Travel Packing: Cheap and Light!

by Olivia Fox


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Snag a great deal on plane fare to Europe? Friend invite you to go hosteling with them over school break? Indulge your wanderlust and keep it simple by packing light. Who wants to wait around conveyor belts for luggage, while zoning out with jet lag? Just grab your bag and go! Here are some tested tips to do it all in style.

Start with a good travel backpack that fits plane size restrictions. A non-wheeled version cuts a few pounds off the weight. One that zippers all the way around makes life much easier. A handle and removable shoulder strap are helpful options. Getting a previous season's color combo yields great discounts.

When gathering your stuff together, go for easy wash and quick dry, preferably in dark colors. They don't show the dirt as much. Look in places that sell camping clothes. Besides tee shirts and pants, they offer easy wash, quick dry undergarments and socks. Lay all the possibilities out and pare down. Everything should go together and be simple enough to adapt to multiple social situations. Three of each works well. If you're a woman, add a skirt and a couple of spiffy accessories. A nice travel shirt for men is a must. Don't forget a swimsuit, if appropriate. Layering accommodates all kinds of weather. An additional fleece and a thin hooded raincoat will bring you through most situations. If baggage weight is a problem, wear the heavier items on the plane.

Comfortable, broken-in shoes are an absolute necessity. Wear something that anticipates a bit of foot swelling. Bringing a second pair is optional. You may want to dress up or bring sandals for greater versatility in good weather.

Pack it systems are really popular these days. However, sturdy two-gallon "zippered" plastic bags are less pricey. Once the neatly folded clothes are inside, close the "zipper," leaving an inch opening. From the bottom end, roll the clothing and bag tightly, pushing out the air, and then do the final zip. Not only does this method save space, but also the clothes tend not to wrinkle as easily. Flattened out, these "vacuum sealed" bags stack nicely in the back pack, and allow for quick identification. All that visibility makes baggage inspectors happy.

If you travel a lot, a small kit bag is a good investment. Ones with a hanging hook are especially useful. There's not always a lot of sink space in budget accommodations. If you can't find one in a decent price range, use a smaller resealable bag. Gather small sample or hotel items, or fill plastic film canisters with your lotion or shampoo.

A hidden under-clothing passport and money pouch is an excellent investment. It is almost impossible for pickpockets to get in it.

With the very high cost of laundromats, especially in other countries, bring a small bit of powdered laundry detergent with you. Wash in the sink. We loved our portable, stretchy, braided, clothespin-free clothesline. Putting two end to end, stretching it across the tub, and looping the ends around things worked like a charm.

For helpful bang for the buck extras, consider a small travel alarm and ear plugs for noisy accommodations and on the plane. You may also want to bring an inflatable neck pillow, a super-absorbent camping towel (great for wringing out extra moisture from wet clothes before hanging them up on the line), waterless hand cleaner, and a journal with felt tipped pens.

Where do you get these treasures for less? There's no need to buy from pricey travel stores. Our favorite places to purchase need items were ebay.com, ebags.com, campmor.com, thrift stores, and dollar stores. Hit your search engine to find more options.

So pack away and don't forget to write!

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