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As mentioned last week in part one of the series, traveling internationally can be an amazing, life altering experience, but in order to set your mind free to experience all that it will see and discover, you must be well-prepared so that you can feel confident and relaxed about how you are dressed and what you have at your accommodations to make your nights and mornings more comfortable.
Last week, we discussed preparing for the logistics of your trip – money, electricity, passport, etc, so today we’re focusing on what to pack, how to pack well and stocking your travel tote in such a way that makes your time in the air or on the train most comfortable and leisurely.
1. To Carry On or Not
If you are traveling for a week or less, make the effort to simply pack a carry-on and carry a travel tote; however, if you are flying internationally, regardless of how long, most flights allow you to check one bag for free. Either way, go online to your airline’s homepage, and they will list exactly what their guidelines for baggage are.
The headache of potential loss of luggage is a nice stress to eliminate by choosing only to pack a carry-on suitcase, and it allows you to move more easily as you make your way to and from your accommodations.
2. Make a Packing List . . . and then Edit
A few weeks prior to your departure, make a list of each day and the outfits (and accessories/beauty supplies) you will need. If you will have access to a washer/dryer, keep this in mind as you can repeat certain outfits, pack fewer socks/underwear/etc and mix and match different clothing items. After creating the original list, go back through with a discerning eye – do you really need those third pair of heels?
3. Dry Cleaning
Once you have decided on your wardrobe, take anything that needs to be cleaned to the dry cleaners well in advance. Upon picking up your clothes, keep the plastic bags, as you can use them to pack to prevent wrinkles (lay between each item and then either roll or fold – voilà, no wrinkles!).
4. Travel Tote
Regardless of whether you have carry-on luggage or not, you will always want a well-stocked travel tote. Having traveled numerous times in the past without a quality travel tote, when you have one that suits your needs and doesn’t require you to bring other bags, it makes the entire traveling process much easier.
Things to consider before purchasing a quality travel tote:
- Make it an investment that will last. Yes, it will cost money, but it will be worth it and you most likely will have it for quite some time.
- What are my needs? Do you travel with a laptop, tablet, legal documents, children, pets, etc.
- What best keeps me occupied while flying?
- What will ease my mind and keep me comfortable?
Now keep in mind, the security items (extra change of clothes, contact lenses, etc) can be placed in your carry-on if you are bringing one. If you’re not, place a few of these emergency items in your travel tote.
The list I’m going to share today is assuming you have a carry-on piece of luggage and your travel tote is your second item that you can place on the floor in front of you while you fly.
Choose a bag that can hold the following:
- tablet (ipad, kindle, nook, etc)
- make-up for touch-ups (chapstick, lipstick, mascara, concealer, etc)
- 1-2 tea sachets (I always pack my favorite tea sachets and ask for hot water – a simple luxury while flying)
- books/magazines/newspapers – if not already downloaded on your tablet
- reading glasses
- planner (if not on one of your electronic devices)
- cell phone
- ear buds (for listening to movies/shows/music on the plane)
- small hairbrush
- anything to help you sleep (sleep mask, Tylenol PM, scarf, etc)
- regular tote necessities – hand lotion, breath mints, tide-to-go, bobby pins, rubberband, nail file
Options to Keep in Mind When Buying a Tote:
- What is the handle drop? – make sure you can put it on your shoulder comfortably. Seven to eight inches is minimal, but try it out to see what feels the best.
- Choose real leather – it will handle more weight successfully without stretching or ruining the bag.
- A color that is versatile (brown, black or a classic print)
- Do you want compartments or not?
- Width (can it hold your laptop?)
- Will it be easy to remove items from for security checks? Remember you always have to remove your laptop/tablets.
- Do you like it?
A Bit of Shopping Options for You:
A. Michael Kors Jet Set Macbook Travel Tote – $299.95
I just purchased this tote for my trip to NYFW and am thrilled with my purchase. For someone like myself who needs to travel with their laptop and needs extra space as well, this is quite the 2 in 1. With compartments for everything beyond the laptop – iPad, iPhone and more, if you like to be organized and despise digging around in your totes for something, this is a great bag to have.
If you prefer not to have compartments, but an open bag that accommodates any situation or need that may arise, the Heirloom Tote is the one for you.
