Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thrifty Packing

So, as noted in the previous post, I pack so that I have ONLY a carry-on.   This saves baggage fees and the hassle of hanging out at the airport waiting for bags.  I don't want to pay extra fees and I want to get the most vacation for my flight dollar.

This trip, as with most, I packed in an ancient day pack I used through much of grad school (so purchased sometime before 1997...I might be a lookalike that's only a decade old but I think it's closer to 20 years old).   It has one main compartment and one outside front pocket, 2 shoulder straps.  That's it.   I have an alternate bag for trips where I need a bit more or expect to bring back a bit more, but we'll stick with this bag for now.

We knew we had a washer and dryer in the apartment we'd rented (more on the apartment at a later date) so we knew we could do laundry easily.  Even without a washer/dryer, I find I can wash everything but jeans in a gallon ziplock bag. 

Here's the total of what I brought, clotheswise, including the outfit I wore on the plane:

2 pairs of jeans
2 turtlenecks
1 silk thermal undershirt
1 shortsleeve t-shirt (for jammies)
2 longsleeve t-shirt
1 button down overshirt
1 nice sweater
5 undies
3 pairs of wool socks, various weights
1 pair of light hiking boots
1 pair sturdy walking shoes
2 bras
1 leather coat
1 color coordinated scarf

All clothes are in one color range and yes, I pretty much looked the same every day since I ended up wearing the button down shirt as a jacket.  Oh well.  I wasn't in DC to impress people with my fashion sense (of which I have none).

I could have left the coat home and just worn a thick thermal undershirt.  I don't have a decent light jacket at the moment and the weather forecast indicated some chilly temperatures...which didn't really appear.  I never took the coat out of the apartment once I'd arrived.

To get all this, and my toiletries and sundries, in the pack, it's important to pack tight and be willing to carry the weight.
Wear the heaviest things even if you'll be a bit too warm on the trip.  Once you wear it onto the plane, you can stuff it under the seat in front of you, or roll it up for a lumbar support in those CRAP airline seats.   So, the boots, coat, a turtleneck, button down, scarf, socks, undies, bra and jeans were the outfit of the day.
The rest went in the bag.  First, I put the undies in a thin, and clean, veggie bag left over from a grocery trip, then stuff them in a shoe.  There was room left over for a rolled pair of socks.  The other shoe got more socks, a bra, and the silk undershirt.  I also packed an extra pillow case as I had recently put henna in my hair and didn't want to dye anything at the apartment.  This pillow case was an old one so if I needed to lighten the load, I could leave it behind.   One pair of undies was beyond the pale and was chucked rather than brought home.  1 t-shirt and 1 turtleneck were also potential donations if there wasn't room on the way home.

So, the stuffed shoes went into the bottom of the bag for rigidity.  Then the jeans.  Fill in around the edges with rolled or tightly folded shirts.  The pillowcase was folded to the size needed to make a layer across the entire bag and the packing thus far, then the sweater and the rest were layered on.  I had about 4 inches of space left in the top for my neti-pot and sea salt and threw in a cloth handkerchief for good measure.  Also in the top were the phone charger, ipod charger, etc.  The toiletries bag goes in the small outside pocket along with the travel journal.

I have an expandable, but still very small, travel purse that I can take on the plane as well.  It was purchased because with the expando-zipper around the bottom open, it will hold a water bottle upright.  The purse had the water bottle (filled at a drinking fountain after passing security...saves on those stupid expensive bottles of water at the airport), a bag of almonds and craisins, a pencil, tiny earbud type headphones, and the like.  

The combined weight of pack and purse was maybe 10 lbs.   That didn't include the clothes I was wearing.

Packing tight like this, also makes for easier travel on public transportation.  I took the Metro from the airport to the apartment and it was no problem.   On the Metro back to the airport at the end of the trip, the only problem was when I set my backpack on a bench to wait for a train...then got on the train without it.  I immediately noticed and was able to jump back off and grab the pack and get back on.   Thank goodness!   In DC, and at the Arlington Cemetery stop, that bag would have been taken by security and possibly blown up had I left it behind. 

Arlington Cemetery stop you ask...Why yes.   We (Mom and I) stopped at Arlington to watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the way to the airport.  Since we'd packed light, we just took our bags along.  I wouldn't choose to hike that far everyday with a pack, but it meant we could make the most of our final day in the city.  Nice.

Mom also packed VERY light.  She did put a few things in a clothing donation bin before we departed.   I had plenty of room so went ahead and brought my potential-donation clothes home to take on the next trip.

A final note:  I did not take along any toothpaste, shampoo or etc.  I don't use them anyway.  I took a small jar of sea salt (fits in the neti pot) which I use for tooth brushing.  I wash my hair with baking soda and rinse with dilute vinegar and figure I can get that at pretty much any store.  The apartment was well stocked and had both on hand.   The apartment also had plenty of lotions, potions, soaps and shampoos so that if you do use such things, you wouldn't have needed to bring any.

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