Galley Gossip: A question about packing (it’s all about the shoes!)

Dear Heather,

Love your blog and your web site! I laugh all the time. I usually only fly once a year for a cruise, but when I do I always see people doing what you write about and I laugh. I also try to remember to do and not do what you write about. I’ve never had a bad experience with flight staff or any flight for that matter. I’m about to go on vacation and I do have a question about luggage. With all the restrictions on checked luggage, I’m trying to make the most of my carry on bags. I’ve called the airline and they refer my questions to TSA and TSA refers me to the web site or the airline (talk about run around), but some answers are not on TSA or the airline’s web site. For instance – can hair dryers, flat irons and travel irons go in your carry on? My usual carry on fits nicely in the overhead compartment, but how big of a bag can I fit under the seat? (I’ll be on a Continental 757-200 and 737-900 ) Trying to keep the weight of my checked bag down, I would like to use a bigger under the seat bag for shoes and such. The 3-1-1 rule is that per person or per carry on? I try to book a hotel near shopping so I don’t have to transport toiletries, etc. but I also hate packing that stuff in my checked bag for fear they would leak (I wrap them well and seal them in zip locks and cosmetic bags but you just never know). Any information you can give me would be helpful. Thanks and keep up the great blogging. I love it.

Dear Debbie,

First of all, I’m glad to hear you like my blog. I’m even happier to hear you’ve never had a problem with a flight staff or on any flight for that matter. You’re one of the few.

Hair dryers, flat irons and travel irons can go inside your carry on luggage. Though I must ask why you are hauling a travel iron along with you on a trip? Do you really want to lug that thing around and then spend your precious time ironing on vacation when you could be relaxing on vacation – in wrinkle free clothes? Isn’t that what vacation is for? Relaxing. Not ironing. Personally, I’d rather not iron, and that’s why I wear the navy blue polyester dress when I’m working. However, whenever I do bring along something that must be ironed, I just hang it up in the shower and let the steam take care of the wrinkles. Now if you must take the iron with you, I guess I should tell you about a pilot I know who sprays his uniform shirts with starch before packing them inside his suitcase. He said it works.

I’m sorry to hear you’re getting the run around from the airline and TSA, but my guess is TSA is telling you to go to the airline website because every airline is different and has their own set of rules about how much luggage you can bring on-board and what it will cost to check each piece of luggage. I bet the airline is sending you to the TSA website because their rules are different from the airlines rules in regards to what you can and can not take through airport security. Me, I’d play it safe and leave the liquids at home, like you said, check one bag (if it’s too large to bring onboard with you) and take a smaller bag on the airplane.

Because you sound concerned about your bag fitting under your seat, it sounds like your bag may be a wee bit big. Just so you know, my crew tote-bag doesn’t always fit under the seat in front of me. It all depends on the airplane and how much I’ve managed to stuff inside my tote. While most of the time my bag does fit under the seat without a problem, I have had an issue on the 737, but all I had to do was take out a few books, the big bottle of water I had bought in the airport terminal after I passed through security (don’t forget to purchase yours!), turn my bag on its side and give it a good shove. Whatever you do, do not over pack and make sure that the bag going under the seat in front of you is squishable.

Packing for a long trip isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard, either. The tricky part, if you’re a woman, is figuring out which shoes you’re going to take with you, because when you’re a woman it’s all about the shoes. Am I wrong? Shoes take up too much space in the bag. That’s why I’m going to tell you to leave all those shoes you’ve packed in your smaller bag at home. I mean do you really need all of them?

Now I’m not the most fashionable person on vacation, but I do manage to have a good time and look okay doing so. The key is picking out only two pairs of shoes (a nice pair and a walking pair) to take with you and then coordinating all your outfits around them. If you’re smart you’ll be able to wear both pairs of shoes with most of your outfits. Whenever I’m going on a long trip, I pack two pairs of nice pants and two pairs of jeans (or cargo pants). When it comes to my shirts I always stick with basic colors – black, white and maybe even brown. That way I’m able to mix and match all my pieces which creates even more outfits. I use colorful accessories to dress it up or down.

See that photo over there on the right? Those are my shoes. That’s what I wore in Italy – a beat up pair of slip on canvas shoes and a pair of black boots. I made sure to wear the boots whenever traveling because my walking shoes took up less space in my bag. (Shove a few pairs of socks inside the shoes to save even more room.) Of course I packed everything for my ten day trip to Italy inside my crew luggage – a rollaboard and a tote-bag -that’s it. No need to check bags. Don’t forget, less bags equals less stress. You want to have fun, right?

The only reason I was able to make it through those ten days in Italy with only one suitcase and a tote-bag was because I rolled my clothes tightly, which resulted in me being able to pack even more clothing, I found a laundromat in Venice, which allowed me to get to know the locals and feel like a true Venetian, and I only took two pairs of shoes, which made it possible for me to get it all in one rolling bag, which is why I was able to swing my tote over my shoulder and carry that one very heavy bag up the Spanish Steps in Rome as if I were super woman in black boots.

A word of advice; If you can’t carry it (or lift it) by yourself, don’t pack it, don’t take it, otherwise you may not enjoy your trip. I had to learn that the hard way.

Hope that helps, Debbie. Enjoy your cruise! And make sure to take me with you next time.

Heather Poole

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