With the anticipation of every trip comes the stress of packing for that trip. If ever a saying were true, it's this one: Less is more. If you've read my book, A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette, you'll know the No. 1 rule for packing is to pack lightly so you can make room for your purchases or simply not be saddled with "extra baggage."
The July issue of Real Simple magazine offers these tips for packing: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, as in reduce how much you pack, reuse your clothes in different combinations, and recycle basics such as yoga pants. Sounds like the perfect formula.
For my honeymoon, I packed two large suitcases. We were off to Paris. It was winter, and I thought I needed every coat in my closet. Nearly twelve years later, it's all about carry-on luggage, and I still don't wear everything I bring. That's progress, but it took years of practice. If you are a habitual over-packer, start here.
• Color palette. Your first task is to decide on a color palette: one dark color and one or two others colors that go with the dark color and each other. You can go a long way by combining black with whatever the season calls for: lighter colors for warm weather, darker ones for winter. Bring a choice of scarves and other packable accessories to change things up. Yes, you might be bored by the time the trip is over, but you'll be coordinated the entire time and never have to worry about what goes with what. You'll also have room in your suitcase for some new articles of clothing to buy on your trip.
• Make a list. Just as when you go to the grocery store, make a list of all the things you will need for this specific trip, and check them off as you add them to your suitcase so you'll know what you've already packed.
• Plastic and mesh bags. Always bring a plastic bag for soiled clothes, plus plastic or see-through mesh bags for different categories of clothes and different settings. It's nice to have a bag for the plane (ear plugs, sleep mask, neck pillow, toothpaste and toothbrush, etc.), plus some for other occasions: a "night-table" bag: reading light, journal, pen, travel alarm clock, and so on. And divide the different parts of your wardrobe among see-through zip-top or mesh bags: underwear, jewelry, scarves, and so on.
• Wear heavy items. To save room, especially if traveling during the winter months, wear your heaviest clothes: coats, boots, suits.
• Packing. The final rule is a simple one: If your suitcase is full before you leave, you have packed too much. Go through your checked-off list and take out some of the items that are not really essential.
Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (www.AMLGroup.com), certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to Cornell University and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by the New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, and InStyle magazine. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on www.Twitter.com/LisaGrotts and www.Facebook.com/LisaGrotts.