I am among those who get visibly upset when I see store displays for Christmas just as I’ve put away the Halloween candy, and fervently wish that we could have more time between holidays and more time off to enjoy each one.

Despite that, if you are planning to travel to be with relatives or just get away from it all, it is important to solidify your plans as quickly as possible. Travel by air has become a competitive sport with the best seats and flight times going to the most knowledgeable, nimble and persistent travelers.

This is probably a good time to mention that, thanks to my daughter Marianne, I will not be writing a column during December. She has already made plans for her gift to me of a three week African safari. I am almost speechless with excitement over this long-held dream, about to come true thanks to her amazing generosity. You will, however, have to be prepared to read several columns about our adventure upon my return.

I have been fortunate to travel to far-away places like China, Cambodia and Thailand, but this trip to Africa has entailed more detailed planning than I have ever experienced. If you are venturing overseas, I highly recommend Passport Health for their knowledge and patience with making sure you have the necessary vaccinations, as well as their advice on preventative medications to have with you for those unexpected but oft-occurring traveler side effects.

As you are probably aware if you have traveled recently, most airlines now charge for your checked bag. They have also shrunk the overhead space so you need to become proficient at eliminating all but the essentials. The clothes you choose will be determined by the climate of your destination.

Wear your heaviest clothes (including shoes) on the plane. Shoes are heavy and bulky so wear one pair and pack two (at the most). Pack toe to heel, facing one another with socks or other items inside. Heavy items should go nearest the wheel side of the suitcase.

I use see-through mesh zipper bags so I don’t have to search for underwear or nightwear and, if going to changing climates, I like to layer an entire outfit with tissue paper in between so I only unpack what I need for each day. Your carry-on should hold nightwear, your meds and any other necessities that you would need in the event that your suitcase ends up in Nova Scotia. Spillables need to be in three-ounce plastic containers, encased in zippered plastic baggies.

Two other essential items, no matter where you are headed, are a reversible rain jacket and a lightweight wool stole.

True, bikinis and tank tops take up less room. But this lady banished them from her wardrobe some time ago.

Contact Jean Cherni, senior adviser for Premier Transitions, a full-service program for seniors contemplating a move, at jeancherni@sbcglobal.net or 49 Rose St., Apt. 510, Branford, 06405.