Friday, August 3, 2018

Travel tips: Pack a perfect carry-on, limit baggage, plan ahead, be safe

Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers atop the Space Needle in Seattle, planning their time there and another
few tickets in the drawer.  On the road for several months a year, they plan ahead and map out details to maximize time.

"Layering up" is good advice for travel almost anywhere in the world, here
in mid-autumn in a tiny village in Provence. (Cool morning, sun at midday.)


If you plan a little in advance, and take time to book a few
dinners, sidetrips and tours, you'll save precious time.
WE TRAVEL A LOT. And we have a division of labor, as most  couples do. He's in charge of electronics. I pack the reservations and confirmations, itinerary and contact numbers. If you're going abroad, decide where the passports and other critical documents will reside. Make sure you both know the location. Copy passports and important contact information in an additional place. Give a neighbor or family member your itinerary and contact information.
THERE ARE many styles, many methods of packing. Invent your own, remembering that it's important to be able to carry all your own stuff. You can't always find help at the train station, car rental, or getting out of the airport.
These tips will ease travel stress, whether you're a single traveler, couple or group.
First, the carry-on.  Even on a road trip, have a little easy-to-carry bag with things you can't do without. This includes electronics (don't forget the charger for your phone) and medications.  I include a two-day sampling of my daily vitamins, just in case of unexpected delays.
Each of us packs a toothbrush, clean shirt or top, underwear. I also carry eye drops and hand lotion (under three ounces) in carry-on, for long dehydrating flights. An empty water bottle is handy, too.
Keller's luggage (and Cookie's) are easy to spot.
YEARS AGO, I was traveling in Asia with an older attorney friend as part of an American delegation of professional women. Virginia had bee traveling for years and had a rule of one large check-through bag and a loosely packed carry-on.  I follow Virginia's example, and it lightens the physical and mental load. She also tossed out pamphlets and brochures along the way, cleverly avoiding exceeding her baggage weight limit with redundant paper.
WHEN WE travel with the Yorkies, Nick and Nora are my carry-on, so I've learned to economize on "stuff." Keller and I also put some of each of our items in both check-through bags.  That way, if one is lost for a couple days, we still have enough to get by in the shared bag.
As for clothes, the point is to take things that make you comfortable, that allow you to have fun, relax and feel properly turned out -- whether for fancy or casual time.
Take time to "smell the roses" and savor each moment,
here on sunny Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.
For a cruise, I pack a nice formal top but I no longer haul long formal gowns and sequined shoes, and Keller doesn't take tuxedo gear anymore. (Those formal guy tux shoes and glittery girl heels are space hogs, and the black-tie gear gets worn only once or twice.  Most cruise lines now don't insist on a tux; a sport coat or dinner jacket is sufficient. Nice dressy slacks or skirt and a cocktail top are fine for women.) Deciding on your attire really depends on what you do when you're there. Develop a theme before you go.  Are you "outdoorsy, active, casual" or "formal, fancy, elaborate" -- or like me, somewhere in between. This little categorization will help you craft a wardrobe that won't waste suitcase space. For example: If you're hiking in Scotland, Spain or
Cruising can be fun and dressy, without depleting the suitcase space.
Here, Cookie, far right, enjoys a European cruise with niece Amarylla,
mother Ellen Cosgriffe and sister Robbie Cosgriffe Townsley.
Switzerland, or sunning in the Caribbean or Greek Isles, you'll need little more than casual -- cottons, denims, wash-and-wear. Throw in a pretty top and shawl for dinners out. The "layer up" edict is time honored. Start a cruise or tour morning with slacks, shirt, sweater and light jacket tossed over your arm. Strip away the lawyers as the sun warms the Earth. Friends of ours also take their oldest underwear abroad and toss them as the trip winds down.
Keep some money in your bra or money belt -- as Cookie did in Vietnam.
You may still have to fumble a little (I always do) but it is handy.
CHECKING IN to the hotel: We immediately put the phone number and address in our phones.  You may also ask to see the room before you finalize check-in, particularly if you have paid hundreds of dollars. Find out about public transportation at the concierge desk.  Ask prices so you're not surprised when you purchase tickets. Make sure you get the wifi password before you head to your room, and be wary of using free wifi at public places.  Have the porter bring ice -- or if no ice machines, ask him to order it from room service. (Much faster than ordering it yourself.)
Before you relax in your hotel room, a few quick things will
make your stay more pleasant. Here, Pan Pacific Seattle.
Make a little check-list tailored to your own trip. Notify credit cards before you go of your plans, so they don't deny a charge that looks suspicious. Use your room safe for your passport, if the front desk hasn't taken it at registration. Carry a copy when you leave the hotel. Put some cash in your bra or money belt. We also divide credit cards and cash so someone always has some.  Put some cash and a credit card in the hotel safe or a secret stash in case your purse or wallet is stolen or lost.
ABOVE ALL, if you've thought of treating a relative to a vacation, do it now. Carpe diem. You'll never be sorry.

Christene "Cookie" Meyers stands under The Inverted Portal, one of three
sculptures at Tippet Rise created by internationally known Ensamble Studios.


  1. What sound advice -- for trips short or long, even for a weekend. Great ideas.

  2. Always look forward to Cookie, wherever these two are. Good packing tips. Trying to get to Tippet Rise!