Saturday, July 3, 2010

Leave the Luggage Behind…

Planning a great get away? Gonna head to the hills? Maybe you are following the advance of that old Sheryl Crowe song and you're Leaving Las Vegas. Whatever your reason, there may be luggage and packing in your future; especially as it is summer vacation. Many people get excited over the prospect of packing a suitcase. One good friend, let's call him Swain (to protect the guilty) packs for a trip like nothing I've ever seen. In fact, the last time I took him to the airport, another friend, Gill rode with us. As we pulled up to the departure gate, I got out of the car to help with the luggage. Upon returning to the car, Gill innocently inquired, "How long is he going away? Doesn't he know all that cost money?" I had to admit, as I pulled each bag out the car I kept thinking, "fifty dollars, fifty dollars, fifty dollars….. " Swain could have traveled cheaper by renting a U-haul and driving his luggage as opposed to the fees he incurred due to his packing and need to take more items than Diana Ross takes on an 82 city concert tour- he was only traveling for six days. I digress.

The fundamental problem in this story is Swain not knowing what to take, and what to leave behind. In another instance, I traveled with Paul. Paul packs the minimum of what is needed; laptop, toiletries, a pair of pants and shirt for each day and some clean underwear. Enough said. You would think. However, Paul goes to great pain to iron his clothes before packing them, and then as he unpacks at the destination, he is appalled to find that his clothing looks like a Shar-Pei. "This will never do, people will think I have never met an iron."I don't understanding ironing to do more iron when you arrive.

Let's solve a couple of problems in what I like to call, Packing for Travel 101.

  1. You are not moving to the new destination. Repeat it with me. This is aimed at so many people I know. I am ridiculed for a laptop bag, a carry-on bag with a week's supply of clothing, and a tote bag with a few books etc. Yes, I want to have options in my clothing, but for goodness sake, who are you trying to impress on vacation?
  2. If traveling on vacation, roll your clothing or buy some space bags. You will be shocked at the amount of space you save when you pack this way. I began rolling my clothing when I was sixteen years old. I was headed to the middle of nowhere Georgia for Drum Major Camp; I rolled my undergarments and made nice balls out of my socks. This worked rather nicely, before I knew it, was rolling t-shirts, shorts, you name it. The habit even took over in my home life. I challenge you to examine the chest of drawers in my home and find something not rolled. I believe this is a key to saving space when traveling. I also believe I support this method as everything you roll begins looking a Little Debbie Swiss Cake, one of my favorites from childhood.
  3. When traveling and not flying, DO NOT PACK A SUITCASE! I am not saying roam Myrtle Beach baring all. I am simply offering an alternative. Use a plastic storage bin. My friend, Boy Scout Max, has shown me the light in this area. Max does not pack a suitcase for a week at the beach; instead he packs a plastic bin. Sounds strange, but I assure you it works. Let's dissect this idea. If you pack your clothing in bin, you have more room and you do not have to struggle with zippers catching your clothing. Second, when you arrive at the destination, you will unpack. No big deal. Here is the beauty in Max's plan. Use the bin as a laundry hamper. I hate nothing more than having to fold dirty clothes so they can be packed for the return trip only to arrive home, throw them in the washing machine, and inevitably, folding them yet again. Life is too short, sling the clothes in the bin and move on with vacation.
  4. In The South, yes it is capitalized in our part of the world; we like to take food products on vacation. For instance, all of my childhood beach memories involve getting up early in the morning, say 4:00 am, to load the car with luggage and groceries which were purchased the night before, that now need to be bagged again for the trip. Let me assure the bread was always a mess by the time we reached Horry County. Why bother with paper or those pesky white plastic bags? Take Max's advice and use a storage bin. For non-perishable items, the plastic bin works well too. It is a miracle of modern science.

I hope these tips will enlighten and make travel easier. Enjoy the summer and vacation…don't stress over the luggage!

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