And there they sit. Mocking you with their heaviness. Laughing as you try to steer them through the airport, the train station, or just along the sidewalk.
Suitcases… the bane of every traveler’s existence.
You’ll remember the struggle. Every time hauling those suckers through public transportation will be etched into memory. Up the stairs, across the platform, down the stairs, up more stairs, onto the train, off the train, into the taxi, out of the taxi, then, naturally, up more stairs. Up 9 stories, via spiral staircase, with no elevator… I’ll certainly never forget that Parisian apartment experience.
So that leaves the question… how do you pack for long-term travel?
Here’s a few tricks I’ve learned over the years.
1. Basics are your best friends.
Your favorite pair of jeans, those shorts that match everything, a black tank top… yeah, they need to be in your suitcase. Along with tops that lend themselves to layering. These items are the foundation of 90% of the outfits you’re most likely to wear. If you can’t make multiple looks including an item, leave it behind.
2. Dresses are one-stop shopping
Classic dresses are a total outfit. They can be dressed up, dressed down, perfect for a lunch or brunch and fabulous for drinks out on the town. Their versatility is what you can’t do without. I’m particularly fond of the maxi-dress, especially for long-haul flights. Too easy!
3. Decorate yourself
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not a huge jewelry person. Other than a few pairs of earrings, I can usually wear the rest of the stuff I’m most likely to want with me. Being realistic about whether or not you’ll actually need those 10 necklaces and various other accessories will cut down on a surprising amount of weight in your suitcase.
4. Buy at your final destination
Unless you have some super special face cream or shampoo made with gold flakes that makes your hair shine just so, buy it once you get there. Pretty much everywhere in the world has figured out soap and shampoo, so you don’t need to worry about finding quality products. They’ll be there, and they’re heavy. Your arms will thank you.
5. Shoes – the Rule of One
While you may have an entire closetful of fabulous shoes, do you really need every single pair? I have learned from experience that I generally need one of each kind – one sandal, one flat, one boot, one heel. And my running shoes. And I always wear my heaviest shoes on the flight over.
6. Go digital
I’m a huge reader. As in, I have a book going constantly and read every single night before bed. It is completely unpractical to carry that many books with me, so I have bit the bullet and swapped to an e-reader. No, it’s not the same as the feeling of paper between your fingers, but you’ll adjust. And if you use a tablet you can save your flight confirmations, hotel bookings, and all of the other things you usually print out as PDFs right on your device. So. Much. Easier.
7. Save it for the special
You know, that one item or small group of items you absolutely love even though you only wear them on special occasions. Pack your very favorites, restricted to your top 3 or 4. This a slippery slope – once you open the floodgates it’s easy to get carried away adding everything in that once caught your fancy. Self-restraint is paramount.
And there you have it – my top tips for making sure I arrive, arms alive. Gleaned from years of experience and more than a few missteps in the practice of prudent packing.
Now, this really only helps you on your way to your long-term destination. If anyone has tips on how to get everything you bought while there back without a major fuss, I’m all ears. Because hauling 11 boxes to the French post office to ship home doesn’t rank high on my list of favorite things to do.