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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Friday, January 20, 2012

Packing for trips

In morning I fly out. First to Orlando where I am overnighting at an airport hotel, and then on to Tennessee to see the spouse. Thursday morning we go to NYC, and Sunday I fly home.

In between making 18 quarts of homemade dog food for the boys (I have a friend from work staying here and a dog walker coming by in the days) I am trying to pack.

I am the World's Worst Packer.

I wish I was more like my grandmother who was a Great Packer. The mistress of the rolled garment, underwear in shoes, and things packed in plastic. She traveled a lot. She and my grandfather had an arrangement that involved him staying at The Store and her going to Switzerland to buy cuckoo clocks (OK she did this only once) or freeloading on relatives who she claimed where "desperate to see me" (she did this a lot, although usually only once per venue).

She was such a great packer she even wore three dresses on top of each other when going through customs after shopping in the States.

But that's another story entirely.

Thing is I too have traveled  a lot, used to do it for work, and I should have learned something by now. 

I can say with confidence that I haven't learned a thing and am not one bit improved.

This is a nuisance.

My specialty is packing way too much and all of it being the wrong thing. I have a hard time transitioning my head for a different climate then the one I am in. I once went to a convention in Las Vegas in March with a suitcase full of wool leotards and wool suits and big boots. I had sweat flattening my hair the whole time, not really a glam look.

Then there was the time we drove to Montreal for my son's graduation and I packed all our tops in one bag and all our bottoms in the other.

And left the bottom's bag at home.

Good for 200 miles of "I saw it but thought you were going to bring it."

I also am a victim of the "what if, just in case" scenario. I usually pack about five pairs of shoes (rainboots in case in rains, heels in case it's a nice restaurant, running shoes in case I work out in the hotel gym, (I never do), walking shoes for shopping, slippers for the room, other shoes that aren't real heels in case the restaurant is one that I have to walk to.)

You get my drift.

This is why my preferred mode of transport is by car. 

With a van, car top carrier, and trailer my husband has to haul to accommodate my stuff when I am gone more than a week and Need Projects, I do fine. On these stupid airlines where they weigh bags and charge you extra for extra pounds and for each bag even things are more stressful.

The big change in my view of this whole issue has resulted from watching my son's NYC girlfriend come for visits.

This kid always looks totally appropriate and chic and, get this, she doesn't check any luggage, she only travels with a tiny carry-on. My first words when I pick her up are always "That's it?"

So this trip I am trying to emulate her Babs style. For me this means only one large suitcase and one normal purse.

And I am only wearing short boots on my feet and only two more pairs of shoes packed. Black, white and grey clothes (remind me to finish those two pairs of StyleArc Linda pants). We will see how this goes.

What are your packing tips? What are your best travel garments?


Jane M said...

I was giggling the other day about not understanding the impact of altitude upon climate as I started a two day sales trip in Sacramento, wamr and sunny in the 70's and ended in the evening arriving at Lake Tahoe in cold, slushy snow fall....and I looked foolish in my linen suit and open toed slingbacks. Hope for the best, scarves and layers....but shoes are still my challenge. Hope you have a delightful visit.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

I'm your son's girlfriend. I can't stand waiting for luggage that I'm sure will never arrive from the bowels of the plane. If it can't fit in the overhead compartment it can't go with me. I usually pack 2 pairs of shoes and some flip flops. You would be surprised how well flip flops work in most occasions. Anyway, thanks for the laughs and I hope you manage to get packed within the weight limits.

Sherril said...

There is a ton of information on the internet on how to pack lightly. After dragging around a very large suitcase, a carry-on, and a totebag through Italy, I learned very quickly how much I don't need. Knits are a girls best friend when traveling. Layers and a warm coat, warm shoes, and indoor shoes for cold climates, and those space saving vacuum air bags are a Godsend.

Alison said...

My absolute favourite travel piece is the much-loved and reviewed on PR Simplicity 2603 cardi-wrap thing. So versatile! Good for the plane cos it covers both your shoulders & your knees at the same time. Good for wearing out as it can be worn in so many different ways. Pin the drapey bit up on your shoulder with a knock-out brooch, wrap the ties around & go, do a quick loop knot under your bust, wear it loose and open. Did I say versatile?

petunia said...

Hilarious post. Thanks!

Take my word for it, you don't want packing tips from me. I had to go on a round trip of 3,000 miles in September in my car. I left my nightgown lying on the bed at home so I slept in a t-shirt. I only took athletic shoes so I had to buy flip flops on the way. Funny thing is, I used to backpack, spending 3 days and 2 nights in the woods. I made a list in advance and always had everything I needed.

Mary said...

hilarious post! I am a recovered over-packer and like you, used to take at least 5 pairs of shoes for a weekend trip. I am getting much better since I realized no one is interested in critiquing my outfits once they figure out I am a tourist. I think the key to packing lightly is to stay within a colorway, and to wear knits.

Calypso Flowers said...

I read recently that one reason that women pack more clothes than men, is that women pack in OUTFITS, rather than a man packing 5 shirts and 2 pairs of pants and a sweater. So maybe if you can narrow it down to the number of OCCASIONS and thus, outfits, you might need to dress for...keep it down to say, 15 or so...then maybe this will help !!! Don't be too harsh on yourself though.

Sew Lady Sew! said...

Thanks for the laugh!

I pack more tops than bottom,lots of undies and socks. My weakness is shoes, but I restrict myself to 2 pr in my bag plus the ones on my feet. Layers for changing weather, knits for compactability and wrinkle-resistence, and one main colorway.

I comfort myself with the fact that no one *really* looks at a middle-aged woman, not even the middle-aged woman herself. ;-)

LinB said...

I'm with your dear old granny: roll things, fill up shoes, wear your coat and fill the pockets, etc. I roll garments, then put them into gallon-size plastic freezer bags, sit on them to moosh out all the air, and zip them while sitting on them (am too cheap to buy the vacuum-out-the-air storage bags). This has the added bonus of protecting your clothes from any spilled lotions or potions. Also, since you sew, you can make reversible garments to double your wardrobe options. You can even make a 4-color shell (front, back, inside, outside) to wear under a shirt or jacket. Sew a passport pocket inside a vest or jacket, but be wary of the "traveler" vest/jacket patterns -- some of the pockets are inaccessible unless you disrobe. Add deepness to your pant/skirt pockets. That's about it, I reckon.

ChickenFreak said...

I have no packing tips. I do have a packing fantasy, where I'll sew up a whole wardrobe in silk crepe (possibly all in one color) that will roll up into a tinytinytiny space, and then even in winter I'll just throw in underwear and a couple of pairs of silk long underwear and all my clothes will fit in a laptop-sized suitcase and I'll wear a fat sweater and a fat ankle-length coat and a perfect pair of flats onto the plane.

That hasn't happened yet.

I do have the packing advantage of not wearing any makeup at all, and not being picky about any cosmetics other than perfume (so I can just use the hotel shampoo and conditioner and soap and lotion), and my perfume freakery can be handled by taking a Ziploc of perfume samples. But I doubt that anyone wants to change their entire beauty routine just to pack light.

And anyway, I still pack far too much.

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