Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Packing: The Challenge Begins . . .

I've noticed a climate change when it comes to talking about packing.  A few years ago, any claim that I'd managed two weeks in Paris with carry-on luggage would be met most often with incredulity. Occasionally, there would be admiration--as if for a heroic accomplishment--occasionally, and sometimes there'd even be ridicule (why ever would you want to do that?). But when Une Femme introduced the topic a few weeks ago, in preparation for her upcoming trip to Paris and Italy, many commenters insisted that the convenience of carry-on did not preclude the possibility of dressing well. I especially like ParisGrrrl's note that she packs one week's worth of clothing no matter how long she's travelling.  Having eked a month out of our carry-ons the last two years, we're really going to test the system for this year's six-week trip.  But the apartment we're renting in Paris is equipped with washer and dryer, so I'll be able to refresh items as needed, and I'm sure there will be some shopping to introduce variety towards the final weeks.

I'm hoping to spill out the contents of my carry-on before I go, and let you see the wardrobe that must take me through six weeks away. Almost as big a challenge, though, is the limit for liquids and gels -- that 1-litre zip-lock bag that must contain all my hair products, contact lens solutions, and cosmetics. I'll admit straight away that I have a secret weapon here: Pater is quite content to use whatever products he can pick up on arrival, so his space becomes mine. Still, can you imagine how annoyed I was recently to find that my favourite hair product (the only product that really works for my kind of curls -- and my daughter's, and Duchesse's, right D?) has been re-packaged. While I grudgingly admit I'll probably get used to the new colours and design, I can't believe they never considered what a change from 100 mls.
to 150
would mean for all of us who fly carry-on only. Luckily, I have one last container in the old size, so I can squeak through this trip -- I know the product is gettable in London, so I'll be able to pick some up there to see me through the last few weeks. But still. Think, people, think! Why mess with a good thing? Last year, Tigi put out 50ml containers and I grabbed a small stash, but worked my way through them. Hindsight hurts, and I obviously should have saved those for such eventualities as now, but I'm crossing my fingers the company will hear enough customer complaints that they'll bring back travel-compliant sizing.

Ditto for my contact lens solution -- I have one 100 ml. bottle, but my second is 120 ml. I've decided I'll take a chance they either won't notice or they'll let me get by with the slightly larger size (still sealed). Otherwise, I'll abandon the 120 ml and, again, pick up something in London.

Another concern was shampoo and conditioner. We've managed before by picking up something on arrival, but I really miss my Aveda for keeping my hair in order. This time, I've filled 6 small bottles, half with shampoo and half with conditioner. We'll pick up something for Pater over there and I'm hoping that careful rationing should see me through six weeks in prime Aveda condition! The bag above contains 2 small bottles of contact lens solutions, 6 hotel-size bottles of Aveda,
my blush, my Curls Rock, eye cream, three small sample vials of Kelly Calèche and a small bottle of Balenciaga's Paris. And when I come home, having emptied out the shampoos, the hair product, and the lens solution, there will be room for new perfume, should I end up bringing some home.

Here's what's left over for Pater's bag: day cream, night cream, foundation, and a lipstick. We'll probably throw a deodorant stick in there as well, although I've found it can get through in the suitcase, not being either gel or liquid. I've also found that the (small, l'occitane) hand cream I carry in my purse, along with any lipsticks in there, don't get challenged. I'm knocking on wood between typing, and I'm always ready to squeeze these into Pater's bag or, if necessary, to leave them behind, but so far, so good . . .

If some of these products get used up while we're away, it's hardly a hardship to check out new possibilities in London or Paris. I've heard good things about the Boots no. 7 line, for example . . .

So that's a peek at my carry-on . . . I've got my suitcase almost organized, and I hope to share my travel wardrobe over the next few days. Meanwhile, any tips are very welcome . . .


  1. Liquids are the biggest challenge for me too. I've never included lipsticks or other non-liquid makeup in my liquids baggie, and have never been challenged by the TSA. Even for items like mascara. On the last few flights, have left my travel-sized hand lotion in my purse, and not a peep from the security folks. The European flight security agency (along with some airlines) have apparently been applying pressure to get rid of the liquid restrictions. (PleasePleasePLEASE!) I definitely notice there's far less attention paid now than when the restrictions were originally implemented.

  2. I think you can keep the contact solution out of the bag, but in the bin....you can bring the large size. That way you have more room in your one quart bag for life's necessities.
    My biggest obstacle to a carry-on bag has been my
    "products" ..... no matter the duration of the trip! My goal is to remedy that for future travel!

  3. I agree with Pseu that the rules seem to be relaxing somewhat - thank goodness! I haven't been away for that long for years, but I normally just take travel sized bottles of my normal shampoo & conditioner and get something new on arrival, as my hair behaves differently wherever I go.

  4. As usual, complete admiration for your packing skills! I am panicking about taking carry-on only for 4 days in Berlin. I find the main problem in Europe is that, if you travel mostly budget airlines as we do, then carry-on bags are restricted in weight (10kg) and dimensions. And many of the airlines are taking it very seriously, weighing your bag before you board and making you pay extra if it's overweight. P.

  5. Washer and dryer is the secret, you can do 2-3 days of clothing that way. As for other stuff, I buy there, but since we spend several weeks that makes sense. Thanks again for the Curls Rock tip, it is massively great product.

    PS Sold house today, am euphoric.

  6. I admire your ability to pack light...I'll be interested to see what you have chosen and what kind of shoes you'll take for lots of walking and sightseeing.

  7. Pseu: I'm noticing this as well -- although I got very thoroughly (and with some nasty overtones) searched on my way back from SF).
    Pavlova: I followed up on your tip and it's true! This is good news about contact solution being excluded which will def. free up some space. Thanks you!
    Tiff: I can substitute almost any other product, but I NEED my Curls Rock!
    Patricia: Yes, that weight restriction is a problem, altho' I don't mind paying extra -- seems that if you do so ahead of time, it's not too bad. We had to do that when we flew EasyJet from London to Porto last summer.
    Duchesse: Yay!! Now you're the one who'll be packing. Serious packing!
    Hostess: When we travel, we do serious walking. 20 kilometres a day is not unheard of. Shoes are an important consideration! For summer travel, I count on my Birks, but that won't work for March/April;-)

  8. I think that whilst I have Leyla with me I will forever have too much luggage for carry on, but I have always admired your ability to do so and with a washing machine I can see it would work. My desire to wear something different everyday dissipates on holiday as I find there is far more to occupy me than sartorial style, plus it is so cold here all anyone will see is your coat!! And in a sense to remove the puzzle of what to wear can be a holiday in itself. A fringe benefit is I find I love my clothes so much more when I get home.
    Liquids are pretty much a no go at London airports, I don't even bother, and instead I shop in the Duty Free area which is part of the fun of a holiday for me.
    We do have Aveda in London but probably costing more than you pay. Boots No7 is good but I am a big fan of Liz Earle at the moment, if you have time, have a play in the John Lewis beauty section they have some great brands.

  9. Alison: It's impossible to go carry-on with kids! And you're right, I find the paring down of sartorial choices very liberating while away, although I would weary of it at home.
    Thanks for the Liz Earle and John Lewis recommendations . . . sounds like a few hours I should leave Paul in a pub with the papers. . .

  10. Mater, I am also preparing for travel in April. MY DH and I had converted to only carry on bags about 2 yrs. ago. Many of our trips have involved train travel. One can't expect help shlepping bags on and off. I use a 24" Tumi soft side bag I have had 11 yrs. With a clip on strap I can carry a small tote or computer bag containing my on board items. It's my own travel experience condensed. I find fun in looking for something I need while away from home, so only very necessary toiletries make the trip. Shoes are my packing problem! lol.

  11. Marguerite: Trains played a big part in convincing us to edit our travel baggage. Last year, we cringed as a family of tourists nearby got severely scolded by a commuter for taking up so much space with unwieldy bags on the Metro heading to the Gare du Nord. Our carry-ons, meanwhile, were tucked underneath us. Our sympathy for the scoldees, I'm ashamed to say, was tinged with smugness.

    Shoes are my packing problem as well!

  12. Wow, commuter scolds tourists, that's aggressive. Good to know we won't be making that mistake. I will think about that when we arrive at Gare du Nord from Amsterdam. Will you and Pater be in Paris Easter weekend? Would be fun to meet up for a drink!

  13. Shoes are a problem for us too.

    We have been checking our carry on luggage, because it gets quite competitive at boarding time with everyone trying to shove their bags all at once in the overhead storage.

  14. Marguerite: That would have been fun. Sadly, we'll be in London over Easter weekend, so we'll miss you. Have a wonderful visit!
    Susan: That's very true! I have some friends who do carry-on only for the convenience of getting around once they're at their destination, but who do check for ease at the airport and while on the plane. So far, we've done alright as long as we choose a seat towards the back half, which tends to get boarded first. That way, the overhead bins aren't all filled by the time we get to them.


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