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27 Days, With a Carry-On

After several emails and comments posted on this website, I have decided to write about how I travel when not in our motorhome... or, how to travel for a month with only carry-on luggage. (You may recall this is the same way I traveled two years ago for a month in Italy. Male readers may want to move right along to a different website about this time (except My Driver also traveled with only a carry-on and a backpack during this trip).

I traveled with a 20-inch suitcase with four wheels for flat-movement, and a large tote bag. The tote held my laptop (it is teeny), iPad, camera, needlework, travel documents and personal items during our flights. For daily use, my trusty folding black La Pilage with a cross-body strap, served as my handbag, but traveled empty inside the suitcase during flights.

International carriers usually require a 20-inch suitcase as the largest acceptable carry-on, while in the US, a 22-inch is often accepted. (Please, please, please, check with your airline and do not accept my experience as gospel, as requirements change daily. NOTE: every flight we took was Business Class and this may have afforded us some leeway?) I use aVitorinox 20-inch carry-on (item #32301901). This is the same case I keep in the basement of the motorhome to use if we need to jet off somewhere (or go to LA for a few days).

This case is expandable, but I have never expanded the zippers (yet). The suitcase comes with a flat divider. I have never used the divider - can't figure out a purpose for this divider, except to take up space. It remained at home. The Vitorinox has wheels which allow the case to float along upright, instead of dragged at an angle on two wheels. Even with my tote bag wrapped around the handle, it was effortless to push the suitcase through airports, down airplane aisles and hotel corridors. It simply glides. At 23 pounds, fully packed, I could lift the bag over my head and on most planes I was able to get it into the overhead storage bin. On a few planes, I was simply too short to reach the overhead bin. Luckily I travel with a tall man.

his is the only orange thing I own

Yes, this is a teeny little suitcase and I am not a teeny little person. Though away for over three weeks, I packed for one week. Hotels have laundry service and hotels have sinks in the bathroom to wash out a few items. There is a method to my madness and the secret is to pack dresses. Especially dresses that are long, wrinkle-resistant and dark-colored. I know this method will not work if you are going trekking in Nepal, but for a "city" holiday dresses are your friend. A dress is always appropriate, takes up little space in a suitcase and, cleverly accessorized, can be worn to a museum, a restaurant, a cocktail party, a grocery store - or to a track meet (especially if Prince Albert is seated a few seats away). A dress is cool in heat, and if visiting an area of the world where decorum is important, you are always properly attired in a dress (assuming it isn't a mini and that it covers your arms). I brought 4 slip-on dresses, three skirts, three tops, one pair of black capri's, undies and three light-weight (white, black, pink) sweater/shrugs (because I am rarely comfortable showing my bare shoulders... but that's my problem). Everything was mix and match - black, white, grey and pink only. Two necklaces, two light-weight (decorative only) scarves. Four handkerchiefs. I wore a pair of long pants on the plane. (The two long-haul flights were the only time I wore the pants.) I also brought a light-weight satiny gown and robe to wear around the hotel room as PJ/lounger, as I knew it would be icy-cold in our hotel rooms - and wore the robe daily. I rolled my clothes before packing, but stopped half-way through the trip. Rolling didn't really take up less space after all.

Shoes: I was brutally conservative. One pair of thin flip flops for inside the hotel room. One pair of black ballet flats. One pair of black sandals with a one-inch heel.

I also carried 15 dissolvable laundry detergent pods and 4 folding hangersfor washing-up every few days in the hotel room sink. I prefer the pods to the small travel packets of liquid laundry detergent, which can leak, and used twelve pods on this trip.

No Nike's. No exercise clothes. I knew my Fitbit would easily go over 10,000 steps a day on this trip (and I was right). Like in Europe, I couldn't imagine the looks this old gal would get while jogging around the streets of Beijing, so chose to forgo actual exercise in favor of gathering thousands of steps on my pedometer. Not having a pair of sneakers in your suitcase frees up all sorts of room for grandchild gifts/souvenirs. DT brought two exercise outfits. Both were NIKE dryfit fabric and he washed them out daily in the bathroom sink after his jogs. He only missed one day of running on the trip and switched back and forth from the hotel fitness center to jogging outside if the conditions were right (there was a place to jog, it wasn't pouring rain or it wasn't 100 degrees).

Toiletries: The US was the only place where we had to remove our liquids for inspection through the airport x-ray machines, but I popped my lotions, etc., into a quart ziptop bag and moved it into my tote bag for each flight (just in case/you never know/it changes daily). We never had to remove our shoes (outside of the US). All toiletries were kept to the 3 ounce limit - and every hotel had shampoo and conditioner. I lost my teeny needlepoint scissors to security inspectors in Taiwan and my portable cell phone charger to a girl with a nasty 'tude in Beijing International Airport.

Since it was going to be so hot/humid at every destination, I kept my make-up to a minimum. TMI: Tinted moisturizer with SPF, one eye shadow (All That Glitters fromMac), one lipstick, one blush, one liner, one mascara. All my makeup could easily fit in a ziplock sandwich bag, 'cause I'm classy like that.

DT brought a sport coat, which he wore onto the plane (so never needed to pack it, and the air hostess always hung it up in a closet somewhere for him). Dave wore it many times when we went out to dinner or just down to the hotel lobby bar for a cocktail. Worn over jeans and button-up shirt (or even a golf shirt), a gentleman can go anywhere if he slips on a sport coat.

This packing list worked perfectly well for our trip to Asia in the summer, where we knew it would be hot every day, but would also work for a few weeks touring around Europe or the US. Add something glittery and a bathing suit and you could go on a cruise.

Still, we were very happy to do a few loads of laundry as soon as we arrived to Lisa's house in Los Angeles and I much prefer traveling in our motorhome with our own bed and a washer/dryer!

If you have any specific questions, send an email to "terry at rvgoddess.com".

Until my next update, I remain, your unpacked correspondent.

You may also like:
2015 trip to Asia:
(Beijing for the World Track & Field Championships, Taipei, Manila & Hong Kong)

2013 trip to Europe:
England, Rome, Florence & Lake Como