Forty years ago, five of us were crossing from Holland to Canada on Holland American’s ship Ryndam. We were headed home after touring Britain and several other countries by car. After the excitement of being out of sight of land, Hortense Davison - fondly called "Petie" - my daughter Nancy and I began to reorganize our luggage. Petie had saved a pair of old shoes that she replaced in France, and I chose the two-piece, wash-and-wear dress that I had worn often. My son Walt complained, "Oh, Mom, not that old green dress again!" We three women went out on the deck and ceremoniously donated those and other travel togs to the Atlantic Ocean!
We had traveled light. I carried a medium-size purse and two identical bags - one in each hand - loaded with approximately 12? pounds each. I carried my own luggage. Strapping the matching bags together saved time and tip money at luggage checkpoints. Because air travel today has even more frustrations, traveling light has additional rewards. Bicycle touring taught me to travel light whether I go by car, boat, bike, train or plane.
I list the places I’d like to visit and the ones that are essential. I plan an itinerary weeks ahead, make reservations and send stamps for confirmations. More than a week ahead of travel time, I fold and spread things out on a spare bed and carefully study each item. Is this wash-and-wear material? Will it mix and match with other items? Is it comfortable? Is it appropriate for the places I’ll visit? Will it go with the only pair of shoes I’ll be wearing? Could I possibly get along without it or substitute something not as heavy or bulky? If it should be lost or stolen, can I go on?
While packing for a trip, it’s wise to choose wash-and-wear materials; they are more likely to be wrinkle-free when you unpack. They withstand "dabbling out" occasionally if they have a crinkled, seersucker weave. As departure time nears, I view items more critically: "I like this, but is it absolutely necessary?" Probably no one who sees you on this trip has ever seen these clothes before. It’s more important to be neat and clean than to show that you have a wide variety of outfits. It’s wise to take fewer clothes and more money.
Instead of buying new rainwear before a trip to England, I put the money aside and bought British-made rainwear on arrival. That didn’t work well when Nancy needed new tennis shoes because few English women have feet as narrow as hers. Walt wanted stylish plaid wool pants in 1963, and he was delighted to find the popular style on our three-day stopover in Iceland. They cost more, but the pants were up-to-the-moment style in wonderful Icelandic wool material, and he spent his own money for them. That "old green dress" Walt saw so any times survived several Laundromat washes - it was wrinkle-resistant and in good condition when I tossed it to the sharks. I often wish I had it.
I photographed the contents of each bag before actually packing to go. When Chub and I planned to pedal through southern Ireland, my two strapped-together saddlebags were misplaced! The Irish airlines replaced bike pedals, rainwear and essential garments, gave us vouchers for food and lodging and had us call back each evening.
"Meet every bus and train," the agent said.
Finally, "Your bags arrived from St. Louis today."
What happened? There was a slow-down strike of baggage handlers in St. Louis the day we departed. The photos helped!