Friday, May 4, 2012

Creating Your Grab and Go Travel Bag (Part 2)

In the last post we started talking about how to be ready for any travel with a grab-and-go carry-on or, at the very least, one that requires little work to add to before you take off. Plan a big holiday or a last-minute city break and still be able to take off with minimal packing effort. While I love packing, I still keep all my essentials, useful items and clothing pieces in or near my carry-on. I know most people either hate packing or tolerate it and would like to do as much possible to make it less painful for all future trips. 

Creating a Travel Wardrobe
Want to start working on a great travel wardrobe? I have some warm weather and cool weather travel clothing pieces, but lately I've been looking at cold weather destinations and need to stock up on some warmer options. This got me thinking that other people probably want to know what kinds of fabric and brands to look for in a durable and attractive travel wardrobe.
  • While cotton is comfortable, it's not always the best option for travel fabric, because it wrinkles and holds odors. Look for items that have soy, bamboo or coolmax. These fabrics wick moisture and are resistant to odors, so if you can't wash your clothes right away, they won't smell up your CLEAN clothes and you can get another wear out of them if you need to. Nylon and rayon are nice lightweight fabrics that are also quick-drying. Wool and fleece are excellent layering fabrics, if you need to keep warm in a cold climate, because they have a tight weave that can be thin and still hold in quite a bit of heat.
  • Omni-shield clothing has built-in SPF for sunny locales. Just because your skin is covered up, doesn't mean you can't get sunburned.
  • If you'll be traveling to a destination that is known to have mosquitoes and other bite-y bugs, look for clothing with Insect Shield from ExOfficio. It has built-in bug repellent that can last up to 70 washes.
So, what makes travel clothes better for traveling than your normal wardrobe? This is easy. Travel clothes are made specifically for travel conditions. They are durable, lightweight and super packable. They can also be very versatile and stylish, with great pieces that are made for layering, and are convertible. You can have pants that roll up to make capris or zip-off into shorts. You can buy long sleeve tops that have roll up sleeves to make a short sleeve shirt, so it works for chilly weather or warm weather. There are dresses that can be converted into 20 different styles. Now you can even find reversible clothing, so you can wear one piece two different ways and get more looks out of it. So, where can you find these awesome clothing pieces? 

Other Useful Travel Items
I tend to have the same items packed for every trip, so now I just leave them in my travel bag all the time.
  • Small crank torch. You never know when you might need some extra light. These are great, because they are inexpensive and don’t require batteries. I found one at a local store that’s on a keychain, fits in the palm of your hand and gives off enough light with just a few cranks.
  • Pen and paper. Take some notes, play a game, leave a message for the maid. You really can’t go wrong by having this set in your bag. Even if you don’t end up using it, it takes up almost no room.
  • Folding, pop-up mesh hamper. They really are useful. Use as a hamper and a laundry tote for vacations of a week or more. For less than a week, use it to keep all your dirty clothes separate from your clean ones or as a catch-all for your purchases.
  • Laundry line. In case you plan to do laundry in your room, or want to save money on dryer costs by bringing back your clean clothes and hanging them to dry in your room. The best ones are the rubbery ones that have a braided line, so you don’t need to bring clothes pins, as the clothing can be held in place by placing them between the plaits.
  • Sewing kit. When you only take as many clothes as necessary, you don’t really bring anything extra. It’s imperative that if something happens you can fix it, whether it’s a popped button or an unruly hem.
  • Basic first-aid kit. I have a small one that fits in my toiletry bag, but it has all the essentials: band-aids, antibiotic meds, gauze, aspirin, gloves, tweezers…If you fall and break your leg, it won’t help you much, but if you skin your elbow at the pool, you won’t have to shell out $13 on a tube of Neosporin at the hotel gift shop. Great for clumsy people like me or those with kids.
  • Anti-bacterial spray and wipes. I like to have both of these on hand. The spray can kill germs on your hands…or anywhere else on your body and in the air and the wipes can be used for the same, on surfaces, to clean up spills or to refresh yourself after a long plane ride. Both are also wonderful if you have kids in tow.
  • Compass. Yes, I know this isn’t Boy Scouts, but sometimes, even in a big city, you’re confronted with a map and no real point of reference to where you are. A compass helped us out greatly when trapped in the depths of Hyde Park. The map doesn’t show you trees and benches, so knowing a general direction to head in got us back on track.
  • Packable rain jacket. You never know when a downpour will interrupt your vacation, but having a packable jacket can keep you dry and also serve as a light cover-up for a chilly evening, making it more useful and convenient than an umbrella. You can get affordable, lightweight options in a variety of colors. 
Need to know more about how to choose the appropriate makeup that will take up less room in your bag and still have the same great coverage? Some even do double the work, meaning you can use one product to replace two or three.  Check out my Monday post for help to make your toiletry bag lighter and more efficient.

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