Sunday, October 4, 2015

Traveling Light (Part3) Clothing

No matter where I go, or how long my vacation is, I always pack my clothing last.  Most other items are just a matter of collecting things  from around the house, and putting them in a bag.  Clothing however, requires a few more brain cells. ;) Clothing is still not my favorite part of packing for vacation, but I've come a long way since the days of cramming my luggage to the brim.  I'll share my tips with you and I'm hoping you will have more to add!

1. Since I've incorporated the capsule concept (read more here)  into my wardrobe, packing has become much easier. Most items in my closet can go with any other item and I don't worry much about coordinating colors or fabrics. So when it's time to pack for vacation, I'm creating a capsule within a capsule.

Ideally, I would have taken two pairs of footwear but I didn't have the perfect versatile pair.

2. Consider your fabrics and choose carefully.  Find pieces that are “easy care”  and don't wrinkle or stain easily. Especially if you are traveling with small children. Think dark  fabrics, cotton, denim… Choose thinner fabrics to save space. One exception to this rule is denim. You can wear a pair of jeans, many many times, while a pair of lighter colored pants or skirt, may look worn, or dirty after a few wears. Maybe this is TMI, but the same goes for underwear.  Sports underwear (guys or girls) lace or other quick drying fabrics are wonderful and dry overnight. Cotton underwear is usually still damp by morning. Silk is amazing if you have it. I had a silk tank that did not wrinkle, weighed maybe 2 ounces, and was worn at least a dozen times on the trip. I didn't wash it the entire time and it had no wrinkles, no stains or smells. One of those “perfect travel pieces.” Don't fall for the “travel clothing” specialty stores. Often these items are very costly, unattractive, unflattering and not the type of clothing you will wear at home. You can find great clothing for travel, in your own wardrobe or at Target, thrift stores, etc…
3. Try to take as many “multi-use items as possible. For example; when we traveled to Europe this summer, I chose a pair of shorts that could be used for running/working out, sleeping, or beach cover up. A scarf can be used as a beach cover up or worn as an accessory.
4. Layers. This tip is great for vacations with a big range of temperatures and weather conditions, as well as saving space. One example of this is to take a lightweight jacket in a neutral color, and a cardigan, instead of a sweatshirt/hoodie. You can wear the jacket and/or cardigan, depending on the temperature, activity or occasion. My lightweight merino wool cardigan and lightweight jacket took up less space together than my hoodie by itself, and I could add long sleeves or short for my base layer.
5. Re-wear clothing that doesn't look or smell dirty. If this grosses you out, then maybe packing light is not for you. :) All members of our family do this.  We look presentable, we don't stink and we save a TON of laundry! If you have a small dirty spot on a piece of clothing that is otherwise clean, just spot clean it. No need to wash the whole item with just a small, removable spot.
6. Packing cubes! These have been a lifesaver! I recommend getting medium and small cubes, as I've found that larger ones are harder to pack well because of their size. You can find many brands, types and prices ranges on Amazon. Personally, I've used only eBags packing cubes. They are well made and have been used quite a few times in the 3 years that I've owned them.

Rubberbanding your cube when half empty will keep things rolled up.

7. Roll your clothing. Combine this with tip #6.  Rolling your clothing will save you tons of space. If you do it correctly, you won't have many wrinkles. Choose your outfit the night before and lay it over a chair to take care of any wrinkles that may have formed during travel. For bulkier items that want to unroll, use a rubber band. When your packing cube is getting empty at the end of your trip, push all the clothing to one side, fold the empty part over and rubber band it.
8. Unless you are one of those people that are always cold, wear light layers to travel.  Over and over I read/heard “Wear your heaviest/ bulkiest pieces of clothing to travel. So I did. And I nearly died of heat stroke. Maybe it depends on the airline, but I nearly roasted on Iceland air. By the time I found my seat on the plane I was sweating profusely and gasping for breath. I removed my scarf and jacket and regretted wearing jeans, about 50 times.

Laundry: This will depend on length of travel and the facilities you have. If you are staying in one place for the entire trip and you have easy access to laundry  facilities, take only 3-5 outfits per person. You can eliminate a ton of luggage weight this way! On our summer vacation, we stayed at about 8 different places, only one of which had good laundry facilities.  We tried to save laundry by re-wearing clothing, and did quite a bit of hand washing and spot cleaning. It's very expensive to have your clothing washed by hotels in Europe.  They don't have a laundromat on every corner like we have here in America, washers are tiny, and the price per load very expensive.  And who wants to look for a laundromat every few days?!
I took a small cinch sack for each family member, a travel clothesline (highly recommended) Tide To Go pen, universal sink stopper, and a small bag of concentrated, powdered detergent. After the first ten days, (where we did have access to a washer and dryer) I hand washed a few things every couple nights, and by morning they were usually dry. Some bathroom sinks did not have a drain which is why a lot of people recommend taking the sink stopper. Also, if you are traveling with infants and toddlers and your hotel room only has a shower and no tub, you can use this to make a “tub” of sorts, in your shower. The travel clothesline which I keep in my camping box at home, stretches to fit your space and the hooks can be fastened to door knobs, towel racks, curtain rods, etc. The design eliminates the need for clothes pins. Be careful when doing laundry in hotels or hostels. Do not hang dripping wet clothes over carpeting, wood floors or tile. The water can create a slip hazard on tile, make the carpet smell and ruin wood floors. I like to hang it over the tub until it's done dripping completely then stretch it out over a bigger space to finish drying. I chose a small laundry bag for each person because I didn't want to add extra bags on travel days. Each person had one bag or backpack  of clothing and the cinch sack compressed to fit the bag and kept clean and dirty laundry separate. The Tide To Go pen works amazingly well. Treat the stain when the item of clothing is removed at the end of the day and when you do your laundry, you won't have to scrub much at all. If you're a traveling in the states, it's handy to take several rolls of quarters to make laundry day easier.

Hand washed laundry at our hotel in The Black Forest of Germany.

At our house in Switzerland.  Sorry Mom, I know you taught me to not show my underwear. ;)

Sink stopper and sink at our hotel in Zurich.

Prices for hotel laundry in Zurich.  I saved $18 by hand washing three tee-shirts that night. Does anyone actually pay that?!

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