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Get Packing

Itís often true, as Cunard used to say, that getting there is half the fun. But for most of us, getting ready is definitely not the other half. In fact, packing is one of the least-liked aspects of travel. Are we taking too little or too much? Can packed clothes keep their press? What about new airline security rules? Here are packing tips to help you out.

Packing for the "What Ifs"

  • What if it rains or snows? Donít go overboard. If you know itís going to be wet or slushy, take what youíd wear in the same circumstances at home, including protection for head and foot. But if itís just for insurance, pack ultralight rain gear in an outer pocket of your suitcase, easy to reach if needed but not a space or weight hog.
  • How do our hosts dress for dinner? These days, dining dress is usually casual. But donít guess - ask. Look it up in a guide book for the country or city or even the particular restaurant you plan to visit. If dining with friends or business associates, make a telephone call. And donít be embarrassed - itís a classic question.
  • Will we be too hot or too cold? Not if you check the weather before leaving. Weather and climate data are available on any number of web sites, including ours, Itís easier to buy a sweater in Scotland than to lug a winter overcoat through downtown Manila. Less is almost always better.
  • A dress rehearsal saves time and weight. Plan what youíll need for each day, and lay it all out on the bed beside the suitcase. Take a couple of extra pairs of socks or hose and one more shirt and set of underwear than your bare minimum - a change before dinner can be a welcome antidote to the rigors and heat of travel. Plan for multiple uses of most items, especially sweaters and slacks. Attire in transit should be chosen for comfort first and style last.

Staying Neat

The anti-wrinkle rule: pack light but tight. Clothes that flop around get messy, and so do those packed too densely.

  • Pack in modules. Many experienced travelers use bags and boxes within their suitcases as compartments for like items. All socks in one bag, all shirts in another means efficient storage and easy access. This reduces or eliminates blind burrowing, which is one of the biggest wrinkle-makers of all.
  • Wrap packed shoes. A water-resistant draw-string bag will keep them together and stop them from soiling fabrics.
  • Use luggage pockets for easy access. Those outside pockets on your carry-on should be reserved for items you might need in transit: books, munchies, light rain gear, cards or games. Itís convenient, and reduces messy delving.
  • Roll soft items and pack them as fillers. A bag of socks, a packet of hankies, rolled-up underwear or even a cosmetics or shaving kit , strategically placed, help stabilize flat items such as shirts, suits and dresses.

Definite "Doníts" of Post 9/11 Security

  • Donít complain or joke. Joking is often a subversive way of spreading anxiety, and besides demeaning the people who are trying to keep you safe, it can draw the wrong kind of attention and is sometimes illegal.
  • If you resent being singled out for a luggage search, get over it. Terrorists donít all look alike, and Baby-Face Nelson was the prototype for the boy next door.
  • If it cuts or scratches, check it. There are no rules against carrying scissors or knives or nail clippers in your checked baggage, but everyone who travels knows theyíre taboo in a carry-on. If you have a tiny pair of sewing scissors or a pocket knife with a mere two-inch blade, you can lose them. And if you try to hide them, at the very least youíre likely to miss your flight. Some travelers carry a stamped, self-addressed envelope so if something turns up thatís disallowed, it can be mailed home.
  • Donít assume about carry-on. Carry-on luggage is getting tough new scrutiny, especially with increased security. Remember the numbers 44 and 45. The first is the allowable weight (20 kgs=44 pounds) for most tickets (first class is 50% higher), and the second is the largest permissible result when you add a carry-onís length, height and width in inches. So donít try carrying on anything bigger, and make sure a purse or shopping bag arenít counted against your limit, which can vary from one to three items.