Now for some of the luxury items I allow myself on a flight:
I love to have fresh flowers in my hotel room if I will be staying for a while. It makes the room seem like mine and like home. I recently found some disposable flower vases at the local Dollar Tree. These are as flat as a baggie, but open up to be firm and stand up very well to a fairly large bouquet of flowers. When I left the hotel the last time I used these, some of the flowers were still fresh so I just left them for the hotel staff.
I like to make coffee or tea in my room at night. In Paris in 2013, it finally hit me that I could have “good ol’ American coffee” if I didn’t mind instant. I went to the grocery and bought a small jar of Nescafé. I mixed it in a hotel plastic cup with hot tap water. That sufficed.
However, by 2015, I was prepared. I bought a cheap glass cup, a travel water heater for the cup, a box of Foldgers one cup packets of instant coffee, and a very small can of powdered creamer. I left the cup and the powdered creamer behind when I came home. They cost me a total of $2 and I had well used my money’s worth.
I like to have small hand wipe packs in my purse. I take enough of the kind I like to last my whole trip. Each day, I put what I will need in my purse. When the trip is over, I leave the leftovers behind for someone else.
I take a very small, light umbrella. I want one that will fit in my purse. I found a really good but inexpensive one for travel at IKEA. Depending on space, I know this is something else I can leave behind when I head home.
I take a cloth tote bag. Shoulder length straps are a plus. This can roll up small in the suitcase. Once at my destination, I carry it in my purse daily. I can pull it out for items I purchase or to carry a wet umbrella or my jacket that has turned out to be unnecessary. I also use it to carry laundry to the laundromat.
I always remember to take empty baggies of several sizes to use for food I purchase or leftovers for the hotel fridge. I love to picnic on vacation and having baggies for a single serving of the food I purchase at the grocery helps a lot.
When traveling in Europe, don’t expect wash cloths to be provided. I take a few with me and wash them with my other laundry. I leave them behind in the trash when I check out of the hotel. This also helps clean out those wash clothes at home that are getting too thin.
My advice is to pack as little as you can of things you intend to bring back home. Snacks and all the luxury items I listed here can be used up or pitched before your return trip. This makes room in your bags for all the new things you purchase on your trip.
I start gathering items I might want to take on my trip a few weeks before my scheduled departure. I designate an empty clothes basket or an unused bed to start accumulating things as I think of them. I go in once a week and look over my collection. This inspection spurs me to think of items I have forgotten and, usually each time, to pull something out saying, “I can do without this.”
For a long trip, at least a week before I leave, I do a practice run with the luggage I plan to take and the exact clothes that are involved. I pack like I am leaving tomorrow. Then I evaluate how much space I have. I usually still need to pull items.
After I see that it all fits, it is time for the weigh in. Believe it or not, I can get enough stuff in a 21” bag and a briefcase that the total weight is over the allotted poundage to carry on. Having started early on this packing project, I have time to evaluate my situation. If I feel I really must have everything in the bags, it is time to plan on checking the larger one.
You really need to weigh your bags before leaving home if you are flying. You can usually find luggage scales similar to the one in this picture at places like Walmart or Target. You don’t want to get to the airport and be surprised when the clerk tells you that you have to check a bag and you know you have some important items in both bags. I have seen many people trying to trade out items from one bag to another in order to work things out. You don’t need this kind of stress at the airport.
Planning ahead can really make your life easier and your trip more enjoyable.