Leave the Kitchen Sink

Hong Kong Shopping

I am going to Paris for two months with only one suitcase (thanks to the washing machine in the apartment we’ve rented). When my in-laws visited us, they drove a station wagon from Memphis to Minneapolis because my mother-in-law Mary brought everything in her closet!

My father-in-law’s belongings were relegated to a valise and his golf bag. A rod across the backseat held a rainbow of Mary’s silk and linen; the wagon’s rear storage contained a butterscotch soft-sided suitcase ballooning with undergarments and cosmetics, and a 3x3x3 foot box filled with women’s shoes – golf shoes, walking shoes, sandals, pumps and boots. She brought everything “because you never know what you’ll need.”

Although I adopted Mary’s philosophy enthusiastically, we scaled it down a bit and usually traveled with two suitcases for me, two for each of the children, two for Perk – plus assorted carry-on pieces – a tour group’s worth of baggage for four people. Of course we brought most of the clothes home unworn, but we always had everything we needed!

Pay more; bring it home…

And then I ran into an uncooperative airline agent. After a business trip to Malaysia and Hong Kong (and after too many non-business trips into the local markets) I was heading home with suitcases strapped shut.  Airline baggage restrictions had changed, but I hadn’t changed my habits.

“Of course, you can pay a little extra for your overweight baggage and not have to worry about it.” The agent was excessively cheerful.  “Or you can take the heavy things out of your suitcases and dispose of them in that bin over there.” Suddenly my pewter vases, picture frames and tableware, bargain hand-stitched shoes and fake Rolex watches were a lot more expensive!  I plunked $300 more on my Visa card and muttered, “Well, at least I’ll get mileage points …”

From that day forward, I weighed my luggage wih a handheld scale that lets me know if I’m going to run into any overwieight luggage problems. AND I vowed to have plenty of room in my suitcase for new items by taking less to begin with!

Take less; bring more home!

I created a travel planner that has made my vagabond life much easier! I enter the activities that I think I might be going to do each day; I choose the clothes and shoes that I might wear, and add them in the grid. Then I consider what I could possibly wear twice, and cut my list in half; I transfer the clothes into the bottom half of the planner for packing purposes… and voila! I can usually cut another third off the list when I see that I planned to take three black sweaters when I only need one (or maybe two).  I know that I have done a great job of planning when I return home and drop my suitcase by the washing machine because everything in the bag needs laundering!

The best part is that if I don’t have what I need, I “have” to go shopping. And whether I need those hand-stitched shoes and pewter vases or not, I now have plenty of room for them in my suitcase!

Save  time, save space, save money! Download the free and editable Cyndee Perkins basic travel planner from Google docs.


  1. One suitcase for 2 months? That’ s 60+ days….aughhhh….how can yu possibly make do?

    The last time I went to France one of the porters referred to my luggage as “the widow makers”.

  2. The planner is brilliant! I tend to do that in my head (successfully), but I definitely will be checking myself with yours.

    Cyn, as I read this entry I immediately flashed back to standing with you in your empty NoVA condo armed with a pencil and sheets of graph paper. They say Henry VIII used his foot as a standard unit of measure, but you used your whole body. Much more efficient.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: