WHAT TO PACK, WHAT TO PACK, THAT IS THE QUESTION!

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I still have nightmares about packing for one particular vacation. I was not in the travel industry yet, and was a young, self-employed “entrepreneur” going on my first vacation since launching my business. I worked through the night making sure everything was in order before I left for my 10-day trip, which included a stay at Walt Disney World and a short cruise. I had done my laundry and dumped the clothes from the basket onto my bed. Suddenly I realized that it was only an hour before I had to leave for the airport and I hadn’t packed. My mother was there trying to help me so I wouldn’t miss my flight. While I showered and got ready, she stuffed the clothes on my bed into my suitcase. There was only one problem – I was heading south to Florida and the Bahamas, but the clothes I washed were the ones I had been wearing in late November in Buffalo.

So when I arrived in Florida and opened up my suitcase, I found corduroy jeans, turtle neck shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters and fluffy socks! Luckily I had laid out my swimsuit, my dress for formal night and 2 pairs of shorts, but that is about it.  I immediately sought out the shops that sold the traditional touristy t-shirts, just to survive the milder temperatures! Sure I can joke about it now, but then, it didn’t seem all that funny. Lesson learned – I start getting things ready at least a week in advance so that never happens again.

But then I do find other ways to create packing disasters………..

Mankind’s greatest invention for travelers – the zippered plastic bag (ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but……..)

Even before the 3-1-1 rule for airport security, I still liked to pack as much as I could in my checked luggage. So naturally I put all my makeup in a little cosmetics bag (you know, the kind they give you free when you buy too much at the make-up counter in the department store). Well, when I got to my hotel room and started to unpack, I found that the top of my foundation makeup must not have been on tight enough and sure enough, almost an entire bottle leaked all over my clothes (the light colored things, of course and never never the unmentionables that no one will see). I now pack things in zipper bags and carry extras with me. They come in handy when packing a wet swimsuit and very delicate scarves and such that can get snagged during those random luggage screenings at the airport.

Next best thing to pack: Bubble wrap! It doesn’t take up much space and really can help you get those delicate, breakable souvenirs home. Just be sure to pack it in your checked baggage because the consequences of accidentally popping it on a flight could cause a real panic in the air.

Sometimes I put an extension cord in my suitcase. There have been times when I needed to plug in a camera to recharge and at the same time use my curling iron, or even just plug in two devices to charge with only one outlet. An adapter for putting a 3-prong plug into a 2-prong outlet is also a useful item to include.

Another great innovation is Downy Wrinkle Reducer. Sure beats ironing and is usually good enough for things you wear while sightseeing. I don’t recommend it for formal wear, but for t-shirts, casual shirts and blouses and slacks, it does the job.

Be sure to throw a cheap rain poncho and maybe an umbrella into your suitcase. You don’t want a little rain to ruin your plans. A small flashlight is a good idea, too, since you never can tell if you will be caught in a power outage. They are rare, but ……….

Comfortable shoes! Too many people go out and buy new everything for vacations and you really don’t want to be breaking in new shoes when you are going to be walking when exploring new places. Besides, feet tend to swell on flights and in warm climates so be sure to bring those nice broken-in shoes so your vacation isn’t a painful experience.

Layered clothing. Think onion! You can mix and match or put on and take off as needed without having to bring tons of clothing for several changes.

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