Are you a serial over-packer? Have you been burned by airline baggage mishaps? RSJ contributor & veritable jetsetter Emily Holland will get you up-to-speed on proper packing for a long-haul.
You can check out Emily’s hilarious coverage of all things Russian (particularly, the questionable fashion choices of its country’s residents) at redscareblog.tumblr.com.
One of my favorite memories from childhood was watching Mary Poppins, especially the scene in which the title character begins to unpack her carpet-bag, pulling out a hat stand, large mirror, a houseplant, and floor lamp amongst other things. Unfortunately, magic carpet-bags are hard to come by these days, so strategic packing for extended stays abroad is essential. With airlines charging checked bag fees and space at a premium, it is more crucial than ever to pack light and to avoid being weighed down with unnecessary baggage.
Because I like to avoid being laden down with multiple rolling suitcases, I always travel with one large Samsonite roller and one carry on sized duffle. My bag of choice is the Mulberry Medium sized Clipper in Mole Scotchgrain-it’s a classic and is appropriate anywhere, yet you don’t have to worry about it getting tossed around. Classic bags often look better with age. While this may not seem like enough room for extended stays abroad, if you pack strategically it is most certainly all you need.
Carrying on a medium sized bag is essential; you should always carry with you several changes of clothes and crucial toiletries such as contact lenses and a toothbrush because there is always a possibility that your checked luggage may be lost along the way. On my way to spend the summer in Budapest, my suitcase got lost in Rome and made its way to Quito, Ecuador before finally joining me in Budapest several weeks later. The clothes I packed with me in my carry on bag worked as anchor pieces that I was able to supplement from shops abroad. Always pack pajamas, a pair of black trousers or a black dress and several shirt options. These items paired with a colorful scarf can get you through almost any situation.
In addition to my carry on duffle, a purse or small bag containing in-flight essentials is also useful. In addition to RSJ’s essential travel gadgets (I don’t even remember what flights were like in the pre-iPad days!), this bag should contain a clear Ziploc bag filled with in-flight toiletries. Some of my favorites (I never board a plane without them!) are: Evian Mineral Water Spray, Kiehl’s Baby Lip Balm, eye drops, Clarins Hydraquench Mask, Colgate Wisps, earplugs, gum and an eye-mask. This way you can fight dehydration on a long flight and freshen up quickly upon landing.
Unfortunately for shoe-lovers everywhere, shoes are often the biggest space-wasters when you are trying to pack. To solve this problem, look for suitcases that have an accordion-style external pocket where you can place several pairs of shoes without sacrificing internal suitcase space. Next, try to limit the amount of shoes you bring. While the prospect of leaving behind a pair of gorgeous Choos is enough to make one weep, think about how many pairs you might realistically need. If you are traveling to warm climates, a pair of comfortable sandals, running shoes and a pair of black heels may be sufficient. In winter, substitute the sandals for flat boots and include a pair of comfortable flats.
The next biggest space-waster is outerwear. If you are traveling in the summer a light jacket or rain jacket might be all you need, but if you are traveling to Russia in January don’t skimp on the accessories! Wear your warmest/bulkiest jacket on-board and stow it in the overhead bin upon take-off to save space, and wear your scarf during the flight to keep your throat and chest warm and avoid illness.
When packing clothes, think about how much mileage you can get out of each garment. White tee-shirts are always a good bet as you can wear them casually with jeans, or under a blazer for more formal situations. Limit jeans to two or three pairs and always bring a pair of black pants or a skirt. Packing dresses that can transition from day to night by changing accessories is a smart option to save space; a
dress that can be worn with flats or sandals during the day can often be dressed up with heels and jewelry for nights out.
Finally, don’t forget to save space for things like chargers, cameras and other accessories. Also if you are traveling for an extended period of time and don’t know what the sleeping arrangements are like, try packing a small, comfortable boudoir pillow that you can use while traveling to ensure a good night’s sleep. Last but not least, don’t forget to pack a collapsible bag like Mulberry’s Fold Up Large Clipper. These bags take up almost no room and you will be glad to have it when packing to return home, inevitably with lots of gifts and souvenirs!
Do you have any suggestions for extended-stay packing? Let us know in the comments below!
Cover photo: Catherine Deneuve for Louis Vuitton (2007).