Suitcase Savvy: Travel in Comfort and Style

Elia Baker learned her lesson the hard way. Baker, who lives in Athens, Greece, discovered the importance of packing a carry-on bag when the airline lost her luggage when she was en route to Egypt…and Guatemala…and Greece. When, like Baker, you’re tall and traveling in a country where the average height is five feet, finding clothes and shoes can be a challenge. “Always have an emergency pair of shoes as well as a universal outfit in a carry-on,” she ruefully advises.

Travel, be it for pleasure or business, can present its own fashion challenges, but seasoned travelers know the keys to arriving at their destinations in style.

Pack only what you need

While you may be permitted to check three bags and carry on two with some airlines, this doesn’t mean you should. Travel as lightly as possible. How focused on your work – or rested during your vacation – will you be after hefting bags the size of a small semi truck from trunk to terminal and back again?

One way to minimize the need to lug around baggage from destination to destination is to follow the lead of Sharon Tabor Warren from Amherst County, Va. “Goodwill sells excellent T-shirts with various slogans for 77 cents each. I buy those, wear them and discard. I also take my last-wear undies and discard as I go. Sleepwear is a ratty T-shirt (or two), pitched when dirty. My reading material is also discarded as I finish it.” Warren’s method not only eliminates much of the laundry at the end of a trip, but it also provides space to pack those souvenirs for the return trip!

Pack using a color key

While your whole wardrobe may not be black and white, tying colors together will provide more options for outfits. Shirts that you may never wear together will alternate with the same bottoms if you keep them all in the same color range. Some businesswomen stick to a monochromatic theme, but a multicolored jacket can serve as a great pivot piece.

Pack wisely

Space is at a premium in any suitcase, so use that real estate well. Just like in a city plan, you’ll want to plan your luggage sections. Lingerie in one corner, shirts in another, and bulky items like jeans in a third.

Rolling your clothes will save a lot of ironing in your hotel room. If you have delicate items and silks, roll them in a plastic bag. The added air pockets keep the clothes crisp.

Easy care fabrics mean less effort. Look for a great commuter pant, or one that unpacks looking as great as when it when in your suitcase. Never underestimate the power of denim in casual wear. It goes with anything, can be quite stylish, and is even appropriate in some career settings.

Place all liquids in sealed containers, and place those containers in a Ziploc bag or make-up case for added safety. Nothing ruins a trip quicker than finding that your hair gel has exploded on your best jacket.

Consider the weather

You may be leaving sunny skies, but what is the extended forecast for your destination? Layers can help lessen the load on your arms. A sweatshirt can easily be removed in a warmer climate and tied around your waist or tossed over your shoulders for a sporty look. Something as simple as a long-sleeved denim shirt can help warm you up on a chilly day but can be worn open for a bit more air.

Carry on for peace of mind

A carry-on can be a small bag, but it’s important to have one. Carrying something as small as a backpack will provide space for one outfit, a change of underwear, a toothbrush and whatever medications you may need. Your luggage may not be lost, but if your flight is delayed, your bags will probably be inaccessible. Be prepared to spend at least one day without your suitcases. If your flight is full, try to stow your gear before getting to your seat, so that you don’t have to “swim upstream” to retrieve your belongings when the plane lands.

Something special

Travel can be great fun, but, let’s face it, we all miss home. Bring a scented candle to dismiss the hotel room odor, or small photographs of your family to tuck onto the mirror. Small touches add so much when you’re far from home.

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