Category Archives: Time Management

Pack Light!

Part 1 : REALITY CHECKS

I do quite a lot of traveling. My husband and I devote a sizable chunk of our finances to travel. It’s enriching, enjoyable; a priority. Along with enrichment and enjoyment, all of this traveling has also availed me with mad packing skills that my girlfriends marvel at.  So, in this post I share my thoughts about packing light with you, and per Samantha’s request, I have documented what I packed for my 3 ½ week trip to Europe.  You too can learn to “pack light”!

Okay, let’s get started. It’s important to be in the right frame of mind while packing, so the following “Reality Checks” should get you ready.

Reality Check #1 : *Let’s be real* – No one you see on your travels needs to know how versatile your wardrobe is. *real-er* Other than your loved ones, no one you see on your travels will see you more than one day anyway. *real-est* No one you see on your travels will even notice what you’re wearing (do I hear heads deflating), that is, unless you look hideous (more on this later).

Reality Check #2 : Washing machines exist in other countries, most of the time those washing machines are going to be your hands. Pack a little detergent, fill up the sink and get scrubbing. It’s a relaxing thing to do when you are not watching TV at night. CNN will get old, trust me. All underwear and most shirts will dry over night, roll them in a dry towel after you wring them out then hang in the shower. You will be pleased to discover that machines do not always do a better job, and since your case is now a carry-on, you’ll never have to deal with lost luggage again.

Reality Check #3 : Have you ever stared into your closet and wondered, hmmn, what should I wear? Well, good news, you only packed 4 choices. Wow, that was fast, let’s go have breakfast.

Reality Check #4 : Whatever you need, you will also be able to buy wherever you go. Even when it comes to toiletries, pack lightly. For example, I pack a couple bandages and if I do get a cut, which btw has never happened, I know I can always buy some more or ask the hotel.

Reality Check #5 : You are going to buy fabulous little must haves while you are traveling and need extra room in your tiny carry-on bag for those items.  Imagine those wonderful things, and leave room for them.

Okay, so, you’ve read the reality checks and are in the right frame of mind to get packing.  Now we can move onto my tips on what to pack.

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Pack Light! – 2

Part 2 : Packing Tips

Okay, so, you’ve read the reality checks and are in the right frame of mind to get packing.  Now we can move onto a few tips about what to pack.

Packing Tip #1 : When you are packing, count your clothes according to how many days they can be worn. Shirts can be worn 2-3 times, Pants 2-6 times, Dresses 2-4 times, Sweaters 2-10 times. So if you are going on a week-long trip you need only 2 pairs of pants, 3 shirts, and 1 sweater.

Packing Tip #2 : Bring clothes that you love and that match each other. Your clothes don’t have to be all black tan or navy, but most of your bottoms and tops should be able to go with each other. If you pack only clothes that you love, you will feel fabulous every day and won’t mind having to wear the same things.

Packing Tip #3 : Limit yourself to 1 jacket, 2 sweaters,  & 2 pairs of shoes. Make sure they all go with the clothes you pack.

Packing Tip #4 : Do not pack gym clothes or gym shoes (especially for non-U.S. travel). This gym obsession is silly, you are going to be walking all day and don’t want to waste a minute running on a treadmill. Do a few sit-ups and pushups and get out of the hotel. Since you are not packing tennis shoes, you will be able to fit an exercise band if you must.

Packing Tip #5 : (for women) Pack a couple colorful neck scarves or necklaces to mix it up and feel fancy. I also always pack a warmer scarf or wrap, even in the summer, and wear it on the plane and carry it with me during the day.  As for earrings, I prefer to wear the same beautiful and sensible gold hoops the whole time.

Packing Tip #6 : (for women) Pack a couple of dresses.  They look great, are easy to pack, and easy to accessorize.  Women all over the world wear dresses and skirts, but they do not always wear shorts.

Packing Tip #7 : (for men) Pack a suit and several ties. No one will ever fault you for looking overdressed. Under-dressed however, very bad (more on this later). If you don’t have a suit that is comfortable you have been wasting your money. A great suit that both fits perfectly and is made of a high quality fabric IS comfortable and looks fantastic. The same goes for shoes.

Packing Tip #8 : All about shoes – The shoes you wear must be comfortable enough to walk long distances in. This means that unless I have a performance, I do not pack high heels (I’m a singer BTW). However, I do have low heels that I can walk in for ages that I will pack.  The shoes you bring may not be tennis shoes (more on this later).  If you don’t have comfortable shoes then you need to go shopping (try the Walking Company).  I suggest walking in your shoes before you go.  Walking often makes feet swell, so get shoes with some wiggle room and good arch support. I think it is preferable to wear darker leather shoes or sandals over a white shoe.  White is hard to get right.  Also available are euro-style shoes that have a streamlined look with a rubber sole that is comfortable like a tennis shoe.

