Like to Travel? Learn to Pack Light

George Clooney said it best in ‘Up in the Air’:

Clooney’s Character: You know how much time you lose by checking in (checking baggage)?

Female Character: I don’t know. Five, ten minutes?

Clooney’s Character: 35 minutes a flight. I travel 270 days a year. That’s 157 hours. That makes seven days. You’re willing to throw away an entire week on that?

Efficiency that is what we all (or at least me) are striving for. Over the years I’ve learned a few things about compromise when traveling. Like the Rolling Stones say ‘You can’t always get what you want’ but if you pack light enough you just may, you just may get what you need.

1) Layering

Always pack with layers in mind. Today’s ‘outer’ T-shirt is tomorrow’s undershirt. Re-using clothing that isn’t soiled to the point of offensively smelling is not only smart but it is economical and helps save the planet. Do you know how many hotels don’t collect towels daily anymore? They chalk it up to a ‘green’ initiative but let’s be honest the only ‘green’ they are worried about is the bottom line and with baggage fees at $50+ if you don’t have status on an airline reusing your clothing adds up to ‘green’ for you as well.

2) Mini Size

Regardless of checking baggage or carrying on there is no reason you can’t get by on mini-me sized items. Most hotels will gladly help you with shaving cream, toothpaste and mouthwash. If you stick with a chain (like Marriott for example) I learn that I usually get toothpaste, q-tips and mouthwash in the room. Therefore, if I’m staying at a Marriott on the front-end of my trip I know I can leave those items at home. From the desk they also provide shaving cream, razors and sometimes even floss without any additional charges.

3) Electronics

Get smart here. What will you actually need/use? I used to bring everything because I didn’t want to miss the comforts. Going to Detroit for a weekend (45 minute flight from Chicago) I’d have the Bose headphones, laptop, iPhone, iPad, iPod and workout headphones all accessible. Why? Because I didn’t want to not have something in case we were delayed for hours on hours….you know how many times that has happened to me? A handful maybe in a hundreds of flights…maybe I’ve been lucky but in my eyes you can combine things. For example, on short flights I leave the Bose headphones at home. I’ll likely leave my laptop unless I plan on doing intensive work and thus I’m left with less bulky items that can do the majority of tasks I need. In those instances it isn’t enough there are nearby giftshops and I always buy a magazine in a gift shop for those periods during and right before takeoff when electronics aren’t permitted because I get ADD.

4) Bulky Items

this combines with layering but if I’m going from Chicago to Denver in the spring I wear multiple layers rather than pack them. Yes, I know three or four layers of shirts or a winter jacket in Chicago when its 70 degrees may be excessive but a winter coat is heavy. If I’m going to be out hiking in the mountains the temps are going to be drastically different and I’d rather wear the ‘coldest’ clothes than pack them because they are the bulkiest and heaviest.

5) Rolling Clothes

This last one drives my wife crazy but hear me out and then give it a try and you will never go back. I don’t know the science behind it but clothes laying flat and folded two or three times over take up quite a bit of volume. Alternatively, if you roll that same item the volume (I imagine is the same) but the area it takes up is less. I can fit a week’s worth of clothes in a carryon via rolling (and layering) whereas before I learned the rolling method I was lucky to get four days in a carryon. It is that dramatic of a difference. If you aren’t rolling your clothes to save space you are missing out – yes your clothes will be ‘wrinkled’ but you are on vacation so I’m not bringing perfectly pressed clothes anyways.

Photo of the Day – Lake Louise Reflection

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Over the past three weeks I’ve been on a roll in Calgary and I’ve added two additional client relationships – this means I’ll be taking a number of additional trips to the great north and spending more time in Banff. I can’t wait as visiting that park was (I thought) a once in a lifetime experience but it seems I’ll have even more opportunities to explore Banff and also the parks in Northern Montana (Glacier for example) which are only a four hour drive from Calgary.

This is a picture from my morning in Lake Louise in March. You can’t tell by this image but it was well below zero on this morning. My camera had frost all over it and my nose had icicles hanging down because of the condensation from my breathing. No doubt it was the coldest I’ve ever shot pictures in. At points as I waded through waist high snow I was cursing myself for being so dumb and going out to shoot pictures. Ultimately, as I sit by my computer in my warm house I’m very happy I’m that dumb.


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