How to Pack Right

By | October 31, 2006

Here’s a piece I wrote for the latest issue of DestinAsian magazine on travel strategies for uncertain times (I have a regular column called Tech Travel in the travel magazine):

The way we travel will continue to change, and we will need to adapt to it, especially when it comes to the technology that tethers us to the office or to loved ones. And, in case any of you are grumbling about carry-on restrictions, or the long snaking lines for airport security checks, or the difficulty of arriving looking fresh and gorgeous at our destination when we’re not allowed to carry moisturizer, makeup, or hair gel onto the plane, I would offer this: There are ways around all these problems.

Among the tips I offer are checking in bulkier gadgets, so long as they’re well protected, shipping luggage ahead of time, ordering smaller versions of toiletries and other necessities and having them sent straight to your hotel. The bottom line, at least with technology:

And when it comes to technology, remember that everything to do with gadgets is replaceable except the data—whether it’s documents or holiday snaps. So before you pack—back up. However long the queues, and however miserable the humiliations inflicted upon you by security measures, you’ll know at least the important stuff is safe.

I’m aware when I write these stories that there must be a lot more tips that I could offer that I just don’t hear about. I would love to hear from you if you have any. There was a good one in a recent Fortune issue quoting a guy called Dean Burri, who keeps his ties flat by putting them in folders, customizing jacket and coat pockets for tickets and sewing Velcro between shirt buttons to stop them from wrinkling.

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3 thoughts on “How to Pack Right

  1. nightingaleshiraz

    Jon Armstrong over at Blurbomat ( did a roundup of his favorite travel-tips a few months ago, and then invited commenters to add on. The result is a pretty interesting (and varied) collection of do’s, don’ts, and odes to Ziploc.

    see for the actual post.

  2. Jeremy Wagstaff

    Nightingaleshiraz, thanks for this. Some good comments in there, you’re right. Particularly liked this one:

    after getting all your stuff out that you think you need for your trip — make yourself choose only half of it. it’s all you will need anyway. people find this really hard to do — but seriously – you don’t use even *half* of what you take on any trip ever!

    and this one about having backups of important travel documents:

    – (if you’re comfortable with the security of your email account), you can keep scanned copies of documents in saved email on a web account (so you can access them from anywhere).
    – make sure someone *else* (i.e. at home, etc.) has copies of your important documents — like a parent or relative. that way if *everything* gets lost and you’re sitting at the Embassy trying to start from zero, you can call them and help will be that much faster.

    and you have to love this one:
    Save your old underwear with holes and shredding elastic for your trips. While travelling, simply discard a pair after use each day. I picked up this tip from a doctor I used to work with who travelled to Italy several times a year. It might sound bizarre, but it’s actually a stroke of simple brilliance and makes the laundry pile upon your return a bit more bearable.

    and this one, to get extra space:

    We always book a window seat and an isle seat. If the plane is not full you just might luck out and the seat in between you stays empty – most people traveling alone are not going to request a middle seat. If the flight is full it’s easy to offer either your window or aisle seat to the poor person who is now stuck inbetween you. They will be eternally grateful. 90% of the time this has resulted in us getting that empty middle seat all to ourselves.

  3. nightingaleshiraz

    grin. the one about scanned copies of documents on email / with relatives was actually mine.

    it comes from a lifetime of living with a third-world passport (and insisting that you still want to see the world). ironically, i think the idea of losing my Pakistani passport is *more* frightening to me than if i had an American, Canadian or EU passport. not because of the document itself (which can be replaced by just *one* — albeit tedious — process), but because of all the precious visas that were painstakingly obtained for it… those are the real nightmare when it comes to replacements!


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