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Packing Light - Post Trip Feedback

I just returned from a 19-day England and Ireland trip where I used many carry-on and light packing tips that I received from this forum. As a thanks, I wanted to pass on what I learned. I carried a 19" ebags TLS Weekender Convertible Jr. as my main bag and an Osprey Daylite Daypack as my personal item. Here are a few specifics:

It was well worth it to pack lightly and to be able to easily carry everything. We took several train and bus rides where there was very little extra space for suitcases, and it would have been quite a hassle to have anything large. Having carry-on only also really saved time in making my connecting flight in returning to the U.S. I didn't have to go to the baggage claim prior to clearing passport control.

Ebags TLS Weekender Jr
This was a great bag! I was able to keep it unexpanded the entire time. I used the ebags packing cubes, which really helped me to stay organized. I had done a "test pack" at home and found a packing arrangement that worked well with the bag. It allowed me to keep everything in the same place and pack up quickly. (I brought some extra gallon size ziplock bags to put dirty clothes if they were sharing a packing cube with the clean ones.) The longest I carried the bag on my back was about a mile from hotel to train station and it was quite easy to carry. That said.....if I were to go anywhere where it was really warm (such as Italy), I would have taken my Eagle Creek EC Lync 20" wheeled bag instead. I would have been a puddle of sweat carrying my TLS bag in really hot weather! Something else I hadn't considered about a convertible bag was carrying it in the long airport lines. In the U.S., we were fortunate to be TSA Pre-check, but we waited about an hour in the security lines overseas. That was a long time to keep the bag on my back. I ended up picking it up and moving it forward every few seconds as the line inched forward. Not a big deal, but a wheeled bag would definitely have been easier and I did feel like I got a workout in!

Most Useful Items
The most useful things I brought were definitely the Travelon inflatable hangers, REI microfiber towel, and Forever New powdered detergent. (My husband chuckled at the inflatable hangers until he realized that almost all of our hotels/B&B's had hangers that were attached to the closets!) These items made it really easy to quickly wash items in the sink and dry them overnight. I used the advice I had gotten here to roll the wet items in the microfiber towel and then stamp on it, and that really worked.

Least Useful Item
I brought a travel pillow along that I had tested and liked on car rides. I found that I just don't sleep well on planes, no matter what I bring. I could have used the packing space for something else.

Best Packing Tips
For me, the two best things I did were 1) make sure everything is mix and match, color-wise; and 2) bring at least 1 item that works if you get temperature extremes. The temperatures in both England and Ireland were about 5-15 degrees warmer than forecasted before we left. At one point, there was an unexpected mini-heat wave and it hit the 80's in Ireland (and 93 in London, according to some people we met.) I was so glad that I had packed a pair of very lightweight capris and two short-sleeved quick-dry T-shirts that I mixed and matched with two scarves. I had also thrown in a last-minute pair of Wrightsocks ankle socks. Because it was so warm, I ended up wearing these items way more than my wool socks and long pants that I had planned to use, and it was very easy to wash them out and dry them each night. We met people who were very uncomfortable in the heat because they hadn't packed anything that would work in hot weather.

Thanks again to everyone who gave me so much good packing advice!

Posted by
15554 posts

I found that most hotels I stayed in in Europe also had those hangers. I normally bring inflatable hangers but this past trip I tried these:


They worked great, took up less room than inflatables and weighed less. I just bought another set.

Posted by
37 posts

What a great post!

We went on a 11 day trip to Colombia, and it was our first time packing light with just two carry-ons (including the TLS) full of ebags packing cubes and a smaller Northface backpack for a daypack. We had a positive experience as well, and I can't imagine lugging around my full size suitcases again!

We too had to deal with major temperature swings with Bogota being rainy and having highs in the 50s while Cartagena was a humid 92 degrees. It helped that I wore a couple sweaters that were in my "donate" pile at home. They stayed in Bogota.

We used a clothesline from amazon that worked well and was inexpensive. I will have to pick up one of those microfiber towels the next time I'm in REI. If anyone is looking for good travel clothes, the Travex line from Eddie Bauer is awesome.

Posted by
2252 posts

Thank you for the wonderful trip report, Sharon. Lots of good advice and it's great to hear what actually worked well for you and what might not be a good choice from someone who's actually been there, done that!

Posted by
681 posts

Thanks for sharing your after-trip insights. I find that I adjust (pare down😊) my travel list every time I take a trip. I'm curious about Forever New. Are you taking packets, a small container? Amazon seems to have it in quite a few varieties. I'd be interested to know what worked for you.

Posted by
476 posts

Great post with perfect timing as we plan for our quickly upcoming trip. Question the ConvertAHanger poster. Is it just one hook in a package? It was hard to tell from the Photo? Thanks for posting.

Posted by
14161 posts

So glad things worked out for you! I got caught in some hot weather early this spring in Salt Lake City and had to duck across the street to Macy's to get a couple of thin short sleeve tee shirts. Of course it snowed a few days later, lol but I was ready for that!

Posted by
2252 posts

Nancy, I bought a container of Forever New at my local Nordstrom's or maybe it was Macy's? It came in powder/granular form so is easy to take only what you think you might need for the length of your trip. I put it in a snack sized ziplock baggie.

Posted by
198 posts

Thanks everyone, for the feedback.

