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How to Pack Efficiently (Or Tetris for the Traveling Adult)

August 12, 2015

 

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

For the last few posts, we have been sharing our adventures through New York City and Asheville. Today I wanted to talk about how we packed for our trip. This is what we brought with us:

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

One carry-on (slightly smaller than standard size), one book sack, and one small cross body purse (this one). Yep, that’s all we brought for two people, for one week of travel.

Here’s the thing, we don’t check luggage, if for no other reason than we hate waiting at baggage claim. So when we started preparing for our trip, I knew we needed to fit all of our belongings into carry-on suitcases. When we decided that we would be taking the train from the airport into Manhattan, I made it my mission to fit everything we needed into one carry-on. I’m being way too serious. It wasn’t that difficult, and it was kinda fun! It’s like Tetris for adults! Love me some Tetris!

The only thing that made this even remotely possible, was having the right suitcase. Friends, I have been converted to the hard side of suitcases. I always rolled my eyes at paying extra just to have a shell on your suitcase, but these things are legit! We purchased this guy….

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

…at Tj Maxx for $60, after our other carry-on ripped while I was in California. $60 is more than we wanted to spend, but the compartments inside the suitcase are what really sold us. (Also, I totally fell in love with the navy + white accents.)

Compartment #1:

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

This is where I put my clothes, make up, curling iron, flat iron, laptop charger, phone chargers…

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

Compartment#2:

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

This is also what made this suitcase so great. Unlike cloth suitcases, that have a shallow mesh pouch for secondary storage, this was almost like having a second suitcase! It wasn’t as deep as compartment #1, but it was pretty darn close. This was Michael’s side. Clothes and a belt were pretty much the only thing he had going on here.

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

“Secret” compartment:

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

I don’t think this was really intended to be used as extra storage, it was very shallow, but it was a great place to store 2 of the 3 pairs of shoes that I brought on the trip. I put my red flats and my flip-flops in here. (The third pair were sneakers, which I wore my sneakers on the plane.)

Now, the other key to pulling this off, was packing wisely. I made sure to choose a neutral color scheme, with pieces that would easily mix and match. I had: 4 tops, 6 bottoms, 1 swimsuit, and pj pants + a t-shirt for sleeping. Michael had: 6 shirts, 5 bottoms, swim trunks, and pj pants. We also had a sufficient amount of undergarments and about 3 pairs of socks each.

Here’s a little montage of what we packed and how it paired with the other items we packed:

Blair:

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

4 tops + 6 bottoms = 21 potential outfits

 

Michael:

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

6 tops + 5 bottoms = 22 outfits
(not counting his green swim trunks)

 

Kinda crazy that we could get that many possible outfits out of so little, right? We each wore one outfit on the plane, so it wasn’t actually taking up room in the suitcase. To save even more room, we also wore our bulky shoes on the plane. As mentioned, I put my flip-flops and red flats in the suitcase; Michael wore his sneakers on the plane and put his flip-flops in his backpack. By the way, the red flats were great for adding color to an otherwise neutral wardrobe. I also layered two necklaces and wore those on the plane; so they didn’t get packed (i.e. tangled), but I could wear them separately or together with each outfit.

As far as our personal items go, we didn’t shove a whole lot in there, because we didn’t need to. My purse had lipstick, my wallet and my phone. Michael’s backpack had his laptop, flip-flops, and our liquids bag (for easy access). It was nice to have some breathing room, because it left us room for souvenirs. I actually fit 3 more shirts, a baseball cap, and a leather jacket (it’s amazing, so yes, I bought it in the middle of summer) in our suitcase! I did roll the clothes  – sort of. I know all the experts say rolling your clothes saves a ton of room when packing, but mostly, it just annoys me; it always comes unrolled! So, I rolled what I could, but didn’t sweat what I couldn’t (e.g. the jeans).

Now, this really only worked because we had access to a washer/dryer at the loft we rented in Asheville. We got so hot and sweaty walking around NYC that there was no way we could wear that clothes again without washing it. Actually, I couldn’t remember before we got to the loft if there was a washer/dryer available or not, so we planned to buy laundry soap and just wash our clothes in the sink if necessary. There did end up being a washer/dryer, but if you don’t have access to that, I really don’t think the sink is a bad option. There are a number of places that sell travel laundry soap that is TSA approved, like this one:

how to pack efficiently | here-lately.com

(via)

Small enough to throw into a pocket, purse or backpack, and it only costs $4.50! The description says it contains 50 leaves of soap, which you dissolve in water to use as liquid soap. A couple of leaves in a sink full of water, swish things around for a few minutes, then wring it out, hang it over the shower/tub to dry, and you’re good to go!

