Thursday, March 31, 2016

How I Pack for Paris in a Carry-on Bag

Remember, my bag is a hard-sided Tumi carry-on, very much like the great-grandmother of this beauty:


bag - Tumi

My bag is pretty "whacked" on the exterior, but remains in very secure, solid condition! One of my better investments, I have to say...

One of the things about rolling bags that makes packing difficult is that the interior bottom of the bag is bumpy - the bars for the handle run through the bag and make the "floor" of your packing area bumpy. So the first thing I always try to do is use unwrinkleable things, like workout clothes, to level the floor. Here, I've taken running tights, rolled them into long cylinders (fold in half at the knee, and then roll a few times), and then placed a pair of these into each of the "ruts" in my bag. I then put my tee shirts and skorts on top of the tights, in order to further flatten out the bumpy surface. (running tights are NOT like regular tights - they're more like yoga pants, i.e. completely INAPPROPRIATE for wearing anywhere EXCEPT while exercising).

So far, it looks like this:


Hmm, running tights to smooth out bumpy bottoms.... makes sense!

Next, I take all of my scarves, and my lone tee shirt, and put them into a packing cube which unzips on 3 sides. I really want a cube that opens up this way, so that I carefully place things into it and try to minimize wrinkling:



All zipped up, you can still see what's in here. I put the tee shirt on top for a bit of protection if something bizarre happens in my bag. I'd be hacked off if the tee shirt gets damaged, but I'd be MORE upset to have something happen to my scarves!

This style of packing cubes might not even be available any more; I've had them at least 15 years. They're one of those things that you think is a silly purchase, at the time, and then 15 years later you realize that you were a genius the day you bought them.

packing cube - Eagle Creek

One thing I don't use for vacations is compression bags - yes, you can get a TON of things into a suitcase if you squish them down really tightly and suck out all of the air. But there are 2 issues:

  1. Your bag weighs a TON, because it's so densely packed, and
  2. all of your things are wrinkled to the point of almost permanent unwearability.
I use them for dirty laundry, for the return flight, for which the whole airtight thing is wonderful; it's great to be able to squish down all of your dirty stuff and find a bit of space in your bag for purchases. We also use them when we're relocating and checking enormous duffle bags. So yes, I own them, and will lay one of top of this bag before I zip it up, but no, I never use them for leisure travel normal packing. 

Next, I use a cube from Standard Luggage for lingerie, tights of the hosiery family, and my flowered pajamas! These cubes only open on one side, which makes them unacceptable for me to use for clothes that I want to keep tidy. But this lovely thing has a Velcro tab on the back that makes it "hangable" over the bar of a hanger! So I can get it out of my suitcase, (along with everything else) and put said suitcase up on top of an armoire, or hide it somewhere else. Unpacking completely, and thus NOT tripping over my bag during my entire vacation makes a tiny hotel room feel much bigger.

One thing that you can't see in the Standard cube is my silk pillow case. I know, I know, that sounds so "Princess and the Pea," but my hair tangles like head-borne macrame, and using a silk pillow case can easily save me 5 minutes a day untangling the Gordian knot with which I often wake up. Plus it's supposed to be good for minimizing my wrinkles!  If you're going to go down this path, make sure you buy your pillowcase in a color that won't probably blend into the hotel's decor; mine is graphite gray! (Mine is from Soft Surroundings; available in a lovely array of 10 colors)

These cubes from Standard can also be fastened together using the Velcro tabs. So if B packs his "smalls" in one of these, we can hang them both from 1 hanger...


cube - Standard Luggage

Shoes, the bane of all travelers! I take 2 very soft, low-cut but comfortable pair of flats. I pack them in a big drawstring bag that came with a pair of shoes (about 10 years ago); I lay each pair of shoes with the toe of each shoe tucked into the other shoe's heel, and then I stack them, stuff them, and roll them tight. 2 pairs of shoes become a fairly compact fabric and leather burrito!


I travel with a TON of jewelry; I take literally every pair of earrings (because I only wear small studs), as well as a couple of bracelets, 3 or 4 necklaces, a few rings, and a handful of headbands. Everything fits into a zippered fabric bag that I bought from a seller on Etsy, 5 or 6 years ago. The bag is attractive enough that I could use it as a clutch bag, and padded enough that my things are a bit protected. Still, I make sure that I squeeze this bag into a spot where it won't take much of a beating...

