by Rita of sammysgrammy

I have been developing a lot of experience packing for long trips. My packing method is the result of much trial and error. Of schlepping 6 pounds of frozen hot dogs and 5 pounds of frozen cookies from the frigid north to my children who live in Florida. Not wanting the cookies to be crumbs when I arrived I chose to hand carry them, not thinking that when I arrive at the halfway point of Atlanta, I am going to have to tote 11 frozen pounds of food up and down escalators, in and out of trains connecting terminal A to terminal D, across miles and miles of airport before I arrive, totally spent, at my gate. This harrowing experience taught me to always have wheels in airports.

I purchased a very reasonable wheeled backpack. It slips right under the seat in front of me in the cabin. It's got zippers and pockets galore. Inside goes the food for starving children, knitting, and a book. I'm going to suggest you also carry a small plastic bag with toothbrush, comb, a change of undies and whatever little makeup will make you look presentable in the A.M. Reason for this is my most recent travel experience. My trip was interrupted in NYC late at night. No more flights to my town til morning. The airline put us up at a hotel for the night. They provided all the transportation, of course, but they kept the checked baggage, ostensibly, to reload it on the flight they were planning to put me on to complete the remainder of my trip. (that didn't happen, but that's another story). This involved a hotel overnight stay with no clean undies, no toothbrush or comb, no makeup. Horrible - is all I can say. I do have to confess that the hotel did have toothbrushes in their gift shop but they were the ones with enough brush bristles to brush your hair with and not made for normal sized mouths.

Any meds should be in your carry on, otherwise you may not take meds for a long time. Your laptop (if you're bringing it) should be in there too.

Last winter I was away for 7 weeks. I brought 1 suitcase, my trusty carry on wheeled backpack and my fannypack (which I wore around my waist).

I knew I had a laundry available at my son's house, so it's not necessary to pack an outfit for each day.

I went to Italy several years ago and the tour company permitted just ONE suitcase. We would be traveling all over Italy on a bus which only has so much cargo space. This is where I really learned to travel light.

I usually wear a jogging suit to travel in. The TSA likes this. Traveling shoes should be easy to get off (no laces, buckles, etc.) Of course, when I get to Florida, I change to sandals immediately (if possible, have them in the carry-on) and remove the jogging jacket, tying it around my waist. I usually never wear this again until I'm ready to return home because it's too hot. If I return home to temperatures in the teens and single digits, I wear a sweater under the jogging suit, slip a pair of gloves on and wear the hood. (its a good thing to check the weather reports). I'm usually only outdoors a few minutes to catch the tram to my parked car or someone picks me up.

Sometimes the Florida winter might have some chilly days (like 55-60 degrees, which they think is freezing). Then I might have to get out my jogging suit again.

Here's how I pack: 1 pair of shoes besides the traveling shoes. 1 purse (pack it in the suitcase/no valuables in it). Wear a fanny pack. (hands free) You'll be getting your I.D. out a lot, keep it handy. My fannypack has two compartments. I keep my I.D. in one compartment and nothing else, so I can whip it out whenever needed.

Now for clothing. Pack things that make interchangeable outfits. i.e. a shirt that you can wear with a skirt and also with capris, then use it as a light jacket with a cami under it. ALL my bottoms are black (black slacks, black capris, black skirts) Varied colored shirts and 1 wrap (sweater, shrug or something like that). Here's a link to SueR's blog where she sings the praises of the pashmina.

This wardrobe will take you anywhere you may want to go. To church, out to dinner, to the mall, even just staying in and watching TV with the granddaughters.

All my clothing is knits (comfortable, stretchy, light, wrinkle free) and if necessary can be rinsed out in a sink, hung up to dry and ready for another day.

One other little note: clean out your wallet. You don't have to bring your library card, every department store charge card you have, your grocery store discount card. Just carry the most necessary - your I.D./license, one credit card, medical ins. cards. Put them in your fanny pack. Do not pack any valuables in checked luggage.

P.S. I don't bring my kids northern food any longer. We eat Florida food. I go to Publix and I cook b/c I love to cook and I love having an appreciative audience.

by Rita of sammysgrammy

Comments (12)

On August 17, 2011 at 6:24 AM , artsyclay said...

Excellent travel tips! You made me laugh with the story of lugging heavy stuff through the airport. I remember carrying a big heavy box of Tide through the Atlanta airport one time. My son was working for P&G at the time and was sending it home with me for another relative. Everyone kept saying, "What's in the Tide box?" and couldn't believe it was really Tide. LOL

You are so right about being prepared for unexpected overnight trips. On a trip back from Scotland once, my two friends and I got stuck overnight in Newark when our flight was cancelled because of thunderstorms in Atlanta. I was the only one with a carry on with me so only I could shower, change and brush my teeth. :)

On August 17, 2011 at 6:41 AM , Tricia @ SweeterThanSweets said...

These are great tips, thank you! I also posted some travel tips on my blog, but mine are focused on traveling with children. If you're interested, check out my Tips for Traveling with Tots 4-part series!

On August 17, 2011 at 7:29 AM , Crafty Mommas said...

awesome tips!

On August 17, 2011 at 11:55 AM , Kathy said...

Thank you so much for including one of my pendants in your post today. I loved your travel tips. I am going on a trip next week and I think several of these ideas will come in handy.


On August 17, 2011 at 2:08 PM , MYSAVIOR said...

Fabulous hints - This should be a magazine article.


On August 17, 2011 at 2:26 PM , Sue Runyon said...

This is a wonderful post Rita. I've done a lot of traveling and one thing I know for sure is that every single little ounce of extra weight you bring with you is going to fatigue you along the way. It's so important to take care of yourself when you travel.

One of my favorite tips is to take a small size empty water bottle. Once you go through the security check you can fill it at a drinking fountain instead of paying $3-5 for a bottle of water at a vendor. Staying hydrated is so important.

On August 17, 2011 at 2:38 PM , Very Verdant said...

Great tips! Thanks for including my luggage tags in this post.

On August 17, 2011 at 3:44 PM , (Ri)Charmed said...

As a Floridian, I can attest to Publix being amazing enough to rely on!
The hardest place I've had to pack for was Nepal- really hot days and frigid nights.

On August 17, 2011 at 3:56 PM , ZudaGay said...

I wish I had some place to travel to so I could put these tips to good use. :)

On August 17, 2011 at 4:24 PM , watercolors said...

Sammys.....I loved your travel story and Florida can be really loved your clothes tips. Layers and all those black bottoms.

I'm from the Tampa area, central Fl.

We love publix, can get most everything and not have to lug those frozen cookies.

On August 20, 2011 at 1:38 PM , krafterskorner said...

Very helpful! Thanks!

On August 22, 2011 at 8:03 AM , Becky K. said...

My Mom and My husband's Mom travel on Mission trips together. They go a couple of times a year. I always get a chuckle out of the differences in their packing. His Mom packs very lightly. My Mom takes everything but the kitchen sink. Both are happy for different reasons....I just have to smile.
This was a great blog post.