Let's Pack

| Tuesday, 05 Mar. 2013

A few helpful hints, not so much on what to pack, but how to adjust your attitude about packing.

Packing for a cruise is a daunting task these days, especially with the new, fairly severe weight restrictions the airlines have put in place for each piece of luggage. But, put down that bottle of Prozac! Help is here -- in the form of this article. We don't suggest you use every item listed below, but there is bound to be something you will want to add to your packing list -- because we have thought of everything.

The last time we were headed to the airport for our flight to Florida and our cruise, in a fit of nerves, Mrs. Kuki blurted out that she forgot to lock the front door as we left.

"No problem!" I said -- "We packed everything in the entire house. There's nothing left for anyone to steal."

Picking the Right Luggage

When it comes to organizing your packing, picking the right luggage is a great place to start, so let's look at some of the available options.

There's a certain degree of faith involved in packing your belongings and turning them over to the airline baggage handlers. I am sure these workers make a game out of looking through each bag and guessing what kind of person it belongs to. Digging into our personal lives is a helpful diversion for getting through their day.

But the true competitive sport of baggage handlers is the "Olympic baggage toss," which I have watched through the airline window many times. How many meters can they toss a bag without the zipper splitting open so all the contents land on the tarmac? I don't know what the world record is, but I am sure I have seen it almost broken many times -- if only the bags had landed in the cart.

Passengers play different luggage sports, such as "what's showing up on the carousel?"

If all of your belongings arrive at their destination in tact, I suggest you buy a lottery ticket, because luck is certainly on your side. As the rest of us wait for our bags to slide down the conveyor, if we don't see our socks waving at us from our zippers, or our underwear circling around on the carousel, then we are the winners! And if our luggage arrives without handles or wheels broken off or deep gouges in the external material, we've won twice -- and have a legitimate reason to break out the champagne.

As I know this experience all too well, I will let you in on my little secret. Try packing some very sexy lingerie several sizes too small -- rather than the "granny panties" and boxers the size of Ohio. No, it doesn't solve the problem, but it's better to collect glances of envy from fellow travelers, than to bear a planeload of passengers laughing at you hysterically.

Some people actually believe buying better luggage helps, and there's no limit to the amount of money one can spend; it runs the gamut from $20 gunnysacks to $1000 designer bags. But sadly, price has absolutely nothing to do with your bags arriving intact. No bag has ever been designed to look good after the first trip. It's only about style, and there the only distinction that counts is whatever makes your bag most easily identifiable on the carousel.

According to my extensive research, 90% of the bags sliding down the conveyer belt are black, but there is still no guarantee that buying a colored or patterned bag makes it easier to spot. So, no matter how distinctive the your luggage may be, make sure each bag is labeled with your name, and some other sort of easy identifiable markings. Some folks use colorful pom-poms, others use strips of gaudy colored duct tape.

Whatever works is fine. If you really want to make your bags stand out in the crowd, skip that store bought luggage all together and just stuff all your belongings into matching X-tra Large Hefty Garbage Bags. This will most certainly insure no strangers will be walking off with your "luggage" (unless there's a honeymoon couple from Appalachia onboard).

Must Pack Items

Okay, enough about what to buy because it just doesn't matter. Let's move on to the important stuff -- what to pack. Unfortunately, unlike the topic above, I am not an expert here. Packing in our home is similar to our sex life; I lay it on the bed and let Mrs. Kuki deal with it.

Instead, I've gone to our CruiseMates message boards to find out what our resident "experts" think of as "must pack" items, and here is their list -- along with some of my personal ideas about how useful each of these items may be.

Duct tape is mentioned more often than any other item, and apparently has unlimited uses -- holding open doors, fixing broken luggage, going over the noses of those who snore.

Multiplug electric extension cords come in handy since most ships have but one American plug in the entire cabin while you brought a laptop, DVD player, digital camera, two battery rechargers, curling iron, alarm clock, clothes steamer, coffee maker, camcorder, electric razor, blender and various other unmentionable appliances.

Bungee chords help to keep balcony doors in the open position, or decorations in place. They are also superb at attaching bags together for rolling purposes. Just bring short ones so no cabin mates assume they are for entertainment purposes.

Safety pins to use on broken zippers or torn clothing - though some people prefer the duct tape for this.

Clothespins for weighing down creepy shower curtains or holding cabin mates nostrils together until you can reach the duct tape.

A sewing kit - for use on cabinmate's nose if they escape the duct tape.

Post-It notes and pens -- for making notes to each other about dining times, events you wants to see and writing down how long someone spent in the bathroom so you can complain about it later.

