An integral, and sometimes stressful, part of modern day travel involves your suitcases and what you pack or don’t pack in them. For travel healthcare professionals this task can be especially daunting, especially if you have multiple assignments in completely different states, completely different climates, with completely different resources. We have collected some tried and true tricks of travel pros and professional organizers to make packing for those assignments more efficient and more enjoyable.
Plan Ahead: There is some essential information that you should have before beginning any actual packing:
- Determine the weather: Sites such as www.wunderground.com/ provide 10 day forecasts for specific destinations. If you are going from one assignment to the next, you can also check average monthly temperatures by city or state online.
- Check the accommodations: Whether staying in temporary housing or hotels, many items may be provided for you, such as hair dryers, towels and sheets. If these are not, consider purchasing travel size/foldable versions or purchase some items when you reach your destination.
- Devise a Checklist: Determine in advance the dress code for each assignment and calculate how many of each item, such as scrubs, you will need for the duration.
- Acquaint yourself with the TSA Regulations: There are strict rules for what you can and can’t put in suitcases and/or carry ons when flying. These rules change periodically change, so review them on the website www.tsa.gov/ .
Once these steps have been completed, it is time to select a wardrobe, toiletries and accessories and pack that suitcase. Here are some tips:
- Lay out clothing: Make sure you know what you will wear for each day of the assignment. Choose pieces that are neutral colored (black, brown, navy, grey, white or beige). These will mix and match and/or do double duty as evening wear. Choose only items you like and know you will wear, nothing “extra”.
- Go Lightly on Shoes: Pack a maximum of 3 pair of shoes and wear the heaviest pair, whether driving or flying. Shoes make up a lot of the bulk and weight of a suitcase. Whatever neutral color scheme you choose for your clothing should determine your shoe color.
- Minimize the accessories: Depending again on your color scheme, one handbag is all you should need. Limit your jewelry and use scarves and shawls as accessories as well as cool weather wraps.
- Avoid packing heavy coats: Whenever possible consider layering to replace the use of heavy coats. Use thermal underwear and tees as protection against the cold, and layer sweaters and light coats instead. Layering clothing when flying or driving increases your available wardrobe once you reach your destination. If you must pack a heavy clothing for an assignment, but don’t require it for the next one, consider mailing it back to your home.
You are now ready to pack and here is some advice:
- Roll clothing: This is the number one room saving tip from travel pros. Roll pants and shorts up and line the bottom of the suitcase as a base, and roll similar items inside each other, such as tees. This reduces wrinkling, decreases wasted space and increases the amount of clothing you can pack. Stuff socks inside shoes to also save space.
- Wrap Electronics: Use rubber bands or velcro straps to wrap electric cords to the items. This will prevent snagging of clothing and again reduce wasted space. In addition try to find a universal charger that is compatible with all of your mobile devices.
- Use Plastic Bags for Smaller Items: Reusable bags are essential to separate out toiletries and cleaning products to eliminate spills on clothing and prevent cross-contaminations of toothpaste with shampoo, for instance. Placing smaller items, such as jewelry or tweezers in plastic bags eliminates searching through the whole suitcase to locate them.
Finally the pros have some general flying suggestions:
1. Pack a carry on with at least one day’s essential toiletries and clothing, just in case you make it but your luggage doesn’t.
2. Always pack valuables, including jewelry and electronic devices in the carry on.
3. Weigh your suitcase before leaving for the airport to make sure you meet airline weight restrictions.
We would love to hear any of your own packing and travel tips, and remember if you are a travel OT or interested in starting in this diversified and exciting career option, contact the Centra team at 800 535 0076 and let us help you travel down new roads.