Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

What Do You Pack?

One day I want to go through my life and figure out how many miles I have flown altogether. I am guessing it’s a bundle. When I was in university alone, we flew back and forth every year, sometimes twice, from the US to Germany.

With all these flights, I’ve made a few rules for myself.

1. Always carry extra underwear and something to sleep in, and mascara.
One time I was stranded in a strange city, with my very young son, unexpectedly. We were given a voucher for a hotel I didn’t know, and a meal voucher. I didn’t have anything with me – no make up, nothing to sleep in, and I didn’t want to sleep in my clothes, no spare underwear. I felt so vulnerable, so unprepared. Guys won’t understand about the necessity of mascara, but we are naked without it.

2. Pack lightly, except underwear.
In your normal life, don’t you have favorites? Clothes you grab because you feel comfortable in them, and you look good in them? Pack those clothes. If you think you might be going out, pack a pretty scarf. (I learned that from British women, who, even trekking in the bush in Africa, have their beautiful pearl earrings and a nice scarf, and even worn with safari clothes, makes you look good in the evening.) If you hardly ever wear it in your normal life, you probably won’t wear it on this trip. (There are some exceptions to this rule, based on cultural sensitivities.)
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3. Keep your laptop, camera and good jewelry with you. Passport, favorite credit card, and driver’s license, ditto. Have at least one good book, and if you do crosswords or Sudoku, have them with you, too, to pass the time when your flight is delayed.

4. Figure out the minimum number of shoes you will need, and pack only clothes that go with those shoes. One pair has to be comfortable hiking shoes, even if they are not beautiful.

5. If you have to pack something valuable, be sure it is deeply buried, and like inside something else.

6. You can buy pretty boxes that keep breakables protected so you don’t have to carry them with you. You can wrap the breakables in your dirty laundry. And you can always use a pretty box to store things in or to give a present in.

7. If you plan to come back with more than you go with, pack a suitcase inside a suitcase. Then you have double the space for your return. You can also pack a cloth carrying bag that carries a LOT and call it your carry-on.

8. Always have at least one 1-quart plastic bag with you, with the new airline regulations. Two or three are better – and always pack any creme or liquid in at least one plastic bag.

9. If it’s going to be cold, have layers, and especially have 1 pair of thick socks that can also be worn if you have to walk a ways to the toilet and/or can be worn to keep your toesies warm when you sleep.

10. When worse comes to worse, you can buy another suitcase at TJ Maxx, or Ross’s Dress for Less, etc. for a very low price. This may work in other countries, too, but I don’t know the sources for a last-minute suitcase in other countries.

What are your rules? Any horrible experience you want to share? What will you not travel without?

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January 31, 2007 - Posted by | Adventure, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Travel, Uncategorized

11 Comments »

  1. 1) underwear, t-shirt and extra socks in carry on
    2) shoes sports shoe and one extra normal if formal meetings in suitcase
    3) I always do a 2 + 2 system for underwear/undershirts and socks, meaning I have extras of each for 2 extra travel days.
    4) Jeans and one pair of pants.
    5) Money spread out in different locations.
    6) Important documents always in pockets.
    7) check website for adapter type and take one with me.
    8) Clothes based on information on weather online
    9) Flu/cold and Panadol in small plastic bag.
    10) one cologne, almost finished
    11) If I have old stuff I want to get rid of, I take with me so I wear and throw, giving me more space to fill for new things

    Comment by Purgatory72 | January 31, 2007 | Reply

  2. I always tuck teabags into my carry-on – nothing worse than arriving either to a hotel or a layover airport to find that they only have Earl Grey (tastes twee) or Lipton/Ghazalayn (tastes burnt). oh, and gym shoes!

    Re: clothing. For short trips I try to choose a base color – black or brown. It saves on shoe packing and allows me more mix-and-match outfits.

    TJ Maxx is known as TK Maxx in the UK, and its shops there have wonderful L15 rolly carts. Damascus has its own luggage souk, off Thawra, before the bird souk but on the same side of the street. Beirut … I have too many suitcases here already :-)!

    Comment by adiamondinsunlight | January 31, 2007 | Reply

  3. Holy Smokes, Purg, you are ORGANIZED! And you are right about money in different locations, good idea.

    Little Diamond . . . yeh, your favorite small treats. . . and one color . . . hmmmm. You travel with amazingly little, except when you find BOOKS!

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 31, 2007 | Reply

  4. I can’t do without my electric shaving kit! without shaving I add typically 20 years to my face!

    Comment by Suresh Gundappa | January 31, 2007 | Reply

  5. and that’s within 24 hours!

    Comment by Suresh Gundappa | January 31, 2007 | Reply

  6. Suresh – LOL! (

    Airplane air can also add 20 years. All the creme in the world doesn’t make any difference!)

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 2, 2007 | Reply

  7. since i’m waiting to board a plane heres my 2 cents,…laptop and my mpcis what i have for carry on.

    oh and my mp3 player.

    sounds light but it all actually weighs in at about 7kg’s.

    almost anything else can be bought if it really needs to be,…. something i learned during a fire in a friends apartment i was staying in during a holiday.

    oh and i’ve got a sweatshirt in case it gets cold as well.

    Comment by skunk | February 2, 2007 | Reply

  8. Skunk – Doha?

    I’m thinking about getting a lighter, smaller laptop, because of the travel weight. You sound loaded down. Do you use a backpack or a briefcase?

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 3, 2007 | Reply

  9. backpack,… i dont really do the whole briefcase thing :P

    Comment by skunk | February 4, 2007 | Reply

  10. [...] Purgatorian Packing Back in November, we talked about what we pack in our suitcases. [...]

    Pingback by Purgatorian Packing « Here There and Everywhere | July 5, 2007 | Reply

  11. Hi Guys

    You should check out Intelligent Luggage self weighing suitcases, works on a touch of a button. It was also featured in this years msnbc as one of their best innovations. Its amazing!!!

    Comment by Brent Williams | October 5, 2010 | Reply


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