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Packing Pointers

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip for June, 2005

Travel season seems like a great time to give pointers on packing.

Shel: Pack sequentially, if your trip has several components. Example: Last year, we had a few days in London followed by two weeks in the Czech Republic. We put everything we needed for London into some bags, and stored the rest of our stuff at the airport. Lockers get cleaned out every day or two, but many airports and train stations have a staffed baggage area where you can leave bags, for a fee, for several days.

Barbara: Plan your seasonal travel wardrobes in the same color scheme, so you can easily mix tops and bottoms for varying weather conditions. Two or three bottoms and four to six tops can be enough for a two-month trip (details in book.)

Shel: When traveling by car, a lot of small bags are easier to pack than a few huge ones. But when traveling by plane, where you'll face a surcharge on excess luggage, big bags are better--unless, of course, you can fit everything in your carry-on.

Barbara: Airlines keep lowering their limits for weight, size and number of items. Excess fees can run into hundreds of dollars and your carry-on may get diverted to the hold if it is too heavy. Airlines differ so check airline websites or ask before making a reservation.

Shel & Barbara: Few things are worse than a spill inside your luggage. When packing items like shampoo bottles (plastic only; no glass), pour a little off if the bottle is full, squeeze out a little air, insert a piece of plastic wrap under the cap and tighten it well. Then wrap it in a plastic bag, tie the bag shut, and put it deep inside your suitcase where it won't break open if someone throws a suitcase against yours. Consider packing these in your carry-on, where leaks are less likely because the cabin is pressurized more than the baggage hold.

Barbara: Wrap nail polish bottles in aluminum foil because polish dissolves plastic. Take foil-wrapped packets of polish remover wipes instead of liquid.

Shel: Always keep a spare pair of undies and a comb and toothbrush, at least, in your carry-on. Also, keep with you anything that's essential but difficult to replace: prescriptions, exposed film, etc. I have had lost luggage take as long as two weeks to catch up with me!

Barbara: Carry a water bottle; look for a mesh carrier with shoulder strap that holds up to a 1.5 liter bottle. It folds up small when not in use. Drinking bottled water on planes is safer than using their water dispensers.

Barbara: Be sure you have good protection against sun and insects. Diseases can be deadly. DEET in a concentration of about 30% is effective and a one-ounce bottle or stick will work better than pints of the weaker stuff. Even for a warm, summer trip, pack a long-sleeve shirt and long slacks for sun and bug protection, comfort in air-conditioned spaces and modesty at sites that prohibit bare arms and legs. A visor-scarf (pattern in book) is a very handy item.

Shel Horowitz is the author of a 280-page e-book on having fun cheaply, The Penny-Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant's Pocketbook, available exclusively at http://www.frugalfun.com for $8.50.

Barbara DesChamps' book, It’s In The Bag: The Complete Guide to Lightweight Travel, shows how to take everything you are likely to need, even for a long overseas trip, in just one carry-on bag: $11.95 at bookstores or visit http://www.chateaupublishing.com for mail-order info.

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Preview Shel Horowitz's Penny Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant's Pocketbook a 280-page e-book that shows you how to save a big pile of money on travel, dining, entertainment, recreation, and all sorts of other fun.
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