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Travel Outfitting Guide -- for the Carry-On Traveler
We started this business because we love to travel. During trips on six continents we've found a constant. The best travelers start with a good attitude, travel skills and the right travel gear. The gear we choose to sell at Le TRAVEL STORE must be durable and functional. It's designed to assist travelers to become mobile, self-contained, organized and secure. Below are some thoughts about packing.
|MOBILE & SELF-CONTAINED
We are carry-on travelers. After the plane lands we slip through passport control, roll past the baggage carousel, zip through customs and head for town. The airlines never lose our luggage. We don't mind walking ten blocks to a hotel. We love to ride the rails -- the tube, the metro, the subway, streetcars and every kind of train from narrow gauge to TGV, ICE, and AVE. There are few obstacles when you're self-contained.
PACK IN LAYERS & COORDINATE COLORS
To avoid packing bulky clothes, we pack and dress in layers. On warm days we'll wear a T-shirt or casual shirt with travel pants or jeans. If it is cold, we will add a long sleeve shirt and a sweater. The top layer is a coat to block the wind and rain. We wear the appropriate number and combination of layers for the temperature. We save space by choosing shirts, pants, vests and outerwear that all work together, in any combination.
SHOES AND COATS
We usually wear a pair of good looking walking shoes and pack a pair of walking sandals. On flights, we wear our coat or strap it onto our carry-on. Extra shoes and coats take lots of space inside luggage.
Most U.S. airlines allow one carry-on measuring up to 9"x14"x22" (23x35x56cm) plus a smaller flight bag. Normally the larger bag goes in the overhead bin and the smaller goes under the seat. You can find each airline's policy on their website. At the airport, however, the check-in staff will decide what's actually allowed on board based on the type of aircraft and whether the flight is full. We try to be among the first to board the plane, before the overhead bins get stuffed. Note: Some international airlines -- for example, flights within Europe -- allow very little carry-on.
DETERMINE THE NEEDS
Bill likes a padded shoulder bag for his camera, guide book and maps. Joan takes a small bag with a sturdy strap for daytime use. When traveling in cold or rainy conditions, we want extra space for a sweater or umbrella.
THE RIGHT SIZE
Don't haul too much! The bag gets heavier as the day progresses. Leave non-essentials in the hotel room.
INTENSIVE POKING AROUND
That's what we call our style of travel. We look for a good rhythm -- relaxed and spontaneous, but taking chances and pushing ourselves into unfamiliar situations. When we see an open door, we like to go in. We walk a lot. And we each choose a day bag to carry around daily needs.
CLEAN AND PRESENTABLE
We each pack a toiletry kit. The best kits have a hook to hang on the back of a bathroom door and they fold open so you can see the contents.
IF YOU FORGET, DON'T SWEAT
Half way to the airport, we always remember something we forgot to pack. That used to be a problem. Now, nearly anywhere we go, we find well-stocked stores.
220 VOLT ELECTRICITY
Appliances in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Japan use 110 volt electricity. Most other countries have 220 volts power. You can either buy dual-voltage appliances or voltage converters.
SECURE YOUR VALUABLES
There are two dangers. Your valuables can be stolen. Or you can set them down and walk away. (We've done both.) We urge you to get a money belt, always wear it and always put your valuables in it. It's OK to keep a day's supply of cash in a pocket or purse. If that gets stolen, it's not a disaster. If a thief gets your passport and airline tickets, you have a big problem.
BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS
On an October evening in Paris, after dinner in the Latin Quarter, Joan stopped to watch a street performer. A pickpocket lifted Joan's wallet containing her passport, Eurailpass, travelers checks and airline tickets. She wasn't wearing her money belt! We wasted a week recovering from the incident. Don't make a similar mistake!
HUNTING AND GATHERING
Pursuing the cheese, picking the fruit, selecting the wine -- it's half the fun. When prowling the markets we become part of the natives' daily routine. We learn more about a culture by shopping its markets than visiting its museums. And incidentally, we save money.
WHEN IN ROME -- OR PARIS
Every city is one enormous picnic ground -- Piazza Navona or the Tullieries, Villa Borghese or the Bois de Boulogne, Circo Massimo or the Stravinski Fountain by the Pompidou. Everywhere there's a scenic spot, there's a picnic spot.
Blisters and scrapes are occupational hazards for a traveler. A trip without small wounds means we're not challenging ourselves.
FIELD TESTING OUR KIT
Strolling down a dark street after dinner in Esquel (Argentina), Joan tripped over a broken sidewalk. We'll spare you the ugly details, but we hustled back to our hotel, got some ice and broke out the antiseptic, bandaids and asprin. We quickly contained the damage.
Our worst health problems have come from respiratory infections. We've found that we are most vulnerable to catching a virus at the beginning of a big trip. So we always try to sleep during a long flight and drink lots of water. Then we spend the first few days in our arrival city -- relaxing and overcoming jet lag. After we've adjusted, we pick up the pace.