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How to pack without wrinkles

Wrinkling is caused both by underpacking (which allows clothes to shift) and by overpacking (which squishes clothes). To avoid wrinkles, pack lightly but tightly.

Use bags inside bags. For clothes that don't wrinkle easily, evacuate air before sealing the bags to compress them into the least space. (Check out Magellan's Pack-It Compressor®! It gets almost all the air out of your suitcase). Packing in bags makes it easy to locate what you need without pawing through your suitcase and wrinkling other clothes. It's also easy to unpack: Just toss the bags in a dresser drawer.

More alternatives are Pack-It® Cubes, which are zippered nylon pouches with mesh lids, and Pack-It® Folders. Pack-It® Folders are envelopes of Cordura nylon and mesh that organize your suitcase and avoid a cluttered jumble of clothes. Fold things uniformly using a special board, then insert the stack inside the folder, close it snugly (with Velcro®), and stash in your suitcase. When you arrive, your clothing looks crisp and fresh.

Try rolling clothes such as socks, underwear, and shorts. Rolling leaves no hard folds or creases in your clothes, and creates a compact package for wedging around the edge of your suitcase or inside shoes. To roll a T-shirt -- or a stack of several -- place face down on a flat surface, fold the sleeves inward, and roll up from the bottom. For non-wrinkling pants, start with the cuff end and roll upward.

To guard against dirt and wrinkles pack shoes inside shoe bags to keep them from soiling clothes. Some travelers cover dresses, skirts, pants, and shirts with dry-cleaner bags. Other people say it's difficult to squeeze out all the air, so the bags themselves take up space. Or they feel that in tropical climates the thin plastic traps humidity that actually fosters wrinkling. Some travelers prefer to put tissue paper over clothes before folding to discourage wrinkles. You may have to experiment a little to find the system that works best for your luggage, your fabrics, and the climates where you travel.

Divide and Conquer

This method works particularly well with vertical rolling suitcases, which often include a removable horizontal divider. The divider is the key to success. If your bag doesn't have one, it's easy to make from cardboard or stiff plastic. Cut it to fit the suitcase's dimensions. At the center of the two long sides, make cutouts for your hands so you can easily lift the divider out of the suitcase.

Here's the method:

  1. Place the closed suitcase on the bed. Around it, lay out your clothes and other items for packing.
  2. In the outside pockets, insert things you'll want handy: paperback book, folding raincoat, and so on.
  3. Open the suitcase. Put miscellaneous small stuff in the interior pockets. Extend your belt along the inside walls. Now place your heaviest items (toiletry bag, shoes, clothes steamer, etc.) along the edge near the wheels. Other heavy things go along the side adjacent to the hinges. (The goal is to keep heavy items from shifting every time you pick up or roll the suitcase.) In the middle area, place your bags filled with socks and underwear, etc.
  4. Place the divider on top. You'll now combine elements from two systems-what packing mavens call "interlayering" (weaving clothes together in alternating layers) and the "bundle" (folding clothes around a bulky core of other clothes and gear). The general idea is to avoid "hard folds" that crease the fabric.

First, lay your pants (or skirt) on the divider, with the waistband against one short end of the suitcase and the legs (or skirt bottom) extending over the other side. (Lay a piece of tissue paper on top if desired.) Now add your blazer, with the collar against the far edge of the suitcase and the bottom extending over the near side. (If you're a man, roll up your necktie and put it in the blazer pocket.)

Now arrange soft items (rolled T-shirts, sweater, a stack of folded shirts, etc.) in the remaining space. To finish, place the pants legs across these items; then fold up the bottom of the blazer across the pants.

You now have a neat package that will stay nearly wrinkle free. When you want to get at something underneath without messing up other clothes, just lift out the divider.

How to Get the Most out of Your Travel Wardrobe

The wardrobe goal for any traveler is to plan for and pack clothes that meet the needs of all planned events, are appropriate to the culture of the destination, and allow the most outfits from the least number of pieces. Here are some easy ways to lighten your load that will work for just about any trip. Less can be more when you pack the right pieces!

  • Take versatile pieces. Team wardrobe pieces in many combinations to get the most out of your clothes.
  • Plan everything around a basic color. Choose medium to dark, neutral solid colors for your main wardrobe pieces so each item will go with everything else. Good neutrals are black, gray, navy, brown, tan, khaki, taupe and burgundy. A scarf or pin can add a little color without sacrificing valuable space.
  • Plan to wear each item several times during the trip. Choose clothing that is easy to care for -- wrinkle resistant, hand washable, and quick drying. Take a compact laundry kit along to wash as you go and you'll only need two pair of underwear, one to wear and one to wash.
  • Take more tops than bottoms. Every top should go with every bottom. Tops weigh less and take less room than bottoms, and are easier to launder.
  • Choose thin, packable fabrics over bulky ones. Two thin sweaters (turtleneck and cardigan) are as warm as one bulky sweater, are more versatile. For colder climates, pack silk long underwear that keeps you warm at a fraction of the luggage space.
  • Pack for comfort. Chances are good that you will be sleeping in your clothing on the plane. Choose clothing made of stretchy fabrics, expandable waistbands, and non-binding collars and cuffs. Make sure these fabrics resist wrinkles to avoid the slept-in look.

**Excerpted from the booklet Magellan's Passport to Compact Packing by Jerry Camarillo Dunn.

Clothing and Packing Suggestions

  1. Prepare for the weather - check the weather forecast for the nearest large city to your destination either online at www.weather.com and plan your wardrobe accordingly.
  2. Don't pack more that you need - As a general rule of thumb: pack your bags only with what you think you'll actually wear or need. Try to keep non-essential garments to a minimum, thereby lightening your load and enhancing your own personal comfort while in transit. Do pack a washcloth in your carry-on bag if you normally use one at home, as European hotels do not normally supply them in the bathroom.
  3. Mix & Match - put some of your clothing in your companion's bag and vice versa in the event that your bags are lost or misrouted.
  4. Happy Feet - Most importantly, pack a comfortable pair of weatherproof well broken-in walking shoes to avoid blisters and abrasions. Be sure to pack soft thick socks and some Mole Skin which can be found at most drugstores and supermarkets. Also be sure to pack Band-Aids and or bandages.
  5. Words to the Wise - It is suggested that you not pack any expensive or sentimental jewelry in the event that it is lost or stolen. Do not pack butane curling irons and replacement cartridges as these are considered "hazardous materials" by the airline and are not allowed on board the aircraft.
  6. A Stitch in Time - Make a detailed list of all the items that you have packed and make two photocopies. Do the same with your passport. Leave one copy at home with a relative or friend; take the other with you in your carry-on bag with your important travel documents.

You may not need to refer to these photocopies again during your trip, however, in the event of a lost or stolen bag or passport, the few minutes you spend on this preparatory effort will pay off in the hours you will save if your baggage is lost or your passport stolen.

Place a copy of your itinerary and a card with your name and address, both in North America and where you are staying abroad, inside your luggage. Also, carry an extra set of luggage keys, perhaps in the care of your travel companion. If your luggage does not have a built-in lock system, invest in a small padlock and luggage strap.

* Information provided by Alumni Holidays International

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