How to Pack Right

Streamline your baggage with these easy tips.

hartmann luggageThere’s a reason it’s called luggage: You lug around enormous bags filled with way too many outfits, shoes you won’t wear and a pile of beauty products you’ll never use. With fees for checked baggage climbing faster than the price of oil, it pays to pare down your packing. Here are some of my no-fail tips for flying right.

The Bags

Most seasoned travelers refuse to check their luggage — but you need the right stuff: A compact rolling bag with enough depth to ensure no wrinkles and an oversized tote are your best bets. I use a soft-sided bag by Swiss Army, which is roomy enough for a ton of clothing options (I got in two weeks’ worth of outfits for my honeymoon in Africa). The suitcase has interior and exterior pockets for a laptop, flip-flops and crushable hats. Lately, it seems that the size allocation for rolling bags varies on different carriers, so I keep a bag lock in my documents pouch in case I’ve got to gate check my bag. For carrying books, magazines and toiletries, I like the large totes by Longchamp. I also put in extra undies, a tank top, a scarf, pumps, a black cotton dress and some yoga pants. So if my luggage gets lost, I’ve got enough to get me through a day and a night. On a trip to Cyprus, I looked so polished in my black dress and scarf that a fellow reporter mistook me for a local who’d dressed from her closet!

The Basics

Organization experts suggest laying out your clothing options a few weeks before your trip, adding and subtracting as needed. But I’m usually so overscheduled before departure that I’m lucky I make it to the gate on time! Instead I keep an arsenal of comfy travel clothes that look good on the go and manage to be work appropriate. Most are midweight dresses in lengths just-above to just-below the knee. I also have a few cardigans, a pair of dark-rinse jeans and a bunch of tanks, which work for layering, exercising and sleeping. On the plane, I wear cashmere leggings and a blazer, both of which can amp up any outfit. I tend to pack more shoes than necessary, but a single pair of heels, flip-flops and a sneaker-like shoe are really all you need. I adore Toms shoes; the rubber-soled slip-ons are easy to get off and on for security, look cool for city touring and have enough support for trekking — I climbed Capetown’s Table Mountain and Machu Picchu in mine.


“The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize,” said Olympia Dukakis in Steel Magnolias, and I agree. Scarves add interest to an outfit. Belts transform day dresses into night. And a wrap looks chic at any Michelin-star restaurant.

Beauty Products

I know you want to look your best on your honeymoon, but take into consideration the extra security hassle your favorite products can cause. I keep a tin of lip-hydrating Rosebud Salve (it doubles as a paper-cut and cuticle soother) and a solid perfume in my bag, along with a bunch of hairsheets and elastics to tame my messy head. Sunscreen is a must for beach destinations or places where I’ll do some city strolling and sightseeing. I keep a shimmer stick for legs, arms and décolletage, sometimes for face highlighting as well. For makeup, I limit myself to three items: a mascara, a two-in-one lip-and-cheek stain and a doublewanded concealer and highlighter.


Don’t forget to pack all your medications as well as little helpers like aspirin, Pepto-Bismol and anti-itch cream for those darn mosquito bites. I also stash antibacterial wipes and packs of tissues. And remember to carry about $50 in singles for tipping and small purchases.

Insider Tip: If you’ve flown internationally within the last 24 hours, domestic baggage rates are waived by most major airlines.

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