© 2012; 2008 Connecting: Solo Travel Network & Susan Foster. Information.
NOTE: This article is reproduced here for inspirational value alone and will not normally be updated.
Therefore, all facts, figures, and author's opinions are subject to change as time goes on.

Pack Light – Yes!

Packing expert and author Susan Foster has been teaching travelers what and how to pack for years. Her book, Smart Packing For Today's Traveler, is called "the packing bible." Foster says packing light and right takes several steps – plan, select, edit, pack, go. Of these, the plan and edit parts are the most important. Foster packs for a three week trip to Europe in one 22-inch rolling bag, and has everything needed for sightseeing, a business meeting, and/or dressed-up dining.

By packing in one carry-on bag, you:

Here are Foster's seven smart tips to scale down to one bag:

1. Start with a small bag. It is human nature to fill the available space so start small – the largest legal carry-on is 22"x14"x9". Make use of every inch of the bag – fill shoes with socks or underwear, roll casual clothes and tuck into the valleys created by the handle assembly.

2. Mix and match. Let go of the idea of wearing a different outfit each day. Pack interchangeable pieces based on one basic color, and plan to wear each piece more than once. Two pairs of dark slacks plus one jacket plus four shirts/blouses will last for one week. For two or more weeks, launder/clean and repeat. Pack clothes that you love so you feel good wearing the same things many times in different combinations.

3. Choose items that pack small. A thin wool or cashmere sweater packs smaller than a sweatshirt; micro-fiber slacks pack smaller than jeans; loafers pack smaller than boots. Several lighter-weight layers are as warm but pack smaller than a bulky coat.

4. Take only three pair of shoes – wear one and pack no more than two. Shoes are bulky and heavy. If you can, cut back more here; it makes a huge difference.

5. Minimize cosmetics and toiletries by taking only the amount needed for the trip. One ounce of shampoo lasts two weeks with daily use, so any more is excess weight. Buy travel/sample sizes, or transfer needed amount to small containers.

6. Go high tech and purchase quick-drying underwear, socks, and tee-shirts made of wicking fabrics. Wicking fabrics absorb perspiration so are comfortable to wear, plus they wash easily in the bathroom sink and dry overnight (or less).

7. Avoid the "what-ifs" that lead to multiple suitcases. Pack for what is known and for logical possibilities. Logical: rain, so pack the raincoat and umbrella. Not logical: an impromptu formal dinner, so leave the evening clothes at home.

These simple steps can mean the difference between total frustration and just minor inconvenience the next time you fly.

On the Other Hand . . .

Prefer to check your one bag? Foster admits that she often prefers to check her 22" rolling bag and willingly pays the checking fee if necessary; here's why:

Longer screening lines take more time. The more things people carry onto the plane, the longer security checks take, as each item must pass Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening.

Only minimal cosmetics and toiletries are allowed. The TSA 3-1-1 rule mandates that liquids and gels be removed from the suitcase and screened separately. Each passenger is allowed only one, one-quart zip-top baggie with containers of no more than three ounces each of liquids or gels. Some 3-1-1 survival strategies:

1. Don't be picky. Use whatever products your hotel supplies. Choose alternatives that don't need to be in the 3-1-1 bag: stick deodorant in place of liquid roll-on, powder makeup in place of liquid. Pack combination products like moisturizer with sun-screen.

2. Can you lift 35 pounds over your head? Foster says she has problems getting her fully loaded bag up into the overhead bin as she is a short woman with only moderate upper body strength. And you can't rely on a flight attendant or seat mate to lift it for you.

3. Always pack so that your bag can survive as a checked bag, which may be required at the gate. Overhead bins were full before airlines decided to charge fees for checked luggage, and they are overfull now. Unless you are boarding early, you may not find a place for your bag, as there simply is not one space per seat. "Bin rage" results when too many passengers vie for the same overhead storage space.

Learning to pack less will allow you to travel with only one carry-on bag or to choose to avoid all carry-on hassles and to check your bag. Either way, you'll save on those pesky bag fees and spare your poor back. Lighten your load and have more fun!

For other useful packing tips and helpful articles visit www.smartpacking.com.

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