Packing Stress!

Last night I did my final packing for my upcoming cruise, but it was not with out, despite my best laid plans, a few stressful moments. A few  posts  back, I mentioned that I had made up a detailed packing list for my upcoming cruise and did a Test pack to make sure I would come in under weight. However, I had a few last minute issues that put me under a bit of a panic.

First, last week, I did a try on and see what fits with my son, and besides just a few recently purchased dress shirts and a few t-shirts, very little fit him. Most of his pants were a little small too, and worst of all his tuxedo pants were tight in the waist. I figured we could move the button over or put an elastic loop in the tux pants, but I knew I needed to get him at least a few new things and quick. I made my way to the local resale shop in the hopes of finding some thing nice for the cruise. I really lucked out as they had plenty of designer and name brand shirts for just $3. I also found 3 pairs of dress pants or docker type pants for him. Best of all of those good things, I found a pair of tuxedo pants. So for less than $65 I got him a whole new wardrobe for the cruise and he is all set.

Then on Tuesday, I had my second Packing Panic. I had done a test pack, where I fit everything into one suitcase. However, that was just clothes and shoes. On Tuesday I started putting my non-clothes items in the suit case like shampoo, toiletries, camera tripod, ect. I just about filled the suit case with just that stuff. Panic panic panic! We are trying to pack light this time so that we are not hauling 8 full size suitcases through the streets of Rome! I was able to figure out a compromise between what I want to bring and what I need to bring, and finally fit both my clothing and “other” items in the single suitcase.

Another packing issue you might want to consider is how much luggage room is in your vehicle. If you have a truck, SUV or Mini Van this may not be an issue. If you have only two people in your travel group, it may not be an issue. However, if you are a family of 4 who’s largest car is just a sedan, you may want to limit your luggage if you can’t take multiple trips to the airport. We actually did a “test pack” with the car to see how much luggage would fit. That is where we came up with our five large suitcase limit. We can fit 4 large suitcases in the trunk plus two carry-ons, and then one suitcase on the floor behind the passenger seat. Many airlines are also restricting luggage to one free checked bag, but in our case we are traveling on award miles so our plan allows for us to have two checked bags up to 50lbs per person. Be sure you check your airline to see what your baggage allowance/fees will be, so that you can plan accordingly.

I also recommend that when traveling with a group, that cruiser “cross pack”. Cross packing means packing the cruise wardrobes with a few outfits for each cruiser spread among the 4 or 5 suitcases. The trick here is to pack complete outfits rather than all the shirts on one case and all the pants in another, ect. By spreading out the outfits among the entire groups suitcases everyone has something to wear if something happens to one of the suitcases and it doesn’t make it to its final destination. We also wanted to pack one suitcase with items the we would need only for our pre-cruise stay so that we don’t have to open up all the cases until we arrive on board the ship.

Last night, I completed my cross packing for all four of us, but I had another small setback. I recommend that packers plan ahead, use a scale and be flexible with your packing plans and “must” take items. First, the detailed packing list was a great resource in helping me determine what to allocate to each suitcase. It made sure that I had the proper shoes and accessories in the same bag with the tops and bottoms that made up complete outfits. Last night, I got everything packed into 5 suitcases for 4 people and then went in to weigh the largest suitcase on the bathroom scale. I use the “dog weighing” method where I weigh myself, then weigh myself while holding the case, and subtract my weight to get the weight of the case. With five cases to weigh and re-weigh, I called it “upright row” weight training. It turned out that my largest case was 57lbs, 7 lbs over the weight limit. That meant taking at least 7 lbs of items out of that case and redistributing them among the other smaller cases. As you can imagine, there were items that had to be sacrificed. My son’s second pair or tennis shoes, and a complete first aid kit. But with a little over stuffing of the smaller cases I was able to get nearly everything redistributed and all suitcases between 40 and 47 lbs.

Be sure to check here at Cruise Talk over the coming weeks as we will provide you daily reports from our cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. We’ll try to cover issues important to cruisers like ship design, service, food quality, ambiance, fellow passenger, entertainment, activities, itinerary, excursions, beverages, weather, and sea roughness. We hope you’ll enjoy our reports the the Solstice starting on Dec 30th.