What To Take

Susan Foster
Susan Foster

Where to go……What to WEAR ???

 Sew Inspirational Events tours are for like-minded lovers of fabric, stitching and all things beautiful and at each port of call we always visit the relevant fabric districts or discover the local artisans, dyers, spinners or weavers as well as all the scenic and cultural highlights.

We ‘taste’ EVERYTHING that each destination has to offer.

 But once inspired to travel the eternal question of “What to Wear?” leaps to the fore. So I asked reknowned travel expert, fashionista and sewing guru, Susan Foster for the answers.

 Susan (Pletsch) Foster is the perfect person to give packing and travel advice: she has packed and unpacked over 5,000 times! As co-founder of Palmer Pletsch Publishing, Susan has traveled constantly for over 30 years and has spent her entire career living out of a suitcase. No wonder she writes with authority in Smart Packing for Today’s Traveler.

 It’s a Suitcase, Not Your Closet – pack light and love it!

By Susan Foster

 When Sue Neall told me about her sewing enthusiasts tours I immediately began to visualize the clothes I would take, but wait – I am not going, you are! Having traveled many, many times, here is advice from the packing expert to the lucky tour members traveling with Sue.

 Now is the time to begin planning what to pack, especially if the trip will require sewing new travel clothing.

 Pack light  Imagine all the wonderful treasures waiting for you to carry them home! Start light so you can travel easily, and then add as you shop. International airlines usually allow 2 bags to be checked with specific maximum dimensions and weight, and the penalty for going over size or over weight can be large. Know your airline baggage policy before you leave home, and be prepared to ship bulky items back as you travel.

 Begin with one primary suitcase that you can carry when full. You never know when you must lift and lug this bag, so you must be able to manage it. Plan to pack your bag about half full when leaving home and then fill up the bag with bubble wrap to keep the contents from shifting. Bubble wrap will be priceless later to wrap fragile purchases for the trip back home. Pack a sturdy nylon zip-top tote or soft suitcase in the bottom of your bag. This “overflow” bag should be strong enough to survive as checked baggage, and is perfect for carrying home dirty laundry, fabric or other soft items.

 Airlines now limit the amount of carry-on baggage; for example Qantas’s carry-on limit is one 115cm bag weighing no more than 7kg. I use a rolling tote (those airport concourses are getting longer and longer) for my in-flight essentials: book, eye shade, all medications, all valuables and travel documents, a shawl for cold flights, and a partial change of clothes. I travel in clothing that I can wear for an extra day in case my luggage is delayed, and my carry-on contains an emergency change of underwear and a clean top. With all checked and carry-on bags, weigh on your bathroom scale before leaving home to avoid overweight surprises.

 Look through your closet for comfortable clothing that you love, made of easy-care, wrinkle-resistant fabrics. Choose things that still look good at the end of a long day, clothes that wrinkle by noon will always be rumpled when traveling. Knits generally wrinkle less and are more comfortable than woven fabrics. Stretch wovens with spandex added are a great exception, as are pre-wrinkled, crinkled fabrics. Separate out the travel possibilities, add and subtract until you have a workable wardrobe, then accessorize with a few scarves and pack. Simple!

 Consider that everywhere is cooler at night and always look at the humidity as well as the average temperatures. With air-conditioned coaches, hotels and restaurants you will be able to wear the same weight clothing throughout your trip, just layer for warmth on cooler days and evenings. Plan to wear slacks or skirts, tops with sleeves, and carry a jacket or sweater (air conditioning can be frigid!). I always pack a lightweight windbreaker jacket with a hood, just in case the weather changes. Taking a small tote bag for daily needs is a good idea.

 Skirts or slacks? Soft skirts are cooler and provide another benefit. Throughout the world, in small villages you will encounter toilets that are a hole in the ground with plumbing. Place your feet in the marks alongside the hole and squat. Skirts make it easier to manage this stance, but the choice is yours. Jeans are not my favorite for travel, they are bulky to pack.

 The amount of clothing you take is not in proportion to the length of your trip! A couple of skirts or slacks, a few tops, a jacket or sweater, and you will have enough. In Smart Packing for Today’s Traveler I show exactly how to make this work. Pack items that will interchange easily with other pieces, and that are easy-care. Take more tops than bottoms, and each top should go with every bottom. You will be wearing the same things many times so choose clothing that you love. Plan to do a little hand washing regularly or find a laundry. For example, I take three pair of wicking microfiber panties: one to wear, one to wash and a spare. A wicking tee-shirt will dry overnight in your hotel room, so you can wear or pack it the next day.

 Take no more than 3 pair of shoes – one pair to wear on the plane and two to pack. They all should be very comfortable, as you will not have a good time if your feet hurt. A pair of comfortable walking sandals is a good choice; a sturdy walking shoe is another. The third pair might be shoes for dressing up if needed.

 One small handbag for all occasions is ideal. This should hold only the basics required for that day: lipstick, comb, hand sanitizer, tissues, glasses, daily cash and a credit card. Store other valuables in your room safe or hotel safe, in secure pockets, or in a security wallet worn under your clothing. The most secure purse has a zippered top, with a long strap that is worn over the neck and shoulder to the front, bandolier style. I find waist-packs to be warm, uncomfortable, and scream “tourist!”

 Ignore the temptation to pack a different outfit for every day, and remember this is a suitcase, not your closet. You friends on the trip will admire your dressing creativity, rather than noticing your small wardrobe.

 Packing light saves sore backs and offers freedom – less to worry about, less to unpack and repack at each stop, less to lift and lug – and you benefit with more time for sightseeing, shopping, having fun.

Pack smart and travel easy!

Susan (Pletsch) Foster 

www.smartpacking.com.