By Patty Rai Smith, Ed.D., Extension Home Based Business Program Specialist
From warm, sunny beaches to a convention
meeting in a city you've never visited, travel can be
exciting. Unfortunately, it also can be frustrating if your
preparation is haphazard and you don't have well-laid plans.
Whether you travel often or occasionally, for
business or pleasure, or by car, plane, or bus, you can make all
of your experiences more enjoyable just by thinking
ahead. By doing so, you'll be on the road to a successful trip.
Your travel wardrobe, for example, should be
a primary concern at home but not on the road.
Included in this publication are practical tips on topics such
as luggage selection, what and how much to pack,
and what accessories make caring for yourself and
your clothes easier.
Selecting the Right Luggage
The Standard Pieces
- The size of your suitcase will make a big difference in how you
can pack and in how much your clothing will wrinkle. The 28- x 30-inch or
Pullman-size suitcase allows you to lay jackets, skirts, and blouses flat
with few folds.
- A hanging garment bag, either the fold-over type or a tri-fold, means you
can carry your luggage easily yourself. Expect to hang several items of clothing
on one hanger. A useful garment bag will have additional pockets for shoes,
underwear, and other small items. A shoulder strap helps in carrying the bag,
but try it on for weight and bulk before you buy.
- A carry-on piece of luggage sometimes is needed in addition to the standard
suitcase or hanging bag. It may be of soft- or hard-sided construction but
must be small enough to fit under a standard-sized seat in an airplane. If
carried as an additional suitcase, it can be used for cosmetics, lingerie,
medication, nightwear, and items needed in case your luggage is lost. It also
is adequate by itself for an overnight trip.
- For versatility you may want to consider buying at least two pieces of
luggage from the same line. A garment bag and a soft-sided suitcase are a
What to Look for
- Choose luggage that is fully waterproof. Not only will your clothing
be kept dry, but also the treated material resists the natural accumulation
of dirt that occurs when luggage goes on the road.
- When considering leather luggage, look for uniform thickness in the leather.
Make certain there's no cracking around the edges where the leather has been
bent around the frame. If you find a relatively inexpensive leather bag, you
need to examine the construction carefully; good leather bags generally are
- Linings should always be stitched in, not glued on.
- Stitching should be double, with thick, coated thread. Make certain that
the finishing is done well, and that threads don't simply end or dangle.
- Check handles carefully because they are the pressure points of all bags.
On a cloth bag, canvas or nylon handles should be well sewn in an X-shaped
pattern. The handles should never be sewn directly onto the fabric of the
bag but onto a thicker piece of material that helps distribute the pressure.
A single-handled bag is better than a double-handled one unless the two handles
are held together by a snap-on piece. (Baggage handlers often grab a bag by
one handle, so if your handle is not strong enough to be treated that way,
you risk having the bag and its contents damaged.)
- Be sure zippers work well. Run them back and forth several times to see
that they glide smoothly. Heavy-duty zippers will provide better service.
- Inspect the locks. Locks don't prevent theft, but they do help keep bags
from popping open in transit. You can purchase additional small padlocks for
soft, zippered bags as long as there is a ring on the bag to which the end
of the zipper can be attached.
- Interior straps hold clothes firmly in place and help decrease wrinkling.
- Lightweight, collapsible luggage carts or suitcases with wheels can make
travel less frustrating. Test them in the store to see if they are balanced
to roll easily.
- Light-colored fabric luggage is beautiful in the store, but dark colors
will look nice longer.
- Basic guidelines for luggage needs:
- For weekend or overnight trips, a bag 14 x 22 inches.
- For a week-long trip, a bag 19 x 27 inches (standard size).
- For a two-week trip, you need to take both.
- The "extra bag," a sturdy, foldable tote bag in a lightweight
fabric that fits into your handbag is very handy to take along to carry additional
items on your return trip. Also, if you will be going through customs, you
can organize everything in one place.
- Don't forget to consider your storage space. Empty luggage can occupy a
lot of space. If your bags can fit inside each other, that's a plus!
What to Take
Carefully review your plans. Think about what
you will be doing and what you will need to wear.
How many changes of clothing will you need? Will you
be traveling with a group or alone? Will you be able to
Learn to travel light. Make a two-toned plan:
select two colors for your foundation wardrobe and don't
take anything that won't work with them. Solid colors
are always more flexible than patterns. Use small
accessories to add pattern variety.
Simple clothes are more versatile. The more
detailed a piece of clothing, the more difficult it is to add
accessories or change its look.
Don't skimp on accessories. Experiment ahead
of time with color and style compatibility. Also, learn
to use accessories creatively. A scarf, for example, can
do many things besides tie in a knot at the neckline.
Carry a handbag that works well with
everything. Pack a small flat clutch for evening wear.
Consider fabrics when selecting your travel
wardrobe. Garments that are "Dry Clean Only" may not be
a good choice for your long-term travel needs.
Knit fabrics in cotton and wool can be hand washed in
cold water and often don't need ironing. They also can
be rolled for easy packing. Good synthetic and
natural blends, such as polyester and cotton, travel well.
