28 May 2012

How to pack lightly...5 tips to keep you in one bag

                                      Funny how one bag TO Paris turns into three bags FROM Paris...

In her book, The Joy of Less, Francine Jay devotes a great few pages about the benefits of packing lightly on a trip. As I read this last year, I thought "I could never do that" (pack only a few items for a trip), but then I remembered several instances where I already had!

The first time I had to pack light; I mean really pack light, was a trip I took with my husband and then one year old twins which included  a 4 1/2 hour flight. By the time I had gotten the boys' clothes, diapers, wipes, and numerous  baby paraphenalia (times 2) packed I found I had very little room left for my husband or myself. That trip was 7 days and I packed my husband and I shoes, swimsuits, clothes, toiletries and all in one small garment bag. It was the lightest I had ever packed for a trip ever, and yet I found I was really wanting for nothing once there!

The second time, was by accident. I had packed alot (read: way too much) for my husband and I and our eldest daughter. We were headed to Hawaii. We got to the airport, running just a little short on time and they refused to check our bags. Supposedly we had missed the check in time by, get this, ONE minute.

We only had a few minutes to throw what we wanted to pack into my husband's carryon and then hurry to our flight. While on that trip we did have to purchase a few necessities once we got there, I was reminded that most of the things we don't pack are not missed once we arrive at our destination and start our adventure.
Same thing for our family trips. When packing for 7 days for a family of 7, I limit outfits per person (same for shoes) and am usually able to pack the 7 of us in three bags for a 7 day trip!
When I took my first trip to Paris, I was traveling alone. I was headed to much cooler weather than I was used to here in the Southwest (high50s), but seeings that it was Paris~~ looking stylish was important. So was comfort as I had planned to do at least one walking tour while I was there ( I ended up doing three).  I packed only one small bag, as I did not want to be burdened by heavy or cumbersome suitcases while en route, and especially on the Metro. So, I spent some time on the JourneyWoman site and also on HipParis.com  so that I could read other women's tips on good items to bring, what to leave home, and how to avoid looking like a tourist, which besides being more stylish, was also safer. 

Here are some tips to help you pack lighter:

1. Make a packing list and stick to it.

My packing list for my first Paris trip? 25 items items for 6 days:

  • one pair slacks
  • one pair jeans
  • one black turtleneck
  • one dress
  • one jacket
  • one hat/gloves/warm scarf set (It was chilly)
  • my trench coat
  • 2 sweaters
  • one pair tights
  • black shoes (dress)
  • red ballet flats (casual)
  • 2 scarves(scarves are a must in Paris)
  • socks, underthings, one pair of pajamas
  • one small ziplock back toiletries
  • makeup: face powder, mascara, lip stick
  • small language dictionary
  • travel journal
  • pocket frommer's guide
  • travel umbrella
  • cell phone
  • This list includes the pants and sweater I wore  on the plane so items actually being packed was less!

    2. Pack one main color scheme with pieces that all mix and match.
    For Paris, I stuck with an all black wardrobe for my first trip,  as all the sites I checked recommended a black scheme for Paris. The one exception? my two scarves that were both brightly colored.

    3. Pieces that layer well can accomodate fluctuation in temperature.

    4. Scarves make a great main accessory (leave the jewels at home when traveling alone). Scarves give you a pop of color and in true Audrey Hepburn fashion can be worn in the hair, around the neck, shoulders or waist, or  in place of a necklace or shawl. Tres versatile, no? 
    5. Check the weather forecast before. Don't pack for what-ifs. pack for what is forecasted.

    • Stick with a main color theme. Mix and match pieces are key.
    • Stick with pieces that can layer easily or be worn in different ways
    • I always pack one scarf. A scarf can make the same outfit look amazingly different
    • limit shoes to no more than 2 pairs if trip is a week or less
    • minimalize makeup for trips. Do you really need 4 lipsticks for a 7 day trip. No.
    • If traveling alone, limit yourself to one bag. This is easier to keep your eye on and keeps you more mobile.
    • If you know, for sure, you plan to do shopping on your trip, pack an empty bag within your suitcase to aid you in getting those items home. 
    • Another great tip for light packing is pack old pajamas...ones that you are ready to part with. Leave them there and this frees up room in your suitcase for newly purchased treasures!
    These are not hard and fast rules, but they are helpful to keep you from packing too much. I find myself really bothered when something I packed does not get worn, as that means i lugged it around airports, cities/countries for nothing. Therefore, each piece must be paramount. Especially, If i am packing for us as a family, as space within the bags making the trip is at a premium.
    Are you a light packer or a heavy packer?  If you're weekend necessities and outfits can't fit inside a "weekender" style bag, you might be a heavy packer. Trade that in for freedom and simplicity  at your next destination!
    Happy traveling!

    1 comment:

    1. Amen for packing light! It gives a traveler freedom though it does take some planning.


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