How to Pack Light - Page 2

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Learn to Pack
Packing for a big trip: It's all about taking the right steps. (Dougal Waters/Digital Vision/Getty Images)
Pro Packing Tip
Know your flight to avoid gate-checking. Puddle-jumpers on short routes have less space for carry-ons, and gate-checks can increase the risk that your bag is lost.

Once you've found the perfect bag, it's time to decide what to put in it. Choosing what you're bringing will ultimately decide whether all the stuff you want fits, or whether you're forced to wear six coats through security on the way back. Lay out your clothes before packing, and keep these tips in mind:

  • Knits (cotton or wool) resist wrinkles. "You might love that silk or starched shirt, but once it's wrinkled, it's done," says Lemaire. Also consider wrinkle-free clothing or linen, which looks fine even with a few folds.
  • Choose a color scheme. A mix of clothing in complementary colors lets you mix and match, stretching your wardrobe. For women, accessorizing with colorful jewelry can keep you looking sharp without the extra outfits. Here, black is always the new black.
  • Look for clothing that does double-duty. T-shirts and tank tops, for instance, can be worn alone during the day and under a sweater in the evening. For women, a wrap dress is casual when paired with flip-flops but can be dressed up with a sweater, evening sandals, and jewelry.
  • Sorry, Imelda: four pairs of shoes—max! Shoes are space hogs. One pair of loafers, sturdy sandals, or boots (which you wear on the plane); one pair of athletic shoes; and one pair of evening shoes/dressy sandals cover most scenarios (and guys can typically get away with less). Place the shoes you're not wearing on the plane in one-gallon-size sealable plastic bags to keep street grime off of your clothing. Don't forget to stuff your shoes with socks before you pack them.
  • Layer up for the trip. Save space in your suitcase by wearing your bulky garments—jeans and a sweater with your heavier shoes or boots—on the plane.
Sample packing list for a ten-day trip
"I try to plan ahead, day by day, what I will wear," says frequent flier Lemaire. "I know I might change my mind once I'm at my destination, but it helps me be efficient." Here's what she packs as a general rule:
  • 6–7 T-shirts or tanks tops
  • 5 pairs of jeans/slacks (guys can get away with less)
  • 2–3 lightweight sweaters (guys can get away with less)
  • For women: 1 wrap dress or skirt for evening
  • For men: 1 tailored jacket, worn on the plane
  • 2 sets of exercise clothing (hand wash so you can wear more than once)
  • Exercise/walking shoes or boots
  • Dress shoes
  • 1–2 nightgowns/pajamas
  • 5 pairs of socks (hand wash so you can wear twice)
  • 5 undergarments (hand wash so you can wear twice)
  • Swimsuit and sarong
  • Compact accessories such as jewelry and scarves
  • Toiletries (see carry-on restrictions below)
Seasonal extras
Where you are going, and the season, might require a few extras, such as the ones on this list. Using the bundle-wrap or rolling method (for details, see "Don't Fold ..." below) should leave you with plenty of space:
  • Small clutch handbag
  • Flip-flops
  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • Gloves/hat
  • Rain jacket
  • Umbrella

Standard carry-on restrictions for liquids in the U.S.: Remember 3-1-1
The rules about how much and what kinds of liquids, gels, and pastes passengers can pack in carry-on luggage might seem to change with the weather, but as of December 2010, the Transportation Security Administration allows passengers to carry 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or smaller bottles of liquids that fit into one quart-size clear plastic zippered bag; each passenger is allowed just one such bag. Medications, baby formula/food, and breast milk are allowed in "reasonable" quantities that exceed 3.4 ounces, but passengers must declare these items at the security checkpoint. International restrictions may not match, but none will be more stringent than those of the TSA.

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