Nancy - I purchased my Forever New from Amazon. I bought the 8 oz. size, but if I had known how much I would like it, I would have purchased more. For my trip, I put about 4 oz. of the powder into a heavy reusable ziplock bag that I got at the container store. (The plastic bottle that the powder came in seemed kind of bulky to pack and I was also afraid a regular ziplock bag might break open into my suitcase, getting powder everywhere.) The 4 oz. of powder got me through the 19 days, although I was rationing it a little bit by the end.

Thune - I love Eddie Bauer too! I wear a tall size and their clothes are lifesavers. The capris and light weight T's that I used were from their Horizon Travex line.

Frank - Thanks for the tip on the hanger extender. They would definitely take up less space than the inflatables.


Posted by
138 posts

Contacted seller on Amazon for ConvertAHanger. There are two converters/hooks for $10 ($5 per piece).

Posted by
630 posts

If anyone is looking for good travel clothes, the Travex line from
Eddie Bauer is awesome.

I second Thune's recommendation on Eddie Bauer's Travex line. My husband wears their short-sleeved polo shirts, and really likes them. If you sign up for Eddie Bauer's emails, you will get notified when they are on sale and clearance. I only buy them when we can get them for less than $20 - sometimes even at $15.

Posted by
630 posts

I found that most hotels I stayed in in Europe also had those hangers.
I normally bring inflatable hangers but this past trip I tried these:
ConvertAHanger They worked great, took up less room than inflatables
and weighed less. I just bought another set.

Frank II, what's the purpose of these hangers? I'm confused. Couldn't we just use the hangers in the closet - why do we need to convert them to a hanger? I'm just trying to figure out if I would need them. You know I always have to buy what you recommend LOL. :D

Posted by
4991 posts

The main purpose of the convert-a-hanger gizmo is to be able to use the hotel hanger at places other than the closet. It is useful if you want to hang hand wash on a shower curtain rod, towel rod, or other support. That way the wet item gets plenty of air as opposed to being in a closed up area.

Posted by
15992 posts

That way the wet item gets plenty of air as opposed to being in a
closed up area...

...and drips all over the bathroom tub/shower instead of the closet floor. As much as I squeeze, there's eventually some drippage. Those small, lightweight converters are a great idea with many hotels having those theft-proof hangers that only work in closets. Great tip!

Posted by
15554 posts

As stated, many hotels now have the theft proof hangers that can only be used in the closet. The hook is permanently attached to the hanger rod. When taken out, these hangers only have a straight metal rod that is useless. The ConvertAHanger adds the hook allowing that same useless hanger to be hung anywhere. It also allows the hangers with very small loops to be used as well.

Posted by
4991 posts

Kathy, You might already know about this trick for dripping laundry. If so, great! If not, you might want to try it and see if it works for you. After squeezing the dickens out of the garment, shake it out well and then roll it up in a towel while squeezing it again. Really takes a lot of excess moisture from the garment.

Posted by
2529 posts

Light plastic "J" clothes hooks work well to dry clothes and may be attached to all sorts of room features.

Posted by
221 posts

In 2014, I cut a piece off of a Zote laundry bar and it worked well on my trip. My spouse even liked the smell! Recently, I was in an Eddie Bauer outlet and noticed that they have packets of those small laundry strips(size of breath strips). They were only $4.99 for a packet of 50. To make it even a better deal, I got the second packet for 1/2 price. I will be trying them out in my trip to Europe in Sept.

Posted by
2618 posts

Every trip I take I find I need to bring less, I keep track of what I wear and wash several times vs what I wear once or not at all. Like you mention, I always bring something for an extreme temperature--a sleeveless top and also a light to mid-weight sweater. I usually travel in May and find that both always get used at some point.

Posted by
27352 posts

I like the convert-hanger concept, but I find that well over half of the no-hook hangers in hotels are made out of wood, and I wouldn't want to hang wet clothes on them. For now I'm sticking with inflatables, taking two on each trip, I also pack one skirt/pants hanger, the small, lightweight type used in stores, not the type with bulky clothespin-style clips.

Posted by
19151 posts

In defense of inflatable hangers, their thickness when inflated keeps the two sides of a shirt apart, allowing it two dry from both sides.

I don't have much hanging things in my lightly packed bag, so I have plenty of space for my inflatable hangers in the closet. That way, if I'm staying several days and leave shirts to dry during the day, I can close the closet door and no one knows I'm doing sink laundry.

BTW, each inflatable hanger only weighs a little over 1 oz. I'm very weight conscious, but they're well worth their weight - I bring two.

roll it up in a towel

Actually, I use the bath mat. My rooms have never failed to have one. I don't mind stepping out onto a damp bathmat after my morning shower, but drying with a soggy towel, no way. And, I can leave the damp bathmat in the room, instead of having to pack a damp micro-fiber towel.

Posted by
5697 posts

I just bring about four plastic tubular hangers from my closet -- light, don't take up much space, and cheap enough to dump as needed. Loved the inflatable hangers ... until (after several trips) they got leaks and didn't inflate any more.

Posted by
1420 posts

regarding hand laundry....I know we have talked before about sinks without stoppers to try to discourage room laundry......toss a soft margarine lid into your suitcase....makes a fine sink stopper (you'll need to hold it down until sink fills, and can also be used as a coaster, etc).......... I know some folks like the big zip lock bag as a portable laundry system....but I like this method

Posted by
2349 posts

Actually, a 2.5 gallon zip bag is great for laundry if there is not a stopper or if the sink isn't draining very fast. You can just pour the water into the shower and start the rinse cycle.