Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Quick Five - Top Travel/Packing Tips

by Anna Sugden

The summer holidays are upon us, or very nearly! For the romance writers among us, it's conference season. There's going to be a lot of travel happening over the next few months, starting for many RWA members this weekend as we descend on NY.

By the way, hope those of you in the NY area will pop along to the Literacy signing on Tuesday June 28th - it's open to the public and you'll get a chance to catch up with the Banditas and many of our guests, as well as over 500 favourite romance authors. It's all for a good cause too as the money raised from the sales of books will benefit literacy charities in the area.
Anyway, back to today's post ... I thought it would be a useful time to share hints and tips for packing and travelling. Even veteran travellers like myself are always keen to pick up useful ideas to make our trips easier!

So to start you all off, here are my 5 Top Tips:

1. Don't throw away those plastic dry cleaning covers - use them to cover dresses, skirts, shirts and/or trousers. This will keep them from getting too wrinkled and, if you pack them on the hanger, means you can go from case to wardrobe with ease.
2. Pad out your shoes with rolled up underwear, tights (pantyhose), swimsuits or socks. Keeps the shoes from crushing and it's a great way to save room in a tight suitcase.

3. Mix and Match - so many of us over-pack (holds up hand!). We take so many things that we never end up wearing. It's all very well saying to lay out what you're going to take and halve it, but we all know how well that works if you're an over-packer! To get round this, I try to take clothes that I can mix and match. That way you can take fewer of the bulky items like skirts and trousers and you know that you can wear any of your tops with those you do take.

4. Pack an extra flat kit/duffle/sports bag. It's often cheaper to pay for an extra bag than it is to pay overweight charges! Also, get flat rate boxes from the post office, which you can pack flat in your case. These can be much cheaper, especially for shipping books home, than paying the extra luggage charges.

5. Write down the emergency numbers for your credit cards on a slip of paper and store somewhere safe, but separate from your purse or wallet. If the worse come to the worst, and your purse or wallet is stolen, you'll have the emergency numbers to hand.

While we're on the subject - empty your purse or wallet of all the usual junk/cards etc and limit yourself to one or two general cards that you can use anywhere. Credit cards are better than cash/debit cards as they don't access your bank account. If you don't like credit cards, take travellers cheques - they're not just for travelling abroad!

And make sure you don't have your PIN numbers written down anywhere or stored in your cell phone, or that you're not carrying identifying info like your social security card. You'd be amazed how many people do!

For an extra tip - pack any essential medication in your hand luggage. If you need a prescription for your medication, it's worth taking an extra prescription from your doctor in case of emergencies. That way you can get to a pharmacy and get it filled, even if you're miles away from home. That's a good idea too if you need glasses - carry your prescription info around with you - you never know when you'll lose/break your glasses!

What are your Quick Five Travel and Packing tips?


Lolarific said...

I loved all of your packing tips and had none to add. But I'd like to say I'm extremely jealous of everyone attending RWA next week!

I'll be here doing a Pre-K screening with my youngest monkey.

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Lolarific.

Hello Anna,
I hope I can make it to the Literacy signing. I always have a change of clothes in my carry on in case the checked luggage is lost. It's always important to remember not to pack in valuables in your checked luggage.

Christine Wells said...

Thanks for those tips, VA! I'm just about to start packing so your advice is priceless.

My number one tip is to try to pack shampoo or anything that might leak separately (insulated or wrapped in something) in the outer pocket of your suitcase. So many things seem to leak on flights. I've found this to be a lifesaver. I've also found PoshT's trick of rolling rather than folding works to get clothes there crease-free.

Oh, and also make sure you remind yourself of what is going back into your suitcase before you leave. I forgot I had a jar of this gorgeous chocolate paste (like Nutella) that had been a gift. To the security scanner it looked like thick liquid and they made me rummage through my bag at customs. I had no idea what this liquid could be and started to panic. If I'd been able to tell them straight away it would have been a lot better for me!

Jane, that would be wonderful if you can make it to the Lit signing! Don't forget to come and say hi to us all!

Congrats on the bird, lolarific.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anna!

I bring along a little flashlight for the nightstand...just in case (God forbid) there's a fire and the lights go out. When I traveled for business, I'd slip folded sheets of tissue paper inside my silk blouses and then put them in the plastic dry cleaning bags. I'm freaky about germs so I always bring a travel pack of antiseptic wipes and wipe the bathroom counter down. You can't go wrong with bringing a few extra plastic Ziplocs either.

Hope you all have a blast in NYC and Anna, good luck with the GH!


marybelle said...

Pack underwear first before you forget - I learned that one the hard way & pack one 'wear anywhere' outfit - takes you from day to night with minor tweaking.

I start packing a week ahead & throw things in as I remember them.

Donna MacMeans said...

Anna - Love your quick five tips. I'm reading them saying - yup, had my purse stolen on a trip and needed those numbers. Yup, had the airline send my suitcase to another destination on my way to a business meeting and so had no change of underwear or fresh clothes to wear.

