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Side Trips

What are you packing?

It's all about SPACE, SPACE, and SPACE. Let's consider what you NEED . . . A COLLAPSIBLE TOTE . . . vs. what you WANT . . . THE KITCHEN SINK . . . for a trip that lightens your LUGGAGE.

By JANET K. KEELER, Times Staff Writer
Published July 31, 2005

Ever notice that when you take a car trip, every nook and cranny of the vehicle is filled with "indispensables"? Pillows, electronics, books and magazines, full-size bottles of lotion and shampoo, bicycles, sports equipment, collapsible chairs. Truly everything but the kitchen sink.

But when you are paying to have somebody else transport you, via plane, train or bus, you have no such luxury of space. You must be selective - though you still want some comforts of home. For instance, if you will be gone long enough to handwash some of your clothes, you want to take along inflatable clothes hangers. Those are indispensable when you need to hang-dry items. (A Google search will find plenty of online purveyors.)

Rich Steck and Judi Janofsky, co-publishers of the daily e-newsletter offer these tips on how to pack and what you need when you can take only a suitcase or two.

Roll, don't fold

Roll clothing such as T-shirts and nonwrinkling pants to avoid hard creases or folds. Place these items around the perimeter of your bag.

Bulk up

Wear bulky clothes when traveling to and from your destination instead of filling up your suitcase with them. They also make a great pillow when you are stranded at the airport.

Collapsible totes

Bring a collapsible tote and a day bag. If you attach the tote to your rolling bag, you won't have to carry a thing. When not in use, it packs flat in your carry-on. Aboard planes and trains, use a tote to carry snacks, magazines and paperbacks, camera, folding umbrella, etc. A tote also serves as an extra suitcase for bringing home gifts and souvenirs.


Companions traveling together need to consolidate toiletries whenever possible. For example, one razor with separate blades and a small bottle of shaving oil will work for two.


There are many lightweight yet strong binoculars available nowadays. Make sure to take them on every trip.


If you are going to be in an area where local water is a problem, take an extra toothbrush. It never fails that we stick to our old habits and run it under the faucet. If this happens, you can always use the spare.

Fast-dry underwear

Bring a few pairs of fast-dry underwear that you can wash in your hotel sink and dry overnight.


Always have a small flashlight with you. You can use it to read menus in a dark restaurant or navigate in a dark hotel room.


Folding or inflatable travel hangers are useful for drying laundry in your hotel room.

Heavy items

Pack your heaviest items closest to the wheels and along the sides near the hinges of rolling bags. This will prevent heavier items from shifting and causing wrinkles.

Label inside and out

Make sure your bags are labeled inside and out in case your outside tags are removed in transit.

Manila envelope

Place a large manila envelope on the bottom of your suitcase. This can be used to either store miscellaneous papers such as tickets, postcards, receipts and guidebooks or even to mail them back home to save room in your case.

Mix and match

Consider clothing that you can mix and match. Choose a neutral color as a base for slacks or skirts and add colorful pieces for variety.

Multipurpose tool

Pack a compact multipurpose tool that includes a screwdriver, scissors, tweezers, etc. Keep it with you at all times.

[Last modified July 29, 2005, 09:22:04]


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