by Donna Manz
We baby boomers may not have achy breaky hearts, but it’s more than likely we have achy breaky joints or backs. So when we travel it’s wise to make a few adjustments. It’s not just the type of trip we take, it’s also how we pack for it.
I pack light since if I don’t need to check a bag, I don’t pay those costly checked-baggage fees. Here are packing tips for the over-50 woman (which also work for men, as well), particularly tourists traveling solo who are, literally, pulling their own weight.
I fly with two moderately small wheeled bags, a messenger bag-sized carry-on and a 22-inch expandable. Even when I’m planning on checking a bag, I never use a bag larger than 22 inches, which discourages overpacking. In an outside pocket on my smaller carry-on, I stuff a pair of scuffs to wear onboard.
Dressing for cold weather destinations takes some planning if you do not want to check a bag (although most elite frequent flyers may check a bag at no extra cost). For trips of about 10 days to cold weather locations I practice the “three tops/three bottoms rule,” which provides me with nine different outfits. Including what I’m wearing inflight, I get almost two week’s of outfits into my 22-inch carry-on.
I bring three pants, black, navy and another dark neutral, and sweaters of white, red and gray. I mix and match each bottom with a different top, adding whatever I’ve worn while flying, which typically includes a long-sleeved shirt and sweater. I bring a few long scarves, too, wearing one onboard.
To travel most comfortably, it pays to layer clothing on flights: coat, scarf, heaviest sweater or sweatshirt over a lighter shirt. Oftentimes my coat comes in handy as a blanket onboard.
I also wear my boots on the plane since packing them takes up too much space. Fall and winters in much of the world – the value seasons – are cold and rainy and boots are essential. Not bringing boots? Then, wear your heaviest pair of shoes on the flight, and don’t pack more than one other pair.
For warm weather destinations, I apply the same color schemes but replace the winter-weight tops with cotton tops, and make certain to bring a light sweater to wear onboard.
I keep my 22-inch suitcase collapsed on my outbound flights, reserving the expandable space for my return home. On full flights, airlines can be strict about the two-carry-on rule, so if you can flatten your handbag into the smaller carry-on, you can still board with just two pieces. After boarding, remove the handbag to keep it safely with you.
While I rarely check a bag outbound, the liquids, sauces, and yes, snow globes, I bring home do require checking the bag that holds them. I pack a roll of bubble wrap for protecting fragile items.
Many travel accessory suppliers sell durable nylon bags that compress into flat squares. When my sturdy 22-inch bag is stuffed with items that must be checked, I use a compressible compact bag as a secondary carry-on. LeSportsac.com sells nylon bags that fold flat into a pouch, and AAA travel stores typically sell compact bags, as well.
A final packing tip that makes my life easier. I keep my small carry-on packed and ready to go at all times, tucked in a closet, waiting for its call to action.