WE KNOW. You’re already a savvy world traveler and think that all your globetrotting has provided everything you need to know about packing.
That the three main categories are soft goods, hard goods and medications. That organization is so crucial you pack several days before each trip, always using a checklist. That you never, ever overpack because that is a cardinal sin and only for amateurs, right?
If that’s you, then by all means stop reading. Take out your Mont Blanc and move on to The New York Times crossword puzzle because, apparently, you’ve got time to kill.
The rest of us, however, are still trying to close our overstuffed suitcase while praying to the goddess of luggage weight limits that we won’t be humiliated at the check-in counter.
It’s often been said that there are two kinds of travelers: those who pack light and right, and those who wish they had. Choose your category and read on.
First, here’s a new mantra for you: Pack with intent. The key is knowing what you’ll be doing on your trip so you can focus your travel wardrobe around that itinerary. This is usually easier for business trips because you can create several outfits from one suit by varying the shirts, tops and accessories.
Even on pleasure trips, though, you should follow the “rule of three” — pack only three tops and three bottoms, making sure they’re all color compatible in neutrals. Once that’s covered, feel free to throw in one additional outfit (space permitting) for that ‘“just in case” event.
You may have noticed that much of this advice is coming in threes. Let’s review:
- Three categories of travel needs: soft goods (clothing), hard goods (shoes/electronics/toiletries) and medications
- Three words: Light and right
- Three more words: Pack with intent
- Three times two: Three tops, three bottoms
Can’t lift it? Don’t take it. We all know we’ll end up schlepping our bags from where the taxi dumps us to where we need to be. And despite hours spent shopping for luggage with nifty spinner wheels, all that walking gets old. You’ll not only be walking in and out of airports, hotels, convention centers and on cobblestone streets with that chic suitcase, you’ve probably got your computer bag/backpack plus a large purse, tote, shopping bag and who knows what else. Remember, light and right.
Here are a few more tips gleaned from road warriors who’ve logged plenty of miles:
- Roll clothes and/or fold two or more garments together using tissue paper or dry-cleaning bags between layers. Both methods help prevent wrinkles and creasing.
- Invest in see-through plastic packing cubes for grouped items like underwear and scarves. Carry extra zipper-lock bags for wet bathing suits or sweaty workout clothes.
- On longer journeys, pack for only half the trip and do laundry at the midway point.
- Ship all dirties home to make room for souvenirs. Most snail-mail postage is still cheaper than unexpected airport baggage fees. Some travelers actually toss out used underwear and/or donate clothes they’re not attached to at their location.
- Keep all paperwork bundled together in one place, preferably a carry-on.
- Be realistic about what reading material you take. Unless you have an electronic reading device, limit yourself to one book and consider donating it along the journey. Choose paperbacks ov
- Make sure labels on your medication(s) show the actual prescription or that you carry the information with you separately. These are the hardest things to replace while on the road and could be the thing you need most. Vitamins now come in convenient travel packs.
- Don’t bring your entire beauty routine. Use hotel shampoo. Get travel sizes for your cosmetics.
- Don’t take things that can only be worn once.
Our final tip is to stay travel ready at all times. Keep a bag of absolute necessities (toiletries, pajamas, electronic plugs, etc.) together to grab and go as needed. Spontaneous travel, which comes with its own anxieties, is becoming more the norm. Act like a Scout and be prepared.