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9 packing tips from Long Island experts to help you travel with ease 

Lucky folks heading off into warmer climes will

Lucky folks heading off into warmer climes will want to try out these packing hacks.  Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Tatomm

Hello, February vacation! For lucky folks heading off into warmer climes, yes, it’s time to break out those white pants and hopefully, your summery stuff is still in decent condition. But there’s more you can do to make your trip easy and fashionable, and it all starts with packing.

Some of us are better at it than others. Take Staci Gerardi, 42, the Long Island lifestyle blogger behind novembersunflower.com, who says, “I am definitely a good packer. I can pack for my kids [ages 13 and 11] and myself in one carry-on for at least a week.” Say what?

There’s a method to her madness including some serious prep time. Try these tips to travel with ease:

1. Bag up the kids' outfits: When Gerardi's children were younger, her hack involved "packing an entire outfit in one Ziploc bag including under stuff, shirts, shorts, little socks and labeling it for each day of the week," she says. "At the end of the day, that stuff went back in the same bag and to the bottom of the suitcase for the laundry when we got home.” Now that they’re older, "it’s still the same concept but I fold it in a certain way so it’s a long piece and rolled together as tight as heck.”

2. Color-coordinate your looks: As for traveling solo, which Gerardi regularly does for business, she says, “I’m a big believer in color coordinating. When I go to a conference, I always wear different shades of orange. I might bring an orange dress and wear a variety of tops over the dress. No one has any idea that I’m wearing the same dress over again and I carry a Tide stick just in case.”

Her theory is sound, says Randi Newman, a merchandiser at ultra-upscale boutique Julianne in Port Washington, where they actually sometimes pack for their clients (don’t you wish). “The key to packing for a perfect vacation is to establish a color palette,” she says. “Keep it simple, keep it versatile and as neutral as possible so you can mix and match and one thing can work with the next."

3. Less is truly more: “There’s no reason to pack your entire closet for a week away. Generally, you’re not heading into the apocalypse,” says Gerardi. Celebrity stylist Samantha Brown agrees with the premise of keeping it lean. Her packing list? “Think in twos or threes." Bring two athletic outfits, two bathing suits, two cover-ups, three sundresses, one pair of shorts, three tees and two pairs of pants or joggers. For men, she says include two bathing suits, three pairs of shorts, three tees, two collared button-down shirts, a golf polo, jeans and joggers, assuming there are no dressy events on the trip.

4. Cube it: Packing cubes are a traveler’s dream. If you haven’t used them before, you’ll find that when you open your suitcase, you’ll be greeted with an organized system rather than a jumble of clothes and they save space especially important when you’re doing carry-on. They’re not hard to figure out … think a fabric pouch with a zippered opening.

5. Layer up for the flight: “Wear key layers on the plane,” says Brown. Include your jean jacket (which you might need at night anyway) and sneakers that are comfortable to wear but also functional for exercise. Add a “pashmina or shawl which you can wear at night when you’re away and can double as an airport blanket or pillow,” says Brown. Men might consider “joggers or jeans, a light layer tee shirt under a bomber jacket or hoodie, both that can be worn for leisure wear at night,” she adds.

6. Keep the shoes simple: You’re already wearing your athletic shoes on the plane, so what else should you bring? Brown says, “When packing for a week away, it’s helpful to minimize the shoe options and maximize suitcase space. Choose a sandal that can transition from day to evening. For women, a nude or metallic shoe will complement anything you wear.” Flip-flops take up virtually no space and Brown recommends “a deck shoe or loafer” for guys.

7. Try to avoid checking your bags: Unless you’re heading off to a remote destination, like a place that doesn’t have stores or washing machines, carry-on luggage that fits in the overhead bins of most major airlines, is the way to go. Not only because some airlines charge for checked bags, but carry-ons eliminate the fear of lost bags — and you don’t have to wait for luggage. Added plus? They hold a lot more than you think. Away brand luggage features a handy built-in charger (and the hard-outer shell prevents you from overpacking). The carry-on retails for $225. But there are certainly other ways to go.

Greg Markin, the owner of Andy’s Luggage in Wantagh, where they specialize in luggage repair, says, “Don’t go by manufacturer, go by what you need.” He recommends TravelPro carry-on, because “you don’t see the wheel and pull handle in for repairs" and it sells at a lower price point in the store ($119). The quest for the best luggage "depends on the price range. Briggs and Riley is great for world travelers — but it’s expensive.”

8. Pack that under-seat bag wisely: The efficient Brown brings her beach bag on the plane and clips her straw beach hat to it with a magnetic gizmo call Toptote. Inside, she includes a smaller clutch tote that can be used as a purse and fills it with minimal jewelry such as “thin gold hoop earrings or a fun dangler or two," her laptop, magazine, book, chargers and sunglasses. Guys can do the same with a backpack. 

9. Keep the backpacks for the kids: Those tiny little roller bags are doggone cute, but blogger Staci Gerardi is adamant: “Don’t do it. You’ll end up having to carry it yourself along with your carry-on and it’s a major pain. You will scream less if you stick with backpacks.”

Suitcase donations

Recently, Felicity Masone, 20, a junior at Adelphi University and Newsday’s 2017 Project Prom winner urged her followers on Facebook to clean up old suitcases and donate them at local foster care agencies to help children transport their belongings. Notably, Masone, herself was a foster child, living with the Masone family at two weeks old and was adopted by them about three years later. (Her parents, Margaret and Vincent Masone, of Port Jefferson Village, have fostered 28 children over the past 23 years.)

So when it comes to those suitcases, maybe you’re upgrading or there are the ones you never use and no matter what, they’re taking up space in your house. As it turns out, not all agencies accept bags, but SCO Family of Services does take clean, in very-good-condition suitcases and duffel bags. According to the organization, these can “greatly benefit runaway teens, families experiencing homelessness and children in foster care as they transition to a safe and supportive home.” Donations are accepted at SCO Family of Services-Development Office, Madonna Heights Campus, 151 Burrs Lane, Dix Hills. For more information, call 631-213-0155.

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