My tip is to packs things that might leak (or spray) in those freezer-lock baggies so they don't do leak on your clothes...however do remember that broken glass will cut right through that plastic. Yup, had that happen too. All my clothes were saturated with an oily love potion thing that I'd packed to play around with my husband. It is not wise to wear clothes saturated with a love potion in Las Vegas - let me tell you. LOL

Second tip - Always check the back of the bathroom door and the chair seats before you check out of the room. I've forgotten my hanging toiletry thingie because I couldn't see it in the bathroom with the door open. A friend forgot her computer on the chair that was pushed under the desk the same way.

Jane - I won't be signing at the lit signing this year as my book comes out in August. I'll probably be at the bar as i have a phobia about crowds. Look for me whereever margaritas are sold!

barb said...

he must like it with you Lolarific

I always take too many clothes LOL
When travelling overseas I get a letter from the doctor for any medication that I take and photocopy cards and passport in case they are lost

Helen said...

Well done Lolariffic have fun with him


Great ideas but sorry seeing as how I don't travel very much at all I don't have any advice LOL. If we are going away it is usually in the car and I put just what I need in and away we go, but in saying that we might get to travel one day and I have taken on board your tips.

I hope you all have a fantastic time in NY I really wish that I could go but I will be there in spirit.

Have Fun

PJ said...

So excited! In less than a week I'll be schmoozing with (most of the) Bandits! It'll be so great so see you again!

A tip I picked up recently (apologies for not giving credit - can't remember which blog it came from) is to ask your make-up rep for samples of your foundation and other items that typically are in glass containers or take up a lot of space. The lady who works the Lancome counter at my store gave me tiny plastic containers of my foundation and powder - plenty to last me through the week but they won't break in my suitcase and take up hardly any space. You can recycle them for future trips by refilling from the larger containers that you use at home.

Susan Sey said...

Such great tips! I'm a terrible packer so I'm taking notes. I love the tip about stuffing my shoes with my unders. That just tickles me for some reason.

And I'm totally packing the flat rate boxes for mailing books home. I'm such a junkie. I can't say no.

Can't wait to see everybody next week!

Anna Sugden said...

Good luck with your Pre-K screening for your youngest, Lolarific.

Hope we get to see you at RWA another year.

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Jane! We hope you can make the signing too!

Excellent advice on both fronts. I always put a change of underwear in my hand luggage for that reason. I also have a horror story about the one time I had to pack my jewellery in checked luggage and it was stolen!

Anna Sugden said...

So true about packing leakable things separately - we always use two Ziploc bags!

Yes, rolling does help keep things from creasing too.

LOL about the Nutella (is Keira coming to conference?!). Something similar happened once to us with a wrapped birthday present - which was a pair of ear-rings shaped like chef's knives that hubby had got for me. He was taken off to a separate room with much whispering and muttering!

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Jenn! Thanks for your GH wishes!

Great idea about the small flashlight - also useful for people sharing rooms! Also a useful tip about antiseptic wipes. I tend to have one of those antiseptic hand gels in my purse as well.

Anna Sugden said...

LOL Marybelle - another tip that's so valuable! I remember one year forgetting to pack bras and having to dash to the local Victoria's Secret!

Accessories can help cut down the packing and help you dress up that wear anywhere, any time outfit for the evening.

Anna Sugden said...

LOL about the love potion in Vegas - though not about it being all over your clothes!

Oh, so true about checking behind the bathroom door and on the chairs ... and in the wardrobe - hubby and I left a wardrobe full of clothes behind once. Luckily the Sheraton shipped them home for us!

Anna Sugden said...

I think Aunty Cindy is the only one I know who packs frugally, Barb! I overpack and my husband is worse! LOL You'd have thought our years of business travel would make us better, but we're not.

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Helen - it does make a difference when you can load up the car!

Hopefully you'll get a chance to travel soon.

We have to be extra careful packing for Australia because of the internal flights and the weight restrictions - hence the iPad instead of books!

jo robertson said...

OMG, Anna! I'm so impressed with your packing skills. I'm a hopeless mess when it comes to traveling. I always overpack!

Great advice. I'd only add one thing and that's get a good, large "travel" handbag that has lots of zippered compartments. For your Kindle, your cell phone, any of those items you don't want to put in your stowaway or checked in baggage.

And don't forget the snacks! Airlines will starve you, so be sure to bring along quick pick-me-up goodies in case you end up on the tarmac for several hours before takeoff.

Beth Andrews said...

Love these tips, Anna! I always over pack and I don't see this time as being any different especially since my daughter is coming with me. I'm hopeful we can get away with one checked bag but seeing as how she's been known to wear four outfits in one day, I'm not sure we'll pull it off ;-)

Can't wait to see everyone!

Anna Sugden said...

LOL Jo - all those years of travel have rubbed off ... though not enough that I don't overpack!

Great point about the handbag with the compartments.

And another tip - don't forget the charging cables for your devices!!

Anna Sugden said...

I'm so looking forward to meeting your daughter, Beth. Wow on the four different outfits! I'm seriously under-outfitted!