Etsy has a ton of things like this bag available, but make ABSOLUTELY sure that you're buying from a real, individual craftsperson, and not a sweatshop in another country posing as a lone skilled seamstress. I so wish that Etsy hadn't loosened-up their seller guidelines...



bag - Etsy

Now, to the packing....

First, I draped each dress lengthwise across my bag - each dress is just about as wide as my bag! I suppose I could have alternated the necklines and hemlines, but I didn't....

Then, right on top of the dresses, I put my shoes (my running shoes are underneath, in one of the gulleys formed by the bars that hold the handles), and both of my cubes right on top of my dresses, like this:



The I fold (very carefully and neatly) the necklines of my dresses over the bags, and then I fold them hemlines up, too. I can then secure this whole bundle with the straps in the bag, and voila:

You can see the fabric from all 3 dresses, if you look carefully

There's still room on top of THIS for my toiletries, and the bag still closes easily. My toiletries have never leaked in my life, so far, but  I will probably put that bag into another Ziploc bag, in a moment of wisdom and good judgment!

Everything else will be in my Agnes B. handbag. I'm still debating about taking my tablet - I don't really read all that much on the flight over, and it's kind of fragile, even in a case.  I will buy books in Paris, so I'll have something to read on the return flight. My handbag ALWAYS has a wee plastic container with some candied ginger in it - I am the goddess of motion sickness, and I swear by the efficacy of ginger.

I'm home all day today - any questions?

yes, I'm getting very excited...

love,
Janice


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52 comments:

  1. I am the first to comment today! Have a wonderful adventure in Paris. I am curious about your handbag. Is it a cross shoulder one? I really like to have my hands free when I travel, so use either a small cross shoulder or subtle fanny pack.

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    1. You can get a look at my bag on yesterday's post - it's from Agnes B., and while it does have a shoulder strap, I never use it! I mostly carry it in my hand (if anybody tries to take it from me, I'll swing it and break a few of their ribs - it's pretty heavy!), but I can slide it up over my forearm and look very ladylike if I want to. I love it because it has a fairly small profile, but it holds a TON of stuff, including my tablet, if I decide to take it.
      hugs,
      Janice

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  2. Very interesting! Much of my packing is thrown off by presents taken and then goodies brought home, as our traveling is limited to seeing family. I roll everything and worry more about gifts breaking than about clothes getting wrinkled.
    One thing I learned on my last trip: despite a belt around the checked bag, the security people will fail to zip zippers all the way shut or to shut all the three-point clasps and they will put the belt back on but they won't tighten it. I found one bag on the baggage carousel completely open. It hadn't even been packed full, so it wasn't an issue of not being able to squeeze it shut. Another time, a zippered bag somehow got a broken zipper between checking in and retrieving the bag; again the belt was only loosely attached. As a result, I now pack everything inside giant clear plastic zippered bags that came with duvets, like a bubble for my stuff inside the bag. The security people can see inside, and it limits what can fall out of an incorrectly closed bag.
    To Deb: my kiné says cross-body bags are the best bet to avoid back pain. Another plus, besides the hands-free aspect.

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    1. We're carrying on our bags - the TSA only gets to search them if we're standing there. But I've been through their searches on checked bags, and it's amazing how much of a mess they can make of things... sigh...
      hugs,
      Janice

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  3. From Margie in Toronto - I love packing cubes and I'm lucky enough to have two sets (SML) that unzip on 3 sides. I have a 17" and a 20" case plus a matching tote bag that attaches to both cases. I only take the 20" if I'm headed off for a week or more. I check this bag and carry my tote onboard with a cross body bag. I'v read all your posts about packing and my friends are always astonished when I show up with such a small bag and yet, I'm always appropriately and well dressed - so thank you again for all the tips.
    One thing I do (which always gets a laugh at first) is this - each year as I cull my lingerie drawer I put aside any undies that are ready to be tossed and keep them for travel - I throw them out as I go so don't need to worry about laundry, dirty clothes mixing with clean plus it means I know that I'll have room to bring home a few purchases. I do the same with t-shirts that have seen better days (I wear them under sweaters for either extra warmth or with just the tops peeking through - wear twice and then throw out). Might not work for everyone but I find it a great way to deal with the whole laundry issue.
    Also - once I reach the hotel I tend to hang up my clothes in outfits - pants and tops plus undies and socks all sorted for at least 2 or 3 days ahead per hanger - that way I'm not searching through suitcases or unfamiliar rooms looking for something as I'm trying to get ready in the morning. I often travel with a friend who tends to leave everything in her suitcase and every morning and evening there is a constant round of in and out and zippers run back and forth as she searches for things - I've learned to ignore it as each of us has to go with works for us.
    Have a wonderful trip Janice.

