I first started wandering when I was young. I would say that’s like “most people” however, as I have gotten older, I have realized not everyone was prone to wandering at a young age. Some kids sat quietly alone, or they played with other children. Some kids didn’t do either; they just latched themselves to the leg of their parent or familiar human and didn’t let go. Basically, not everyone took little exciting trips (albeit not that far away), and I’m here to say I still love it.
Oh don’t get me wrong, I am no fan of the airport. I am now obsessively aware of all the germs. Then there’s the parking and maneuvering around the airports just to get to a terminal where you stand or sit for longer than you’ve done either (unless you’re being paid) and there’s never an outlet that’s not in use.
I hate the airport food. I don’t think I did when I was little… Then again, most of the family trips were by car. My mother dutifully placing a new book-bag in the backseat, one for each of us girls (there are three) filled to the gills with pens and games, a new journal to log our whole trip and review at the end. A (disposable) camera with the click-on flash. Makeup. Gameboy games. Whatever she thought we’d love for that particular trip. My father did not make book-bags for us (this includes just myself and my older sister) but, I was given the awesome responsibility of manning the cooler bag in the backseat. This was no small task and I took it seriously. It had drinks and sandwiches… sometimes I was even told to count the change for the tolls. Maybe, if I was “lucky”, I was told to read the paper map.
This was a massive decision on his part, which ended up shaping a bit of my packing and prepping travel behavior to this day. Not to mention my mother’s book-bags and advice. I need to know I have what I will need. UFOs, Zombie Apocalypse, you name it. I need to be ready. And having parents who were always ready, made me the person to ensure if you’re traveling with me, you will have the very best experience I can give you. I am known (if you hang out with me) to be the person you go to if you need something and are not near home. I rejected this title for the longest time as I was embarrassed. I thought being this prepared made me odd. But it didn’t, and I like this about me.
Basically, it was a concerted effort to teach me to have a sense of adventure. To wonder “well now, what’s over there?” The creature comforts were handled for me as a kid and as an adult, I don’t want to travel without them.
Batteries? Bandaids? A lozenge? You got it!
… What flavor?
That’s just the usual day to day. When I travel, I’m even more particular. I want all the creature comforts with none of the coodies.
The first thing I learned about traveling is to pick luggage that makes you happy, and preferably all matching. Not only does it just travel better to have matching luggage but, it’s easier to claim it as yours if you need to. My husband and I just returned from a cruise to the Bahamas where we were missing one of our pieces of luggage. Staring down the vast corridor of rooms clogged with people, our eyes hit on stripes. Brown and white stripes, and we knew exactly where we needed to go.
Most people get basic black luggage, sometimes beige or deep brown. All of that is fine and if it makes someone happy that’s even better. That being said, I doubt we would have bothered walking (almost) the entire length of the ship for brown luggage we weren’t sure was there since it would have blended in with everything.
I get matching luggage, and monogram it when available.
Henri Bendel became my obsession before they sadly closed their doors for good.
So you’ve decided on the company you want to travel with, you’ve also decided whether, for your lifestyle and needs, if their leather luggage is a better investment than their cloth and you’ve chosen your color. Now what? What do you need? I will not tell you specific books, or airlines or brand of travel pillow (although all of those things are vital). I will tell you, you need to pack very specific things and prepare for additional catastrophes as well.
A laptop bag or tablet bag is a must. It’s fantastic for holding additional items in with your carryon and you will find it more often than not, a Godsend. I don’t care how efficient you are with your cellphone, but you need something to actually type on like a normal person. You will thank me later when your tablet runs out of battery but your phone hasn’t. I believe in the battery curse: your phone never runs out of battery faster than when you’re on a trip and I can’t ever find an outlet when I need one. Even the backup batteries I have juiced prior to leaving aren’t enough to get me through a long voyage. I’m convinced this not coincidental. It’s a curse.
Pack inside your laptop bag or purse, your jewelry case. If you don’t have one, get one. Do not pack your expensive (if you choose to bring it) jewelry with your luggage unless you’re like me and don’t check a bag (I watch the way the bags are treated prior to getting on the plane. I can’t prevent myself from watching the guys through the glass literally throwing the bags around). I say even if you do check a bag and aren’t planning on bringing your expensive items, a jewelry case is still well worth the investment. I usually never have such few items as pictured below… And it’s amazing how much they can hold. If you do bring your special pieces, usually a jewelry case fits in the room safe.
Place a small soft bristle brush and cleaning cloth inside the jewelry case so you’re prepared. And put a small note of exactly what pieces you packed inside it as well, so you can take inventory and not leave anything behind. And please, bring extra earring backs if you have some that fit. I promise you will thank me.
I have several smaller pieces to hold cosmetic items and medicine. I also have a duffel bag and what Henri Bendel named their Hatbox Wheelie. I adore this piece. It holds a lot but also keeps me from overpacking. My mother reminds me before I go anywhere, to pack slippers for the hotel bathroom (talk about germs). I was given some by her a few years ago, and since they have held up just fine I use them during each trip. I only use them for that purpose which may be why they’ve lasted.
If you can fit one, pack a steamer. My steamer is the smaller of the two (though I have both) steamers by Joy Mangano. It works flawlessly and is a bright color so I will see it easily in the room and never forget to pack it or turn it off. You won’t worry so much about packing with tissue paper between everything if you know you brought your steamer. Though I do recommend some tissue paper between items which could snag others, or wrapped around shoes (use a dust bag otherwise) that could get articles dirty, you don’t need to make things difficult or tedious.
Also, please invest in some noise cancellation headphones. I have the original over the ear Bose and now also these earbuds. I can say they both work very well and the added benefit of the buds are that they also play soothing sounds whereas the original Bose just play static. We pack both, also bringing extra batteries for the originals and I leave them for my husband to use.
Pick an eyemask that is very comfortable and washable. After it’s been subjected to the reclycled air on the airplane and the pillow in the hotel room (though, we do pack our own satin pillowcases from home), you’ll want to wash it just as you do anything else. My mask shown here is one that I can just throw away, however. It was very inexpensive and just for this one trip. Some of the items typically go in my duffel bag or, I keep them with me in my purse: the headphones charged and out of their case, along with the eyemask and a neck pillow.
Try also, to get luggage that locks. Even though you will keep an eye on your bags as best you can, if you send your luggage up with the Porter, they may not be as honest as you’d like them to be. Take the time to lock your bags. If you have too many keys for the locks, put little round stickers on them to identify which goes with which bag. Or, just get a glass of wine sent up from room service and take your time trying different locks. What else is there to do but take a ludicrously long time doing mundane things? You’re on vacation!
I once read from Patricia Altschul, a wonderful tip about cleaning the hotel room. While she also wears slippers in the bathroom, and brings her own pillowcase(s), she doesn’t bother using wipes on the remote. She said it’s impossible to get them completly clean so, she packs a large sized sandwich baggie and just uses the remote in the bag.
It was brilliant.
For everything else, use disinfectant wipes. Please, please also wipe the shower faucet control and the toilet flush. These are apparently notoriously forgotten areas of germs. So is the door knob to your actual hotel room.
None of takes too much effort. Pick what makes you content and feel like what you care about is safe.
In the end, all we’re trying to do is visit someplace that will give something we’re happy to receive and not lose anything important to us along the way, like time, property or our health.
Luggage provided by Henri Bendel, since discontinued.