What do you think? Could packing light work for you? Did any of you catch my Star Wars pun? Have any of you ever tried travel laundry soap?

Latelies Travels

Vacation: NYC to NC pt. 2

August 6, 2015

In our last post, I talked about the first half of our vacation spent in NYC. You can read part 1 here. After 3 days in New York, we were at JFK International Airport at 5am for our 7:35am flight to Asheville. Once again, we were looking for coffee. Michael waited in a ridiculously long line at Dunkin’ Donuts for the worse coffee we have ever had. He had barely paid and made it to the gate as the other passengers were starting to board the plane. Once on the plane, we sat down coffee in hand, ready to feed the addiction. I took one sip, looked at him and said, “I’m sorry. I know you just waited forever for this coffee, but it’s … I can’t drink this.” He gave me a bit of an eye roll, and then sipped his own coffee. He forced a swallow and then handed the cup to me to find some place to throw it away. (*Note: I’m not saying Dunkin’ Donuts in general is terrible coffee. We’ve definitely had good coffee from DD, but this was not one of those occasions.)

The flight from New York to North Carolina was only 45 minutes! That was pretty awesome! We opted to fly into Charlotte and pick up a rental to drive the 1 hour and 45 minutes to Asheville, because it was cheaper than flying directly into Asheville (where we would have to rent a car anyway). I had originally selected a pick up time of 12pm for our rental, that was when our flight was supposed to land at 10:45am. However, our flight was bumped up an hour early, and we “made good time”. So we actually got to the rental place at 9:30am. They couldn’t give us a car until 12pm, unless we wanted to cancel our prepaid rental and pay over $100 a day to book a car. (Our original rental was $160 total for 4 days of use.) So we sat in the waiting room at the car rental for over 2 hours. That was not pretty awesome.

After we finally got our Hyundai Elantra, we set out to find lunch. We found a Five Guys, our fail-safe when it comes to food and traveling. Thank goodness those things are almost everywhere! After lunch we drove around the same block a few times trying to find the coffee shop that our GPS swore was 50ft on our right. We found it, but only after asking for directions. Perhaps, we should have called this “A Quest for Coffee” instead of a vacation.

Having only experienced mountains really in Colorado, Michael and I wondered what the mountains in this part of the country would look like. Would they be actual mountains or just large hills? We were delightfully surprised. The mountains were by no means like the ones in Colorado, but they were big and gorgeous, nonetheless.

Asheville NC via here-lately.com

We made it to Asheville around 4pm, where we promptly got lost. We eventually found our way to the one bedroom loft that we were renting for the next 4 days. It was lovely! We drove through a tunnel, and then winding narrow roads to get to it. I was pretty glad we got one of the smaller cars available.

asheville via here-lately.com

Unfortunately, I only got this side shot, but you can view more pictures on the listing here. After a bit of a rest, we found a place nearby to eat. After dinner we walked across the parking lot to the nearby Whole Paycheck Foods, to grab a few things for breakfast the next morning.

Asheville is a lot like Austin, very local business centric, very artsy, very free-spirited. Michael said it was the cleaner, less crowded version of Austin. There was something enchanting about downtown. Even though we had planned to do a lot of other things, there was something about the quaint and curious downtown area that made us want to be there almost the entire trip; we were probably persuaded even more by the cool breeze and mid 80s temperatures.

We ate a small downtown cafes…

asheville nc via here-lately.com

We checked out the small, local shops and the local artisans’ booths on every other corner. We frequented the Battery Park Book Exchange + Champagne Bar. It’s a bookstore that sells used and rare books + offers coffee, wine, champagne and hors d’oeuvres.

battery park book exchange via here-lately.com

We need one of these in every city!

battery park book exchange via here-lately.com

When we weren’t downtown or frequenting the Book Exchange, we were driving the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic route through the mountains with overlooks and poor GPS signal.

blue ridge mountains asheville nc

(via)

Unfortunately, that is not our picture above. No, the Blue Ridge Parkway is looong, and we didn’t do much planning on our part. We decided to just drive it for a bit and see what we could see. Well, that ended up being mostly trees with great views through the very few, small clearings. There are overlooks and designated places to stop (like in the photo above), but we didn’t find any on the portion that we drove. Definitely something we want to attempt again when we go back.