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    1. On one of our early trips to Paris, B was doing the "tossing of old undergarments" method, and the hotel either (a) thought that he meant to have the garment in question laundered, or (b) were annoyed that we were adding to their trash bills by tossing our old clothes in their trash can. Either way, they fished said garment out of the waste basket in our room and LAUNDERED IT. We got home to find it nice and crispy-fresh, with a ribbon tied around it...

      So if I'm going to throw something away while I'm in Paris, I carry it OUT OF THE HOTEL and toss it into a street bin.

      hugs,
      Janice

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    2. From Margie in Toronto - too funny!

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  4. Margie that is exactly what a friend does. She says in India she wondered
    what was thought of all the discards! X Chris
    Janice I'm so excited for you. The last walk I had apart from airports was in Luxembourg
    gardens Take care and enjoy and stay safe. I love Paris in the springtime. ..... Chris Australia.

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    1. Luxembourg Gardens will soon see me in all of my lycra finery, doing weird exercises wearing a huge elastic band around my legs, walking like a monster, standing on 1 foot on a rock etc.

      If you hear of a crazy middle-aged lady, inappropriately dressed, and acting bizarrely, arrested in Paris next week, you'll know it was me!

      huge,
      Janice

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  5. Wonder if you think positive about April showers or if there's a raincoat and/or shoes hidden in there somewhere?

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    1. Current forecasts say we're not going to see much, if any, rain. And B wants to buy a new umbrella while we're there, so we might have to do that sooner than later...
      hugs,
      Janice

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  6. Hi Janice. I love , love your travel posts. Thank you for this. I don't often wear dresses but perhaps slacks could be folded like your dresses. I was wondering about the wrinkling of you dresses from the suitcase straps. I'm going to Florida soon to a wedding and I will wear a silk midi length dress. How would you pack such a dress which is fragile. Also I'm interested in the fabrics of your lovely dresses? Are they knits? Thank you Janice Collins , Washington DC

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    1. Yes, trousers can indeed be folded the same way - I've done it and it keeps them from getting fold creases at the knees, as they otherwise might. My dresses are all knits, so I'm not hysterical about wrinkles... and the fact that they're printed or patterned helps hide the occasional crease, too.

      Your dress? I would use a ton of tissue paper around it, and between the folds, and be prepared to have it steamed when you get to Florida. For a special event, it's worth the trouble.
      hugs,
      Janice

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  7. Janice,
    Several years ago , my way too large checked back was searched by TSA with a note inside to verify that event. My thought was ewwww ! So I purchased Eagle Creek packing aids, including packing cubes and folders of various sizes. Having some stranger handling my items does not sit well with me, plus , as the week went on, the contents of my suitcase became a jumbled mess, so organization became an issue. On a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, my bag came off the conveyor belt with the entire side ripped open and almost peeled off, wires protruding everywhere. The only thing keeping any contents inside was the nylon lining ! Bottom line, I now use packing folders, shaped like an envelope for my pants and tops, and use the newer, much lighter, Eagle Creek Specter compression cubes for lingerie and scarves. I only roll undies , as a lot of my clothes do wrinkle, and while rolling is great for seeing what you have, and perhaps saving space, although I'm not fully convinced of that, it does add wrinkles to my items.
    I have tried the bundling and interfolding methods, but still prefer the folders and cubes. However, within a folder, I start with the pants, alternating waist bands, place the folded tops on top, then bring the pant legs up and around the tops, as you have done with the dresses. I would do this without a packing folder if TSA was not an issue.
    What background item do you have your earrings pinned on ? Great idea ! I have seen the suggestion of pushing posts through buttons and then attaching the backing, but I like your method better.
    I take along 1 and 2 gallon zip lock bags for soiled clothes and squeeze as much air out as I can, which does a good job of compression.
    On my recent trip to Barbadoes, I left behind a pair of sandals that were rubbing my feet, but also left a note saying that I didn't want them. I have done the throwing of underwear as I left a location, but didn't quite feel comfortable doing that in the room. A city trash can is a much better idea. It didn't really save that much space or weight anyway. As for how many undies to take, I still take as many as the days of a trip when on a cruise, because having the cabin steward have to work around my dripping wet undies while tidying up the bathroom seems unfair, somehow !
    Thanks to you, dear lady, I am down to a checked medium sized suitcase and a carry on tote and cross body bag for trips of 10 or more days. For one week or less, a carryon suitcase suffices along with a tote and cross body bag tucked into the tote.
    Have a marvelous time and as my father-in-law used to say , "hurry back " !

