So, in the past few months I’ve traveled several times from one corner of the globe to the other. And, in a few weeks I'm off again. This time to Curacao as I explore this lovely Caribbean destination that lies OUTSIDE the hurricane belt and a wonderful option for my Distinguished Travelers that area little gun shy after this last season's storms. I will also be visiting Hawaii before the end of the year to complete my my full Hawaii Destination Specialist Certification and meet with some other leaders in the industry that I partner with. Today, I’m offering tips on how to pack like a professional. Specifically, the carry-on bag.
First off, as a woman I’m allowed a personal item such as a purse (or backpack for men), as well as a free carry-on bag on most airlines. For starters, if you’re traveling overseas or on a long-haul flight, your carry-on luggage becomes one of the most important things you pack. It can make you or break you not only on the airplane, but at your destination as well. On my trip to the European Christmas Markets last fall there were as many as four people on board AmaWaterway’s AmaStella that had their checked luggage fail to arrive until up to five days into the trip. Five days without your luggage is major. Mine was delayed, but only on the return, so it wasn’t dramatic, especially since I had trip insurance. ALWAYS GET TRIP INSURANCE! PLEASE! But that’s another entry for another day. These were all different airlines, all good and reputable carriers. It happens. So, let’s get into the nitty gritty of what are some of the must haves.
Women, pick a big purse for the flight. I carry this lovely large tote as my purse on long flights. I can fit so much in there and then I still have a whole other carry on I can fill. Bonus alert: It is totally reversible! Being black on one side, and brown on the other, it will match any outfit while on my trip and it’s perfect as a shopping tote. So, what’s in my purse? Well, most importantly, any medication I will need on my trip. I’m no spring chicken anymore, and I’m showing my age by sharing my pill box picture with you. But seriously, you don’t want to be without your meds for five days should your luggage not make it. Next, any valuable jewelry. Never. Check. Valuables. Period. In addition, you're going to want an empty water bottle. You can’t get it through security with water in it, but you can fill it at a restaurant or water fountain once you’re through. And you will need it. I recommend drinking one liter of water for every 2 hours you’re in the air to avoid dehydration and help alleviate jet lag. Sorry, but those little plastic cups the flight attendants hand out just don’t cut it. You should also pack bare minimum make up. Obviously, you can’t pack your entire beauty regimen, but a few essentials to help you look refreshed when you land will save the day, especially if your luggage is lost or delayed. I pack a good BB lotion that doubles as a moisturizer and foundation, concealer, mascara, powder, blush, blotting papers, and lip color. That’s it. Bare minimum. Make it a priority to bring all travel documents. This includes any papers your travel agent has sent you, your passport and photo ID’s, and a complete itinerary with any tour or transfer vouchers you will need upon arrival. I keep these all together in a travel documents case like the one pictured here. Next, your wallet, and be sure it’s RFID for your protection. Pare it down to the essentials only. One or two credit cards that don’t charge international transaction or ATM fees should be included. Be sure you call your credit card company before you leave to avoid them freezing your account thinking someone stole your card and is using it in Egypt for that Nile River cruise. Your health insurance card, cash, driver’s license, and travel insurance card should also make the cut. Don't forget your cell phone, charging cord, and laptop or tablet if you’re taking it to keep you entertained. I read on my phone, but if you’re old school, don’t forget your book. A travel pillow, if you use one, can also fit in your purse. I travel with a blanket scarf (in the winter). This is a stylish wardrobe add on that can completely change the look of your outfit and also double as a throw blanket. Last, but not least, an extra pair of underpants, a toothbrush, and travel size toothpaste should not be overlooked. Trust me. You’ll feel like a million dollars once you land in Paris and you can touch up your makeup and brush your teeth. And as far as the panties (or boxers guys, not trying to leave you out), you never know how long a layover will be, or if your luggage will be delayed. One spare pair takes up little to no room and can get you through in a crisis.
Next up, your carry-on piece. So, here’s where it gets tricky. Assume the worst. Your luggage gets delayed or lost. What can you simply NOT do without? It depends on you and your destination. Headed somewhere tropical? Pack one swimsuit, a pair of neutral sandals that can double for day and nighttime use, a pair of flip flops for the beach and pool, and one or two neutral wardrobe pieces. I recommend at least one solid colored sundress that you can wear for daytime or evening and change the look by adding statement jewelry pieces, a simple scarf, or even a lightweight sweater or wrap. Also, include a nicer pair of solid colored shorts, and 1-2 simple neutral tops. You can use the same principle of changing the look just like you did with the sundress. Men, in your carry on pack a pair of slacks, shorts, a swimsuit and your rash guard shirt, and one or two resort casual shirts. Save space by wearing your nicer pair of shoes, and pack your flip flops or sandals. You guys have it so easy! Are colder climate destinations in your itinerary? You'll want to wear your bulkiest footwear on the flight. I know it goes against everything you've been conditioned to believe going through security checkpoints and all, but you’ll want those warm boots if your other ones don’t make it. Reiterating my point from above, scarves and jewelry will make a whole new outfit. That blanket scarf you're using in flight can double as a belted poncho. Be sure your essentials are warm. Your scarves, gloves, hat, pair of nice heels, an extra pair of black slacks that can be worn with boots or heels for both day and night time attire, and a neutral long sleeve top or two along with a pair of thermals should also be in there for you cold weather travelers.
It seems like a lot to think about, but with a little planning and preparation you will be ready for just about anything. And, on the way home, you can shift your contents around to make room for all your fantastic finds you’re bringing with you to remind you of your travels. Now, let’s get packing! Where are you going next?
LIFE IS SHORT.
STOP DREAMING. START GOING.