Manner Monday®: Packing for an overseas journey

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by Carey Sue Vega in Cruise Ships, Manner Monday

DuchessInviteI have an amazing opportunity coming up soon with an overseas journey to the Big Smoke, aka London, England.  During this vacation I’m going to have a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend an official Royal Palace event.  With it being an official Palace event, we can’t talk details until AFTER the event for security purposes.  So stay tuned for the scoop when I return 🙂

In the meantime, as I begin thinking about the packing process, I thought it would be helpful to share some tried and true tips and tricks gleaned from 10 years of working on Cruise Ships.  One of my favorite itineraries was the ‘Scandinavian Capitols Cruise’ when we sailed out of Dover, England, through the Kiel Canal, stopping in Warnemuende, Germany; St. Petersburg, Russia; Stockholm, Sweden; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Oslo, Norway.  As a Cruise Director, I sailed this itineray many times, back to back.  Packing for a three to four month contract was a science and full fledged operation in planning and efficiency.

Getting ready for this vacation has brought back some amazing and fun memories.  So I thought I’d share some of my favorite packing tips.  If you’re heading out on a cruise this summer, make sure to read my blog post, “Packing for a Cruise with Julie and Gopher” as well as the post on ‘Travel and Transportation Etiquette‘ for more tips.

For those of you who may be new to Manner Monday and don’t know our story yet, I worked for Norwegian Cruise Line for 10 years.  Starting as a Youth Coordinator and working my way up to Cruise Director (yes, think Julie McCoy).  Ricardo worked for the same company starting at the Front Desk (the front line of customer service) and worked his way up to Hotel Director (yep, he was Gopher!)  He had been with the company for over 7 years when we met as crew members on a ship that sailed out of Houston, Texas in the late 90’s (cue the Love Boat theme song).  After dating for a couple of years and working on different ships – it was when he was on a ship in Hawaii, and I was on another ship in Egypt – we decided we needed to move to land and ‘get a life’.  So, we decided to ‘drop anchor’ (pun intended – I can’ t resist) in Oklahoma City during 2000.  That year, not only did we get married, but we bought cars, got ‘jobs’, and started figuring out what the real world was like as far as insurance, utility bills, grocery shopping, and everything that comes with being home owners.  It was overwhelming to say the least.  But we are really glad we decided to land in Oklahoma City, we love it here.

So back to the topic at hand, Packing and Planning for an Overseas journey

You really don’t need that much stuff:  A few mix and match pieces that can easily transition from day to day.  Maybe something a bit dressier for a nice dinner out out or evening at the theatre.  Two or three pairs (no more) of shoes that will work with everything.  Swimsuits (more than one so you’re not trying to put on a wet swimsuit everyday) and sport sandals if the pool/beach or hiking are on your itinerary. If you like to workout don’t forget an outfit for the gym.  Don’t forget a light jacket or wrap, I always keep a pashmina in my carry on ‘just in case’.  A hat is also a great accessory to bring.  Once you have picked out what you would like to take, take a hard look at everything and whittle it down.  Lighten your load and you’ll be happy you did.

Ziplock Baggies:  These are the best travel accessories you will ever have!  They’re obviously great to keep liquids corralled, but they’re also great to pack your clothes in and they help to save space.  I suggest buying the extra large 2-gallon size, the 1 gallon size, and the quart size.  The quart size is great for small bottles of liquid, stockings, undies, etc.  I use the larger gallon and 2-gallon bags for clothing.  I can pack two-three mix and match outfits in one of the 2-gallon bags, then squeeze the air out and throw it in a suitcase.  For my son (10), we take his outfits and roll them together; shirt, shorts, undies, socks, and stuff them into a baggie.  It makes it so easy for him to pull out an outfit and go.  The baggies help to keep things organized and they also provide an extra barrier of protection from luggage that may have been caught in the rain, or a bottle of lotion that exploded and made it’s way out of it’s little baggy.  And don’t laugh at this one – but you can put your smartphone inside of a ziplock baggie to protect it from water and sand and still be able to talk and text on it.  You just need to remove it from the baggie before you take pictures!  They’re also really helpful in keeping dirty clothes compartmentalized for the return trip.

Outlet Adaptors:  Do you research and find out which adaptors you need for your electronics.  They’re inexpensive and you can easily get a few to toss in your bag.  I say a ‘few’ because you will inevitably lose one during the vacation, and who these days can get by with just one? {that’s me with my hand in the air}.

Carry On:  Realizing that carry on’s are limited by the airlines, you’re going to have to be very creative.  I suggest packing at least one or two outfits in your carry on just in case your luggage gets lost and it takes a day or two to catch up with you.

A few items I leave in my carry on for every trip (land or sea):  a short extension cord.  It never fails, the outlets aren’t where you need them.  And I keep my toiletry bag packed and ready to go at all times.  When I return home from a trip, I refill the small bottles of soap, lotion, etc., and repack my toiletry bag so it’s ready to go.  This saves a ton of time every time I pack, even for camping trips or weekend getaways.  Throw in some of those ‘command hooks’ and they give you extra hanging storage wherever you need it and they won’t damage the walls. And last bust not least, duct tape!  Wrap some duct tape around a sharpie, and you can MacGyver just about anything!

Toiletries:  Unless you’re a crew member signing on a ship to work for a four month contract, you really don’t need the Sam’s size bottle of shampoo and lotion!  Take a look at what you need, and transfer it to smaller containers.  Most hotels offer shampoo and conditioner if you need it, and there’s always a drug store nearby.  If you have to have a particular hair dryer, bring it; otherwise the hotel will have something that will do the job, but they’re definitely not like your favorite.

Leave room for souvenirs:  Don’t stuff you luggage so full that you don’t have room for a few souvenirs.  Even if you are not planning on doing a lot of shopping, trust me, you’ll end up with something extra to bring home. We won’t talk about the rugs, china, crystal, samovar, drum and many other things I bought while traveling 😐 but I always found a way to get them home! 🙂

Packing for Day Excursions:  Make sure you pack a small tote for heading on day tours, you can throw your ziplock baggies in the tote that has your sunscreen, phone and cash and you’re ready to go.

Important Documents:  If you need a hard copy of your travel documents, don’t forget to pack it in your carry on.  Keep copies of everything on your smartphone.  Take pictures of your passport, drivers license and any other important documents and save them to your device in case something goes missing.  While you’re at it, take a picture of your kiddos so if you get separated you can easily access a picture to show anyone who may be helping you find the little vagabond.

Books:  If you plan on reading while you’re on vacation, don’t forget to pack your book (a ziplock baggie is great for books too!)  If you read books on your smartphone or tablet, make sure you download them before leaving.  You don’t want to eat up expensive onboard data charges because you forgot to download your favorite book.  And while you’re at it, make sure you charge your tablet at home before you leave so you’re ready to go!

Click to Tweet: Packing and Planning Tips and Tricks for an Overseas Journey #MannerMonday

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Thanks for reading!
– Carey Sue

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