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    1. My earrings are just stuck into a postcard - a painting by Marie Laurencin, in fact. I have quite a few of them hanging around here, and I thought it would work well. I took a big safety pin, poked through a few dozen holes, and voila...
      I can't wear big earrings, because if they get tangled in my hair, I might have to cut them out! But it's nice to be able to literally take all of my earrings with me in such a small space, and at a weight of maybe less than 2 ounces.
      hugs,
      Janice

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  8. Have a wonderful time on your trip. Your advice is wonderful. I could use some of your great ideas. I have to leave my house for 6 to 8 weeks because my house is being lifted, still dealing with hurricane Sandy. I will be out for May and June - any ideas about the minimum to pack to make it through the two months? We'll be moving around because housing is so hard to find at the Jersey Shore during the warm months. I'm still working so I need work clothes. I've narrowed my wardrobe down to black and bright colors with khaki in the summer,any ideas?

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    1. For an event as generally upsetting and uprooting as yours, I'd probably err on the side of taking more, rather than less. Maybe put together a Project 333 that's evenly split between work and leisure (or maybe with items that "swing both ways"). But this is one time that I don't think packing light is a good idea - you want to have your own things with you in this time of real upheaval and dislocation.
      hugs,
      Janice

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    2. Thanks, it helps to have one less thing to worry about.
      Enjoy your trip

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  9. Just commenting again that intelligent packing can be used for road trips as well as flights. We travel by car, but there are four of us plus the big dog, so space is at a premium. I use all these genius packing tips and know that no one is going to complain about my bags taking up too much space, and I'll always look put-together at our destination! Have a lovely time!!

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    1. Compact car travel is smart - you want to have room to share with everyone else... and if you're renting a car after a flight, having a small bag can be invaluable when you discover that your car is smaller than the stove in your apartment at home...
      hugs,
      Janice

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    2. My sister and I arranged a rental car in Paris and her suitcase did NOT fit in the small one we requested. We had to accept a much larger vehicle which added to the difficulty of driving on the 'wrong' side of the road down narrow streets in Paris and Brussels!
      Bevaau (Australian)

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  10. Also curious about your clever earring organizer - is it homemade or available for purchase somewhere?

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    1. It's just a Marie Laurencin postcard, with holes in it that I poked with a big safety pin. Cheap, pretty (on the other side) and effective!
      hugs,
      Janice

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  11. These packing tips will come in handy as I pack for a two-week trip through the South ending in Florida. As I thought through what I will need, visions of two large suitcases (just for me)went around in my head. The problem is packing for changing weather, ending up back in Boston where April weather is changeable. It's a challenge, but I'm determined to bring it down to one suitcase and a hanging bag. I'm going to a wedding in Florida, thus the dress and shoes will be in that. Wish me luck. I had an easier time packing for Europe.

