As I stood waiting in line for an International flight recently, Gerard, the elderly man in front asked if I could help him and his wife lift their bags to be checked in since they were unable to. They were flying business class and while they may have been entitled to a generous amount of luggage, might not they have given better thought to what they actually needed? While he expressed a few sympathetic ums and ohs as I struggled to lift their 5 bags, with his wife shouting at me to "bend the knees," there was one bag I could not budge. The man next in line assisted. It weighed in at 93 pounds. How were they going to manage during the course of their trip I wondered. When cruising, it pays to pack right and pack light. Here's how you can do it.
Consider your itinerary. What will you be doing and where will you be each day? What will the climate be like? Is there a dress code, whether smart casual or that you will need to dress formally each evening? Tip all your possible clothes onto your bed and begin the process of mixing and matching your outfits. Base your selection on what you will need and on colours that go well together. Consider how your clothes will be laundered. Some cruise ships provide laundries for guests , others charge per item and costs soon mount up, avoided if you wear drip dry clothing that will dry in your bathroom with no need for pressing. Stripes and patterns, dark and khaki, all disguise wrinkles and stains.
Never pack items "just in case." On days when I fly to and from a cruise, I wear jeans with a jacket. On days when I go on onshore excursions, I wear robust, comfortable loose fitting pants, long sleeved shirts, sandals with good traction and a hat. On my last 5 week trip that included a 6 night cruise, I took 3 shorts to mix and match with 6 shirts and got by with several outfits that I mixed and matched for evenings. I also packed swimming costumes, pj's, a raincoat and one pair of dressy sandals. No one ever notices if you wear the same outfit twice or three times over.
To pack your clothes, button shirts up and lay face down on a flat surface. Smooth away wrinkles. Cover with a sheet of thin plastic or tissue paper to avoid creases. Fold in at the shoulders and lay arms flat along the body so that you have an overlap on each side. Fold up a third of the shirt from the bottom to form a neat rectangle. Fill gaps along the edges with underwear. Once onboard hang everything immediately to prevent further crushing in day of wear order. Bring A4 size zip lock plastic bags and when you fly home, roll up your dirty clothing, sit on the bag and the air compression will squeeze your clothes tight. When choosing clothes consider if you can leave some behind further reducing bulk.
Organise your toiletries and medication to fit in the front pockets of your bag. Pack these in see through plastic zip lock sandwich bags in case of spillage and sort into purpose. For example a utility bag for your mini torch, alarm clock, calculator. First Aid bag etc. Have medications in their original packaging to cover every conceivable illness you risk contracting and ensure none contain a prohibited substance such as pseudoephedrine that could land you in trouble in some counties. For prescription medication, carry a signed and dated letter from your doctor stating it is for your own personal use.
Ensure all liquids, aerosols, gels and pastes in your carry-on luggage are in teeny containers, and that they are clearly visible in a plastic zip lock bag. Items include creams, gels, lipstick, lip balm, perfume etc. You will need to show this bag at the Airport Security screening point for international flights.
For checked-in luggage, while there is no size restriction, it makes sense to take only the amount of gels, liquid etc that you will use while overseas and travel size containers are all that you will need.Taking teeny containers reduces weight and bulk considerably.
Next week let's try to better organise your travel documents and what you will need to have ready for embarkation. But for now, I need to pack, I'm off to Melbourne.