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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Become The Packmaster 6.25.11

It's about that time when many of you (and me!) are starting to think about packing for your summer travels. While you may think you're already doing everything you can  in order to pack lightly and efficiently, you may still have lessons to learn. On the other hand, you may be so used to just taking everything you want and checking baggage that packing in a carry-on just never occurred to you until you saw those high baggage fees. Likewise for those of you who are used to flying on Southwest Airlines and find they aren't really so much a low-cost carrier anymore. So, you want to learn some packing light tricks? Well, that's what I'm here for. 


Wolves and other pack animals have a packleader (and according to the True Blood novels, werewolves have a packMASTER, which sounds cooler). They have the strongest skill set among their "family". You can be this in your travel group, like I am in mine, when it comes to actual packing. Let's get started on those tips, so you can put your new knowledge to the test and amaze your travel buddies with how much you can pack in a tiny bag and how little you really needed to bring with you.


Bring Less Clothes - Everyone cringes when I suggest this, but it's really the #1 thing to do in order to pack for carry-on travel. The average woman only wears 61% of what they bring on vacation, so you're taking stuff you don't need anyway. Let us learn something from the opposite sex, who wear 98% of what they pack. So, what's the secret to bringing less? Pick a color palette and stick with it. Make sure all your tops or all your bottoms are in a similar tone (all blacks/gray, all neutrals), that way everything you bring will mix and match and you can make a lot of different outfits from a few key pieces. A goal to shoot for is 3 bottoms, 5 tops and a dress (if you're a lady) or a suit jacket (if you're a guy), all the undergarments you need and a packable jacket.
Bring Less Shoes - If you bring less clothes, that means you can bring more shoes, right?! No, sorry. This is another time to pare down. Limit yourself to two pair of shoes and a pair of flip-flops (take up so little space, they might as well not be considered shoes and are really useful). Bring a pair of really good walking shoes (like sneakers/trainers) and then a pair of nicer shoes, which are also comfortable enough to walk in for a bit, that can go with dressier outfits. Wear your bulkiest shoes on the plane and save room in your bag.


Roll Your Clothes - Even though you're bringing less, your bag is also smaller and you gotta get all the essentials in there. Did you know that if you roll your clothes you can get a whole lot more in there? It's true! I pack both my clothes and my husband's in a large carry-on bag, including shoes. (If I can do that and you choose to have a carry-on per person, you can definitely achieve this.) I can get 1/3 more into my bag by rolling than by folding everything. Rolling helps eliminate wrinkles, but if you bring clothing that resist wrinkling, you can cram as much in each layer of rolled clothing as possible.


eBags Packing Cubes - 3pc Set (Grasshopper)
Use Packing Cubes - If packing seems difficult, packing cubes are like the color-by-numbers version. Fill each cube with similar rolled items and then Tetris them into your carry-on. Not only does this make your travel bag neat, but it also makes unpacking super easy, too! 


ELLE Jewelry Red Tiger Eye Large Layering Sterling Silver Necklace, 36"

Accessorize - Dress up boring outfits with accessories. When you have to choose between a sparkly club top and a more sensible tank top, go with the tank top. It goes with everything and can be dressed up with fun jewelry. Go from day to night by adding a belt or some layering necklaces and changing your shoes. Easy! Accessories also take up much less space than more clothing. 


Use Every Available Space - To be an efficient packer, you should use ALL the space that's available to you. This is especially important when you are on your way back home and you have more than you came with. If there's a crevice between clothing and other items, cram some socks or a trinket or something in there. You'll be surprised how much will fit and how it all gets back home unbroken.




Pack Inside Your Shoes - This goes along with using your available space. Stuff shoes with your jewelry pack, socks, underwear, spices. You name it! When coming back home, I use my shoes as padding for breakable items I bought on my trip, like ornaments. Shoes are great "bubble wrap". 


Put Heavier Items on the Bottom - You're going to want your bag weight to be evenly distributed, otherwise you'll constantly be picking it up when it falls over. Pack heavy things, like shoes or your toiletry bag, on the bottom. That is, near the wheels. This helps to keep your bag stable.


Pare Down on Toiletries - There are so many ways you can take less makeup or toiletries, including bringing a tinted moisturizer to replace both a moisturizer and a foundation. If you can get one SPF in it, that's a 3-in-1 multitasking product. You can find more beauty travel tips HERE. Do you really need to take your whole beauty routine? Probably not. Just bring the essentials and then one or two "luxury" items, like glitter eye liner for those nights you go out clubbin'. (My new favorite eye liner is on the left there. Stila Smudge Stick goes on easily and gives great coverage. And when they say it's waterproof, they aren't lying. You need make-up remover to get it off. This is great for me, because I have very watery eyes and it's hard for me to keep eyeliner on for more than an hour.)


