Pack (and Unpack) Smart


Clean your suitcases.



Get your vacation gear off to a great start by swiping away old travel-bag grime with a clean rag and multi-purpose stain remover mixed with warm water. Test a hidden spot for color fastness before cleaning the bag. Allow suitcases to dry completely before packing. 



Protect against spills.



Packing shampoos and other liquids in a protective carryall is key to preventing spills. If you don’t have a snazzy toiletry bag, store items in a soft lunch tote—the padded, well-insulated kind. It will protect your toiletries in transit and you can use it to carry food once you’re unpacked. Be sure to tuck a few detergent pods inside so you’re equipped if a wash load or two is needed, and include a stain remover pen, so you’re ready for messes on the run. 



Unpack right away.



Yes, we all want to jump right into vacation mode, but do take a few moments to unpack your clothes—and have your family do the same. The alternative is that everyone lives out of their suitcases and in a day or two (especially with kids) you have a pile of half-dirty, half-clean, wrinkled clothes, sending you to the Laundromat ahead of schedule.



Prevent wrinkles with tissue paper.



White tissue paper is a terrific anti-wrinkle tool. Just lay your clothes out as flat as you can get them between layers of tissue. Recycle the tissue as packing material for the trip back: Use it to wrap up any breakable souvenirs you buy.



Hand out the “hampers.”



Once unpacked, designate bags for laundry, whether it’s one for the family or one for each bedroom. Canvas totes can do double-duty as transport vehicles for sheets, towels, and pillows, and—once unpacked—as hampers. It’s another easy way to avoid the dirty-clean clothes mash-up, and to keep you in vacation mode, not cleaning mode. 


How to Catch Some Zzzzs on Your Next Flight

When you travel by plane, whether it’s for spring break, business, or summer vacation, you want to arrive at your destination feeling fresh and well rested. If you usually struggle to catch a nap when you fly, you’re in good company—but it is possible to sleep comfortably on a plane if you take the right precautions. Here are top strategies from seasoned travelers, all of whom have learned to maximize the potential for a good snooze en route to their destination.

Get some exercise before you take flight. If you work out a few hours before boarding a plane, you’ll be comfortably tired; plus, your post-workout body temperature will drop while you’re airborne, which will also help set the stage for sounder sleep.

Choose the right seat. If you’re flying coach, pick a window seat in an exit row. This way you won’t be bothered when your seatmates get up, and you can rest your head against the window. Avoid the galley area, which tends to be the busiest spot on the plane, or seats near the bathrooms, as passengers invariably congregate nearby.

Dress for comfort. Wear loose-fitting clothes that have been treated by a laundry detergent with a soothing scent, and snuggle up in your seat. Since the cabin temperature can fluctuate widely, dress in layers so you can add on or peel off as necessary. Also, bring comfy socks to slip on if your feet tend to get cold.

Bring your own blankie. Bring a soft, cozy throw (and a small travel pillow) that’s been washed in a soothing liquid laundry detergent with a calming scent. Consider taking an eye mask to block out light, and earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to drown out sounds. Before nodding off, fasten your seat belt over your blanket so the flight attendants won’t have to rouse you before landing to check if you’re buckled in.

Pack a snack. Bring a bottle of water and munchies that are known to help induce sleep, such as bananas (they contain muscle-relaxing potassium and magnesium), magnesium-rich almonds, or a turkey sandwich, which contains calming tryptophan. Enjoy your food early in the journey so you won’t be at the mercy of the flight attendants’ scheduled service. Sweet dreams!

5 Ways to Keep Clothes Looking Great—Wherever You Go


Tip 1: Roll your clothes



Rolling instead of folding your clothes not only prevents wrinkles, it also saves space. And you know what that means—more room to bring home souvenirs! Tip: tuck a dryer sheet into each suitcase to keep clothes smelling fresh on the road. 



Tip 2: Double-bag your liquids



No matter how tightly you think the top of that shampoo bottle is screwed on, it’s better to be safe than sorry. While packing, separate your liquids from your clothes by putting them in two plastic bags.



