Bostonista Travels: How to Pack

1216746146Bonjour, Bostonista readers. I am just back from Paris, where all things cliche about the City of Light seem to be holding steady: flowing champagne, beautifully dressed skinny people, and jars and jars of foie gras. Also, shopping.

July marks the end of Paris’s famous “soldes” (that’s sales to you non Francophiles) at which heavily discounted designer duds fly out the door at up to 80 percent off. Even with the feeble U.S. dollar, it sounds like a Bostonista‘s dream, non? There’s only one problem: how to fit it all in a suitcase for the return trip.

This quandary, plus other packing dilemmas, like how to stuff our gallons of hair products into a carry-on, had us puzzled. We could have let someone else handle our suitcase shipping, but we were determined to get it right ourselves.

So we enlisted two world traveling packing gurus for advice. Local chef and lifestyle coach Tony Polito (watch for his cooking show on WCAC) is no stranger to packing light. He’s currently off on a three-week Asian extravaganza—think Japan, Singapore, Vietnam—with just one small carry-on. And Christine Perkins, owner of Cambridge’s Pyara Spa and Salon (set to open a new Burlington location this fall), is just back from a week-long Bulgarian extravaganza. Here, their ideas for packing smart—and, possibly, saving room for those “soldes” items.

Tony Polito

1. “I lay everything on my bed first and keep the colors neutral and white. I only bring what I need—namely a few clothes, my chef attire, a camera, a toothbrush, and a few other items. I’ll go to a laundromat or use a friend’s washing machine as needed.”

2. “I don’t want too many bags to lug around since I will be visiting so many places and want room to bring special souvenirs or mementos home.” Tony’s carry-on measures 7 inches deep by 14 inches wide by 20 inches long.

3. “The first thing I do is lay my briefs in the grooves, then place all socks and T-shirts on top of those. I open up all my shirts—I don’t fold anything but my dress pants. I form a base and build my tower from there.”

4. Tony then wraps his electronics (computer and camera cords) and belts around the inside suitcase rim, and squeezes books, sandals, DVDs, a hard drive, and, yes, a mini AC unit into the cracks.

Christine Perkins

1. “When I was young and traveled with my family, there was one rule above all others—you can only bring what you carry. Needless to say good rolling suitcases were a very happy day for me. However, I travel light, so my clothing is always plain and re-workable; I bring enough shoes to make each outfit fresh.”

2.”Traveling can do a number on your skin. Fill travel-size bottles (under 3.4 ounces) with the same products you use at home.” Christine always travels with a purse-size bottle of lotion to keep her arms, legs, and hands hydrated in-flight.

3. “There is nothing worse than going somewhere you have never been and leaving, then realizing there was something amazing you missed. I love Fodor’s guidebooks—I know it’s a bit old fashioned but I love having the book with me. I also pack enough books to read on the flight, before bed, and at random times when you find yourself waiting.”

4. “And I always pack a bag that is big enough to carry shopping finds and still light enough to squash in my suitcase. I have a vintage Fendi backpack that fits that need and makes me feel fashionable at the same time.”