Notebook -- for keeping notes about your cruise and autographs of crewmembers you've slept with.

Highlighter pens in various colors -- apparently used for choosing and noting activities you want to participate in listed in the ship's daily newsletter - also great for decorating your cabin mates face when they pass out from too much to drink.

Night-light to avoid bumping into furnishings during that middle of the night bathroom trip and avoiding waking up your cabin mate.

Flashlight to point directly into the eyes of your cabin mate when all the noise you made moving around the cabin wakes them up.

Curling iron -- an indispensable tool for the ladies from what I understand.

Hair straightening device to undo the results of the indispensable curling iron.

Travel steamer; recommended because irons in cabins are considered a fire hazard and forbidden. I just recommend wearing wrinkled clothes.

Wrinkle free spray -- to spray the travel steamer so it doesn't get wrinkled, I guess.

Tide pen -- I had no idea what this was, until Mrs Kuki explained it to me, and then I understood too well! I've never had a meal that didn't end up with most of the ingredients on my shirt.

Anti-bacterial disinfectant wipes.

Anti-bacterial disinfectant gel.

Anti-bacterial disinfectant spray.

Fabreze for airborne odors.

Fabreze for furniture.

Fabreze for clothing.

Leather man tool for fixing or destroying anything in sight. This useful device has it awl.

Suction cup hooks for the bathroom, next to the bed, in your front door, on the balcony - anywhere you want to hang your dirty clothes.

Several sizes of zip lock bags -- small to ultra jumbo. These are perfect for taking snacks ashore and later for organizing the various things you accumulate during the trip: pesos, Euros, seashells, refrigerator magnets, hat pins, etc.

A battery operated travel alarm clock -- if wakeup calls and your cellphone alarm are not enough.

Extra batteries for travel alarm clock.

Hanging shoe organizer -- and an extra suitcase to carry it.

Digital camera.

Extra batteries for same.

Extra memory sticks for same.

Digital video camera.

Extra batteries for same.

Underwater camera.

DVD player.

iPod.

External speakers.

Backpack.

Beach bag.

Snorkel gear.

Lanyard -- to keep your cabin key and ship card safe - or to hang a note on yourself saying "If Lost Return To Mrs. Kuki (this only applies to me).

Dictionary -- to look up the word "lanyard."

Water proof fanny pack because God forbid your fanny should get wet!

Door decorations -- to help create a festive atmosphere for your home away from home and help you recognize your door when you're too drunk to remember your room number.

Personal toiletries, including deodorant (please), hot wax, massage oils, and all prescription medications (especially Prozac).

Bonine motion sickness tablets, Scopolamine patches, and wristbands which, if used all at the same time, can lead to a somewhat interesting though altered view of reality.

Medical kit with creams for anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, antihistamine, antiperspirant and antidisestablishmentarianism. Also bandages, Pepto-Bismol, aspirin, Tylenol, Midol, Nytol and seeyoulaterall.

Passport, Xerox copy of passport, driver's license, birth certificate, 2 credit cards, debit card, AARP membership card, medical insurance card, Medicare supplement card, prescription supplement card, and emergency medical evacuation card and any group membership card that has the word ship in it.

Cash in U.S. currency - including unlimited $1 bills for every person you encounter in your travels who offers even the slightest bit of service, attentive or not.

Cruise documents -- including complete online registration forms, hotel confirmations, tour booking confirmations, transfer vouchers, permission letter from your mother.

Bottled water -- in both small and large sizes for use on the ship and on shore excursions.

Favorite sodas - or a soda card from a previous cruise that you hope will work again.

Crystal Light pouches in favorite flavors.

Favorite liquors -- minimum of one 26-oz. bottle -- per day.

1 case of beer (your choice of 12 or 24 pack - depending on if your door is decorated or not).

1 case of wine.

Collapsible cooler - because if the cabin does have a bar fridge it will be too small to store all of the drinks you brought.

Large thermal sports cup - to keep your drinks cool when on long tours and to keep the drinks you make in your cabin to take to the pool cold. Not having one would negate any benefit of the blender you brought with you.

Insulated coffee cup.

A blender, hibachi, charcoal, and barbecue utensils (only necessary for longer cruises).

Once you've packed all of the above you may already be over the weight limit restriction. But don't worry, as all will be well, as long as you've booked yourselves on a nudist charter cruise.

If you're booked on a regular cruise the only clothing item you need to add to the packing list above is blue jeans; we know they are the perfect apparel for any occasion!

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