HOW TO PACK LIKE A PRO: For a Weekend Away or Two Weeks in Timbuktoo by Virginia Haynes Montgomery

For a Weekend Away or Two Weeks in Timbuktoo

For years I travelled to Africa and the Caribbean on business several times a year. My trips always lasted twelve days or more and I always took just a carry-on suitcase, even though my itinerary included business meetings, government-sponsored events and press junkets escorting travel editors through jungles, up mountains and over desert terrains.

Whether you’re traversing the wilds of Africa or making a weekend dash to the country or a cosmopolitan cityscape, packing your bag can be boiled down to a science that will make for easy, stress-free packing.

 The right luggage

The right suitcase is a must. These days, it’s all about a carry-on and getting as much into one bag as possible. First off, make sure your bag will fit in the airline cabin’s overhead bin. Then check to see if you’re comfortable with the weight when packed since you’ll be carrying it through airports and other areas where you’ll be traveling on foot.

Packing strategy

Choose a predetermined color scheme. Best to stick with a really strong color story – nudes and blacks work well in many climates and you can vary outfits with different textures as well, like a packable all-occasion dress or top with a silky black blazer or twill shorts. Add white with a cotton shirt and a pair of white jeans. A sheer wool shawl that doubles as a wrap, a scarf and something to snuggle into is invaluable when plane cabins, restaurants or hotel rooms turn chilly.

Ignore the impulse to take several pairs of shoes. You really need only two; the pair you wear and the pair you pack. Choose comfort first. These days, there have never been more choices that blend easy wear with elegance. And remember the weight factor. Even the flimsiest sandals can add precious ounces to your carry-on.

Most importantly, don’t daydream your way to over-packing. Although it might be fun to imagine drinks on a moonlit terrace with you in floaty chiffon paired with a statement necklace, be realistic about what you’ll actually be doing and increase your wardrobe options by bringing minimal accessories capable of taking the mundane out of your basics. A few good lightweight costume pieces are best for travel and most frequent travelers advise leaving the real sparklers home in a safe deposit box.

Tricks of the trade

Roll, rather than fold items in your carry-on. Saves on space and your clothing will arrive relatively wrinkle-free. Today’s fabrics are often blends of natural fibers with percentages of poly or spandex so garments tend to bounce back and maintain their shape.

Keep underwear to a minimum. Three sets of bras and panties are plenty since one can rinse them quickly in your hotel’s bathroom sink. And thanks to the in-room hair dryers found in most hotels, you can hurry up the drying process.

Your cosmetic bag should always be stocked and ready to go. Again, stick to the basics such as toothbrush and paste, all-purpose moisturizer, deodorant as well as band aids and topical first aid cream. Make sure to take any meds you’ll need.

Savvy travelers like to leave room for purchases, so think about a packable, foldable tote that opens to full size. Again, bear in mind you must love the item enough to carry it home.

Be a welcome guest

Be mindful that you are a guest in the countries you’re visiting. Pack clothing that demonstrates you respect their laws, manners and our differences.


All books are available at Click on title to learn more.

Travellers Guide to Packing Light
by Jessica Speed
The Carry-On Traveller: The Ultimate Guide to Packing Light
by Erin McNeaney

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