The Secret to Smart Packing

We love to travel, but we hate to pay baggage fees, wait at airport carousels for bags that may never arrive and we are loathe to drag a massive amount of luggage through small European towns.

“Pack light” they say. Often this is much easier said than done.

I have a couple of secrets that may help. In the past I have been a slave to my suitcases, where my desire to bring my entire wardrobe has won out over my common sense. In the past I wanted to take every outfit that fit, was the right color and could be jammed into my bags. Those days are over.

We have just embarked on a five week holiday. For this vacation we will travel on an eleven night cruise to the Caribbean, then embark on a fourteen day transatlantic cruise that will visit the Canary Islands, Spain, France and end in Italy. Once in Italy we will visit Rome and then take a train to Lake Como. The temperature will likely vary by at least 30 degrees.

How the heck do you pack for all of the different locals? We will be visiting twelve ports and two cities in Italy. We will travel by plane, boat, train and car. That’s a lot of moving around.

On a Viking River Cruise several years ago I spoke to a very seasoned traveler who commented to me that she only took one bag for her cruise which also included several weeks in France following the cruise. She mentioned that she loved the travel cubes that she purchased on Amazon. They kept her organized and allowed for her to pack smarter.

Once home I researched user comments on Amazon for E bags Packing Cubes and the Amazon brand packing cubes. I ordered one set for myself and eventually ordered a set for my husband. I love the bags because they allow me to organize my packing wardrobe and unpacking is even easier because many of my items remain in the mesh bags and are placed into the drawer of wherever I am staying. They’re washable and easily stored in my suitcase when we are not traveling.

For this five week journey I combined two strategies. I utilized the packing cubes from Amazon and I rolled all of my clothes. I also used rubber bands to make my rolled piles fit a bit more into the cubes. Dresses were placed together and rolled into two neat piles. Long sleeve shirts were combined with a couple of sweaters. Short sleeve and t-shirts were combined and rolled into one cube. When all the packing was completed I had packed 9 dresses, 11 shirts, 4 pairs of pants, 4 pairs of shorts, 2 sets of pajamas, 2 pairs of shoes (sandals and a wedge, 11 days worth of undergarments, a couple of socks and a jacket and two swim suits into ONE CARRY-ON AND ONE BACKPACK. Also included in my packing are some basic toiletries, jewelry, and jewelry-making tools such as wire, beads and a small set of pliers.

I began by placing all of the clothes that I wanted to take on my bed. In the end I edited one blouse..

I roll each set of clothing into tight bundles held together with rubber bands.

by the time I was finished everything fit. I then packed my husband’s clothes into his packing cubes and added three shirts and a pair of slacks.

I pack clothes that are relatively light weight, wrinkle free and don’t need dry cleaning. It is necessary to have use of laundry services and or a washing machine. If I get tired of an outfit I make sure it’s expendable on the trip. I wear my sneakers, a jacket and pants on the plane. Books from Amazon are loaded onto the IPad that my husband carries in his backpack along with my camera and a few lenses. Most of our souvenirs are photographs. To view some of the packing cubes follow the link below.

Amazon Packing Cubes

Reluctantly Retired

When I was a kid and I met someone who was retired, I thought they were old. I thought they didn’t work anymore and I was pretty sure they got cranky. I was absolutely convinced they had nothing to contribute to society. Not such an alluring picture. However that picture  was altered forever when I saw my parents and in-laws enjoying life in different ways when they retired. They traveled more, met new friends and had time in their lives for new hobbies. To me, that does not sound half bad. They  knew about current events and  both my dad and father-in-law became really good cooks. When my husband retired a year and a half ago I was concerned. Was he going to sit around eat junk food and watch TV all day? He needed a plan, a schedule and a structure to his day, or at least I thought he did. He totally surprised me by resurrecting his decades old hobby of woodworking. After he dusted off his Shopsmith he very quickly got busy making beautiful tables and accessories. I would ask him to complete some projects at home while I was at work and they usually were done. Greg started cooking,  not just grilling but following recipies and grocery shopping.  I had no ideas that he knew where anything was in the grocery store except beer. I was mistaken. He told his friends that he planned “to get in the best shape of his life.” We laughed, but he pulled out our old treadmill and went hiking. He cooked healthy meals and lost twenty pounds. This retired gig was working for the guy.He was relaxed, happy and formed an inexplicable bond with our dog. But the most shocking part of his retirement was that he made the bed! In nearly thirty three years of marriage he  had not done this.

I have decided to start this blog because I have always loved to write  and tell funny stories about our adventures.  I wrote a blog last summer about our  maiden RV adventure through the west and had a blast chronicling the trip. My husband and I will be traveling through Europe for fifty six days so I believe I will have something interesting to share.

We typically identify ourselves by our occupation. In another week, I will no longer be able to call myself a special education teacher. I love teaching, but there comes a time when every classroom teacher recognizes that the job is getting more difficult every day. I decided that I want to leave teaching when I still love it, so in seven days my classroom will belong to someone else.

Soon after I say goodbye to my school we go on a trip. My husband and I have planned an extended trip to Europe.  We are going to stay at Airbnb homes.  You know, it’s kind of like visiting with friends that you haven’t met yet. But you pay them. We just hope they do not turn out to be crazy, homocidal friends. The one thing we know for sure is they may be murders, but they have beautiful taste in furniture and own a washing machine. This is a new way to travel for us but we figure we are better to live life to the fullest with no regrets. I am the more spontaneous one, Greg, is the planner. He likes to know how much everything will cost, create a spreadsheet and lead us to wherever we are going. He even leads us in places he has never been to, he always walks around like he knows just where he is going. We refer to him as”The Line Leader”.

I have been thinking about this trip and have some great concerns. Our plan, or should I say Greg’s plan is for us to pack for fiftysix days with one carry on each and a back pack. I was not entirely sure I would make it. Our trip includes planes, trains, cars and two cruise ships.  With some wardrobe editing, I am now packed.