way out. I easily do 7 nights with a small rollaboard or a soft-sided suitcase and my attaché case with my laptop in it.

My mother's rule is "If you can't wear it twice, don't bring it." I'm not quite that draconian, but I honestly do laugh right out loud at people checking a gargantuan suitcase for a long weekend.

David

Last edited by IndyDavid; Dec 13, 04 at 2:55 pm
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Old Dec 13, 04, 3:32 pm   #3
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1 pair of shoes. Total.
That makes sense, but oy. . .1 pair of shoes. I brought 3 to London (1 pair walking boots, 1 pair dress shoes, 1 pair sneakers for working out) and can argue I needed all of them. I wore the walking boots, packed the other two.

I'll digest these tips further when I am finished applying a cold compress to my forehead.
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Old Dec 13, 04, 6:29 pm   #4
  
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Originally Posted by FlyBalletGuy
I'll digest these tips further when I am finished applying a cold compress to my forehead.
It's tough love, FlyBalletGuy, but love nonetheless. And by the way, when I have a little extra room in my suitcase, the first thing I add is a second pair of shoes.

David
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Old Dec 13, 04, 7:08 pm   #5
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Originally Posted by IndyDavid
[*]This is the hard part: 1 pair of shoes. Total. That's it. Get something you can dress up or down. Wear them on the plane.
You lost me. Only one pair of shoes? Yikes!
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Old Dec 14, 04, 4:27 am   #6
  
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I save all my old underwear to take on vacation. At the end of each day, I simply throw them away. I do the same with undershirts. That means I come back with a lighter suitcase, or, extra room in my bag to put new purchases in.

When I fly, I don't care how I look on the plane. So, I wear clothes I would otherwise throw away. Often when I get to my destination, I do throw them away, unless I want to save them for the flight back. Then I throw them away upon arrival at my home. I have less laundry to do this way. I can't see wearing good clothes on the plane only to arrive at my destination and have to immediately send something to the hotel laundry/dry cleaner.

However, I also have found that if I dress nicely on the plane, I get better service and maybe even an upgrade. So, it is a toss-up. There was a time when everyone dressed up to fly. I have an older friend who remembers those days and still insists on wearing a shirt and sport coat for his flights.
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Old Dec 14, 04, 9:14 am   #7
  
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Originally Posted by Oceanbound222
I save all my old underwear to take on vacation. At the end of each day, I simply throw them away.
I do that too, Oceanbound222! It works great. Sorry I forgot to mention it. Incidentally, we find that, in some countries, the housekeeping staff take what I think is disposable, which makes me feel good in a guilty Western consumer-culture way.

David
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Old Dec 14, 04, 9:20 am   #8
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Throw your clothes away?

I'm assuming you don't do this on every trip. If I did, I'd be in the store buying new clothes all the time.
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Old Dec 14, 04, 9:34 am   #9
  
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Originally Posted by IndyDavid
It's tough love, FlyBalletGuy, but love nonetheless. And by the way, when I have a little extra room in my suitcase, the first thing I add is a second pair of shoes.

David
I sometimes have to take a pair of boots. Because they are not comfortable for travel, I always put them in the suitcase, which took up a lot of room. On one trip, I was suffering from a lack of space for the boots - I started putting socks & underwear inside the boots. After doing that, I had room for the boots in the suitcase. Since then I use shoes & boots as storage for socks & any other items that would ordinarily take up room.
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Old Dec 14, 04, 10:35 am   #10
  
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There's an old saying about travel: Before your trip, make a stack of your money you think you will need and a stack of your clothes you intend to pack. Now, double the stack of money and halve the stack of clothes and you are now ready to travel!

I always take at least two pairs of shoes - one pair of sneakers for walking and workouts and a dressier pair. Like SFFlyman, I found that stuffing the shoes with socks and sundries made for more efficient space and keeps the shoes in shape as well.

For FlyBalletGuy's desire to be fa-a-abulous, why not try the obvious (for a gay man at least): shop at your destination. You will then have crisp new clothes to strut and at the same time have souvenirs you can flaunt back home. You can pack a nylon duffel to accomodate any excess luggage space needs on your return leg.
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Old Dec 14, 04, 12:04 pm   #11
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Originally Posted by keeton
For FlyBalletGuy's desire to be fa-a-abulous, why not try the obvious (for a gay man at least): shop at your destination. You will then have crisp new clothes to strut and at the same time have souvenirs you can flaunt back home. You can pack a nylon duffel to accomodate any excess luggage space needs on your return leg.
For my trip to Buenos Aires next April, I'm guessing I could go practically nekkid with one biiig empty suitcase! Well, me nekkid might not be everyone's cup of tea. But for London, my gay gene runs up against my cheapskate gene. Who can afford anything in London?

