Packing Is Such Sweet Sorrow.
“There are only two kinds of travelers:
those traveling light and those who wish they were.”
That’s one of my favorite quotes and I think of it often when I’m traveling and I see people struggling with their luggage. Two months from now, I’ll be on my way to Washington, DC, for the annual Spring meeting of the Rail Passengers Association. Of course I’m taking Amtrak both ways across the country and, at the conclusion of those meetings, I’ll be off for two weeks in France. In all, I’ll be gone a month. Here’s what my actual transportation segments look like:
• four planes
• five Amtrak trains
• ten French trains, including connections
• at least eight taxi rides
• and twice in a rental car
In other words, there will be at least 30 times when I’ll have to carry or roll or in some manner schlepp whatever luggage I have. The last thing I want is to be dragging some heavy suitcases through all that.
It’s not so much how to pack as it is what to pack. For instance, I know I’m only going to need “business attire” for the three days I’ll be in Washington, so why should I tote a business suit, a rain coat, three dress shirts, a couple of ties, and a pair of dress shoes for 26 days after I leave Washington? Of course I wouldn’t … so I will FedEx all of that to the hotel in Washington and at the end of the three-days of meetings, I’ll put everything back in the box and have FedEx bring it back home.
The key to packing for those other 26 days? Lots of shirts. Polo shirts, at least eight or ten. You can wear jeans many days in a row. And, if necessary, underwear and socks can be worn for a couple of days, then washed by hand. For shoes, I have a pair of comfortable desert boots and pack a pair of nice looking loafers that don’t take up much space.
And finally: When traveling abroad, what’s the one thing you must never forget to pack?
Answer: Your prescription medications.
When traveling for long periods – 15 days or more – I pack only silk shirts and micro-fiber underwear. Silk is still the miracle fabric, light, wrinkles hang out with a little bathtub steam and dry in short order. It is also cool when hot and warm when cold. Micro-fiber underware and socks and T-shirts will wash and dry in hours too. Living dangerously, I only pack two pairs. I have a pair of MF pants too. All are light. There is nothing heavier than cotton (perhaps wool) and slower drying. I also pack a MF jacket and sport coat.
You do need someone to accept/collect your packet when you’re away, of course. I’m a bachelor… When I went to Scotland last month for almost 3 weeks, I packed for one week and asked in the hotel for a reference to a laundry shop. £10 and I had clean attire and ironed shirts… There was a sale going on, so I also bought (as planned) some new clothes one of the last days…
Good thinking! When I send my Sunday-go-to-meetin’clothes on ahead to the hotel, I call first, speak to the head concierge, and have the package delivered to him personally. My instructions are that the package be taken from storage a couple of days prior to my arrival, the shirts sent to the laundry to be pressed, and everything hung in my closet the day I get there. And I have a crisp $10 bill in the package on top of the clothes to thank him/her for the service. Of course, not every hotel has staff that will accommodate a request like this.