PJ said...

Thanks, Jo! I forgot to put snacks on my list!

PJ said...

Looking forward to meeting your daughter, Beth!

I'm determined to not overpack this year!

Anna Sugden said...

PJ!! can't wait to see you and collect my hug in person!! So sad the rest of the Dishy Dames won't be there too - I'm sure you'll make up for them!!

Hey - great tip about make-up samples! I'd never thought of that one! But then this is the woman who had to do a complete make-up shop in San Fran because she left her make-up bag at home!

Anna Sugden said...

Hey Susan - glad you liked that tip. I heard it from some famous actress or model years ago - can't remember who - and it stuck with me *g*.

I'm another one who can't resist - especially when I hit the US and get to lay my hands on books I can't get easily over here. I'm looking forward to buying a signed copy of Money Shot at the Literacy Signing!

Carey Baldwin said...

Great tips! My best lesson is simple. Do not overpack. But haven't learned it. Recently took 7 day trip to Alaska with carry on only. Still did not use 40% of items in my bag. We really don't need as much as we think!

Carey Baldwin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TerriOsburn said...

Most of the tips I could think of have been mentioned, but I saw one on Twitter earlier this week that was new. (Can't remember who tweeted so can't give credit. Sorry.)

Call your credit cards ahead of time to let them know you'll be racking up charges in NYC. This prevents them assuming your card has been stolen and cutting it off.

I'd also take some of that Emergen-C or something that prevents colds. Lots of germs floating around those airports and the hotel.

TerriOsburn said...

Forgot to say I'm so bummed I can't make it to conference this year. Looking forward to missing the stress in the middle of my summer, but next week is going to be so depressing watching the blogs/tweets/facebook fun.

Anna Sugden said...

Very impressive, Carey! I know that Aunty Cindy is an expert at carry on only. Me, not so much! Not even for a long weekend in Florence!

If you ever work out how not to over-pack, do share!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Anna! You posted this on the best day...I'm packing. SNORK!

I always carry my glasses perscription with me and it's saved me a time or two when I either broke glasses (not so big a deal because I wear contacts), or lost contacts (BIG deal because I hate my glasses.)

I'm usually pretty good with not over packing except for shoes...yeah. I love shoes.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Lolarific! You got the bird! Congrats. And good luck with that Pre-K screening. The monkeys can make that interesting. Grins. (I have two, I can attest.)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

JenniferTanner you stole "my" tip. Grins. I always bring extra ziplocs. Oh, and an extra contact case.

Grins. Except the time when I didn't and Susan Sey needed it. *eye roll*

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Donna said: It is not wise to wear clothes saturated with a love potion in Las Vegas - let me tell you. LOL

Oh, I'll bet not...and I'm not TOUCHING the line about "playing around with my husband"

So. Not.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Jane, it will be FAB to see you at the literacy signing! (I'm up in the A's....just so you know...Grins)

Helen, we all wish you could be there in person. We'd ply you with drinks though for being such a loyal BB. You'd never have to pay for anything at the bar. Snork!!!

Am I right, Banditas??

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

PJ!!! So looking forward to seeing you and all the other Dishies!

Great to the Clinique counter to ask...

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Jo said And don't forget the snacks! Airlines will starve you, so be sure to bring along quick pick-me-up goodies in case you end up on the tarmac for several hours before takeoff.

Ohhhhh, yeah! Such a good tip, Jo! And ditto on the purse tip. I've got my "conference" purse out and ready to switch to it. :> It'll hold a legal pad for notetaking. Grins.

PJ said...

Can't wait to see you, Jeanne! Afraid I'm a lone wolf this year. None of the other Dishies can make it. :(

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

PJ said: Afraid I'm a lone wolf this year. None of the other Dishies can make it. :(

TOTALLY bummed about that, PJ. I had so much fun running into ya'll everywhere in the hotel in Orlando. :> And seeing all the wonderful pictures all of you took. It was great!

Anna Sugden said...

We're bummed you won't be there too, Terri.

Great thought about the credit cards - funnily enough, I did just that, this morning!

Pissenlit said...

1. Pack items that can be turned into warmer outfits with layering. T-shirts, long sleeved shirts and thinner hoodies can be worn on their own or layered when while bulkier items like sweatshirts and sweaters take up more space and may not be needed.

2. If you're not worried about wrinkles, roll your clothes instead of folding them flat. It takes up less space.

3. If you're REALLY not worried about wrinkles, pack your rolled up clothes in a plastic bag(I like using garbage bags or those smaller white Glad Kitchen Catcher bags) in one or two layers the size of the inside of your luggage and squeeze out all the air before you tie a knot, giving it that vacuum packed effect. Saves SOOOO much space! It also has the added advantage of being waterproof, bugproof and sandproof.

Ya, I initially developed my packing techniques for camping trips and then just continued using them whether I really needed to or not. :)

Nan Dixon said...

Great tips Anna - Can't wait to meet you in NYC.

I have a permanent list that rework every trip. That way I dn't forget charging cords, or cotton balls - or underwear!