Traveling in Style: Cleared for Takeoff! - une femme d'un certain âge

Traveling in Style: Cleared for Takeoff!

Here’s how une femme packs two weeks’ worth of clothing, plus toiletries and some other odds and ends in a 20″ carry on wheeled suitcase. (The bag: Eagle Creek Tarmac 20 )

First, lay out a clean towel on the bed so your clothes won’t get covered in pet hair! (OK, so our dogs are a bit spoiled…)

Then, starting with the shoes you’ll be packing, stuff with socks, jewelry, spare eyeglasses, Clarisonics, electrical adapters, anything that will fit.

This not only saves space, but helps prevent shoes being smooshed. See below, nobody flies for free! Every shoe carries something.

Some people use shoe bags to prevent shoe dirt from contaminating clothing. I tend to clean shoes off with a damp rag or paper towel before packing, and pack with soles to outside walls of bag. I suppose I could wrap in plastic grocery bags in a pinch, but usually I’m just not that squeamish.

Above, you can see the “valleys” made by the structure that houses the telescoping bag handle. Some people avoid wheeled bags for this very reason, but I’d rather wheel than carry to save my neck and shoulders.

Above I’ve used the valleys and gaps to pack my folding duffel bag, my raincoat, and non-liquid toiletries and cosmetics bags.  You can see there are still some unused nooks and crannies.  Those might come in handy for packing small souvenirs on the trip home.

I’ve packed this time using two Eagle Creek Pack-It cubes for my clothing. This isn’t as efficient a use of space as just rolling the clothes and placing individually in the bag, but as we’re going to be loading up and changing locations three times on this trip, these help keep me organized and make that process simpler when the time comes to re-pack.

First, I start with the pants.

Above, fold flat (not along the crease line) then starting with the waistband end, roll up as smoothly and tightly as you can.

In the first packing cube above, I was able to fit the three pair of pants that I’m packing plus the long black cardigan and short jacket, all rolled.

In the second cube, all of my packed tops, plus my nightwear (including a lightweight silk bathrobe).

Here’s how the cube looks all zipped up. You can really stuff these babies.

Lay the cubes flat on top of the items already packed…

with the heavier of the cubes toward the vertical bottom of the suitcase for balance.  As you can see above and below, I haven’t filled the main packing compartment up to the rim, so the lid closes and zips with room to spare.

Above, all the clothing is now packed and secured using the compression straps to keep everything in place. Underwear and bras are in the mesh compartments in the lid on the right.  I still have room in the main compartment for my electrical equipment (various chargers and an adapter) if I want.

And there’s another flat-ish (1-2″ deep) compartment in the lid that I haven’t used.  Might be a handy space for a compression bag of dirty laundry on the trip home.

My laptop will slip nicely into the padded exterior pocket on the lid of the suitcase for easy access going through security. My clear quart baggie of liquids, wrap and purse will go into my “personal item” zip-top tote.

I’m successfully resisting the temptation to pack any more. Right now, I can easily lift this bag over my head, or pick up and carry up a flight of stairs or three. I don’t want to spoil the magic.

In a few hours, we’re off!


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  1. Eva
    May 17, 2011 / 1:25 pm

    I am so impressed. I am making notes. I can never resist the adding just “one more thing” syndrome and then end up never wearing that item.

  2. May 17, 2011 / 1:42 pm

    Beautiful. I don’t use shoe bags either, figuring I don’t tromp through anything that bad. And I’m still really liking your mary janes.

  3. May 17, 2011 / 1:46 pm

    Ditto on the shoe bag issue. What a wonderfully organized suitcase you pack — I really need those cubes!

  4. May 17, 2011 / 2:20 pm

    Bon voyage, sweet Pseu!

  5. May 17, 2011 / 2:22 pm

    Like your expertly tied scarf lessons this has been so informative…I’ll never pack my old way again…and I’ll think of you next time I pack for a trip…which will be very soon!
    Bon Voyage!

  6. May 17, 2011 / 2:32 pm

    You have taken care of all the worrisome parts, now go forth and E N J O Y!!!!!!!!

  7. May 17, 2011 / 2:57 pm

    Brilliant! Bravo! Have a great trip!

  8. May 17, 2011 / 3:19 pm

    Great packing. I like to use cubes also. Have a wonderful trip.

  9. Anonymous
    May 17, 2011 / 3:55 pm

    I’m going to bookmark this post and the previous one in my travel folder. Too bad we’re not just setting out on our own trip! But this will all be helpful for the next one.
    Oh, enjoy Venice. And enjoy people watching. Give us your impressions when you return.

  10. May 17, 2011 / 4:35 pm

    You’ve got it down!! I have to look into the compression bags, especially for dirty laundry.

