So, I know that other people have done this before me, but I figure that if you are visiting my blog, you know me, and would appreciate my advice. I am on a trip to Houston right now for 2 days, and even though I haven’t traveled on business in MONTHS, my organized travel-planning system was still in the ready. I figure if it can stand the test of non-use, then it must be pretty good. So here are my tips (I would have included photos, but my camera's in the shop):
· I have a set of all my toiletries in the toiletry bag ready to go, all I have to do is zip it up and pack it.
· I have a small bag filled with potentially needed medications including antihistamines, pain killers, anti-diarrhea, heatburn and colds.
· I always take melatonin if I am changing time zones because it helps with falling asleep and feeling rested when you get up the next day (you can buy it at Trader Joe’s)
· and I have to take red-eye prevention drops because hotel rooms make my eyes red for some reason. I think it’s the no opening window recirculated air thing.
· I use an LLBean roly-poly bag (as I call them) because traveling is tough on luggage and their 100% return policy is unbeatable. I like this one because it has outside pockets too, and an expanding sleeve. Your hanging clothes can go in the top part of the lid, inside a very nice garment pouch that they include. What I’ve done is taken a couple wire coat hangers and cut the hanger part off. I can put my pants, tops, jackets on these hangers which keeps them stable, and then the metal part that remains on the top of the hanger can hook onto the hangers in the hotel room closet. I also follow the MSL advice of saving dry-cleaning bags and I put each item or a couple items into a dry cleaning bag before I put them in the garment pouch. This helps prevent wrinkles.
· I also have these packing assistance bags that work really well for all the folded clothes. There is a really small size that is good for underwear and a medium size which holds my shirts. I’ve only used the large one for international trips.
· This is how I pack the bag. I put and extra shoes on either side of the case body (I try not to take extra shoes but sometimes you have to), I put the medicine bag on the bottom between the handle arms that hide in the base of the case when the handle is down. I put my laptop power supply in this area also, and any other small power cord items I may have to take with me for my phone, blackberry, or mp3 player. The small pouch fits well between the shoes and the medium pouch fits on the other half of the case. My toiletries bag fits on top of the shoes, and I even have room to squeeze in a pillow. The hanging clothes go in the lid part of the case – one of the things I like about this case.
· In the outside pockets I put a book or magazine, in easy reach so that you can pull it out before you put the case in the overhead compartment. Its always good to reduce weight in the tote I use for my laptop and work materials. Usually on the return trip, ALL the work papers end up in the case instead of the tote. There is also a key holder in the top outside pocket which means that they are out of the way while you don’t need them, and then when you get back to the car, you know exactly where they are.
· I have a VERY LIGHTWEIGHT tote for my laptop. I went through lots of different bags before I realized that you need to find something barely bigger than your laptop and constructed of NYLON! The one I found from eBags (which they seemingly don't stock anymore) has all these outside pockets, which I LOVE. I keep my travel cards (you know, all those frequent flyer and hotel cards) in the bag, an extra pair of sunglasses, some snacks, the computer, DVD’s, pens, aircard, extra battery, it all fits in there neatly, even though the bag is not that big. There were some design flaws – like the funny metal hanging thing that kept popping off, I secured that with a ziptie! And the handles weren’t sewn in all the way, which a shoe repair place fixed for me.
· The only thing that I would add to this set-up that I don’t have is a pair of noise-reducing headphones. They are ridiculously expensive! I mean, come . on ! and also – large!
So that’s packing.
· At the airport, I have learned a couple tricks to make getting through security easier: wear slip-on shoes, don’t wear your belt, put it in your bag, and keep all the metal to a minimum – ok, those are no-brainers.
· Here’s the other thing. Only your laptop has to go in a bin. Nothing else. Your shoes don’t, your sweater doesn’t, only all those loose things you might have in your pockets, so DON”T PUT THEM IN YOUR POCKETS. You do not need to unpack all your stuff into a selection of bins and put everything on the line of tables trying to pretend that you are three people pushing all of this stuff along until you get to the x-ray machine. Just grab a bin, creep along in the line with all these frantic people, and go through your loading process as your things progress on the conveyer belt.
· I have tried various combinations to figure out which is the most efficient. I have decided finally that shoes and laptop go first. TSA won’t spend a lot of time on either of those, and you can be putting on your shoes while they look in your bags. If you put the tote on next, you can grab it and insert the laptop before the roly-poly bag gets to you, which you then take off, pull up handle and you’re ready to go. Another piece of advice is that if you get caught and you can’t keep up with your stuff coming through, move it off of the rollers onto the tables. That way other people can move by and its less stressful for you.
Anyway, that’s what I do.You might think that I’m compulsive to have spent so much time thinking about how to make traveling easier. Well, I’m not compulsive, I have just traveled a LOT for work and like to make it easier on myself. I am just organized and efficient. I think you will find those two attributes up by my name on this Blog.