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Travel Like an Architect™ – Packing Strategy

Updated: Jun 27

At Travel Like an Architect™ – we also pack like an architect. We plan carefully what we will need and when we will need it. We have thoughtful strategy. We don't have his and hers bags. We have a port bag, ship bags, and never leaves my sight personal items.

four packed bags
2 Checked Bags & 2 Carry On Bags - Daywear for the ship in the Pink bag

Rob and I live at what we affectionately call the “Belles Resort” and when we travel we don’t want to settle for anything less! We always look for amenities that we are accustomed to having and if necessary we bring certain things with us. This is why we love Cruising! The ship has a clean private room, air conditioning, hot and cold running water, clean drinking water, fine dining, entertainment and more. All destinations do not have these things, which is why we cruise. There is no virtue in traveling light – because convenience and comfort are vitally important to us. We would not be happy wearing the same clothes over and over again…. or washing out our underwear to avoid bringing enough for the whole trip. We have better things to do on our vacation. We have packing down to a science at this point – and that’s how we like it.

Pro Tip: Don't feel guilty, or let anyone shame you for bringing anything that enhances your comfort while away from home. It's your trip. You don't want to be without something you need or want.

Mainstream Airlines like American, United and others, have a baggage weight limit of 50#s. With the 50# baggage limit we find that medium size bags work the best because when they are tightly filled they weigh about 50#. We use and carry a bag scale to make sure. When a medium bag is full your stuff doesn’t flop around inside during the journey. When you arrive at your destination your clothes and other things will still be neatly folded exactly as you placed them. If you use a larger bag - your stuff may be a jumbled mess upon arrival.

Pro Tip: we always pack ½ his and ½ hers in each checked bag of clothes. In the unfortunate instance that one of our bags is separated from the other and doesn’t make the destination right away – neither of us will be without clothes!

For this trip we have four bags. Two to check and two to carry on.  I try really hard not to open the large bags until we get on the ship.

In the 1st Carry on Bag we have things we will need for our pre cruise overnight in the port city.

  • sample size toiletries allowable in the aircraft cabin

  • pre night dinner clothes

  • sleeping clothes (not)

  • embarkation day clothes - outfit and swimwear

  • appropriate shoes

In the 2nd Carry on Bag we have other items that either are not allowed in checked bags or we don't want to lose.

  • costly electronics and accessories

  • battery packs - not allowed in checked bags

  • drawstring bag - for port days and things we may need on embarkation day, before our bags arrive in our cabin. We usually pack swimwear so we can use the pool or hot tub on the ship.

  • I often fill in with shoes or other things that are heavy. As long as they are allowable items.

Pro Tip: Stuff shoes with socks and underwear so they are not squashed or damaged inside the bag. Clean them before packing them, or put them in a plastic shopping bag so they don't soil your clothes.

Generally we have two checked bags of mainly clothes, each ½ his and ½ hers. Our outfits are coordinated with each other, and packed together in the same bag. Like an architect, I weave them together when I pack them, meaning some one way, and alternating layers the other way. This helps them to remain in place when the bag is vertical and tossed around.

Getting organized in "the packing room" Since we are empty nesters we have an extra bedroom where I can organize outfits.

clothes being sorted to pack for a cruise

One of the checked bags will have our toiletry bag in it. This reduces the space available for clothes. I put the toiletry bag in a kitchen size trash bag, in case something spills. I usually wedge shoes on each side of it, and small shorts and tops above it.

Occasionally we take a third medium bag. It contains snorkel equipment or dive gear – and whatever else will fit!! Including but not limited to – multi use cups with straws and lids – disposable cups – laundry soap – a beach bag – all packed among misc. socks and underwear!

Pro Tip: Don't book your flight home on an off brand airline. Frontier, Spirit and perhaps others have a 40# baggage limit. If you show up there with 50# bags they will charge a lot EXTRA! You will lose every penny you saved on the fare.

In addition to our luggage we both take “personal items” because the airlines allow one carry on each and a personal item that fits under the seat in front of you.  We each have laptop back packs. Each of us has important things that never leave our immediate possession. Here are some examples.

  • computers

  • phones

  • wallet

  • passport

  • jewelry

  • prescription & OTC medicine

  • vitamins

  • money

  • flash drive with work files on it

  • first aid kit

  • camera

  • earbuds

  • usually a few snacks and a pack of gum!  

The port city for this trip is Los Angeles. We will park sleep and fly from Chicago, then spend one more night in a hotel at the port before embarkation day. We always fly a day before the cruise so that we have a cushion in the event of a snow storm or other untimely delay. We recommend our clients do the same. The over night in LA is also part of the greater quality of life plan. When we arrive there, we will check in to our hotel and then make a run to a liquor store to acquire some wine to carry on the ship and keep in our cabin. We can weigh our bags down all we want once we are in LA, because the ship has no weight limit for bags. Notice in the photo one of the carry on bags is expanded. We enjoy adult beverages don’t like the price they charge on the ship! Occasionally we carry on twice what is allowed by splitting up and embarking through different lines.

So that my friends is our cruise packing strategy for our two week trip!! We are young and strong, our bags have wheels and straps – and you don’t handle your own bags for very long anyway!  We will enjoy our trip as though we were in the comfort of our own home!  Coming Soon – our FREE Packing List Download!

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Lynn & Rob Belles

Founders of "Planning To Cruise"

"We travel to get away and to be together, to learn and to teach, to experience and become wise, to turn off the news and ignore the clock, to connect to the world in a peaceful way all while leaving a bit of our wealth with someone else who needs it more than we do." — Lynn Belles

Note: Travel plans are always subject to change based on global events. We recommend always checking the latest travel advisories. Flexibility is key to a successful and enjoyable journey.

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