As I’ve researched travel, I’ve read some packing advice that I disagree with. I’ve also read stories about problems people have had in regards to packing or luggage.
A couple of these random packing thoughts have been bouncing around in my head lately so I thought I’d address them.
Insurance for your Luggage
It is a good idea to purchase a separate trip insurance policy or familiarize yourself with the insurance provided by your credit card. In addition to insurance, airlines are liable to a certain extent if your checked luggage does not arrive at your destination or return home with you.
One of the stories I read was about a woman whose luggage was lost. She filed the proper forms with the airline and received a check covering the airline’s liability. The problem was that the allowable amount was less than the value of the contents of her luggage.
The value of the woman’s luggage and its contents was around $3500. If she was flying domestically, this amount would have been covered. Based on the Montreal Convention, the liability on international flights is $1600 – the amount the woman received.
Value of your Luggage Contents
Pay attention to the value of your luggage and the limitations of the airline liability or insurance policy. Better yet, do not bring expensive clothes with you when you travel. With careful shopping, you can put together a great travel wardrobe for a reasonable price.
Although I felt bad for the woman in the story, I couldn’t help but wonder how she could fit $3500 worth of clothing and accessories into her luggage.
On the other hand, I’ve also read advice that I should bring my oldest underwear, pajamas, and even other clothes. When I travel, I should wear the clothes, then throw them away. This way, I can lighten my load or make room for other items in my bags.
Personally, I think this is a terrible idea. I do not want to wear ratty clothes when I travel – I have more respect for myself than that. My preference is to pack light and bring an extra bag for my purchases. I’m not saying you can’t pack throw-away clothes, but to me, it sounds a little extreme.
When people are planning a big vacation, they sometimes buy a new “travel” wardrobe. They buy fancy clothes or ones that are dressier than they would wear on a daily basis at home. Others buy clothes that are made specifically for travel. It’s okay to get a couple new pieces, but do not buy clothes you will only wear on the trip – buy clothes that will add to your wardrobe and regular lifestyle.
If you purchase new clothes, make sure you will be comfortable wearing them. I’m planning an international trip this summer with one of my daughters and her husband. When I expressed concern about dealing with hot weather, my daughter suggested I purchase a few sun dresses. Although this will work fine for her, I rarely wear dresses. I may try to find one for the trip, but not more than that. I’d rather wear capris or skirts with summer shirts.
What about Jeans?
Travel experts often suggest that travelers should not pack or wear jeans on their trips. Jeans are heavy to carry and, if you need to wash them, they will take a long time to dry.
At home, I wear jeans all the time. For most of the year, I would be more comfortable traveling in jeans than almost anything else. I’ve tried other pants, but I always go back to the jeans.
I’ll admit that in the summer, jeans can be too warm. I’m comfortable in capris, skirts, and shorts when the weather dictates. Be aware though, that some European countries do not appreciate – and may even not allow – shorts in larger cities, museums, and places of worship. They believe that shorts are beach wear.
For my upcoming trip, I’ll pack one pair of jeans (for cool days), one pair of capris, a skirt, and possibly one other item to cover my bottom half. Or maybe I’ll be brave and skip the jeans. I could pack a pair of leggings to wear under the skirt if we experience some cool weather.
Dual Purpose – Layering
Whatever clothes I pack, it will all be layer-able. Leggings can be worn under a skirt, a dress, or under a lightweight pair of pants.
For tops, I always bring a couple tank tops or camis that can be worn under a shirt for extra warmth. I especially like ones that can be worn alone or with a light scarf when it is warm.
I also pack a couple light sweaters. Light sweaters can be worn in the morning, then rolled up and stored in the bottom of my bag during the afternoon. In the evening, I can bring them out again. If the weather is cool, I can wear a sweater under a light jacket for extra warmth.
Rolling my Clothes
I’ve seen several packing videos on line and read even more packing suggestions. Each one shows a different way of rolling, folding, or inter-laying clothes in a suitcase. My favorite method is rolling. Since I started rolling my clothes, I have had less problems with wrinkles.
The biggest advantage of rolling, though, is how much more clothes can fit in a suitcase than when using another method. When I first heard about rolling clothes, I found it hard to believe that rolled clothes could save space. I tried it, though, and I was convinced.
In addition to rolling the clothes, many travel experts suggest using packing cubes to organize the clothes in your suitcase. Although I haven’t found cubes that work for me, I agree that they can be helpful. If you pack in a duffel bag or luggage without a rigid frame, packing cubes are almost a necessity.
Speaking of luggage – we had trouble a couple times with storing our luggage while traveling. When we were traveling through the Netherlands by train, we wanted to stop in Delft, before continuing on to our hotel in a different city. The Delft train station did not have luggage lockers. We were able to leave our luggage at the tourist office, although it wasn’t as secure as lockers would have been.
When we stopped in Monaco on our way from Italy to France, we had the same problem. There, we ended up dragging our luggage with us through the streets. We were only in the micro country for a short time, so we made do even though it was awkward.
We ran into a different problem when we wanted to use the lockers in Switzerland. We were staying one night in a hostel that was several blocks from the train station and since we arrived late in the evening, the buses were no longer running. We decided to put our large suitcases in the lockers and take a change of clothes and our toiletries in our day packs. It was a great idea, but the lockers required coins for use. Eventually we were able to convince a taxi driver to give us change for paper money. We learned to always carry a few dollars worth of coins.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on packing. What works for you? Have you tried rolling your clothes? Do you use packing cubes?
Have you ever bought a new travel wardrobe – or even a couple pieces – and found you didn’t wear it more than once? What is your favorite clothing item for travel?
It’s your turn to give advice. Leave your comments below. Thanks!