‘Bout this time of year, I’m dreaming about travel. It’s almost time for Spring Break and Summer is around the corner. My friend, Carol, just left today for an eight day trip to India. It’s her first international trip, and when I heard that she had this opportunity, I was 95% happy for her and 5% jealous, as any good friend should be.

While she was preparing for her trip, she asked me if I had any packing advice. As it turns out, I do. Below is a re-post (with a couple of revisions) of my advice from The Spirited Woman site where I post weekly with travel ideas, advice and insight:

 Packing 101:

I NEVER check a bag when I travel by air – no matter where I’m going or how long I’ll be there.

There are several reasons for this. First of all, nowadays checking a bag costs extra on most airlines. And while I’ve heard of airlines charging even for carry-on luggage, most will still let you bring one small piece into the cabin. Second, I need to be free of encumbrances, and there’s nothing that weighs me down more than a big ol’ suitcase full of stuff I may or may not use. Third, and most personal, compact packing has become a little game my husband and I play.

On our last trip, to Anchorage, Alaska for the Humpy’s Marathon, Bill and I were debarking the shuttle bus we rode to the airport and, as the driver was handing me my little suitcase, he said, “Wow, you must have nothing in here. How do you travel so light!” That’s right, I won the lightest luggage contest on that trip – even with all my running gear in my bag. In fact, I usually win because Bill can’t sleep without (and therefore has to pack) his favorite pillow. Yay for me.

So how does a woman pack everything she needs into a 22″ X 14″ X 9″ case, especially if she cares about how she looks? Rick Steves, travel guru, has a terrific list of essentials that helped to get me started, but I have some additional tips to help you get everything you need on the plane with you:

  • Pack only what you need for the climate you’re going to. Take the chance that you’ll have to purchase something on your trip. I’ve rarely had to do it.
  • Plan to wash your clothes. You really need no more than two or three of anything (shirts, underwear, socks, etc.) if you bring the right items, even if you need to dress up on your trip.
  • If you don’t need them for work, forget all electronics except your e-book reader and your phone. Almost every hotel, hostel or motel will have a computer you can use to access email.
  • Find a hair style that doesn’t require heat. If you don’t need your hairdryer and your other hair appliances, you reduce your need for space significantly.
  • In terms of cosmetics, bring only one of each of the following: eye shadow, liner/pencil, foundation, lipstick, blush and mascara. Bring your favorites.
  •  Wear your heaviest clothing on the plane. Your running shoes and fleece jacket take up a lot of room in your bag, so put them on your body.
  • If you travel often, invest in compact or mini-versions of everything you use on a daily bases. Items such as deodorant, alarm clock, purse, and journal, as well as many other things we use on a regular bases, can be purchased in smaller versions than we have in our homes.

A traveler wants to be able to focus on enjoying her experiences when she’s gallivanting around the world. She doesn’t need to spend her precious time worrying about how to lug heavy suitcases from place to place. Next time you take a trip, try packing LESS than you think you need and see what happens.

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