While I’m not the most well traveled person, I did spend many years working for a law firm that sent me all over the US. Sometimes it was planned far in advance (such as out of town trials) but most of the time, it was short notice affairs with anywhere from one to three hours notice. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for packing and organizing your office needs much less your personal stuff. I remember one instance where I was given two hours notice to catch a flight from Dallas to San Francisco and, at the time, my house was 45 minutes from the office and thirty minutes from the airport. I may not have traveled to all (or hardly any!) of the places on my life list but I’ll be damned if those jaunts from one side of the nation to the other didn’t hone my carry on packing skills!
During all those years of travel, I never once checked a personal bag. Usually I had boxes of paperwork that got checked but never personal stuff. Here are the top five things I learned that may help you lighten your load.
-Get it when you arrive. If you are traveling within the US, there is NOTHING that’s not available on the other end of your destination. From the big things such as clothing to the little essentials like a toothbrush, don’t stress over forgetting something. Sure, buying essentials at your destination will up the cost but you’ll be amazed at how just KNOWING you can purchase things will change your packing strategy.
-If it doesn’t multi-task, don’t pack it. Black pants for day or evening? Perfect. White pants that will only look good at that non-dusty museum? Leave them. Pricey face wash that you refuse to use for any other part of your body? Skip it. Your face won’t revert ten years because you took a few days off your normal routine.
-Shop at Christmas. While the TSA requirements have made travel size things more readily available, Christmas is still the best time to stock up on your favorite items in travel friendly sizes. Check the stocking stuffer aisles and gift sets (if you are looking at pricier brands) then hang onto them. Have a special box in your closet and just toss them in there. When it’s time to travel, you’ll have all your favorites already handy for packing.
-Personalize. Traveling light doesn’t mean turning yourself into a different person. Make sure to pack things that are innately you – favorite aftershave, favorite perfume, etc. Could you buy it when you arrive? Yes (and see no. 1 if you are really struggling with the whole packing light issue). But when you are dead on your feet after a long flight the prospect of shopping is going to exhaust you. Having something that says “me” will do wonders for reviving you and changing your outlook for the positive.
-Be brutal with electronics. Laptops, kindles, cell phones, mp3’s, cameras… the list goes on and it can be a heavy, heavy burden. Lightening your load requires you to make some brutal choices or plan ahead with rule no. 2 above. Have a netbook? Load it with songs (mp3 gone), load it with Kindle for PC (kindle gone). Skype can take care of the cell phone as well but I’m not that minimalistic, my cell phone will always be part of my packing list.