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Brini Maxwell's travel tips: the TV domestic goddess's practical tips on how to pack, eat, rent cars, unpack, and other secrets to staying fabulous on the road. A section from her new book, Brini Maxwell's Guide to Gracious Living: Tips, Tricks, Recipes, and Ideas to Make Your Life Bloom.

PACKING

Personally, I don't like to travel heavy. I prefer not to check items if I don't have to, so I economize on space and weight when packing for a trip. The first step to positive packing is selecting the proper wardrobe. Obviously packing for warmer climates is less cumbersome than for colder environments. Whatever your weather expectation, pulling together a look can be easier than you think. I like to base my travel ensembles on a suit. The jacket can be worn with pants, skirt, or dress; or the pants or skirt can be worn with one of several blouses or sweaters, and right there you have nine or 10 outfits. Add a dressy blouse that coordinates with the rest and you're set with seven pieces of clothing, at least three of which you'll be wearing to travel in.

Once you've gotten all your clothing pulled together, you need to consider your accessories, toiletries, and what to put it all in. I'm a big fan of the organized travel kit for toiletries. Many suitcases now come with one, which is nice, because it's designed to fit neatly into the bag, taking up a minimum of space. When filling it, consider buying travel sizes of everything you need, and don't take what you'll have provided for you when you get there. I never take shampoo and conditioner anymore because I know there'll be small containers of it waiting for me when I arrive. I've miniaturized everything I need--my toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, moisturizer, sun block, contact lens solution, and so forth can all be purchased in sample sizes perfect for travel. If you use brands that aren't available in small sizes, you can usually transfer them to travel-size containers designed for just that purpose.

This makes all the difference in space allocation when you're trying to keep your baggage light. If you have items that you'll need when you get there but would make traveling unnecessarily lugubrious, why not ship them? Yes, the mail service is the traveler's friend! I routinely ship wardrobe out to locations when we're shooting. It cuts down on the frustration that can occur from trying to cart it along myself.. Conversely, I'm always shipping things back home as well. I frequently buy much more than I could ever carry home from my travels and it's a great boon to drop it off at a mail shop and have it appear on my doorstep a few days after I return home.

ACCLIMATING

Look Around You It's important to know your surroundings. If you're stepping into a rental car for the first time, take a moment to learn the layout. It will save time and perhaps prevent an accident if you know how to operate everything before you set off on your adventures. The same applies for your living quarters. Get to know not only the location of the hotel or home you're staying in by locating landmarks and noting the direction of the freeway and roads, but peculiarities of your room as well. How does the entertainment system work? What do the light switches turn on and off?. How does the climate control system work? All these questions, if answered by an initial inspection of your room, will streamline your experience tenfold.

Unpack It may be tempting to throw your bags down, strip your clothes off, and run down to the beach immediately after checking in. But if you take a moment to open up your luggage and pull out the clothes that should hang before you impulsively dive in headfirst, you can save yourself some work. I tend to prefer not to use the drawers provided for me, only the closet. I pull out the luggage rack and open my suitcase up immediately upon checking in, then hang up anything that might need ironing. It saves quite a bit of time. I then feel free to go and enjoy my surroundings.

Bidding a Fond Adieu When it comes time to leave, I like to pack the night before. It's usually such a rush the next day with an early flight or at least a somewhat early checkout required in most hotels. Putting everything back in your suitcase except for what you'll be wearing and piling all your luggage in an out-of-the-way but accessible location assures you that nothing will be forgotten in a hasty departure.

BRINI'S POINTERS

* Photograph your luggage and its contents. If it's lost, you'll have a record of it for the airline.

* Wear a bodysuit instead of a regular blouse on the plane--it won't ride up and come untucked, looking rumpled.

* Print out address labels for all your friends and put them in a bag with stamps and a pen to send out your postcards.

* Your toiletry bottles are much less likely to explode with air pressure differences if you squeeze the air out of them before packing them in your luggage.
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Title Annotation:TRAVEL MATTERS
Author:Maxwell, Brini
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Excerpt
Date:Aug 30, 2005
Words:819
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