Friday, October 5, 2012

Getting Ready for France

Have just started packing for our annual trip to visit our family in France. Henri has just informed me that we can only each pack one suitcase and one carry on. What? It was not too long ago we could each have two suitcases. Evidently, I wasn't paying attention when we packed for our last trip. Oh, and they cannot be over 50 lbs. Uhggg!!!

For our family, visiting time is also gift giving time. This will certainly make us get creative with our packing strategies. I had always reserved one full suitcase for gifts going to and from France. Now what? We also have to make sure our carry on bags are the permitted size as they are getting strict with that.

As I am the half that has more time at home the art of packing falls on my shoulders. Which is fine as I happen to be a bit of a control freak on some things and this is one of them.

First the easy stuff as we have to get them out of the way:

Gifts: We need to bring gifts for six people. I always purchase the toiletries and cosmetics for the women because even though some of it is made in France, it is still less expensive in the USA. Go figure. I try not to. Henri is in charge of the guys, but he still has not bought anything for them so I will have to make room for the panicked last-minute purchases.

Requested Items: Since everything is so much less expensive here, we do have a good amount of requested items. My mother-in-law and aunt are both dedicated quilters and material is very expensive in France. Also, any nifty little items that make quilting easier are either not available or are also expensive there. Other items such as shirts, socks and shoes are strategically stuffed in.

For the above, all extraneous packaging is removed. A sock will find itself stuffed into the toe of a shoe; perfume bottles wrapped in ziplock plastic bags will be rolled in the shirts. You get the idea.

Underwear and socks: I bring a full weeks worth for each person plus one set for the each carry on. Although it has never happened, luggage can get lost. We are fortunate enough as when we travel to France we are staying with family and have easy access to laundry facilities.

Now for the trickier part. This is packing what to wear and our (mostly my) toiletries.

Clothes: Since we are staying in a home with easy access to laundry, each time we feel we can do with less.

Two pairs of jeans for each (one of which will be worn on the plane), seven tops for each, three pullovers each and I like jackets so I wear one jacket and bring another. I put in a sweater and since it is autumn, we each wear a heavier jacket to the airport.

Shoes: We each wear a pair (of course) and bring a spare. Both must be comfortable. We have the luxury of keeping slippers there.

Nightclothes: 1 set of pajamas and robe each.

Now for the extra (just in case) stuff: This is stuff for the "Surprise! We are going to a fancy restaurant!" or "Guess who invited us to an evening out!" type of thing. Because these events are so few, one year we ended up looking like the poor relations from Outer Podunk because we were not prepared. Not very comfortable and enjoyable. Luckily, my mother-in-law tries to give us the heads-up on these things. But you never know...

I pack a skirt and a pair of pantyhose. For Henri, a pair of dockers and a nice collared pull over top (he wears these things so infrequently, I forget what they are called!) with a nice sweater.

Toiletries: Henri is easy. All he needs is his shampoo and shower gel. Me, it's more complex. I am an esthetician and am totally into skin care. Fortunately, since I have a great complexion, I do not feel I have to mask it with a lot of cosmetics. We do keep some things with my in-laws in France, but I always forget what I have there so I end up bringing stuff. I just bring my skin care, hair care, and minimal makeup.

Medicines and Vitamins: Do the essentials. Just prescriptions, a multi-vitamin, Benadryl and Dulcolax. Need I say more?

So far, that is my plan for now. I will be packing these next few days and adding more info as I go along. It's always something as packing for a trip (and life in general) is always in a state of flux.

Wish me luck!

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