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    1. In Florida this time of year, it should be mostly warm, so you only really need 1 pair of long pants and 1 cardigan (or sweatshirt, depending on how you dress). You'll do fine - summer clothes are smaller, so you've already got a head start on keeping things compact!
      hugs,
      Janice

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  12. The comments yesterday on bringing smaller shoes so one can fit an extra pair in and therefore change them out for fashion or for weather reminded me -- I always pack a pair of Foot Petals Sock-Free Saviors and a pair of Smartwool Hide and Seeks -- sandwiched between the upper and lower of each pair my shoes. That way, if the weather turns unexpectedly warm and tights are not comfortable, I can wear the shoes bare-legged or even bare-footed, and still have clean, comfortable feet in any weather. They can be worn several times between washing, even with vigorous use. The options are worth the extra few ounces to me.
    Happy trip, cheers, Sue G

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  13. I can see that there is no room for me in your suitcase :-( However, this post and your upcoming trip makes me happy! Thanks for taking "us" along.

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    1. Nope, I know you, and you're too big a personality to fit into ANY suitcase!
      hugs hugs hugs,
      Janice

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  14. Hi Janice, I'm really enjoying your blog. I haven't done much traveling recently but I love how everything coordinates. Much easier no doubt. I want you to know how much I appreciate your efforts and inspiring posts, but also your responses to this community. I am so touched by your warmth and kindness. Have a wonderful trip. I hope you'll have some pictures to share with us when you return.

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    1. Oh, I'll have pictures! But if you want to follow along while we're there, follow me on Instagram. Up at the top right of this page, above my mug shot, there's a wee camera, next to the week Twitter bird - that should be the link to Instagram. Both B and I take photographs and Instagram them throughout the day when we travel.

      And yes, I really love my readers. Seriously. I care a lot about each of you...

      hugs,
      Janice

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  15. Thank you for this post . . . and all the wonderful responses! I've not travelled much, but am finally beginning to a little. I'll be bookmarking this post for the next time I'm able to get away. So many terrific ideas!

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    1. Travel is pretty much what keeps me alive... and it seems that once you begin to travel, it really "takes off" and you start going a lot. That's why I am so interested in packing and planning what I'm taking - it's an important part of the anticipation, and it gives one more confidence...
      hugs,
      Janice

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  16. I'd love to see how you pack your toiletries. I pack small containers in a bag that's about 5 inches tall so I have to put it in the bottom, it wouldn't fit on top of everything else. Is your purse large enough to pack snacks, medications and an empty water bottle to fill after going through security? And how do you juggle the cardigan and jacket on the plane? Thanks for these great travel posts!

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    1. If you go WAY back to August 29, 2013, you can see my toiletries - I use a clear plastic container that's about 8x5x2 inches or so. It fits easily into my handbag... My medicine is also always in my bag - you can see that on the December 10, 2015 post. I don't take snacks - the flight is only 8 hours, and I quit taking a water bottle because I've found that I can always get up and walk to the galley to get a drink of water if I want one. I know sometime I'm going to be on one of those flight on which you can NEVER get out of your seat, but so far I'm doing alright...
      And I wear my cardigan the whole time, unless the flight is madly warm. I wear both of them onto the plane, and then stuff my jacket under the seat in front of me and ignore it for 8 hours. Unless it's hideously warm at our destination, I'll wear them both off of the plane too. Worst case, I'll open my bag before we deplane and stick by jacket in there - there's always enough room... I've made this flight so many times that I'm getting it down to an art!
      hugs,
      Janice

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    2. Does your cardigan fit under your quilted jacket? My favorite open cardigans are a couple inches longer than my favorite quilted jacket (found at Costco about 5 years ago and I absolutely adore it) Although they are both great travel pieces, they are problematical together. - nancyo

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    3. It does fit - I chose it particularly for that reason! One of the nice things about the L.L.Bean cardigan that I'm taking is that it's warm but not "bushy" and not terribly long. Perfect for this trip!
      hugs,
      Janice

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    4. I just engaged in a little research project. A very helpful customer service person at LL Bean and I chatted online and she checked the length of the cashmere open cardigan: 26.5" long in Petite Medium and 28" long in Regular Medium, as measured from the high point of the shoulder. My travel cardigan is 25" long (I have it with me on my current trip) so I am guessing that my beloved quilted jacket (which is not with me this trip) is shorter than your Burberry. It's really the front edges of my cardigans - they come to slight points in front - that stick out from the bottom hem of the jacket, and I have been known to wear them together regardless, but it is an annoyance. - nancyo

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    5. Gotta love that kind of customer service! My jacket is a few years old, and is the perfect length-I hope it lasts a long time...

