how to: pack smart

packing-smartI know. It’s not easy to pack light. I don’t know how guys do it – well, I do know how they do it. They pack one pair of shoes, one pair of jeans, maybe a pair of shorts and two T-shirts. They don’t mind that everything doesn’t match and they have no problem leaving their products (if they even use any) at home. Oh, they just don’t understand us women. The clothes, the shoes, the hair products, the skin products, the makeup, the purses, sweaters if it’s chilly, sundresses if it’s hot … did I mention the shoes? Like I said. I know. It’s not easy to pack light.

But … I will say that I myself have learned from my BF and travel expert, how to pack smart, without having to leave all my fabulous stuff at home. It all started when he and I began planning a trip to Hawaii and Australia, with a pit stop for me in Los Angeles, that would last 16 days. Awesome! Until he called me up one night and said something about only bringing carry-on luggage. Huh? Was he planning a different trip than me? Didn’t he realize that we were going away for SIXTEEN days? I started to argue until he made the one point that was unarguable. We would, he explained, be flying on some small planes, including one puddle jumper to Fraser Island. We simply couldn’t weigh the plane down with excess luggage. Gulp. Carry-on it was.

But how? It was like the riddle of the Sphinx. I was stumped. But with the help of my ever-ingenious mom, we figured it out. The key is rolling.

First, I place my shoes around the perimeter inside the suitcase. Small shoes like flip-flops can easily fit into pockets. That leaves what looks like not-a-whole-heck-of-a-lot-of-room for anything else. Before you start packing your clothing, survey everything you’re planning to take and cut it down by half. OK, maybe by one-third. Then start rolling. Clothing rolled into tight cylinder-like shapes can be lined up in rows tightly against one other and you’ll be surprised just how much fits. Depending on what you’re packing, you may even be able to do another row on top. If you’re heading to a warm-weather destination, this is much easier as summer clothes are so much smaller and lighter than those in our winter wardrobes. But the principle still applies. Packing this way, I can still fit two pairs of jeans along with shorts, skirts, dresses, tops, shoes and accessories.

But what’s the big advantage to traveling light? Well, there are lots of pros. First of all, you don’t have to get to the airport quite so early if you’re not checking a bag. You won’t have to worry about it getting lost in transit (it’s a real pain, trust me!). You don’t have to waste time at the baggage carousel once you’ve landed. It’s safe and secure with you at all times and it gives you added flexibility. Say you want to change flights for some reason (maybe there’s an earlier flight or your flight is significantly delayed); having your luggage on your person means you can make quick decisions and change your travel plans … on the fly.

There are lots of other packing tricks like socks inside shoes. What are your packing tricks? Leave a comment and share! But remember ladies, you don’t have to bring everything but the bathroom sink! It took me a while to feel comfortable traveling without my hairdryer (even still the thought stresses me out), but for the most part, all hotels have hairdryers. They’ve got shampoo, conditioner, soap – so leave that stuff at home. I know you’re partial to your own products. But what would you rather have – your own shampoo or your cute strappy sandals? That’s what I thought.

lugbuddy

One of my least favourite things about travel is being weighed down with stuff. You know how it is – you roll up to the airport with everything neatly packed but before you know it, you’re scrambling to find your passport and your hands are filled with stuff — pen, boarding pass, customs forms. Your shoulder bag is hanging from your elbow and you’re trying to roll your suitcase with your other hand but you’ve dropped your boarding pass and the people in line behind you are starting to scowl. You’ve only got two hands and if you could, you would move faster!

The airport is not the place to be disorganized. Just recently, I was sitting at my gate, waiting to board an American Airlines flight to New York when the flight attendant came by, saw my luggage and asked for a personal demonstration of the gadget I’m about to tell you about. It’s called a LUGbuddy and it’s the greatest little invention. It’s like a bungee cord. You fasten one end around the handle of your suitcase. Then, place your hand luggage (or whatever else you’re carrying) on top of the suitcase and stretch the LUGbuddy across the item, securing it at the back of the suitcase’s pull handle. Finally, tighten the LUGbuddy with the cord lock if necessary.

This gem is one of the best products I’ve found when it comes to helping you stay organized. It makes it so much easier to navigate your way through the airport when your two pieces of luggage are secured together like this and it also leaves one hand free. I LUG my LUGbuddy and never travel without it! Visit lugbuddy.com for more information.

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switchflops

OK, I don’t know about you but one of the biggest problems I encounter when I’m packing is shoes. I have learned the advantages of traveling with carry-on only and for the most part, it’s completely do-able. But where I run into trouble … ? It’s the shoes. Different outfits require different shoes and to pack so that only one or two are required, well, I find that an enormous challenge. I mean, I typically need (and by “need” I mean “want to bring”) a pair of running shoes, a pair of flip flops and a pair of walking shoes … oh, and a pair of heels. And that doesn’t take into account the fact that sometimes I might want to bring a particular pair of shoes in a particular colour to go with a particular outfit. Oh boy. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered SwitchFlops. SwitchFlops are flip-flops that feature Velcro straps. When you want to change the colour of the straps, simply remove them and replace them with new straps. There are lots of colours and patterns to choose from. So when you’re packing, you can pack just one shoe base (there are flip-flops, wedges and kitten heels) and an assortment of straps to change up the look. The shoes range in price from $35 to $49 and the straps are only $12. Talk about saving valuable space in your suitcase. Brilliant!
For more information, visit switchflops.com

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my tagalongs: luggage tags

Stand at any baggage carousel at any airport around the world and you’ll see an endless parade of small black suitcases coming down the line, one by one, each one looking just like the last. I understand why; black is classic, it won’t clash with what you’re wearing (if you’re worried about such things) and after a few trips, it doesn’t look as dirty as it actually is. Yes, everyone seems to opt for the little black suitcase. (Not me – my luggage set is purple … ) Anyhow, the trouble with all the black suitcases is, of course, that it’s a bit difficult to spot yours as it spins around the carousel. I’m sure you’ve found yourself pawing someone else’s luggage, looking for something that identifies it as yours. Here’s a solution: These colourful bag tags will help you spot your suitcase easily (and they’re bilingual, sporting cheeky phrases in English and French, too!)

Available at: mytagalongs.com
Price: $10 for a pack of four

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