John Whalen

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Here's an actual packing procedure for two people utilizing one suitcase measuring 32" x 18" x 14". However, the same procedure applies to any size bag.

A suggestion: Make packing a fun experience. That's easy to do when you consider it an integral part of your trip instead of a separate exercise. And remember:

Packing's not a chore, an unwanted bore, or a task that will cause you to simmer. But a plan made with ease makes your packing a breeze, and your bag will stand tall as a winner.

The packing method offered here is the result of worldwide traveling experiences over a period of 60 years by a married couple of 55 years. My wife is the "taker"; I am the "packer." Early on I would ask, "Are you going to wear all these clothes you're taking?" Her unchanging reply: "No, but I want them available in case I need them. And don't let them wrinkle." "Huh?" (Piece o' cake for the world's best packer.)

Six Cardinal Rules:

1. Make an itemized list.
2. Set a target date for completion.
3. Pack in layers.
4. Leave no empty spaces.
5. Separate layers with plastic paper. (Ideally, the dry-cleaner type.)
6. Pack hanging items with hangers in. (This will simplify unpacking.)

About a week before the target date, place the open bag out of the way on the bedroom floor. Gradually pack whatever you can each day.

Check off each item as it's packed.

1st in is the footwear. Place shoes individually in plastic bags, and lay each shoe on its side, sole against the side of the bag, around the four sides of the bag. Fill empty spaces with anything suitable: underwear, belts, socks, pj's, etc. (Or pack belts inside shoes.)

Your bottom layer is completed with hard items such as books, CDs, purses, golf balls, tennis gear, an umbrella, etc., placed inside the rim of the shoes. Fill spaces with underwear, T-shirts, workout clothes, scarves, etc. Cover this layer with a sheet of plastic.

2nd layer: Golf shirts, tank tops, sweaters. Lay them side by side. (Don't stack.) Cover with plastic.

3rd layer: Pants and slacks. If hung, leave the hanger in, rotate the hanger down, and place the fold snugly against the top of bag. Lay items side by side. Place a small piece of plastic between the hanger hook and the garment, and cover the complete layer with plastic. Use as many layers as necessary, placing each fold against the sides and bottom of the bag to keep the layer level (no empty spaces). If it's necessary to make a second fold of pant leg, place plastic at the fold.

4th layer: Shirts and blouses. If hung, slide the hanger down into the garment until the top of the hanger is even with the top of the collar. Extend sleeves out to either side of the bag, smoothing each sleeve with your hand. Do not place plastic between the sleeves. Place a sheet of plastic paper over the garment portion inside the bag. Arrange each succeeding garment likewise. When finished, fold the multiple sleeves in as one at an angle that will fit without having to be folded. A plastic sheet goes over the completed layer.

Hey, four is done, you're having fun, and the end is now in sight. So put a smile on your face, you've kept a good pace, now finish and have a great night.

5th layer: This is the chivalry layer. This is where my suit(s), tuxedo, and sport jackets go. I leave the sixth and final layer for Betty's dresses and gowns. "Squashing" is minimal on the top layer. Out of courtesy to my sweetheart, I pack her stuff last. My suits go in as a unit with the hanger in. Use the same procedure as layer No. 4. If you're packing a smaller bag and a suit doesn't fit, turn the suit sideways and fold the bottom up. Be sure to use plastic at the jacket fold and at the fold of the pants.

6th layer: Finally. The "don't get 'em wrinkled" layer. Pack dresses with the hanger in line with the neck of the dress/gown, up snug to the top of the bag, sleeves out to either side. Cover entire garment with plastic. After folding the sleeves in, cover them with additional plastic. For "full" dresses and/or gowns, use plastic liberally in the folds.

Let the drums roll out, let the trumpets sound, let the saints march in, strike up the band.

It's done. Give yourself a hand. Have a great trip.

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