Other ways to take less and still have everything you need? Bring a solid shampoo bar or use the shampoo/conditioner provided at your hotel. Take a shaving oil instead of a cream. It comes in a bottle the size of eye drops, takes only a few drops for each shave. It can be used on legs, underarms, bikini areas and faces. 


Take advantage of Health & Beauty week on Ebates and get double cash back on fantastic stores like philosophy, Sephora and The Body Shop. Even if you aren't in the market for new travel beauty products, now's a great time stock up on your favorite cosmetics, because you can buy more, get free shipping and also get a discount in the form of cash back. You win all the way around.


Leave Chargers at Home - Okay, I don't mean don't take any EVER. You'd have to have a really short trip for that to be a good idea. Instead of taking all your chargers, replace them with an iGo multicharger. You have one adapter and then tips for each electronic device you have. It saves SO much room in your bag and everything you need in one place. You never have to search your bag for the right cord, because you only have ONE. Buy the wall charger and car adapter set and charge your electronics in your rental car, too!


Apple iPad (first generation) MB292LL/A Tablet (16GB, Wifi)Toshiba NB505-N508BN 10.1-Inch Netbook (Brown)
Downsize - This is probably one of the hardest things for some people to do, because you're so used to the devices you have and always bring. Can one device do more than one thing? If it can, leave other stuff at home that it replaces. Like if you usually bring a laptop and iPod, but you have an iPad, just bring the iPad. You can make it as effective as a laptop, by purchasing the Zagg bluetooth keyboard, which doubles as a hard case for your tablet. You can get all your videos and games you play on your iPod right on your iPad with your iTunes.


If you usually take a laptop with you, consider investing in a netbook. We have one (after I pleaded my case for months and finally got one for my birthday) and it takes up about half the space of our laptop and does 90% of the things the laptop does. It's perfect for travel and super lightweight.


Contours Lite Stroller, Tangerine Graco TotBloc Pack 'N Play with Carry Bag, Bugs Quilt
Rent Baby Equipment - Do you really WANT to take your car seat, stroller, pack and play, etc. when you travel? Of course you don't, but you have to, right? Of course you don't! Many car rental companies rent car seats and there are a lot of places that rent strollers and other baby equipment in destinations across North America and the world. Do you need a crib? No problem! BabiesTravelLite gives you worldwide locations where you can pick up rental equipment and Baby'sAway has rental companies that will drop off any equipment you rent at your hotel in the U.S. and Canada. Not only do you travel lighter, but in many cases renting is less than baggage fees. Another good thing? You don't have to worry about your personal items being damaged in transit!


If you travel with small children (or clumsy adults like me), it's inevitable that someone will get a cut or scrape and need some minor first aid. make your kids feel special by bringing along a special first aid kit for your little ones. These I'm OK! Mini First Aid Sets are cheap and come in pirate, princess and bear theme or a generic green cross. Inside each kit you'll find 24 I'm OK! bandages, emergency info card, I'm OK! cold pack and 6 no-sting antiseptic swabs. These slim packs can fit in even the smallest space in your travel bag. If you don't want to take a whole Mini First Aid Kit, you can get the Pocket Mini First Aid Kit which comes with a smaller case filled with an emergency info card, 8 I'm OK! bandages and 4 no-sting antiseptic swabs. Fun, affordable, easily packable and super useful!
            






Don't forget that you can get Shereen Travels Cheap blog on Kindle via Amazon. If you don't have a Kindle, it's okay. You can download the free Kindle Reading App for your web-enabled device, like your iPhone, iPad, Android, netbook, or Blackberry. As soon as a new post is published, you'll get it right away on your device!



We're celebrating 100 blog subscribers! Help me out by subscribing, too, and you could win a fantastic Summer Road Trip bundle worth over $150! The package includes a fun travel game, a packable tote bag, sunscreen, UV SunSense wristbands, $100 dining card, $25 hotel card and some other surprise items. Once we reach 150 subscribers a winner will be chosen. Enter here! Get extra entries by getting your friends to enter as well!   



Help me make it to 1,500 Facebook fans and be a winner! I'm giving away travel games for your summer trips. They are fun and help pass the time. Here's what you need to do: "Like" Shereen Travels Cheap (if you haven't already) and enter to win the travel games giveaway. Then, suggest Shereen Travels Cheap to all your Facebook friends and tell them they can enter to win, too. When they enter, they enter your name as the one who referred them and you get another entry for each friend who names you! When we reach 1,500 fans, 2 lucky winners will be chosen via Random.org.

Don't forget to join me on the awesome new Savvy Living Community sponsored by Ebates. Not only will you learn how to save money by better utilizing Ebates, but you will also be able to read Savvy blog posts and join in discussions and live chats with Savvy Leaders (like me!) to learn how to save money on all aspects of your life. With 19 bloggers who are experts on everything from travel to family life, you're sure to learn a lot of new information, find some great new blogs and even make some friends along the way. Join Ebates.
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