PACKING IT IN
have a confession. I’m a
pack-aholic. I’m hopelessly
addicted to overburdening my husband with suitcases that barely
close and bulging garment bags. The
overflow from my tote bag gets stashed in his pockets.
How did I get
this way? It started on our
first cruise when I forgot something.
My fear of forgetfulness evolved into pages of packing lists
and a day-by-day schedule of wardrobe requirements.
It’s worked fine for me; until last year, that is.
I packed too much. Airline
restrictions on allowable carry on bags and overweight baggage
charges trimmed my wings and lightened my pocketbook.
What to do?
It took drastic measures to cure me in time for our next
We started by
selecting a cruise that didn’t require formal wear.
My husband suggested a laid-back sailing adventure where a
clean tee shirt is de rigueur for the Captain’s Dinner.
We decided a cruise line with a nightly dress code described
as “country club casual” would make us both happy; informal
dresses or pant outfits for me and sport shirts and slacks for him.
Jacket and tie optional.
The next step was
to devise a streamlined packing strategy...
Make a list and stick with it.
Resist the urge to toss in something “just in
case”—that’s the item you surely won’t need.
Tuck a copy of your list in with your documents.
If your luggage is waylaid, you’ll have a record of what it
coordinate your wardrobe. Select
one or two colors and mix and match items.
Create different looks with accessories, either from home or
purchased in port. Take only two pairs of shoes; comfortable
all-purpose sandals for day and dressier shoes for evening.
If you must have your big, clunky athletic shoes, wear
them and pack the others.
for clothing made of lightweight microfiber.
It takes up less room, sheds wrinkles, and dries quickly.
In terms of comfort, microfiber wicks moisture away from the
body, keeping you cool and requiring fewer clothing changes.
In a pinch, wash these items in your sink and hang to dry.
A hairdryer speeds the process along in record time.
small. Undergarments and
knits take only a third of the suitcase space they normally occupy
when they’re compressed. Simply
fill the largest size zipper top kitchen storage bags with these
articles and force all the air out before zipping them shut.
Plan ahead and shop for sample or small size containers of
your favorite toiletry items.
wrinkle free garments, leave them on their hangers, cover them with
dry cleaning bags, and fold over once before placing them in the
suitcase. Unpacking is a
snap. With this method,
there’s no need to bring along a travel iron or steamer.
souvenir shirt purchases a part of your wardrobe plan.
Tee shirts can also serve as a swimsuit cover up and
nightshirt. Knit sport shirts
can do double duty as well; a shirt worn a short time at dinner can
easily be donned the next day for touring or lounging on the ship.
If the ship has self-service laundry facilities you can pack
lighter and wash clothes mid-cruise.
Remember, other passengers have the same idea and you might
encounter long lines and surly tempers. Use
the ship’s laundry service instead. It’s pricier but who wants
to spend valuable cruise time washing clothes?
Use every bit of luggage space.
Women’s shoes will fit inside men’s. Stuff
socks and other small items inside larger space wasters.
A tote bag that folds into its own zippered pocket is handy
as a shopping or beach bag and invaluable when it’s time to pack
the souvenirs that are preventing your suitcase from closing.
Cross-pack your luggage with your travel companion.
Chances are if a suitcase is missing, it’ll turn up
eventually. In the meantime
you’ll both have fresh clothing until it does.
It goes without saying, jewelry, medicine, cameras, and
travel documents should never be packed in your checked luggage.
Those items and a change of underclothes belong in your carry
Last, but not
least, adhere to that old traveler’s adage, “Pack your suitcase
and then remove half the contents before you close it.”
Did this work for
me? Not entirely... but I’m
story first appeared in the December 1999 issue of Cruise Travel