Packing Tip #9 : Pack these things, you’ll be happy you did:

  • A Nylon Bag or Three. I own 3 “les pliages” by LongChamps. I have one backpack, a small handbag and a mid-size handbag.  All of them collapse down to be super small.  I often bring all three and will use the mid-size bag as my personal item on travel day. These are available in most airports and in Europe are significantly cheaper than in the US.  These are great to carry while walking around because they are almost weightless.  One will pack in the other on shopping days. Also, many of these are gender neutral, so the man in your life won’t mind carrying it.
  • Landry Detergent
  • Plastic bags for shoes or dirty clothes
  • Power Converter
  • Vitamins. Buy the best.  Bring green drink powder too.  Even though I find the food most places I travel superior to eating out in the US, I don’t ever seem to get enough veggies.  Being sick or low on energy while traveling is not fun.  Vitamins help.
  • Trail mix and/or snack bars (we make our own with almonds, raisins, dried cranberries, & dark chocolate chips)
  • Your smart phone & headphones with a PDF copy of your passport, any music you’d like to listen to, e-travel books can be OK, e-translator AND if your phone is compatible tri or quad band and unlocked you could get a Sim card for it, or just text with your current plan.

Packing Tip #10 : Pack whatever it is that you love to use every day. I have short hair, and therefore don’t need a dryer or straightener, but if having great hair is your thing, then by all means, bring what you need to have great hair (travel size if possible).  Check with hotel about hair dryer, many already have one mounted on the wall in the bathroom. I love my electric toothbrush and I also bring my enormous toothbrush charger.  It sounds counter-intuitive to the pack light title of this post, but this is something that makes me happy everyday and packing light is meant to enhance travel without causing deprivation.

Packing Tip #11 : pack all of your clothes on hangers. Again, I know, this sounds counter-intuitive. But in the spirit of enhancing travel, packing clothes on hangers allows you to quickly unpack and view the clothes you have.  There will be no digging in a suitcase to find things, getting dressed will be quick, your clothes won’t be wrinkled and you can use the hangers for drying when you wash your clothes.  Get a light-weight suit cover, and all of the hangers and clothes zip in.  Folded in thirds it fits perfectly in the carry-on suitcase.

Packing Tip #12 : to bring a computer or not to bring a computer? that is the question. My husband HAS to bring a computer; he’s an Aquarius and cannot be without this gadget (you know if you are this kind of person).  When we travel together, I do not bring my computer, because I’m not that kind of person as I am content with 5 minutes of use per day.  More and more countries are offering wireless WiFi (which BTW in many countries including England is pronounced WEE-fee).  Appropriate to the pronunciation, many places only offer WEE-fee for a fee.  That’s right, free internet is not yet the norm. For this trip I did bring my computer since I would be away for so long and would be doing some work.  I suggest knowing ahead of time if your hotel has a business center, WiFi in the lobby, WiFi in the rooms, and if there is a fee.  If you are new to packing light, you may not be able to fit your computer, and really, you likely won’t need it.  My laptop goes IN the carry-on suitcase (not the personal item bag).  Your much lighter smart phone or e-reader or tablet, if WiFi ready, can take the place of a laptop.

OK!  So, that’s the end of my packing tips.  I hope it has been helpful.  If you think I’ve missed anything, or you have any specific questions, I’d be happy to answer them, and I will post the Q & A right here.

NEXT UP:  Remember the “more on this later” that popped up a couple of times? Well, it’s time for me to get on my little smarty pants soap box and bla bla some more of my opinions.  Read on if you dare – – – Pack Light part 3: Appropriate.

Go back- – – Pack Light part 1: Reality Checks

Jump ahead – – –  Pack Light part 4: Proof! 

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Pack Light! – 4

Part 4 : Pack Light In Action

What I packed for my 3 ½ week trip to Europe in July:

Carry-on is still quite a lot of stuff!

1 jacket
1 sweater
1 black shrug
4 dressy shirts
1 black t-shirt
3 pairs of pants
2 dresses
1 belt
2 neck scarves
1 wrap
undergarments & 4 pr socks
3 nylon bags
1 purse with Capital One card (no fees), passport, phone
1 computer in bag
1 taupe pair of sandals
1 leather tan pair of loafers
1 black lightweight jacket
PJs – 1pr jersey shorts, 3 tank tops
3 travel books
1 umbrella
1 enormous tooth brush charger
1 pouch with electronic plugs, converter
1 pouch with make-up, razor, tweezers, nail clippers
1 pouch with liquid toiletries & detergent
Vitamins (CoQ10Ubiquinol, Multivitamin with enzymes), Green Powder
Trail mix & food bars


Packing it up:

Beginning to look like not much stuff!

Left – clothes for the day
Middle – hangers in bag & black jacket
Right – Nylon personal item w/ toiletries, purse, book, slippers
Bottom – Carry-on suitcase packed
w/computer on L
underwear & scarves in zip pouches
books
sandals
PJs
belt
felt slippers
trail mix on R zipped


All packed up:

Carry-On Luggage Baby!

Me and my stuff after the no sleep 6+ hr flight.

I packed light!

It is so exciting to have just what I need and have the freedom of no checked luggage.  I hope you will try it!  If you have any questions, please contact me.  It would be so fun to hear form you. Let me know how it goes for your summer travel!

