Monday, June 19, 2017
Hola de la Ciudad de Mexico. I arrived in Mexico City for the Law and Society Association conference yesterday to get acclimated and take some personal time to see the city. Today, I carry forward the theme I posted on last week: packing for conference travel. Last week, I shared my prepacking strategy. This week, I will offer some parameters for packing for the actual trip, using the trip I am on now as an example. This is what I was working toward (and achieved).
I noted in my post last week that I almost always travel with one carry on duffle-like bag (soft-sider) and one tote bag that holds, among other things, my handbag for the trip. That is what I chose for this trip! The main advantage is that I do not have to check bags. I had a tight connection yesterday in Atlanta, and my grab-and-go luggage helped me to make that connection with time to spare.
To quote the Talking Heads, " . . . you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?"
Let's begin with the things I packed in the blue soft-sider. I started by considering what I plan do on the trip. For this trip, I have four days of conference proceedings (for which I will dress up) and three days of walking/sight-seeing. I also plan to attend at least two yoga classes and have to teach Barbri in Nashville on my way home. I next consider the climate. I am in one place almost the whole time, and the weather is forecasted to be pretty consistent--mid-eighties (Fahrenheit) during the day and mid-fifties in the evenings. Chances of rain are slim most days, but higher at the end of the week. Here's what I chose to pack:
A three-piece coordinated suit set: skirt, cropped trousers, and jacket
9 shirts/blouses (6 tank tops--3 with shelf bras--and 3 wrinkle-resistant long-sleeved button-downs)
1 pair of reversible yoga shorts
1 pair of reversible dance/yoga leggings
PJs (undershirt tank top and boxers)
1 light rain jacket
1 French terrycloth embellished sweatshirt
Appropriate underwear items (gals, you can PM me for details, if you'd like)
2 extra pairs of earrings
1 pair of pumps
1 pair of fold-up flats
1 pair of sneakers
1 pair of flip-flops
1 traveling yoga mat
[Addendum: I forgot to add that I also packed a printed silk scarf and a printed cotton bandana scarf! I almost always travel with a scarf or two to accessorize outfits and make them look different when I am reusing the same basic suit pieces.]Less the prepacked items, the rain jacket, the jewelry, the scarves, and what I wore on the plane, here's what it all looked like (footwear shown separately):
The yoga mat presents a bit of a packing issue, since it only fits in the soft-sider on the diagonal. So, I needed to plan a packing strategy that used as well as possible the space under and over that diagonal. I employed two different strategies in my packing to handle that issue. First, for the area under the high end of the yoga mat, I stretched out the trousers and the skirt (both made with highly wrinkle-resistant fabrics) and put the dressier shirts (three tank tops and the three button-downs) on the top (as you can see at left in the picture at left above, if you look carefully). I then folded the trouser/skirt over on top to bundle the shirts inside. That looked like this:
The bundle fit well under the yoga mat. I employed a similar approach for the space on top of the low end of the mat by folding the yoga shorts around the casual tank tops. The gaps sound the yoga mat were then filled with underwear, PJs, scarves, and rain jacket, all rolled. (I note that Greg Shill also recommended rolling clothing in his comment to last week's post. I am a fan of that approach.) Even with the prepacked items and my Barbri binder (which I need to travel with, unfortunately, since I have to lecture in Nashville before returning home and did not depart from there), there was room to spare at the top of the soft-sider.
The tote is a simpler affair to pack. Again, I packed for function. The basic tote contents included (apart from my prepacked pouches):
A zip-lock file folder containing the materials for the work I am doing on the trip and some pens and highlighters
1 Envirosax roll-up reusable nylon tote (which I use for my map, travel guide, and water bottle on walking days)
Snacks (2 snack bars, a package of notes, a package of dried fruits and seeds, gum, fruit candies, a small pouch of peanut butter)
My cross-body handbag (packed with a wallet, sunglasses, and a business card holder)
The resulting packed tote bag looked like this:
I should note that the weight of each bag was manageable, even for a small person like me.
Could I get away with packing a lot less for an 8-day trip like this? Yes. Again, if I didn't choose to dress up, if I skip the yoga practices, if I did hand laundry or was willing to commit in advance to wearing shirts for more than one day--all of those things would decrease the number of items I would need to bring. But this trip, I feel very comfortable, so far, with what I assembled and packed.
A colleague offering similar advice on Facebook recently offered these great tips that I have used in other travel:
1. Use only fast-drying, breathable, easily washable synthetic fabrics for all clothes.
2. Be willing to wash things in the sink -- takes about 5 min a day if you use the right fabrics.
I am mostly a cotton and silk kind of gal, but I admit that well-chosen synthetics can be the way to go. My three-piece suit combo for this trip and many of my yoga clothes fit into that category. Natural fabric jerseys also can work the same magic. In fact, the same colleague recommended Diane Von Furstenberg silk wrap dresses for dressier conference packing. And I can recommend Anne Fontaine cotton jersey blouses (two of which, from past seasons, are on this trip with me). These are pricier items (although one can catch good sales, which is what I try to do), but they really come in handy and look great.
To close, I will offer a quick footnote on other types of luggage I have used and mostly abandoned. Greg Shill mentioned in his comment last week that he uses a garment bag-type backpack. I had never seen that sucker before. Looks pretty cool. I used to use a garment-bag suitcase of a similar size, but I have learned about myself that I like to have more space and flexibility in, and less stuff built into, my travel bags. This is a very personal thing, imv. I also do not commonly use a backpack for longer trips like the one I am on now. But I do use one sometimes for a shorter trip or a trip during which I am not engaged in any dress-up activities. I have a heavy leather backpack (which I also used for carrying my books when I taught in study abroad programs) and a simple light one that holds my laptop.
Again, leave suggestions and thoughts in the comments. And I will once more offer apologies to my male readers for the parts of this post that do not directly relate to them. But perhaps even those parts will inspire some new thinking! Also, let me know what, if anything, more you would like to see me cover on conference packing. At the least, I will plan to do a post-script after I return home on the 27th on how well the choices I made work out in the end.