Dalaiah Kusner is the buyer for Southeast Asia and Central America here at Ten Thousand Villages. She travels once a year to each region, spending about two days with each of several artisan groups for a total of four weeks, twice a year.
Constantly being on the move requires a special kind of strategy when it comes to packing, so Dalaiah has developed a few tricks and tips to make her trips easy as can be:
Never pack more than you can carry
When you’re on the go, it’s easy to feel weighed down by “stuff.” The less you have to haul around, the less there is to keep track of. And you don’t want to be hassled having to ask for help lifting your luggage.
Bring three smaller bags
Instead of one large bag, bring one rolling carry-on sized luggage, a backpack, and a messenger style purse with a cross strap and zipper closure when you travel. The rolling bag can be checked on the plane, leaving your hands free—which is important for boarding pass and passport handling, as well as transactions with money or even checking your dictionary or travel guide book.
A cross-body strap prevents the bag from sliding off your shoulder. A zipper closure ensures that everything (even small coins) will stay in your bag even if it is dropped or jostled. It is also helpful to keep a rectangular zippered wallet inside this bag to keep your money, phone cards, and other important travel documents organized and easily accessible.
It’s a good idea to keep one day’s worth of clothes and a toothbrush in your backpack just in case your luggage is lost. This is also where you’ll want to stow your laptop, power cords, medicines, or other fragile items that should not be checked on the plane. This is also the bag you will use for daytrips away from your main location. Why bring everything if you don’t need to?
Rolling luggage is where a lot of people make mistakes. For a month-long trip, you really only need about a week’s worth of clothes. A general rule of thumb is to pack for as many days as you will have between doing laundry. Even with a busy schedule of relocating every two days, Dalaiah is almost always able to find a few hours to wash and dry clothes in her hotel. When it comes to stairs and public ground transportation, you’ll be glad you’re not dragging around a monster suitcase.
Look good, feel good
Just because you’re packing light doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. Especially if you are traveling for business, keep in mind that you are representing your company and appearance is still important.
Costume jewelry is best. When traveling abroad, you don’t want to make yourself a target for thieves. Larger, casual necklaces (made of beads, ribbon, fabrics, and thread) are a good option because they won’t get tangled, and you don’t need a separate jewelry case. You only need to bring two (one in warm tones, one in cool) to go with all of your outfits.
Scarves can be your best friends on a trip. A wide scarf of a casual lightweight material is versatile and stylish—great for combating the chill of an airplane, avoiding direct sunlight on your shoulders, or even covering up a bad hair day in humid climates.
It seems like a frivolous thing, but if you are accustomed to wearing makeup, you will miss it if you don’t bring some with you. A small lip-gloss and mascara can be easily stowed away, and can be a great asset when it comes to looking composed and professional, even if you’re feeling jetlagged.
The Ultimate Secret- PLAN AHEAD!
Plan your bags
Make a list of everything you need and decide ahead of time how to best organize all of it. This will help you eliminate extraneous items. If everything has its own place, you will be less likely to forget or lose things. Planning out your bags in this way will also help you find exactly what you need when you need it.
Plan your outfits
This may sound nerdy, but if you plan out a week’s worth of outfits, you can focus on all the other (more important) elements of traveling.
Plan for etiquette
It’s important to keep in mind the etiquette and customs of the country you are visiting. For example, in Indonesia, it is expected that women wear sleeves no shorter than three-quarter length. By planning in this way, you will avoid faux pas, and you will look fantastic.
Plan for your next trip
If you do find yourself wishing you had something, jot it down for next time. If you lose or give away something important on your trip (such as a dictionary or a first aid kit) make sure you replace it.
By following these simple rules, you will be a travel pro in no time. Have fun and enjoy the journey!