We also saw two movies while we were there! That’s kind of a big deal for parents of 3 young children. We saw Ant-Man one night and Pixels another night. We enjoyed both of them, and actually, I was surprised by how much I liked Pixels. Truth be told, wouldn’t mind watching it again.

We did a lot of resting on this portion of our trip. Part of me felt bad about being in such a great place and missing out on experiences, but my knees were still recovering and Michael had started to have a cough and chest congestion. We hung out on the couch a lot. We watched a lot of HGTV. We don’t have cable, so that was a bit of a treat for me. Michael didn’t really care for it. He’d change it to Teen Titans whenever he got the chance.

We did have plans to hike / walk up to the top of Chimney Rock:

chimney-rock asheville nc

(via)

I regret not doing it, but even with my knees feeling better, I knew I couldn’t tackle all those stairs. (It’s definitely on the list for next time.)

We were told more than once, “You have to visit the Biltmore!” The Biltmore is a Châteauesque-styled mansion built by George W. Vanderbilt between 1889 and 1895. It’s the largest privately owned house in the United States. Sounds intriguing, right? So we put it on the list.

biltmore asheville via here-lately.com

It was pretty cool, but not worth the price. It was $50 per ticket, costing us over $100 after it was all said and done.The indoor pool was a bit insane, and the multiple kitchens and pantries were awe inspiring, but if we could do it again, we’d probably skip it. I know that old homes really appeal to other people, but it just wasn’t for us. We didn’t even bother to look at the grounds or vineyards. Michael wasn’t feeling well, so we left right after touring the home. Although, we did get this photo when leaving:

biltmore asheville via here-lately.com

Because we did the Biltmore, we had to miss out on zip lining. It too was $100 and we couldn’t swing both of them at that price. We both agree that we would have rather did the zip lining. #hindsight

We did drive down to The National Forest, near Brevard, to Looking Glass Falls. North Carolina has multiple water falls. I’ve never seen one in person, so this was on the must-do list. And I am so glad we did!

looking glass fall via here-lately.com

It was by far one of the best things we did in North Carolina. It was right off the road and easily accessed. We walked down the stairs and over the large, slippery rocks to join the others partaking in the cool water of the falls.

looking glass falls via here-lately.com

We knew that we would probably get in the water if we could, so we brought an extra change of clothes with us, but I didn’t feel like changing into my swimsuit, so I just jumped in fully clothed. It was pretty cold in the deeper part near the falls, to say the least. I only went in that part once. While Michael was taking a second dip, I sat on one of the larger rocks and dug through the pebbles sitting beneath the shallow water. I’m not sure what sort of minerals are in the rocks in Asheville, but almost all of the ones we found were full of metallic bits and very sparkly. I even found this heart-shaped one:

looking glass falls via here-lately.com

(Misty camera phones take blurry photos.)

How fitting is that? For our 10th anniversary getaway, I find a heart-shaped rock. It’s one of my favorite souvenirs from the trip, and I am mulling over how / where to display it in our home.

After the falls we headed back to the loft to start packing. We had plans to go back downtown to listen to a gypsy jazz band, but we never made it. Asheville had a lot of resting. Probably more than we planned, but we tried to listen to our bodies and take some time to relax. It’s more precious than gold when you have 3 young children, 2 jobs, constant remodeling projects, and a blog. So, while it would have been nice to see everything and do everything, rest is what we really needed. Asheville is certainly a place we hope to visit again, and we would love to take the kids, so I hope that one day we will get to see and do those things that we missed.

We left Asheville Saturday morning around 10:30am. We got to Charlotte right around 12pm, and our flight left around 3pm. (So again we had some time to kill.) We had a great flight from Charlotte to Atlanta, where we got delayed for almost 45 minutes. We finally made it home around 9:30pm. It was great and weird (our house looked different from what I remembered) to be home to our tribe again and actually hug their little necks. I’ll admit though, my heart is already longing to be traveling on a new adventure.

What about you guys? Ever been to Asheville? Have any favorite places? Let us know, so we can add them to our list for next time!

**You can read part 1 of of our vacation here. You can also read our packing tips here and the low-down on where we saved and where we splurged on vacation here.**