“If you’re going to be seen, you need to pack a suitcase. If you’re going to see, take a roller bag,” advises Flight Attendant Virginia Ives. Virginia’s been packing for years. Whenever her husband introduces her, he says: “This is my wife; she has a lot of miles on her— 23 million air miles, that is!”

Virginia enjoyed the short- lived TV series about Pam Am Airlines because she worked as a flight attendant for Pan Am for 25 years. After those glory days, she continued her career with Delta for 20 years. Virginia says her husband fancies himself an Indiana Jones type; so, they trudge off to exotic locales in Burma or Indonesia and other places where one needs to pack for three days even though you’ll be staying for three weeks. What you put in your sturdy suitcase with wheels and a colorful decoration attached for easy identification is the same for three days as what you’ll need for three weeks. “The basics take up room,” she explains. Virginia advises that everything a lady packs must do double duty that is, beach sandals will be bedroom slippers and a beach robe will serve as bath robe.  Heavy clothes you wear on the plane. Pack to dress in layers. Take things that weigh nothing like scarves which can dress up plain outfits. She recommends packing sturdy shoes for cobblestone roads and clothes with Velcro fastenings.  “We expand in flight.” If you have some sort of a uniform, use it. “Yet, the most important thing you wear is the expression on your face.”

Take along a clothesline, clips, a small shoe brush and sink stopper, and Wool-Lite packages. You don’t want to waste your money on sending stuff out to be laundered. Throw in a couple of plastic hangers, clothespins, and REI mesh bags. Take two hooks to help secure things to your tote and remember to secure them lower on the carry-on bag as it’s easier to roll that way. TSA locks are good. Try to keep your wardrobe monochromatic so you can mix and match easily.  Always stick meds and jewelry and money and important papers in a carry- on that stays with you. Haul a big tote on your shoulder behind you and march onboard early so you can find overhead space.  Before take -off, check to make sure everything in your seat is working. The crew can fix things while still on the ground.

Study the safety folder and know where the exit is. Virginia said she got tickled once by an answer a colleague gave when asked if she thought of herself as a glorified waitress. Her peer answered:” I think of myself as someone who can open the door of a 747-jet upside down, in the dark, in the water.”

For long flights, Virginia advises to have along something to shade your eyes like a scarf and some wax earplugs. Carry along plenty of zip lock quart sized or gallon sized bags. Maybe a tiny spritzer. Air is between 0-8 percent humidity on a plane. Very dry! Put moisturizer in old film tubes to use. Drink 8 ounces of water every two hours and use support hose. Get up every two hours. The carts weigh 300 pounds so keep elbows inside if you are seated in an aisle seat. If you have a cold, take a strong decongestant an hour before you land or eardrums can burst. Pack a couple of days ahead so you can rest before a long flight; therefore, your jet lag won’t be as bad.

When you de- board, stay focused and tuck your passport away right after customs.  If you change money, be discreet. Hide it in various places. Never wear a fanny pack out in the open with valuables in it. Place valuables in a pouch UNDER your clothes. Use little pockets to strap to your bra. “If they want my money they will have to knock me down and take off all my clothes!” she says. With your hotel room in some foreign countries, realize that fire ladders do not go up taller than the 7th floor. Count the number of doors in the corridor until the fire escape. Don’t use tap water for brushing teeth. Don’t put a “maid” sign out as it advertises you aren’t in your room. Walk with confidence when you explore your new milieu.

Before you go, she advises shopping at places like Chico’s and REI where you find washable clothes. Take a sunhat. Take silk underwear to cold climates and cotton bandanas to hot climates. Slip in a silk sleep sack to use when you don’t trust the cleanliness of your sheets if the hotel quality is iffy. Take a med kit with prescriptions. Stow away a miner- looking light that you can put on your head, leaving your hands free in an emergency. Pack a small doorstop.  Obtain some canteen items like small plastic cups and plastic utensils and plates in case you want to make an impromptu picnic inside your room. Take vitamins along.  Set a convertible umbrella, solar calculator, flashlight, H2O flask, rubber gloves, mask, ‘do not disturb” sign, and clean money for countries that won’t take wrinkled currency in your bag.

There’s no right way or wrong way to pack or roll your clothes. Your attitude is the most crucial factor. It’s not what physical objects you carry that will determine your good time.  If things don’t go as planned, you will manage just fine. Foreign places have stores where you can buy things! In closing Virginia said: “Travel! GO whenever you can and May your Luggage Go with you!”




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