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  17. Janice, I'm interested in knowing the size of your bag and whether there are any weight limits for hand luggage on your flight? Travelling in Europe, I have found that some of the budget airlines are very strict and won't let you carry a separate handbag! I don't have packing cubes (note to self: must buy some!) but use carrier bags when packing. I'll be in Paris for a few days in May - I can't wait! Finally, hope that you have a wonderful time! Sending hugs. Sue

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    1. It's a 22 inch carry-on bag - I've discovered that American Airlines does NOT care about how big your bag is - I've seen people carry on bags on this flight that were so big that they might have had 2 or 3 of their children in them... And they don't seem to be too interested in the sizes of hand luggage either. In fact, I've seen people with more than 2 bags board this flight in the past. Frequently. They complain about running out of overhead bin space, and the delays in boarding, but they don't enforce their own policies about baggage size and numbers. Silliness...
      Paris in May... I'd go back every month if I could figure out how!
      hugs,
      Janice

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  18. I'm interested in seeing your toiletry bag too. That is what I have the most trouble packing. I have gone to a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen so that is a 3 in 1 product, but I really have trouble packing everything for a week in that quart size baggie.

    Can't wait to see your pics on Instagram! How do we follow B? The only time I have been to Paris was in May of 2012 for our 30th anniversary. Instant LOVE! It was my dream vacation! Have fun on your trip and good luck with your knee rehab.

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    1. B's name on Instagram is global_soul. He's well-worth following because he's a MUCH better photographer than I am!

      My toiletry bag is really small because I've spent half of my life learning to minimize my personal care products, and I'm diligent about ordering sample sizes from Paula's Choice when I order my usual skin-care products. It makes so much difference to be able to forfeit a couple of bottles in exchange for a handful of little sample packages.

      August 29, 2013 is the post that shows my toiletries, spilled out onto the bed, so you can see exactly what I always have with me.

      hugs,
      Janice

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  19. I love following your blog, especially the travel and packing tips. These have helped me take very long tours, with multiple transportation changes, using one carry-on bag. I'm intrigued by the idea of disposable underwear from earlier posts, but have settled on pantiliners and handwashing for my trips. On my last trip I did "dispose" of a few heavy items that will be replaced with lighter weight ones for the next trip. Hope somebody gets good use out of those binoculars I left on the Crown Princess!

    Enjoy your trip and try not to go viral on tourist videos with your exercise routines.

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    1. That would be so funny: "look at this crazy woman we saw in Paris, walking with this big rubber band around her legs..."

      Uh, that will be me....
      hugs,
      Janice

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  20. :-) Have a safe trip and enjoy Paris!
    Looking forward to your Paris stories.
    Enjoy! :-)

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  21. If you ever find yourself without ginger, drink ginger ale mixed w some salt. Flight attendant told me that once when I was having a rough time of it!!

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  22. J, I have had toiletries leak in my bag. Extra plastic bag protection is a must!
    Can't wait for your and global_soul's posts.
    -photographer friend

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  23. Ever since reading about the packing advice on the old Yahoo group French Chic, I've traveled with just carryon luggage. Two trips to Europe, several to Mexico, one across Canada. It's the best system ever. Handling a big suitcase is like wrestling an elephant in metro systems. I love the idea of taking three dresses. We're going to Europe in July and I'm already thinking about what to take.
    Bon voyage!

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  24. I find another benefit of taking just carry-on luggage is the weight restriction. Here in Australia, domestically it is usually 7kg (about 15.5lb). I have to fly domestically to get to an international airport so must comply, but the big advantage is for my arms and back. While it requires discipline to stay within that limit, there's no point in restricting myself if I can't lift my case into the overhead locker, or carry it up and down the steps at railway stations. It helps that we rarely travel for more than 2.5 to 3 weeks, and usually go to just one or two destinations in the same climate zone.

    Robyn in Tasmania

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  25. I use the MUJI packing cubes and they are wonderful, just like the Eagle Creeks. They zip up completely open on 3 sides too.
    There are various sizes and even have double-decker ones.
    Here is the link: https://www.muji.eu/pages/online.asp?Sec=18&Sub=77

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