To plan well means to travel light

Travel? Getting there is hardly half the fun when the would-be carefree traveler is faced with overcrowded airports and railroad stations with neither porters nor luggage carts in sight.

Nearly every traveler has some long tale of woe, and yet travel itself, along with the price of air fares, seems to increase each year with the regularity of taxes. People must travel for business and occasionally for pleasure, although many Parisians are planning to forego the traditional August vacation this year in favor of summer holidays at home or a winter spree planned to avoid the peak seasons.

The one iota self-protection is to travel light and not carry more than one can physically tote around with comparative ease.

I am one of thoese creatures who dither for days over packing and inevitably end up with too many bags crammed with miscellaneous things I use infrequently at home. The quandary: Which jar of cold cream to take; how may pairs of shoes? And so I pack them all.

On a recent business trip, accompanied by a very elegant French cohort, I set off with my heftly train case and two medium-sized suitcases for a week's stay in Germany. My associate had just one featherweight carryall bag which she swung along as easily as a shopping bag. We were obliged to change trains at Brussels where, as at many European stations, the railroad platforms are on a different level from the street floor.

I would certainly have missed the connection except for the kindly ministrations of an elderly Belgian burgher who helped me grapple my three pieces down one flight of stairs and up another to the right platform.

The ultimate irony of the story is that my friend had everything she needed for the trip, and I did not.

As a former editor of a major American fashion magazine, Thelma recognized the versatility of separates in a capsule travel wardrobe which comprises two skirts, several different blouses and cardigans coordinated to both skirts, two pairs of shoes, and one all-purpose rain-resistant tweed cape. Her soft-sided bag measured about 35 by 15 by 15 inches but seemed to produce and endless number of things almost as magically as rabbits out of a hat but which, after careful reflection, were merely based on forethought and careful planning.

One luggage expert who travels frequently has come up with the following conclusions: Most people cluttered with suitcases and odd bits and pieces have trouble keeping them all together and frequently lose one; also travelers usually return with more than they started out with, especially on vacations. They totter home with souvenirs stuffed into paper shopping bags or hastily wrapped packages, generally looking like a gypsy camp on the march.

The Club Mediterranee, which owns and operates their own holiday resorts around the world, is promoting an ingenious "all in one" set of luggage designed by Jean Tournier, manufactured in England and on sale throughout Europe and the US. It is one large container suitcase fitted as neatly as a jigsaw puzzle with six separate, different sized bags, each intended for a specific requirement. Included are a suit pack holding two suits, a smaller suitcase measures 25 inches, a sports bag with detachable shoulder strap and outer pocket for a tennis racket, two compact satchels, and two pouches for shaving gear, makeup, and toilet articles.

Each piece, with its own special function, can be carried individually or paced in the nest. The container bag, carried by grip handles, slung on the adjustable shoulder strap or pulled along on its four directional base wheels, also steps out on its own thus doubling the total capacity of the set.

This luggage, launched a year ago, retails for about $500, a hefty price. But it is a veritable "wardrobe" of luggage for the whole family and will last for years.

There are certainly similar ideas in the US.These combinations of air-weight luggage are leading trends for every type of travel.

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