Traveling in Style Part 3: Packing the Perfect Suitcase
When David and I plan our trips there is alot of implicit compromise on both sides. I know that David likes luxurious hotel rooms, does not like to walk through airports encumbered by luggage and loves to sit on the beach and read. I love luxurious hotel rooms, hate to spend money and must be busy in museums and sightseeing from morning to night.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, David would eat all meals out at restaurants, I like to bring my favorite foods or buy in and eat in our suite, room, porch or picnics on the beach or the pool. David likes to take taxis and not be bothered with metros and buses, I love trains, any kind of trains, intracity, intercity and inter-country, I think it’s the best way to see the natural movement in a foreign country. On the face of it, this looks complicated, finding common ground that can be fun, stressless and achieved with smiles and laughter. We divide, conquer and compromise. The achievements of seeing the world are well worth giving up having something my way.
We recently took a two week trip to Russia. I usually don’t make a big deal if David wants to send through his luggage, after all it’s his things. He will have to do without if the luggage is lost, I will have mine. But on this particular trip the connection was only one hour and there was no way the luggage would make the connection. It was obvious, even he, had to take his carry on onboard with him. In hindsight, we now know that it was a difficult connection because the first flight ran late and the second flight was held for us to run and catch, not the luggage, which others said they were told would arrive later. In the days before we were due to leave, David began obsessing about what to take in his ONE suitcase. I tried to explain, one suitcase is just a number, fill it with whatever fits and forget the rest. I even offered to take anything bulky in mine, that’s how sure I am of my theory, that you won’t miss it if it’s not there. (He took me up on the one bulky thing he has, I took it).
Here it is, the foolproof list of the contents of the suitcase for men and women:
- Basically, the number of undergarments (both men and women, lightweight or silk underwear) which corresponds to the number of days, stuffed into a good pair of walking shoes.
- Two pair of pants. Blue jeans required (they never get dirty and they practically stand up by themselves at the end of the trip) and one white in summer.
- One lightweight fabric non-wrinkle white cotton shirt and one linen, color coordinated, (always wrinkled) shirt. One year in Italy my color to spice things up was pale blue, but pink is also nice. It goes under the flax linen or dark blue blazer, over the black leggings or doubles as a jacket over the black jersey dress or men’s dress slacks.
- Three crew neck cotton t shirts. I recommend only white, grey or black.
- Extra leggings for women, lightweight sweat pants for men.
- One black, short sleeve, jersey dress that doubles as tunic and also looks chic as a dress under blazer/ jacket or particularly for men a black lightweight synthetic shirt that can be dressed up with blue jeans,
- Flip flops and bathing suit for pool, bathing cap and googles, if needed.
- For women, two crinkly silk wraps. These are the kind of scarves that get twisted, then tied when packed. One is dark gray and the other is cream and brownish burgundy. (Men can wear scarves and it is especially chic in Europe) I throw these on with whatever I am wearing. The fashion world loves the rumpled look, it’s very in and one does not look like a bag lady.
- If the trip is for an event destination occasion, one needs the special dress and the black jersey one doesn’t always cut it. On the trip to Gibraltar, where I got married, also John and Yoko got married there, I had to pack a lovely dress for the ceremony. I packed a sheer organza dress with an under slip. It packed like a piece of thread, took up no space at all, and the slip doubled as a negligee. (As racy a nightgown as I could pull off without looking ridiculous). I admit, I had to pack an extra pair of dressy sandals. They had a singular purpose for the ceremony, not the optimum as items should be multi-purpose. However, sandals take up less room than pumps.
- The best choice for men if you have to dress up more than the jeans is lightweight dress slacks. Navy will go with the navy blazer you travel in. Keep the tailoring trim, wear it like a suit, since the lights are dim everywhere, you will look like you are wearing a suit. Bring one dress shirt in a darker, rich blue color that you can wear casually after the event. No tie necessary unless you are the groom.
My travels have evolved significantly since my first, last minute adventure, but the first lesson, NO CHECKED LUGGAGE is one rule that hasn’t changed.