Packing Our Bags
How does one pack only 2 bags for 2 people for 7 weeks anyway? For a long trip, the temptation is to take more things. Even though we are leasing a car once we leave Paris — larger and more luxurious than what we really need (it was such a deal – more on that later) with plenty of trunk capacity, we still have to get to and from Charles de Gaulle Airport and an apartment in the 14th Arrondissement 4 times during our stay without one. You just don’t want to be dragging all that luggage around on the Metro and through the streets of Paris. Aside from the inconvenience of it, you look like the worst tourist. Fortunately, it is summer and that definitely lightens the load in the wardrobe department. While I don’t want to be a slave to fashion on my vacation, I do want to keep a bit of style in mind as I plan what to pack. After all, we are starting off in the fashion capital of the world.
Someone once taught me that the trick to fitting it all in and keeping it organized is to use ziploc bags. I have employed this technique on other long vacations and found it to work very well. So I have purchased ziplocs in array of sizes including the super large ones which Rick Steves, my travel guru (hmmm… not really but he does have some good ideas) suggests make great washing machines when no other alternative is available — just fill with clothes, water, a little laundry soap & shake. As I understand it, ziplocs are not so easy to find in France which, of course, means they are probably smarter than we are about limiting the amount of waste they generate. To use the bags most efficiently, you roll your clothes, arrange as many items as possible in one bag, and ZIP it closed (I love that part) making sure to press out all the air. What you end up with is a neat little package that takes up about half as much space as those clothes normally would thus affording you the opportunity to take MORE!! in less space. This also allows you to moves portions of your wardrobe around in your suitcase in order to locate a particular item without having to unpack your whole bag.
When it comes to cosmetics, that is another issue entirely. You can divide everything up and put it in ziplocs too, but, frankly, I get tired of rooting around in the bags for a particular item. By the same token, I don’t really want to unpack it all at every stop. I decided that the best compromise is to use hanging cosmetic bags — a smaller one for makeup and a larger one for everything else. In some cases, I was able to buy travel-sized products, but for other things, I purchased travel-sized containers that I could fill myself. If you haven’t figured this out already, Bed, Bath, and Beyond has by far the largest selection of travel-sized items and containers. I went crazy there. For the length of time we will be away, it was necessary to prepare a backup ziploc of some items to replenish the bags as needed. With these two bags, I can experience the ease of setting up my vanity for one night or seven by simply unrolling them and hanging them on the back of any bathroom door. Ah, you say, what if there’s no hook? Well, I have that covered too — 2 over-the-door hooks that I am also taking along.