Tip 3: Pack an Uh-Oh tee



Traveling with kids? Carry an extra T-shirt for each of them as you take in the sights. Why? Because stains happen, and changing is the quickest fix you can do. Be sure to launder their spares in a liquid fabric softener to keep the bright mood of the day rolling.



Tip 4: When you don’t have an iron, take a hot shower



You don’t need an iron to stay wrinkle-free. Simply hang your clothes up in your bathroom while you take a hot shower and let the steam get rid of unwanted wrinkles. Or try a fabric smoother spray. 



Tip 5: Use dry-cleaning bags



Dry-cleaning bags can be a useful tool when traveling. Pack small stacks of clothes inside a single bag—this will help prevent friction and therefore wrinkles. As you near the end of your trip, tie a knot at one end of a bag to use it as a dirty clothes hamper. Smart, huh?


101 Series: How to Fold a T-Shirt

Whether you’re putting away fresh laundry or packing for a summer getaway, it’s useful to know how to properly fold a T-shirt so that when you decide to wear one of your favorites it looks absolutely fresh, clean—and not wrinkled.

While we all have short-sleeve and long-sleeve cotton tees in numerous colors, it’s the white T-shirt that is a wardrobe staple. As with any white article of clothing, the trick is to keep it that way, without bleach’s damaging effects, using a detergent that doesn’t contain chlorine bleach. Once you’ve washed your tees and put them in the dryer, set a timer to alert you when the drying cycle is almost finished. At that point, remove the tees from the dryer while they are still warm and fold them right away to prevent any wrinkling.

How to fold: On a clean, flat surface, place the T-shirt either horizontally or on a slight angle with the front facing up. Then, using your left hand, pinch the top of the shirt that’s farthest from you, just outside the neck. Following straight down from that point, using your right hand, pinch the middle of the shirt. Now, while still holding on to the fabric, cross your left hand over your right hand and bring the bottom hem of the shirt up to the neck, and pinch with your left hand. Uncross your hands while lifting up the T-shirt away from you. One sleeve will be hanging. Now put the shirt back on the surface face down, start with the hanging sleeve, and fold the side that is away from you over the loose sleeve. Voilà!

Enjoy Your Stay

Whether it’s a spa Saturday with girlfriends or a weekend escape with your spouse, it’s always nice to have something to look forward to—especially during the cold-weather months. If you can’t make that getaway just yet, then plan a local excursion. You’ll then be able to anticipate that break in routine and enjoy the aftereffects of having had a little R&R. Here’s how to look forward to the final weeks of winter.

1. Pamper Yourself
Ring up your gal pals and make a plan to treat yourselves to a full day at the best local spa with massages, soaks, and saunas, or just get together for manicures and pedicures, followed by a ladies’ lunch or early drinks and dinner.

2. Weekend Away
Winter might be peak season for the tropics and ski resorts, but it’s often the opposite for other destinations. This time of year occupancy is typically down in urban hotels and off-season resorts, so take advantage and book a night or two away with your significant other. You can try searching packages online, or call a hotel or resort directly. Very often, the property itself will offer a reasonable room rate with extras, such as dining or spa credits, complimentary breakfast, or parking. Search a hotel’s Web site and you might discover specially designed packages that could include tickets to an entertainment event or museum, or even shopping vouchers. Now that’s something to look forward to!

3. Think Vacation! 
It’s not too early to start planning for spring break or even your summer getaway. Where to go this year? Let your nose inspire your destination. If you’ve been washing your clothes with island-scented laundry detergents, you may be craving a beach holiday. A lavender-scented detergent may well evoke the South of France and bring on a trip to Europe. And if you’ve been using a tropical scent, well, pack the surfboard.

4. Day Trip
When was the last time that you really had a good day off? Drop the weekend routine of errands and grocery shopping and create a little winter adventure. Pick a day to pack up the kids and hit a local museum or the zoo, hike trails in a nearby nature preserve, or go sledding. Afterward, you can warm up with a hot chocolate at your favorite coffee shop. For dinner, forget cooking: End the perfect day with pizza and a movie. What could be better?