As you may know, I recently returned from Puerto Rico, somewhere that I hadn’t visited in many years. I don’t think there is one word to describe how I felt about it. I’d been planning this for a while, since before hurricanes Irma and Maria in fact, which of course changed everything. And let’s not forget when the people of Puerto Rico overthrew the Governor and his “squad” and sent them pal carajo. Then there were multiple earthquakes in January, just in case you needed more action. And there were some recently as well. Still, I had my heart set on finding a way there. Did I think it would happen after a Pandemic hit… well not quite? But I’ll take Puerto Rico any way I can get it, safely of course.
You see when Covid hit and the prices were very low I bought tickets, thinking Covid wasn’t going to become a huge problem. It would be gone soon anyway! Well, we all know how that turned out! So I was forced to change it to February of 2021 because surely this Covid would be under control and I would be celebrating my birthday there. Well, not even a week after I bought my tickets my aunt tells me she’s getting married in Puerto Rico in 2021 and wants us there. So what did I do? Changed my flight…again. Thank goodness airlines were being lenient and weren’t charging fees!
Traveling During Covid
To go, to Puerto Rico, I needed a Covid PCR test 72 hours before the trip, (the one that swabs up the nose). Once you get your negative results you must fill out a declaration form from the Health Department of Puerto Rico online. If you don’t have that declaration form and proof of a negative PCR test you will have to get a test at the airport in Puerto Rico, and you’ll be stuck in quarantine waiting for those results while there.
Once we got off the plane we were asked for our declaration forms, before we could exit the airport. So make sure to get a Covid PCR test and fill out your declaration form before your trip, so everything runs smoothly.
As for packing, I began with the roll-up method that I’ve done in the past but in an effort to save space I switched to the Marie Kondo method. Did I save space, well sort of, the luggage was still very heavy as I overpacked but everything was neater and fit better. If you’re looking for the Marie Kondo method this is the video I followed. I particularly liked it because it covered clothing I was actually taking like shorts, t-shirts, a thin sweater, etc.
I made sure to wash and steam or iron everything before folding them in an attempt to get out as many wrinkles as possible. Obviously, when I unpacked in Puerto Rico there were some minor wrinkles, but not as many if I hadn’t ironed at all. This is something I always do, that way when you get to your destination, you can just hang up your clothes. I only took a carry-on and a personal bag, all of which held everything I needed for two weeks. Our goal was to not need to check any luggage at the airport, which was accomplished.
Exact steps to packing my carry on:
- I figured out what was going in the personal bag and what was going in the carry-on.
- I packed toiletries in separate bags, I found mine at Target. That way if anything spills it stays in the bag and wouldn’t get on my clothes.
- I put my delicates as flat as possible and lay them in a garment bag on the bottom of the carry-on. Don’t have a garment bag? Buy one! This keeps all your undergarments neat and separate from the rest of your clothes. And you can use it while on vacation to wash your delicates when you do laundry. And if you don’t have time to wash your clothes at the end of vacation this can be where you keep your unwashed clothes. It’s a 2 for 1!
- Next, I lined up socks along the walls of the carry-on. And I also placed a waterproof backpack I bought from Amazon, that I used daily while in Puerto Rico, on top of my undergarments bag.
- After making sure the toiletry bags were closed I placed those on top of the backpack
- In the next steps, I placed swimwear and bras on top
- To close off this side of the luggage came an eye mask for sleeping and because I was traveling during COVID, daily masks for every day. Towels were thrown on top for cleaning off and keeping cool, especially for the day we volunteered on a farm.
- The opposite side of my carry-on was for all my clothes and pj’s. Following the video I linked above, I folded everything and laid them as flat as possible, filing cabinet style.
- Finally, I packed my most delicate dress in a separate bag and laid it flat on top.
Steps to packing my personal bag:
I bought a personal bag from Amazon which was very useful. I particularly love the bottom compartment for shoes. This lets you keep any shoes separate from clothes. You could of course use it for something else, but I managed to fit in every pair I needed minus the sneakers I was wearing on the plane. I used the same method to pack my personal bag, fitting everything in as vertical as possible.
To pack my personal bag I:
- Placed my computer in its carrying case
- I chose a backpack, that I would were daily and that could fit in my personal bag
- I put all my action camera accessories and the camera in a clear bag I found at Target. I also put items I might need on the plane in this bag for quick access.
- Next came the purse I needed for the wedding I was attending
- A sun hat that I found at TJMaxx, which helped protect me from the harsh Caribbean sun came next.
- Finally, I placed the shoes and water shoes I would wear in the bottom compartment.
Have you ever traveled with just a carry-on and a personal item? Perhaps after reading this post you will! Let me know your thoughts in the comments and on social media. And please if you plan to go to Puerto Rico, do so with respect and knowledge that your vacation spot is home for the locals.-T.S.
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