The Five Commandments of Packing
The most basic principles for travelers
Thou shalt take half the clothes and twice the money. On your bed, lay out everything you imagine you’ll need for your trip. Now put half of it back in the closet. Extra money provides a cushion if you have an unexpected problem, or want to splurge or stay longer. One caveat: don’t let wads of cash act like asbestos, shielding you from the warmth and fire of other cultures. If you stay only at luxury hotels and dine only in elegant restaurants, you’ll never come in contact with the real life of the country you’re visiting.
Thou shalt mix and match.
Take clothing that is color coordinated, so everything goes with everything else. This way you won’t need as many clothes.
Pick a main color (something neutral and slightly boring like black, beige, gray, or navy) and a complementary color. Examples: for navy, add red or beige; for black, add gray, beige, or red; for beige, add navy, dark green, or bright red. Lend zest and variety to your clothes with colorful jewelry. And remember that accessories can change the entire personality of your clothing—for example, dress up a plain black jumper with a silk scarf or necklace and earrings. By the way, dark colors don’t show dirt as much as lighter shades. (They’re already dark, whether dirty or not.)
Thou shalt layer. Make your
wardrobe more versatile and less bulky by layering. A basic outfit might consist of a skirt or pants and a blouse. When the weather turns cool or for evening, add warm layers such as a sweater and blazer. This way you can avoid lugging a bulky coat, except in wintry cold. Ideally, your jacket will be reversible; at least be sure it’s water-resistant. Wearing T-shirts or undershirts can help your clothes stay fresher longer— you can rinse out the new fast dry T-shirts and they’re dry almost immediately. They’re a great start for layering each day.
Thou shalt do laundry at the
hotel. Washing your own clothes is the secret to traveling out of one suitcase. You aren’t carrying a month’s worth of shirts, socks, and underwear. So you must do some laundry every few days. It’s easy: Wash items in the hotel sink with Woolite or other cold-water soap. Roll clothes jellyroll- style in a towel to extract the water (new Viscose towels are especially absorbent). Hang them on a portable clothesline or
inflatable hangers. Consider specially- designed underwear for travel. The fabric washes out and dries extremely fast. They cost more than regular undies, but when you consider that two pair are enough to take you around the globe, they’re well worth it!
Thou shalt be culturally sensitive.
At a resort, wearing shorts, bikinis, and scanty outfits is fine. But in many cultures they are inappropriate or downright disrespectful. St. Peter’s in Rome, for example, refuses entry to men and women wearing shorts, and women must have their shoulders and arms covered. To learn the cultural norms of your destination, check with guidebooks, embassies, and travel agents.