Ahhh, it’s finally here! My long-anticipated road trip to Florida begins on Wednesday. I’ll be traveling along the Gulf Coast for a few days, then visiting folks in Tampa for a week, then moving up to Atlanta for a couple days before turning for home. (You will, of course, be receiving periodic updates.)
The great thing about a road trip is that “packing light” isn’t quite as critical as it is when traveling by air or other commercial means. It’s especially great because I have the WHOLE car to myself! I could take my entire wardrobe if I wanted to, primarily because my wardrobe is quite diminished these days, but also because I don’t have to deal with anyone else’s pesky needs.
But I’m the practical sort, and I don’t want to take things I don’t use or to need things that wouldn’t have taken up much space to toss in the bag (especially if it’s something expensive like an extra pair of contacts.) I’ve come up with my own methods and schemes over the years, and they work pretty well for me. As always, I’m sharing them here, in the event that one or two or three may be useful for you!
Cammy’s Completely Random Travel Tips
Define the trip. By that I mean, what do you plan to do? The known events, not the things you might do. This will help separate what you must take from what you might take if there’s still room.
For example: on this trip, I know I will be doing lots of walking, working out at the gym with a friend, going to the beach a few times, writing, and working on some non-Tippy Toe bloggy things. That’s a diverse bunch of activities, which leads me to the next tip:
Consider multiple bags. Traveling by plane, we’re limited to (usually) one checked and one carry on bag. By car, we have options! For this trip, I know that I will have the following:
– a PC bag with my pc (duh); extension cord; camera; adapters and power cords for phone, camera, etc.; flashlight for hotel room; envelope for receipts; and reading material
– an exercise bag, consisting of gym clothes and accessories, sneakers, shuffle, sports watch, exercise band, and new NURU exercise cards.
– a “panty bag”, which is a tote bag with my toiletries, a nightshirt, and a single change of clothes. When I have an overnight stop, I can grab the panty bag and leave the big bag in the car.
– an insulated snack bag containing a few granola bars, some self-made 100-calorie packs of almonds, a tuna packet, and enough fruit for two days.
– the big bag, which is everything not packed in one of the other bags.
What I like about multiple bags is that I can keep the heat-sensitive things like toiletries and snacks in the car, where they have less chance of spoiling. My PC bag sometimes rides in the car, too, depending on where I’m traveling.
Make a checklist of ESSENTIALS. These are items you could not easily purchase if you forgot to pack them. For me, these include eyeglasses, medications, iPhone, wallet, and cash. (Yes, I once went on vacation and forgot to stop at the ATM on the way out of town. Fortunately, my bank has branches in the Midwest.)
Prepare and assemble as much as possible well ahead of the departure date. This includes laundry, dry cleaning, toiletries, medications, etc. This will help avoid overlooking things (or including truly unnecessary items) in the last minute flurry of departure.
Pack with a plan to avoid (or limit) wrinkles. I use two methods for limiting wrinkles: the “packet approach” and “roll-n-stuff”.
The so-called “packet approach” is a way of folding pants and shirts (or skirts) in an interlocking pattern, so that you end up with a neat square:
–a. Fold pants lengthwise, seams aligned, and place left-to-right in the suitcase with overlap on each end.
–b. Next, place a shirt, sweater, or skirt on top of the pants, with overhang at the bottom (the side of the suitcase closest to you)
–c. Fold the left end of the pants overhang in, across the shirt.
–d. Fold the sleeves of the shirt in, and then fold the bottom of it in and on top of the sleeves.
–e. Fold in the right side of the pants overhang.
You should now have a nice little “packet”. Repeat the process for additional packets and stack them on top.
**Note: Depending on the perceived wrinkle potential of the clothing being folded, I will sometimes place a layer of tissue paper or an old dry cleaning bag on top of the shirt before I begin folding a packet. (I then use the paper or plastic to line the drawer of the hotel room dresser. I’m squicky that way.)
I use the “roll-n-stuff” method for packing t-shirts, shorts, and jeans. Rolls can be carefully stuffed around the packets to fill the empty spaces in the suitcase.
–T-shirts: place t-shirt face down. Smooth material, then fold in sleeves. Roll up from the bottom, so that the collar is on top of the roll.
–Jeans: hold upside down by cuffs, and roll from the cuffs up.
Unpack as much as possible when you arrive at your destination. I used to live out of my suitcase for the duration of the trip, but I converted a few years ago. In addition to giving the clothes a chance to de-wrinkle on their own, it’s also nice that they have a chance to air out.
Be prepared for disaster. If your luggage is lost or stolen, it’s helpful to have a list of what you’ve packed. I email myself the list, figuring that the hotel or the police will have an internet connection should I be without my pc or phone. ::shudder:: I once heard or read that taking a photo of your luggage might also be useful for providing more than your average description.
If all of that wasn’t random enough for you, here are a few travel links I like. Keep in mind that I haven’t ever actually ordered from most of them. I just go there to drool.
- Magellan’s Travel Supplies
- Minimus (all travel sizes, all the time)
- Walkabout Travel Gear
And YOU? Any travel tips, ideas, horror stories to share? I’ll pop into the comments if anything else occurs to me.