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One of the great things about being over fifty is that, with our children grown or getting close to it, traveling – whether for business or pleasure – is a lot easier and can even be more fun.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I didn’t enjoy all those trips with my kids.
But travel is definitely less stressful when you don’t have to pack diaper bags, strollers, or car seats. It’s also more fun when your road trip soundtrack doesn’t include fifty rounds or “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” or endless choruses of “Are we there yet?” and “Do not make me pull this car over, mister!”
Travel Packing Tips from a Seasoned Traveller
Over the years, I have done a lot of traveling to promote my books, often touring for a month at a stretch. Since I’m starting off on another tour for my newest book, JUST IN TIME, this week I thought this would be a good time to share a few of my secrets for perfect packing.
When I first started traveling, I would lay awake the night before, worrying about what I should bring, or not bring, or remember not to forget. Often, I’d end up packing things that I never ended up using, wearing myself out by lugging around two or three huge suitcases, and eating up my travel budget by paying unnecessary luggage fees to the airlines.
Over the years, with a lot of trial and error, I finally figured out a system for perfect packing helps me travel light while looking good on long journeys of a month or even more.
With a little pre-planning, you can do the same, and make packing for your next adventure as easy as 1-2-3!
Step 1: Choose the Right Gear
Start with ONE great suitcase.
No matter if you’re going on a weekend jaunt or an extended cruise, picking the right suitcase makes traveling so much easier! Choose a sturdy, medium-sized suitcase, such as this lovely suitcase from London Fog.
I love this suitcase because it’s expandable with lots of zippers and interior touches that keep things organized, and it has “spinner” wheels with a 360-degree radius so you can push it ahead or roll it alongside. Spinner luggage – as I learned three years ago when I tore my rotator cuff after several weeks of dragging a heavy suitcase behind me – is a must.
Also, I just love the plaid fabric! Whatever you suitcase choose, make sure to avoid black. (That is, unless you enjoy standing around in baggage claim, trying to figure out which of the two hundred black bags on the conveyor belt belongs to you.)
Over the years, I’ve found that a 25-inch suitcase is enough to hold everything I’ll need for a month. Smaller bags that fit in the overhead bin of an airplane can be good for a weekend but if I’m going to be gone for more than four days, I really do need a bigger bag.
A good carry-on is a must as well. I bought a new Travelon Wheeled Underseat Carry-On with Back Up Bag for my JUST IN TIME tour and I think it is pretty much the greatest thing since sliced bread! It’s got room for my computer, tablet, power cords (in their own zip up pouch), several books, a knitting project, spare underclothes, snack bars, cosmetics (also in their own pouch), AND comes with a flat folding “back-up bag” that you can pull out in case you make a few unplanned purchases on your journeys (books, fabric, yarn – this has been known to happen).
I’ve also learned that choosing the right cosmetic bag will make your life a lot easier. I recently purchased this cosmetic bag and I just love it! It hangs easily on the back of a bathroom door and has three zippered plastic pockets to keep everything organized and contain leaks. Also, it has a terrific zip in or out fabric pocket that I use for jewelry. I’ve had bought a lot of cosmetic bags over the years, but this one is my favorite!
Step 2: Plan Your Color Scheme
Next? Choose TWO basic wardrobe colors.
Once you’ve got the right suitcase, decide on TWO basic colors that work well together. For a recent book tour, I chose navy blue and raspberry. But in past years I’ve used combinations of black and red, black and cobalt, and blue and cream. This year, I’m using pink, gray, and black.
Dressing in just two colors for days or weeks at a time might sound boring. Trust me, though. You’ll be able to add variety and create dozens of different looks by mixing and matching basic pieces. Your two basic colors will work with a variety of neutrals and you can bring in additional color with accessories.
Step 3: Start Packing
Ready to pack? Select THREE of each basic clothing item.
Okay, you’ve got your suitcase and you’ve picked your wardrobe palette. Now, it’s time to pack.
Select three of each type of clothing item you’ll need in the colors you chose or complementary neutrals. For me, that means three dresses, three tops, three pairs of pants, and three pairs of shoes. Keeping your clothing to mostly solid colors or simple patterns will give you more options for mixing and matching. Bring along jewelry and colorful scarves that bring in additional colors to spice up your look.
Because my journeys take me to many different climates, I also pack a sweater, a jean jacket, and an umbrella.
Be Ready for Anything
Laundry and ironing facilities can be uncertain during extended trips. Packing low-iron clothing is a smart idea. Lightweight, all-weather knits are perfect for a long journey. If you put them on a hanger in the bathroom during your morning shower, you’ll find that most wrinkles steam out without ironing. Keep a laundry pen in your purse to take care of any unexpected spills. Pack a few pods detergent in a zipper top plastic bag so you can do laundry when facilities are available.
That’s it! You’re ready to go!
By sticking to my 1-2-3 packing plan, you’ll be able to travel light for days, weeks, or even a month. Plus, you’ll feel comfortable and look great. After I finish packing, I always weigh my luggage to make sure it comes in a under the fifty pound weight limit.
And, finally, before I close the lid, I tuck in one last and absolutely essential accessory: a really terrific book. No matter how short or long the journey, books are the best possible traveling companions!