With a resemblance to a duffel bag, this leather tan tote presents a different option for a more relaxed look but doesn’t skimp on quality or ample space.
For a long time I had my eye on this tote. With a reasonable price and roomy interior, it was exactly what I wanted, until I realized I wanted a compartment for my laptop. Aside from that, it has two different shoulder straps, a roomy interior and a long list of colors and styles to choose from.
If you are in the market for a travel tote that just needs enough room for your iPad and small necessities (no laptop necessary), J.Crew’s satchel is a wonderful leather tote to consider. 16” width, 6” handle drop
If money is no object, this extra large tote provides very easy access to pack and unpack items. With spacious interior, you will be able to bring more reading material, scarves, sweaters, etc than you most likely will need.
With an extra long strap for over-the-shoulder traveling as well as a 7” handle drop, this magnet closure leather tote is simple, but quite functional. With only one small zipper compartment inside, it is wide open for any item you want to pack.
5. What to pack
Everything you pack will depend upon where, when and for how long, but here are some basics to include:
- sleepwear (chemise or pjs, travel robe)
- keep a simple, neutral wardrobe so you can mix and match, and add color with scarves, shoes, jewelry
- 1 or 2 dresses
- pants or jeans
- 1-2 blouses
- cashmere sweater(s)
- jacket, blazer, and/or coat (weather permitting)
- ballet flats
- 1-2 scarves
- necessary belts
- silver and/or gold hoops/earrings
- heels (if necessary)
- optional – boots
- optional – trainers, workout clothes for exercise
- travel blow-dryer (under 1800 wattage)
- converter and/or adapter
- toiletries (view my list here)
- phone charger (and other necessary chargers)
- beauty utensils (curling iron, straightner, etc)
- dry shampoo
- laundry bag (small, plastic)
Here are a few more posts on packing:
- Why Not . . . Fly in Style & Comfort?
- What to Pack for a Luxurious Hotel Stay
- 10 Luxurious Travel Tips
6. TSA Regulations
Be aware that any items that are liquid or lotions must be in a container no larger than three ounces. If you are flying with a carry-on, you will need to remove these items and run them through separately, so keep them in one or two separate bags (plastic is ideal, but I use these), as they are easy to remove and keep things organized and somewhat private. Click here for the complete TSA guidelines for packing.
7. Reading Material
If you have access to a tablet, I highly recommend you use it for travel. While I will always prefer holding a book in my hands, what I realized while flying this summer is that so much space is saved by buying kindle versions (iPad has a Kindle app – and it’s free!) of books I wanted to read. I also have my magazine subscriptions on my iPad and made sure to download the most recent issues for reading before stepping on the plane. Also, make sure to download the day’s current paper, so you can stay up on the news while in the air.
8. Drink Lots of Water While Flying
Flying on Air Canada was a treat, as they periodically would just walk down the aisles with a pitcher of water (not the entire cart). I’m sure other airlines do this as well, so be sure to take them up on this simple gesture. Especially for long trips, you will want to stay hydrated as it will help lessen the effects of jet lag and keep your skin from getting too dry. While you will have to get up and use the facilities more often, this is actually a good thing as you should be moving around more often anyways so that your body doesn’t become too stiff.
9. Jet Lag Remedies
- Try to schedule your flight so that you arrive in the evening.
- If at all possible, attempt to plan your travel plans departing eastbound and returning westbound. It is more difficult to adjust to jetlag flying eastbound.
- Adjusting your watch according to your destination’s time clock and attempt to adhere to your arrival schedule – the sooner, the better
- Limit alcohol intake or none at all
- Take a Tylenol PM to aid sleep
- Expect 2-3 days for your body clock to fully adjust. Be patient.
Before you scheduled departure, make sure you tend to your beauty regimen which may mean planning months in advance for appointments. After all, you want to feel beautiful as well as properly packed. Here are a few preparations to consider:
- pedicure and manicure
- hair cut and color
- spray tan
- necessary waxing (brows, lip, bikini)
So much to keep in mind, but when you become accustomed to checking all of these items off your list, I can assure you, your trip will be far more enjoyable.
Click here for the final post in the series which focuses on enjoying your international trip and returning home.