If you’re traveling during the holidays, knowing how to pack light (and avoid extra airline fees and lost luggage) is essential. Here are some tried-and-true packing tips that will take you a long way this holiday season:

1. Practice discipline. Make a plan, then stick to it. Do not be tempted to throw in a few more items “just because” or “just in case.” Yes, already, I can hear the groans.

2. Outline your trip on paper. List a daily schedule and note if it is necessary to change clothes for the evening.

3. Plan around color. Choose two colors to coordinate, and then find a splash of color to accent such as a top, blouse or sweater. For example, black is a basic color that is forgiving when traveling, so I add beige, brown or silver as the coordinating color. Next, I choose my accent color, often red. Using a couple of suits, I add blouses or sweaters with the skirts or slacks and create multiple outfits. Don’t leave it to chance —list the designated use of each piece according to the time you will wear it, and with accessories including shoes. Same plan for men: Wear the blazer; pack the suit, pants that coordinate with the blazer or suit jacket, add shirts.

4. Think about shoes. Choose your travel shoes, knowing when you will wear them again, and the same with evening shoes, handbag and daytime shoes. I limit myself to three pairs only; one I will wear traveling.

5. Final touches. After I have chosen my clothes, I add one more blouse in case of a spill. I place travel-size toiletries (cosmetic counter samples) in a baggie, with meds and basic make-up in my purse. For men: Prepare your ditty bag with mini-sized products from the travel aisle (new one each trip), and away you go!

Ease of packing comes with practice. What one must adhere to is the discipline not to start improvising or compromising toward the end. The bonus of this discipline and well-orchestrated plan? A lighter and smaller travel bag you will have in your possession the entire trip; more time (not wasted standing near the luggage belt); and no risk of the airline losing your luggage. Try it!


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