  11. May 17, 2011 / 6:29 pm

    Have a wonderful time, especially in Italy. (Count me as one of the squeamish – shoe bags always!)

  12. Anonymous
    May 17, 2011 / 6:41 pm

    Bon voyage, dear Pseu! You consistently both charm and inform.

  13. Effie May
    May 17, 2011 / 6:42 pm

    That last Anonymous was me — it somehow got away before I could leave my name!

  14. Parthenope
    May 17, 2011 / 11:52 am

    Formidable, Madame ! Have a wonderful time. Give my love to Venice when you’re drinking a spritz campari.

  15. Pam @ over50feeling40
    May 17, 2011 / 11:56 am

    This is really helpful…I am going to forward this to someone about to leave on a big trip!!

  16. Paula
    May 17, 2011 / 12:00 pm

    I could never put my dirty shoes in a suitcase without a light shoebag, covering them. But the rest is extraordinary and extremly well organized. Chapeau! Thank you for all the photos, this posting would be nothing without the photos.

  17. California Girl
    May 17, 2011 / 12:02 pm

    Impressive. You make my husband, veteran of many many trips, look like a rookie!

  18. pavlova
    May 17, 2011 / 12:54 pm

    Oh this is so fabulous! I could go anywhere with your wonderful wardrobe. I really need to change my packing
    routine. AND…..Bon Voyage!!!!!

  19. May 17, 2011 / 7:58 pm

    I can’t wait to try out your marvelous techniques on my next trip. I’m in awe the way you positioned shoes and raincoat. And I’m going to the cubes just to practice packing. Have an amazing trip and remember carbs don’t count in Italy. Seriously.

  20. bobbi
    May 17, 2011 / 1:47 pm

    Impressive. I’ve learned a lot from your series of posts for this trip. We just came back from Switzerland, Northern Italy & Munich. Love how you stuck the computer in the wheelie. I’ve vowed never to take the laptop again but this idea might work. Can’t wait till the next trip to try all these ideas out. Have a great time!

  21. vicki archer
    May 17, 2011 / 3:39 pm

    Have a great trip…I would like to see the packed bag on your return after your travels…maybe there will be an extra one!

  22. May 17, 2011 / 10:52 pm

    I am going to China for 4 weeks this summer. May I send you my clothes and carry-on case and let you pack for me? Absolutely brilliant!

  23. Susan Tiner
    May 17, 2011 / 4:41 pm

    Well done! I must get those cubes.

    Please say hello to Rome for me!

    I will eagerly await your travel posts.

  24. May 18, 2011 / 12:14 am

    Perfect packing!! I am so excited now.. and love your comment “nobody flies for free”! XX

  25. Katriona
    May 18, 2011 / 1:04 am

    My God….. I am in awe. I am bookmarking this page for future reference. I have an upcoming trip to Paris in late August/ early September, and this is going to be what I do…Bon Voyage Ms. Pseu!

  26. Kalee
    May 17, 2011 / 9:22 pm

    Fantastic packing! I’m seriously impressed and will be bookmarking this post for when we eventually get to Paris!

    (we were supposed to be going for a week to an apartment next spring….but now will have a 6 month old by then!)

  27. Carole Cornell
    May 17, 2011 / 11:57 pm

    Amazing job of packing! I want to be just like you.

  28. neki desu
    May 18, 2011 / 7:21 am

    this one’s a real keeper, thank you!
    as much as i love to travel i abhor me it’s like a nightmare come idea of being wealthy is traveling with my handbag and buying everything in situ.sigh.

    bon voyage!

  29. May 18, 2011 / 3:22 pm

    I completely agree on the use of cubes, but I’ve NEVER rolled my clothes to pack them. I’ve tried both rolled and folded, and found that I could get exactly the same number of items in a bag one way as the other. (which kind of makes sense; the volume of a garment doesn’t change based on how it’s arranged).

    And I love your travel wardrobe – other comments were exactly right that one could travel for a long time on such a well-conceived and chosen group of garments.

    Have a lovely trip! We can’t wait to hear about it all…

  30. May 18, 2011 / 4:06 pm

    You are an expert packer 🙂 I have the same Eagle Creek compartments….I adore them for travel!

  31. May 18, 2011 / 11:00 pm

    Very impressive packing job! You will be smiling as you breeze through customs and out while everyone else is waiting for their checked bags (and hoping they arrived!).

    Have a marvelous trip; looking forward to the photos!

  32. May 19, 2011 / 3:08 am

    I need a new suitcase…thanks for mentioning a brand!

  33. RoseAG
    May 18, 2011 / 9:29 pm

    It’s always a good idea to be able to hoist your suitcase overhead without assistance.

    It should be of a weight that you can pull it out of the overhead bin easily without risk of it getting away from you and clunking someone.

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