Wool, flannel, tweed, and gabardine also travel
well. UltrasuedeTM is super for being lightweight and
An all-weather coat in a neutral color with a
zip-out lining is good to have for year-round travel. It will
be easier to wear than to pack.
Remember to take along a folding umbrella.
The following are sample wardrobes for a two- to three-week trip.*
Wardrobe for Women
1 suit (either skirt and jacket or pantsuit for travel)
1 coat (for day and evening)
1 two- or three-piece knit outfit
2 daytime outfits
2 interchangeable tops
1 long skirt (for evenings; optional)
1 pair of jeans or casual slacks
3 pairs of shoes (including one pair of comfortable walking shoes)
2 sweaters in basic colors (or one sweater and a light- weight jacket for
2 scarves (one of which is a headscarf)
1 folding umbrella (or pocket raincoat)
4 to 5 pairs of pantyhose
3 sets of quick-drying underwear
1 pair of pajamas (or a nightgown)
1 travel robe
Wardrobe for Men
1 suit (a dark color works better for evening wear)
1 all-weather coat (preferably a raincoat with a zip-out lining)
1 sport coat (a blazer works in a variety of situations)
2 pairs of slacks
1 pair of jeans or casual slacks
5 shirts (drip-dry is recommended)
2 pairs of shoes
4 sets of undershirts and shorts
5 pairs of socks
1 sweater (either a cardigan or pullover in a basic color)
1 pair of pajamas (drip-dry)
1 travel robe
shaving kit (electrical aids as needed)
cuff links, tie clasp, and collar stays (if worn)
*These wardrobe checklists were adapted from TWA's guidelines.
- Shoe bags (can be made from stretch knit fabric or you can use old
- Makeup bag (quilted placemats can be used to make these). Cosmetics packed
in plastic bags protect clothing from spills.
- Sewing kit (can be made from fabric or from an empty, clean prescription
medication bottle). Include thread and buttons to match the clothes you packed,
a needle, and pins.
- A small roll of masking tape can be used as a lint remover, to seal cosmetic
bottle caps, or to repair a loose hem.
- A small first-aid kit (packed in a plastic bag). Include Band-AidsTM
- A beverage kit. Include a cup, spoon, immersion heater, instant coffee
or tea, powdered cream, and sugar in another plastic bag.
- Manicure set, with polish remover in individual squares. Secure in plastic.
Include colorless polish for hosiery repairs.
- Curling iron, hot curlers, blow dryer, and mirror in compact travel sizes.
Take a cardboard tube to put your curling iron in if you must pack it while
it's still hot.
- Small folding scissors or a Swiss army knife.
- Travel iron or clothes steamer.
Packing for Your Trip
- Make a list of what you will need before you begin to pack. Take the list
with you so you'll have an inventory in case your luggage is lost.
- Do not pack valuables or medications. Take these with you in your purse
or in a carry-on bag.
- Pack heavy items in the bottom hinged end of your suitcase.
- Shoes should be encased individually so they don't soil clothing. Plastic
bags or old socks work well, or you can make your own reusable cloth bags.
The space inside shoes is a good place to pack hosiery, belts, and underwear.
- Keep wrinkles to a minimum by using tissue paper or dry cleaner's plastic
bags between folds. You can even leave the garment on the hanger inside the
plastic bag. Sleeves can be stuffed with tissue. When you pack around these
fillers, they create air pockets among your clothes, which keeps them from
- Use the interfolding technique to avoid sharp creases that result when you
fold each piece separately. For example, to pack pants, leave the legs hanging
over the side of the suitcase. Place other clothes on top, then fold over
on top when the suitcase is full. You can do the same with dresses.
- Further organize your packing by separating underwear, scarves, and other
small items into plastic bags.
- When packing in a garment bag, enclose hanging clothes in plastic bags,
and place encased shoes in the bottom of the bag if there are no separate
- When packing in soft-sided luggage you can roll knit and casual clothing
around tissue or plastic. Place rolled pieces side by side over heavier items
like shoes. Delicate or tailored pieces should go on top with as few folds
as possible. Cover everything with a layer of plastic.
- Unpack as soon as possible after arrival. Hang any wrinkled items in the
bathroom and run a hot shower with the door closed. Ten to 15 minutes should
do the job.
Before You Leave Home
- Ask the post office to hold your mail, or arrange to have a neighbor collect
- Have your newspaper stopped. A buildup of newspapers and mail is an announcement
that you are gone.
- Secure valuables, such as silver and jewelry, in a bank safe-deposit box.
- Turn the heat or air conditioning down or off. You may want to turn off
or unplug other household appliances. However, don't unplug your refrigerator
unless you have made plans to take care of the perishables it contains.
- Arrange to have your lawn mowed at normal intervals, especially if you'll
be away for a long time.
- Use an automatic timer to turn lights on and off in one or two rooms so
it will look as if you're home.
- Lock all windows and doors securely.
- Give someone a telephone number where you can be reached in case of an
Enjoy Your Trip!
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of these brands or products is not intended or implied, nor is any discrimination
against those not mentioned, shown, or used intended or implied.
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