With less than a week to go before my trip to Italy, I’m thinking about packing. In preparation, I just can’t resist reading other people’s tips on how best to pack.
One of my favourites is the perennial “pack your worst, most worn-out underwear and discard as you go.” Yikes! That always sounds a bit unpleasant for hotel staff, who must deal with all this old, used underwear. Besides, I find it can make great packing material for fragile items, like ceramics.
It’s also useful for fire-fighting. One of my favourite news stories of this decade, courtesy of the BBC: a man and his son put out a raging grease fire on their stove, using an enormous pair of Marks and Spencer cotton knickers grabbed from a nearby laundry basket.
On a related theme of fire-fighting and packing, here’s a helpful safety tip I found today on the Rick Steeves' Graffiti Wall, concerning best fabrics for packing. The poster suggests synthetic clothing is best for packing BUT adds that he only wears wool or cotton on the plane. The reason? “In a fire, synthetics melt right into your skin. Cotton is safer, and wool is actually slightly protective in case of fire.”
Double yikes!!! I don’t usually worry about plane fires—my big concern is lost luggage, so I choose plane wear that would look appropriate for a few days after I land, in case my luggage doesn’t make the scene.
Still on the disposable clothing theme, here’s a debatable suggestion from another poster on the RS wall: “I bring clothing items that are headed for the Goodwill bag. Wear them one more time and leave it (sic) in the room. I don't have to do laundry, and it makes room in the bag for shopping.” Since I assume this woman was probably going to give ill-fitting or out-dated clothes to Goodwill, she must be planning to wander around fashion-obsessed Italian cities, dressed for a disco. Or in her old maternity clothes. I think I’ll leave my hand-me-downs at home.
One item I do leave behind from my luggage are novels that I’ve finished reading during the trip. I always pack a few books and tend to carry light-weight stuff (both in terms of content and actual size, such as small-print mysteries.) So, I don't mind leaving them behind.
I find that even though I’ll be traveling for almost a month, I don’t think I need that much more stuff than I would for a couple of weeks. To me, the basics are the same no matter the length of the trip. Curling iron, hair brush, and worst of all, the electronics. The plug adaptors, the charger for the cell phone, the digital camera, the iPod, the Netbook.
Then there are the toiletries. Some I can’t find in Italy – especially my brand of contact lens' solution (this is not the time to experiment.) So I pack a lot of that. But other stuff, such as toothpaste, moisturizer, soap, sun block – I take a few days’ supply to start, then buy more on the ground.
Wish me luck!