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.)

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?

January 31, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Travel, Uncategorized | 11 Comments