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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Pack Like a Pro!

Pack Like a Pro!

Whether flying 16 hours from New York to Fiji or driving six hours to a rented cottage by the sea, packing for that long anticipated romantic getaway or family vacation can turn joyful anticipation into a tedious task. What’s more, who wants to spend that first frenetic hour of a business trip ironing for the next few days’ meetings, or incurring the added expense (and wait time) of a drycleaner or hotel valet presser?

With cool summer fabrics like cotton and linen given more to wrinkling than winter’s wools and knits, as one frequent flyer says, no matter what the season it feels as though the traveler just can’t win. You’re either forcing mounds of thick, cumbersome clothing into a small carry-on bag, or dealing with lighter clothing that is creased beyond recognition upon arrival.

So what do experts say about packing the perfect bag? While tried and true techniques vary from rolling to draping and layering to strategic use of drycleaner’s bags and more, precision packing is an easily acquired talent.

According to experienced traveler Susan Lylis, executive director of the conservation council for Washington, D.C.-based International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF), packing doesn’t have to be stressful or even challenging. Residing in Florida, Lylis commutes throughout the month to company headquarters in D.C., and in fact prides herself in packing for one of her frequent trips to D.C., Africa or the Caribbean in about 15 minutes.

“It’s all about essentials, rolling, and placement or economy of space,” she says, budgeting her suitcase the way she would a tight agenda for a meeting. “Everything has a purpose and place.”

One from column A; one from column B

Experts agree that when deciding what to take, a first step might be to make a list, lay everything out, and return about half to the closet. As most people over pack, choosing items with multiple “personalities” such as day-to-night sandals, a large scarf that doubles as a sarong for the pool, and looser athletic wear that can work as sleepwear will immediately streamline your packing struggle.

Next, roll softer, more wrinkle-resistant items such as jeans, shorts, workout clothes, and T-shirts and place in bottom of suitcase. Follow by placing stiffer, more wrinkle-prone clothing—jackets; blazers; shirts— in individual plastic dry cleaner bags and folding over rolled items. Crumpled tissue paper can also be used to stuff blazer sleeves, if desired, to lessen the potential for wrinkling.

Enclose longer items like dresses, skirts, and plants in dry cleaner bags and fill the length of the suitcase, allowing them to drape outside the suitcase if necessary, alternating waists with hems and folding over one another (too many waists in one place, for example, can result in a big bump). In winter you may want to wear the bulkiest clothing on the plane or drive to avoid taking up space with it.

Fill corners, nooks, and crannies with belts, underwear, baseball caps, and smaller items. One business traveler reveals she stuffs her bras with socks for economy of space and to help maintain their shape. Wear the heaviest pair of shoes or boots on the trip and fit others (try and limit what you include in a suitcase to two or three pairs) along the edges, preferably in plastic bags for cleanliness. Keep jewelry to a minimum when traveling. Small jewelry does well in plastic pill boxes (the ones with flip tops for each day of the week). Experts suggest wearing expensive pieces to eliminate the opportunity for theft if the bag will be out of sight.

For toiletries, if traveling by car or checking bags for a flight there is more latitude to include larger bottles, etc. For regulation carry-on and/or space purposes, though, travel-sized items and multi-tasking products—such as a single hair product that can both condition and protect from humidity—can help. Some suggest placing these items in plastic bags and distributing throughout the suitcase inside shoes, slippers, and sneakers. Important: Self-tanners can cause “material mayhem” if they leak, as the color damage may be permanent, so be sure to double-bag or, better yet, purchase when you arrive at your destination.

Tuck potentially breakable appliances like hair dryers in between layers of clothing for ultimate padding, or call ahead to see if the hotel or resort provides one. This will save you valuable space.

“On some levels packing a suitcase is no different than arranging a room or organizing the top of your desk,” Lylis says as she prepares for her next trip to D.C. “It’s all a matter of form and function.”


1 mary hart { 07.08.12 at 10:47 am }

best place to find pet and livestock care would be at your local feed store ..hope there is a bullitin board there …simplifies things. Also try the 4-H Kids for help with the cows. Wish I was closer and could help you. There may be house swaps too available on Craigslist, or your church or spiritual group. Hope your vacation is fine.

2 Kathryn { 07.06.12 at 1:49 pm }

Hello , I would check with your local church to find someone reliable to care for your home while gone.It is hard these day’s to find someone who you can trust. Or if you have friend’s that are retired may do it. I am from Michigan and know how the weather can change by the water. Make sure to bring sweat shirts. Black clothing is the best color to travel with. It does not show dirt.I went to Europe for three months and brought all black washable clothing in the sink. I backpacked and rolled my clothing up.Black goes with ever color so some t-shirts that do not take up space that you can roll up is the way to go. They are also colorful and wash easily these days there are so my different cut’s that they do not have to look like a square.Have a great trip. If I could pack everything in my backpack and be gone for 3 months you can too. Good luck finding someone to watch you home. Not a good idea to put a sign out. Sad that we cannot trust anyone these day’s. If you place a sign out you could come home to an empty house. Be careful. Bye Kat

3 brenda { 07.03.12 at 9:54 am }

we have a small farm. we are trying to plan a family trip (fishing), we are going to go to the outerbanks of nc.
we have rented a small townhouse. it is on the beach. we have 3 cows to milk 2x a day, we also many chickens, one dog that cannot come. a garden etc…, we are trying to decide to either put out a sign farm help needed or dry the cows up. also how easy is it to find someone to come into your home and care for all of these things.
we have 4 children and we are all gong to be packing a backpack rather then a suitcase. we do have the privilage of a washer and dryer.
anyway, not sure how much to pack for us all. any advice would be helpful also we will be gone for 8 days.
thank you b shaw

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