Prune to essentials when packing

On a recent 10-day trip to France, frequent flyer Lauren Christie packed everything she needed for both business and leisure – all in one carry-on suitcase. Here’s what this not so “accidental tourist” took along:

  • One skirt
  • One pair of relaxed-fit pants
  • Two T-shirts
  • One cardigan
  • Two silky shirts
  • Black matte jersey pants
  • One dressy top and small handbag for evening
  • Scarf
  • Canvas sneakers
  • Cosmetic bag
  • Underwear
  • Nightgown

The tailored pants, T-shirt, blazer and black loafers she wore on the plane were perfect for business meetings. The shoes did double duty in the evening.  She wore everything, missed nothing and whisked through airports and train stations, roll-aboard in tow.

Don’t overpack
For 20-something years, travelling – both for business and pleasure has been a large part of Christie’s life. Like all frequent flyers, she has picked up plenty of tried-and-true tricks that pay big dividends. Best of all is the smug feeling that comes from wheeling an ultra-light carry-on off the airplane, bypassing the mob around the luggage carousel and heading straight for the exit.

Over-packing is high on her list of big-time travel mistakes. But, she readily admits, “the art of living for even a week out of a single carry-on means homework. And discipline!”

Next page: Best packing advice

Best packing advice
Christie shares some of her best packing advice:

  • Make a list of places and people you’ll be visiting and visualize what you’ll need and want to wear.
    For instance you can get away with fewer changes if you’re not seeing the same people every day.
  • Pick one basic dark colour (black, navy or denim, for example).
    Then coordinate one or two complementary colours for shirts, T shirts or sweaters (such as white, red or cream).
  • Limit yourself to two pairs of shoes – one comfortable pair for walking, one for business or dressier events.
  • Separates work far better than dresses, providing mix-and-match potential.
  • Matte jersey is a travel-friendly fabric.
  • Deal with inevitable temperature variations by layering, not by packing heavier clothing.

Packing techniques
Spread flat or roll up? Each of these two schools of thought has its advocates. Rolls work well in a duffel bag and for knits that don’t wrinkle.

When laying flat (logical for a standard suitcase), drape long items across the suitcase with the ends hanging over the sides. Put T-shirts, sweaters and underwear in the centre to act as a cushion before folding ends over.

Pack doubles of items you really can’t live without, such as contact lenses and a photocopy of your passport or driver’s licence. But when in doubt, leave it out.

Top 10 things to pack:

  • Swimsuit. Take one, even if you’re not going to the beach. It takes little room and you never know when you’ll find a pool or hot tub too tempting to resist.
  • Hooded rain-proof poncho that folds into nothing and goes over everything.
  • Sun screen. This is necessary for any location or time of the year.
  • List of credit cards and numbers of travellers’cheques. Include phone numbers to call if these are lost or stolen. Keep this list separate from your wallet.
  • Shawl. It’s wonderful on long flights or chilly evenings.
  • Collapsible nylon bag for shopping. Of course, you never intend to shop, but always do!
  • Crushable hat. This is for protection from heat or cold.
  • Swiss Army knife. In the past, you’d never leave home without this trusty item with its multi-gadgets. If you intend to check your suitcase, you take it. But carry-on luggage restrictions may not allow it. Check with your airline.
  • Credit-card-size flashlight. Great for reading menus in dimly lit restaurants.
  • Plastic bags for lotions, laundry or a wet swim suit.

Never pack:

  • Precious jewelry or keepsakes.