With Love,

Colleen

Go Back to Pack Light 1 – Reality Checks

Go Back to Pack Light 2 – Packing Tips

Go Back to Pack Light 3 – Appropriate Clothing

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Pack Light! – 3

Part 3 : Appropriate?

You’ve had your reality checks & you’ve filed away the packing tips, Now you’re ready for themore on this latersection where I briefly address the general appropriateness of your attire while traveling.

I’m pretty adamant that it is super important that we wear clothing and shoes that are appropriate in the countries that we visit; clothes that allow us to blend in.

We Americans are extremely casual.  This is not necessarily the norm around the world.  Very few adults in foreign countries wear shorts, t-shirts, or tennis shoes in public.  Our version of business casual is often the same other countries weekend wear.  So, business casual is a good starting point of reference for both men and women when packing for a foreign trip.

In addition to being quite casual, American woman tend to show much more skin than is considered appropriate or attractive in many other countries.  Women in some other cultures do not show their thighs or cleavage or wear tight clothing.  You may see women in revealing clothing when you travel but those women will likely also be able to blow away in a gust of wind, or they are working if you know what I mean.  Real women (who have curves) tend to cover their skin, even their upper arms, and yes, even when it’s hot out.  If you are traveling in an especially modest country be sure to make the necessary adjustments.

Americans sadly often put function ahead of form when it comes to clothing and shoes.  So, let me tell you, just because it’s comfortable does not mean you should wear it out-of-doors.  Yes, I know, you would be comfortable all day in a T-shirt, shorts and tennis shoes, BUT you would also disrupt the visual beauty of the amazing places you visit, polluting the visual cortex of hundreds if not thousands of people you walk by.  Really, it is NOT okay to look sloppy. It’s simply a major bummer to look at.  This is your opportunity to dress as the Romans dress.  Enjoy it!

Next up, let’s see if I can practice what I preach!  See what I packed for 3 1/2 weeks in Europe.

go back to:

Read Pack Light 1 – Reality Checks

Read Pack Light 2 – Packing Tips

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When You Think of It, DO IT.

This one I learned from my Mom!

Most of the things that we procrastinate doing will take somewhere between 3 minutes and 1 hour to finish, yet we will spend double or triple that amount of time thinking about having to do it, instead of just doing it.

When you think of it, DO IT. Do yourself a favor.  If you have the 3 minutes it will take, just get-er-done.  Seriously, once you get in the habit of this your mind will become so free.  Free to be creative, free to enjoy the moment.

If, however, at THAT moment you cannot do it, WRITE IT DOWN.  My grandfather carries a small notebook in his shirt pocket, my mom keeps a list, I have a list on my blackberry… and sometimes on what I call “the master list“.  No matter what works for you, just write it down.  This will free up some mental energy that you’ve been devoting to trying to remember it.

But here’s the catch: when you have a free 3 minutes…say, during a commercial break, get out your list and do something on it.  This is the only way your mind will begin to trust you and stop obsessing about the lists of things you have to do.

Even if your task will take longer than 3 minutes, you can probably get started.  It’s okay to not finish it then, but once you’ve started you’ve got momentum on your side.  3 minutes spent is always better than zero.

With Love,
Colleen

Tasks that CAN be done in 3 MINUTES:

Clean the toilet
Clean the sink
Put the dishes in the dishwasher
Sweep the floor
Pay one bill online & switch to on-line statements
Write two thank you notes
Call your brother (he doesn’t talk much anyway)
Call your grandma (she still thinks everyone pays by the minute)
Sew on a button
Water your plants
Vacuum your bedroom
Throw away rotten food from your fridge
Take out the trash
Answer e-mail
Go through junk mail
Start a load of laundry
Put away laundry
E-mail your Senator
Do 50 sit-ups
Do 50 leg lifts – both sides

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The MASTER LIST

This is for when you are REALLY OVERWHELMED by how much you need to/want to do with your day/week/month/life!

Okay, you have a million things on your mind.  Maybe you can’t sleep.  Maybe you’re feeling sick…but not really sick…just kind of sick.   Maybe you’ve got so much to do that you don’t want to start anything.

What you need is THE MASTER LIST!

I thought that THE MASTER LIST would totally and completely overwhelm me… but trust me on this one, it has complete opposite effect.

This will take about 15 minutes.  This may seem like a long time and you may think you don’t have it, but trust me, your brain is so comatose right now you are not going to be productive with those 15 minutes anyway.

Step 1: Paper & Pen

Step 2: Start writing down everything you want/need to do in absolutely no particular order.

Step 3: Pick one item and do a little of it.  Accept that some of the “have to”s will not be super fun to do AND some of the “want to” s totally freak you out, and then do a little of them anyway.

Step 4: Keep looking at THE MASTER LIST every day or three and keep doing a little more of it.  Try to mix up the “need to”s with the “want to”s.

Step 5: Keep crossing out with excitement as you finish.

Step 6:  Add to THE MASTER LIST whenever you have a nagging thought.

With Love,
Colleen

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