DEBORAH CROMBIE: On Wednesday afternoon, I leave for a month in England, so I am in the usual packing frenzy. Unlike many of our friends here on the blog, who can pack for six weeks in Europe in a roll-aboard suitcase or a small backpack, I am a chronic over-packer. By the time I've filled a big suitcase to the brim, it usually hovers right under the 50 pound mark, and, then, not only do I have to lug the thing around and get it on trains and up and down stairs, I have the stuff in my carry-on, too.
I put over-packing down to some inner lack of confidence. People who are super-packers, (like our own Hank!!!) probably never worry about having the right thing.
There's also an emotional comfort element in this over-packing thing--how can you be homesick if you've taken most of what you own??
But this trip my suitcase will at least be a little lighter. When I was in California week before last (and I was very proud of myself for packing for five days in a roll-aboard) I had a day out with Rhys and friends Terry Shames and Diana Chambers. We saw this fab luggage in a little shop in Sonoma County. It's called Lipault (French for feather), it comes in really pretty colors, and it's amazingly light. The 28 inch rolling suitcase weighs just under 7 pounds. I checked the specs on the suitcase I've been using for the last few years, which is supposed to be ultra-light, and it weighs 18 pounds. And that's EMPTY.
I found Lipault here in Dallas (Container Store carries it), picked a color (purple), and I also bought this adorable little rolling tote made by Baggallini. It fits on the handle of the big suitcase, but when it's on its own, its handle pulls up and it rolls. It also fits under your airline seat. Hopefully this will solve one of my most hated things about traveling to the UK, which is standing in the Customs and Immigration queue for an hour or two while trying to keep a heavy tote on my shoulder.
AND I got one of these cool packing cube things. You are supposed to be able to fold up to eleven pieces of clothing in one of these. Hmm. Has anyone tried them? Should I have bought two? Or three?
Now, I just have to decide what I'm going to wear for four weeks, and what I can live without.
What about you, REDS? Give me tips, please!!
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Aw, Debs, so lovely of you! Yes, one suitcase, carry on. No matter how long a trip. A big nylon tote bag, Longchamps, (red!) which allows me to put my purse inside so it looks like it's one item, under the seat. I have to admit I am so in love with my suitcase, I cannot tell you--it's TUMI. It is amazing, and as magical as Mary Poppins' satchel. EVERYTHING fits. Can't wait to hear about the packing things, Debs! I am a devoted tissue paper girl. Tissue paper is amazing--it takes up no room, and keeps everything unwrinkled. Somehow. Magic. Anyway: Two black dresses, stretchy. Sweater, pashmina, two jackets/blazers. Leggings, big top. Scarf or two. No shirts.
Put something flat and unwrinkleable on the bottom, then an article of clothing, flat, top with tissue, then fold the rest of the article over. The tissue paper prevents the fold lines! Add another thing, then tissue, then fold over. Everything flat, nightgown on the top, tighten the strap over it all. Unpack the moment you arrive. But hey. You are going to LONDON! Buy something if you need it.
BIGGEST HINT: No one remembers what you wear.
Bon voyage, dear Debs! We want to hear about every minute.
LUCY BURDETTE: We are in a packing frenzy too, only for Key West rather than Europe! And we are driving, because how else to drag the senior citizen animals along? And that means special digestive problem dog food, kidney problem cat food, dog bed, cat pan with bags of kitty litter because we never can find Cedarific below the Mason-Dixon line. And special low sodium snacks for me, etc etc. John spends weeks rolling his eyes. Oh and don't let me forget, I want to bring the remaining beets from our garden and as many Macoun apples as we can pack...
But if it's just me, on an airplane, a carry-on only. And I have to be able to lift it! And yet somehow I never manage to look like Hank. Maybe it's the tissue paper thing LOL.
RHYS BOWEN: Debs, I'm so glad you bought the suitcase we saw. Amazing. I want one now, although I did buy a super-light carry on in England this summer. Also after dragging large cases on and off trains all over Europe this year I made a vow. From now on everything has to be washable in my hotel sink, neutral colors, mix and match so that I can take the minimum to survive and dress up outfits with a scarf, pashmina or jewelry. Of course this won't work if we take a cruise that requires formal evenings, or if I'm in Europe to give speeches/meet editors and have to wear suit or blazer. Then perhaps the answer is to find a toy-boy who can carry my bags for me!
HALLIE EPHRON: I pack super light, but I'm usually not going to spend a month in the UK in the fall. My trips are usually a few days. If it's a few months I'm usually headed somewhere warm and therefore not as much needed.
I never check luggage except when they make me. One small rolling bag and I'm good to go. Most hotels have irons in the room so I don't worry too much about wrinkles. The right clothes are the thing -- black. Of course. And I swear by Eileen Fisher - a dress, a long skirt that I can wear under the dress or alone, a few tops, and black pants all in more or less the same fabric with a scarf and a pashmina. Wash out in the sink in a pinch. For all the parsimony in clothing I never go without at last 2 pairs of shoes. Comfort first.
DEBS: Hallie, I'm too short to wear Eileen Fisher!
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: My packing trick, such as it is, is to pick three colors and stick with them. (If I could pare it down to black, black and black it would save me even more space!) I recently went on a ten-day trip: one week in Colorado Springs followed by four days driving back to Maine. My entire wardrobe for that trip was navy, khaki and coral. I've collected clothing that does double duty over the years - I have several light cotton cardigans that can be worn as shirts or as sweaters, for instance.
My favorite bag is the Vera Bradley large duffel. Minuses: no wheels! So I do have to schlep it by shoulder. Pluses: It's squishy, so I can fit almost anything into it, it will shove into improbably small spaces, it's VERY lightweight (mine came in at about three pounds) and it's impossible to miss on an airport carousel or a train station because of the very distinctive prints.
I've also been wanting to try out Hank's tissue paper technique!
DEBS: Hank, I think the packing cube thingy probably is the high-tech answer to your tissue paper:-) But they say you have to watch the video, and when am I going to find time to do that??? I think Hank should make us a tissue paper video instead!
Lucy, I can't imagine your packing task, and I think anyone who travels with cats gets extra points. (Do Yoda and Tonka know the routine by now?)
Rhys, that day was the most fun. And I'm with you on the toy-boy idea...
READERS, all hints appreciated, and I'll let you know how the new stuff works.