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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, December 7, 2003

Ex-Islander posts traveling-light tips

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Travel Editor

Lani Teshima is a former Islander (Pearl City High School, University of Hawai'i) who lives in Northern California and who built a Web site — www.travelite.org — devoted to traveling with a single carryon bag.

Although Teshima has been too busy with her job as a technical writer and after-hours work doing production on MousePlanet.com to update the site, the information there is detailed and solid — geared to the beginner. We interviewed her, appropriately, by e-mail.

She said her advice hasn't changed much in the post-9/11 era, except that she no longer recommends carrying a Swiss army knife or wearing lace-up shoes.

Teshima's No. 1 tip: "Don't pack stuff just in case — if that 'just in case' happens, you can buy what you need." Her No. 2: Don't take anything that needs dry-cleaning or ironing. She recommends investing in a few items from travel specialty catalogs — such as TravelSmith's Indispensable Travel Dress. "My entire work wardrobe consists of their dresses. ... The oldest ones are six years old, they get worn constantly and none of them has fallen apart," she wrote.

Teshima outlines a simple, mix-and-match nine-item wardrobe that fits into a 21-inch Cordura fabric travel pack and can keep you going for weeks.

The maximum size for carryon bags as set by the Federal Aviation Administration is a total dimension of 45 inches. Most airlines specify that the bag be no more than 22 inches long.

If you overstuff such a bag, it won't fit under the seat and may exceed weight requirements (especially in overseas travel, where airlines tend to be more picky about enforcing these regulations). If you choose the popular rolling upright bags pioneered by flight crews, the empty bag is already hefty because of the built-in wheels and handle.

Just because you can stuff it all into one bag doesn't mean you're conforming to the traveling-light philosophy, Teshima cautions. The bag shouldn't bulge and you should be able to carry it readily.

With just a carryon and an e-ticket, you should be able to breeze past check-in lines; at the gate, hop into line and you'll assure your bag of a spot in the overhead bin if your bag doesn't fit comfortably under the seat (or if you need the under-seat space for purse, laptop or camera bag).

As to what goes inside the bag, Teshima favors a packing list that includes: one blazer, one long-sleeve shirt, two T-shirts, one vest, one scarf, one pair of slacks and two skirts. You can substitute one or two mix-and-match dresses for the skirts. Many experienced travelers recommend carrying a light shawl — cotton for the tropics, pashmina wool for cooler climates — that can be used as a fashion accent, a knee rug, a picnic blanket or a head covering.

For men, Teshima recommends two pairs of pants, one pair of shorts (that work as swim trunks), two T-shirts, two long-sleeve shirts, and one blazer (two if it's a business trip). She has a great tip if the slacks are jeans: Have them dry-cleaned and pressed before the trip; they'll retain their shape longer that way.

All the primary pieces should be in neutral tones that readily mix and match: black, gray or taupe, with white or cream accents in the shirts and splashes of color in the vest, scarf, shawl and possibly the jacket. Put these pieces together with judicious shopping, paying particular attention to fabrics and to color shades. Or buy pieces designed for travel, made from wool, silk or new microfibers designed to resist wrinkles, retain shape and dry quickly when laundered.

Teshima recommends two popular travel supply companies: Magellan's Travel Supplies (www.magellans.com) and Travelsmith (www.travelsmith.com).

For Islanders traveling to cold climates, Teshima suggests layering rather than investing in a big coat you'll rarely wear, or carrying bulky sweaters you may not need. Instead, she suggests you get a muffler, hat and gloves, which keep body heat from dissipating, then "layer, layer, layer" — tank top, T-shirt, long-sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, sweater, light waterproof coat or jacket.

To the clothing items listed, add appropriate shoes. Shoes are heavy: Limit yourselves to two pairs, casual and dressy. Don't forget socks, which double as bedroom slippers. Limit nightwear; a long T-shirt serves the purpose and could act as a beach cover or layered outerwear, too. Or consider sweats, which go from bed to mall.

If you're traveling to your family home for the holidays, you can eliminate some items because, presumably, your mother will let you use the iron. If you're staying at hotels, call ahead to check on the availability of such items as irons and hair dryers.

And remember the old saw: Gather all your stuff and all your money for the trip. Take half the stuff and twice the money.