It’s exactly 6 days until we fly to Berlin, and we’re packed and ready to go.
The best advice I’ve read in a long time came from another traveller’s blog: Before packing, lay all the items you plan to take out on your bed, assure they all mix and match, and then create outfits to test out the scenarios related to all the activities you have planned. (If you’re balking at the bed concept, a fellow traveller on the world cruise recommended an App called Stylebook. At $5.49, it lets you import pictures of your actual clothes and “virtually” create outfits and packing lists. I’m good with using the bed.)
Hiking? You need walking shoes, and sun/bug protection.
Restaurant? Depending on the cities and countries you’re visiting, maybe add a long skirt.
Theatre? Throw in a pretty wrap and some costume jewelry.
Churches? Make sure you’ve included clothes that will cover knees and shoulders, and a scarf that can become a head covering.
Museums? Something for air-conditioned spaces.
Weather in the places you’re visiting? Check sleeve lengths and fabric weights. A packable raincoat with a hood might make sense.
DIGRESSION: It’s funny how random memories can pop up. As I prepared to try the above method for our 3 month European stint, for which we’re aiming to travel carry-on, I was suddenly reminded of Kathy, a woman with whom I worked from about 2005 until 2010.
Single her whole life, she’d cultivated a group of like-minded friends with whom she took 2-week ocean cruises 4 times each year. She was in her late 50’s, with gorgeous auburn hair and a style that tended toward classic pieces: earth tones, separates, mid-height heels. It was pretty much the opposite of my style at the time, and yet I was always impressed with how put together she looked each day.
Her vacation packing routine involved an Excel spreadsheet. (Yes, really – we worked in the finance department and Excel was our tool of choice for just about everything, so why should this be the exception?) Much like the “lay it on the bed” method, her spreadsheet allowed her to recombine the pieces she’d chosen to pack into multiple outfits. She would even pre-plan her changes of accessories to turn a daytime outfit into an evening ensemble.
So, channeling Kathy’s memory and applying it to what’s spread out on our bed, here’s what’s coming with us to Europe and England for July, August, and September.
The luggage: 2 carry-on size (one each) with 1 stacked duffel (me) and 1 camera/tech bag (Ted).
Our carry-ons are Travelpro’s Crew Versapak models. The zippered lid side has a built-in compression pocket (which can hold 4 pairs of pants, folded, or 4 knee-length dresses), and 2 mesh pockets for smaller items. The larger body of the suitcases fits another compression bag that can hold the equivalent of 8 folded men’s shirts, plus enough extra space to double that. There are 3 flat outer pockets: one the size of a thin laptop, one the size of a tablet (that nicely holds my size 9 flip-flops), and one that contains a 1 quart TSA-approved clear toiletry bag. It also has a USB port and a dedicated powerbank pocket for a back-up battery that adheres to FAA regulations. We’re pretty happy with them so far, based on our world cruise, but still to be determined is how the wheels holdup – the thing that has let us down on previous suitcases. We’ll see how these manage on European cobblestones as we drag them from transit to our various apartments. The one thing missing from the carryons, which the full-size models have, is a TSA lock, maybe because they wouldn’t routinely get checked. We bought TSA locks for each one just in case we ever need or opt to check them.
So….. what ended up in our suitcases?
3 pr travel pants (with zippered wallet pockets-2 navy, 1 beige)
6 x shortsleeved shirts in blue and white
4 x longsleeved collared shirts (navy, white, beige, blue check)
2 x longsleeved blue t-shirts
2 x shortsleeved blue t-shirts
1 x Sleep pants
7 pr underwear
6 pr socks
2 x flat caps
Toiletry bag, small first aid kit
2 x mesh laundry bags
Electric shaver (plus plug adapters)
Copy of health insurance documents
Worn on plane: navy pants & tee, tan leather shoes (hint: always wear the bulkiest pair of footwear in transit instead of packing it)
3 pr pants (1 long navy stretch, 1 navy wide-leg, 1 white ankle)
1 pr capris (navy/white print)
4 x dresses (2 short blue/white print, 1 ankle length plain blue, 1 ankle length tie-dye)
4 x t-shirts (1 navy, 1 orange, 2 yellow)
2 x lightweight longsleeved blouses to layer (1 navy, 1 navy print)
2 x longsleeved tees (1 navy, 1 orange)
1 x navy/yellow/orange floral tunic
4 x sleeveless tops (2 navy,1 white,1 orange)
Underwear for one week
3 x bras (1 strapless)
2 x scarves (1 orange, 1 navy)
1 x nightie/lounge dress
1 pr flat yellow sandals - heels, while gorgeous,take up way too much space
1 pr blue Dawgs flipflops
Bath hooks, laundry detergent petals (for in-sink handwashing)
Copy of health insurance documents
Worn on the plane: navy pants & tee, navy running shoes, Panama hat
* Ted’s Sony RX10 camera
* Camera/iPhone/iPad accessories: chargers, extra batteries, lens cleaning cloth, filters)
Duffel bag (stacks onto the handle of one carryon):
* 2 x packable raincoats + 1 collapsible umbrella
* 2 x windbreakers (for London in September)
* 3 months worth of vitamin supplements
* masks and sanitizer
* Ted’s running shoes
* Rose’s flat blue sandals
My purse: PASSPORTS, I.D.,travel documents, emergency numbers for health insurance, my prescription meds. Each of our phones and iPads will also have photographs of all of our documents - and each other’s, so that if one gets lost or stolen, we’re not without what we need.
Now the countdown begins, as our final week is occupied with ensuring our rental is back into the pristine condition in which we found it: floors, counters, appliances, and bathrooms thoroughly cleaned, and a double-check to ensure nothing is left behind.