Some packing things I've discovered that are less drastic, but still helpful -

I really try and think about the weight and bulk of an item. Khakis weigh less than jeans, for instance. I pick socks that roll tightly, not my heaviest, bulkiest pairs.

A little bit of targeted shopping really helps. Last year, I found a great coat for traveling - plain black nylon, zip front, comes to mid-thigh, light lining. Packs beautifully, weighs nothing, suitable to wear into mildly chilly weather and for casual wear or over a suit jacket. And as a balm to my cheap gene, it was on sale at Daffy's. (Yes, I know. Daffy's is not fabulous.)

If I need to pack a sweater the plastic bags you press the air out of do help some.

For dressier occasions thin wool turtlenecks are a godsend. They pack well, don't need ironing and can be worn again.

IndyDavid's Mom is right. You shouldn't pack it if you can't wear it twice, which is what I'm going to try and work on - for instance, I can cut the number of casual shirts I bring to one for every two days, especially if I'm on the move.

But about wearing underwear you'd throw away on the plane. . .when I was younger and much more lively, the one time I hooked up with a hot older guy after a plane ride had at least something to do with how nicely he was dressed. I'm not yet ready to jettison all thoughts of adventure and wear shabby underwear

I've learned I'm a touchy traveler. It's a pain when your luggage is cumbersome, but I'm also happier when I have what I want with me. So I need to find an acceptable compromise. But I am going to try for a single rolling garment bag to Buenos Aires. I don't know if I can make that for two weeks in England (and nine nights at the theater) but I can at least try to keep what I pack to the minimum weight possible.
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Old Dec 14, 04, 12:36 pm   #12
  
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Oi vey!

I used to live out of a small 20" rollaboard for three weeks at a time. My secret? The hotel laundry! Especially when on business. I would bring sets of three - three undergarment sets, three slacks, three shirts. Wear one, pack two. Laundry every day and you can skip a day in emrgencies or if they don't do same day laundry.

If I'm feeling cheap and I'm travelling on my own dollar, I'll take some Tilley travel underwear and socks. I can wash them in the sink and they're dry by morning.

If you're going to BsAs, though, eschew the hotel laundry and just drop your clothes off at one of the nearby laundries. Hotels there charge so much for laundry that it can often be cheaper to buy new clothes. The local laundries are far more reasonable and do a great job. Just remember - "plancha la chemisas."
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Old Dec 14, 04, 12:39 pm   #13
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyBalletGuy
For my trip to Buenos Aires next April, I'm guessing I could go practically nekkid with one biiig empty suitcase! Well, me nekkid might not be everyone's cup of tea. But for London, my gay gene runs up against my cheapskate gene. Who can afford anything in London?
You can go to Buenos Aires with an empty suitcase, but you might have to buy another one there. The shopping is great. When I've been there I've made sure to pack a soft travel bag in my suitcase which I can check in. Also the tax-free system works well, so the more you shop the more you'lle get back

Last edited by JuPe; Dec 14, 04 at 12:48 pm Reason: spelling
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Old Dec 14, 04, 3:38 pm   #14
  
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On trips that last for a week or more, I also like to use the throw away packing method. It gives you extra space on the way home for all of your purchases. Which means you can buy even more!

I used to just take one pair of shoes. But when I was in NCE a few years ago at the end of March, it rained very hard for two full days. The shoes didn't even dry out overnight, and I had to walk around with squishy shoes. Not fun! Now I almost always take two pairs.
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Old Dec 15, 04, 4:27 am   #15
  
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Packing the suitcase full of stuff is not the problem. The problem is carrying it to and from the airports.

If I am feeling generous with myself, I hire a private car to pick me up at my home or hotel and drive me to and from the airport. This saves sooooo much energy and swear words than going by public transportion. You have no idea how many curse words I can say when I am face with the prospect of having to carry the bags I just crammed full of clothes.

I am getting to a point in my life where I no longer want to drag heavy luggage all over hell and back. I instead let the driver do most of the work and I sit in the backseat and know that my vacation starts the MINUTE I lock my apt door on my way to the airport. In other words, my vacation starts when I leave my home, not when I arrive at my destination.

I have a friend who is very generous with himself and sends his bags FedEx to his hotel. He refuses to carry anything. You cannot image how easy this makes his travel!!!! He is willing to pay for this luxury. Maybe one day I will be as good to myself as my friend is.

Last edited by Oceanbound222; Dec 15, 04 at 4:34 am
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