Tuesday, 11.16.04: Packing Principles (Woman's Perspective)
I think that 1990 was the last time I packed a big suitcase for a
vacation. Since then, I've figured out that -- within some basic
parameters -- you can travel forever out of a single carryon bag, plus a
large purse/shoulder bag.
There are two parameters:
(1) How many different types of activities will you engage
(2) Who is looking at you?
In other words, if you are going to your sister's wedding followed by
a few days of camping, the challenge might be overwhelming. Too many
clothes changes and cameras flashing in Activity 1. Activity 2 has a
completely different wardrobe and possibly small equipment demands.
(Faced with squeezing binoculars into an already packed bag, a grown
woman can have a serious meltdown.)
Here are my principles:
For civilized places (e.g., San Francisco), pick a color
scheme to allow lots of interchangeability without much pre-trip
visualization. Black works. On the other hand, if you are going
strictly backwoods, then who cares? We traveled through Thailand
with an English women who packed her ugliest outdated clothes only
and threw them away as she went along. This made room for souvenirs.
Two - three sets of pants. Dark colors are better. While
your khakis might never show a spot of dirt in suburbia, tramping
around ruins or prowling the antique shops of smoggy world capitals
is dirty work. Third pair -- really just a back up in case of
torrential rains. Most hotels can provide excellent laundry service
if the trip is long and grunge sets in. Alternating pants with a
skirt might work if you can wear the same shoes with either.
Tops. I usually go with 5. Extravagant to my husband's
two. Layer from short sleeve to long sleeve. Washable (rather, fast
dryable) t-shirts for the underlayer.
Shoes. Important decisions here. Wear your big comfortable
walking shoes on the plane. Pack squashable sandals or flats. I have
found myself wearing army surplus jungle boots at fine restaurants
in Indonesian 4-star hotels. But, per parameter #2, how much do you
Socks. Thick cotton most
comfortable, but forget about waiting for them to dry hanging over
the hotel shower bar. 3-4 pair.
Underwear. 3 sets. Washing out with hotel bar soap is
easy. Waiting for them to dry is the issue. My mother gave me the
hint of washing the crotch only, which almost guarantees
their being dry by morning.
Cold weather. Avoid having to
pack sweaters. I have a microfiber pullover (one of those miracle
fabrics) that has gotten me through many chilly climes.
Rain. Tiny travel umbrella that
will also fit in shoulder bag during trip. Raincoat -- a smashable
shell is a great warmth layer.
Sleepwear. T-shirt. Extras
depending on who your companion is and your tolerance for nudity.
Sarong-like scarf to wrap
around waist on walk to swimming pool, or around neck if cold, or
around head in the vicinity of holy places.
Men's suit jacket (for cities)
or travel vest (the kind with lots of pockets, for
who-cares-if-I-look-like-a-dork areas). Can't have too many pockets.
Bulky, so wear on the plane.