Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Travel Tuesday: Packing tips

As I mentioned in my last Travel Tuesday post, my study abroad trip to England was my second trip overseas and my first as an "adult"(as much as you can be as a college student).  It was a life-changing experience and I LOVED it.

Before I could fly there though, I had to pack, of course.

Which brings me to my first (and probably most obvious) travel tip....

1) DON'T OVERPACK.  I thought that since we were going to be gone for a month, I should bring as much as I possibly could.  So I bought a giant suitcase and expertly packed (I recommend rolling your clothing) as much as I could into it, making sure it was just under the weight limit, which I think was 60 pounds.  Ouch.  I couldn't even lift it.  When we were leaving our English school, I had to push my suitcase down these stairs... it was the only way!

Stairs at school!
2) Pack versatile pieces, not everything you own.  There are many guidelines out there for packing consolidated wardrobes that are much better than I can do, so I'll leave that one to the pros.  In short though, pack a few thin items that can be mixed and matched into different outfits for lots of different scenarios.

3) Be prepared for lost luggage and pack your carry-on wisely.  Luggage guidelines for airlines are constantly changing, so always check before you go, but I HIGHLY recommend though that you pack your carry-on with at least a change of underwear, a (thin) clean shirt or two, as many of your toiletries as you can fit/Homeland Security will let you take, and any medications that you need or use often.  As I'll talk about later, our luggage was lost on a later trip and I was the only one who was totally fine with what I had with me.  After the 60 pound suitcase disaster, I generally bring two small-ish (20") suitcases for a longer trip, using one as a carry-on.  Not only does it guarantee that you have as much with you as possible in the event of lost luggage, but it is just generally easier to handle two small suitcases instead of one giant one.

4) Have a plan for moving around your luggage, especially for busy transportation.  Along the lines of picking the easy to handle luggage, I also recommend having a plan for getting your luggage on and off transportation.  Sounds random, I know, but it can make the difference between being an expert traveler and an obvious novice tourist, since sometimes there isn't a lot of time to jump on a train or into a taxi.  For example, my travel buddy Annie had one mid-sized suitcase; she would jump on the train with one of my small suitcases, I'd hand her her larger suitcase, and I'd jump on with my second small suitcase.  We could get on and off a train in seconds, as opposed to struggling with unwieldy luggage on the platform.

5) Buy Crocs. I know, I know.  Despite not wanting to try to recommend specific outfits to pack, I would like to recommend one item I think is necessary when traveling somewhere where it rains often, like the UK.... Crocs.  They get a bad rap, but they have lots of different styles besides the stereotypical ugly duck foot ones.  I wear ones that look like flats; I find them to be more comfortable than most flats and most importantly, if you get caught in the rain, they don't stay wet!

6) Be prepared for the Homeland Security line.  I keep thinking of more to add to my thoughts on packing.  But really, be prepared for homeland security.  The lines can be long and can potentially add hours to your time at the airport.  The more prepared you can be for your turn, the quicker it will be for yourself and others.  It's also nice to be able to go through the "experienced traveler" line at airports where that is an option.  Have your passport and ticket in your hand.  Have your plastic baggie of liquids at the top of your carry-on, so that you can get it out quickly.  Also be prepared with any other items that you will need to have out to go through (check DHS travel guidelines before you go).  Wear shoes that are easy to get on and off.  Even though it's not the most stylish, I usually wear socks with flats; I can get my shoes off easily but also don't have to have cold feet or stand on the airport floor in my bare feet.  

This post started off as a recap of the beginning stages of my first trip to England, but evolved into packing post.  I have a lot to say about packing!  Having traveled a lot both internationally and domestically, I've found out what to do (and what not to do)!

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  1. Robin I'm so totally guilty of #1. My three day quick work trips look like I'm moving to another city:) Thanks for the ideas!

    1. So funny but such a bummer when it happens! Good luck :)