I’m home. Finally.Two loads of laundry out of the way. Most bags unpacked. Travel successes and failures still fresh in my mind.Here’s are several things that worked for me on this vacation:Nylon sports bag.I threw this in my suitcase at the last minute, not knowing how much I’d use it.It became the ideal daypack, very flexible. For example, it stays inconspicuous as it lies fairly limp when carrying only a few necessities, like a water bottle, camera and wallet. But if I ended up buying something, it would expand to hold quite a bit. I stuffed all kinds of things into it for the beach–a book, notebook, pen, rain jacket, water bottle, shells, towel. I could even sit on it in the sand to provide a little protection from the dampness. It also worked great when we biked or went to the pool.It rolls down to almost nothing, and taking up virtually zero space, can be easily tucked in a suitcase, backpack, or even a purse:Next time we go on any trip, I’m having everyone roll up a personal sports bag to slip into the corner of his or her suitcase, or fold it flat and slide it into those rarely used front pockets. Other than my camera, this bag was the single most used item I packed. And they’re so cheap–we got four for free from a booth at a neighborhood carnival. If we don’t feel like advertising the company that handed them out, we just flip the writing side to the back, as you saw in the photos.The only negative is that the strings don’t feel so great against bare skin. When I wore my swimsuit to the beach, I preferred to first slip on a T-shirt or tank top so that the strings rested against the material.It could also work as a reusable shopping bag, for those who are trying to be eco-friendly but leave the bags at home or in the trunk. Try it out next time you go shopping. Just roll it up and stuff it in your purse; it’ll be right there at the checkout.Categorizing and ContainerizingAnother success was determining categories of items to pack and separating them into bags. I actually use this method on a daily basis in my purse, and merely expanded on the concept for the trip. Here’s a quick snapshot of my bags:Top-to-bottom:
- Brown bag contains a mini hairbrush, hair clips and elastics;
- Blue bag holds first-aid items such as Claritin, Excedrin, band-aids and triple antibiotic cream;
- Blue bag with swirls holds, um, how shall we say it, “personal” items;
- Light blue with pastel colors holds makeup basics;
- Cloth toile bag is the least precise, because it serves as a mini-purse. It can hold several frequently used items, like a nail file, small tissue pack, antibacterial gel, a stray band-aid or two in case I didn’t have the entire blue first-aid bag, chapstick, two business cards, and one emergency “personal” item.
I simply grabbed the bags I thought would be needed that day and toss them in my purse or daypack. The kids got to know which bag held the first-aid items and could run to the room and snatch it when needed.This containment system worked with my own logic (each person should lean on his or her own, as my own logic doesn’t always make sense to others) and kept things easily transferable from one bigger container, like a suitcase, to another, like a daypack.Of course I had a toiletries bag, as well; but it wouldn’t be tossed into a daypack or purse for use on the go.These small, makeup-sized bags are not a big investment: I found them all at Goodwill, each at 99 cents.Neither of these ideas is all that novel, but perhaps one will help minimize somebody’s minor travel woes.Change of Clothes in Carry-onEverybody knows to take a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a change of clothes (especially underwear) in a carry-on bag, right? This is so that if you arrive at your destination, but your bags don’t, you have options. This happened to us, and we were glad to have something to wear the next day.Empty Water BottleYou can’t take liquids on the plane, but you can take an empty plastic water bottle (be sure it’s totally empty). Fill it up on the other side of security and avoid the high-priced bottles offered at the airport gift shop (plus, feel good about recycling). We filled ours, dropped them in our red sports bag, and took them everywhere, as drinking fountains are extremely rare in Belgium and Holland. A very small bottle is handy, as it isn’t so heavy to tote around.Time Change and Jetlag: Don’t Look BackMy father-in-law, a world traveler, has always encouraged me to change my watch to the time zone of my final destination so as to start living it and adjusting to it. I used to say things like, “No wonder I’m tired–back home, it’s 2 in the morning,” and he would point out that by continuing to look back like that, I was keeping myself from enjoying the present and shifting faster through jetlag. Somewhere along the way, I started following his advice and have found it to be wise and accurate. I change my watch as soon as I’m on the last plane.Speaking of jetlag, we had the longest travel time ever on this trip–with three planes and some drive-time, we were awake for 24 hours when we got in last night.Thus, while not wanting to make excuses, those are the few tips that my weary brain can drag up at the moment.What kinds of travel solutions have you implemented?For more tips, check out Works For Me Wednesday at Rocks In My Dryer.