Photo: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
You know the type. You spot her dragging six wheeled suitcases through the airport while sweat rolls down her face. When she does stop, she argues with an airline representative about the two-bag limit for carry-on baggage. That is the type of traveler you don't want to be and the sort of summer travel season scenario you want to avoid at all costs (including the extra fee for the bags). Regardless of where you're going or for how long, the key to relaxing, stress-free travel is packing just what you need. There's no need to get swept up in the irrational fear that somebody you don't know might see you in the same tropical-print sarong twice.
Women have convinced themselves that they need to carry a lot of stuff, and in fact they don't need to carry any more than men. Women actually have advantages over men because they can wear a few small pieces of clothing in a wide variety of ways.
- Doug Dyment, travel speaker and creator of OneBag.com
What to Take
Doug Dyment has this summer packing thing down to an art. He's relied on the same packing list his entire life, and he hasn't checked a bag in 40 years.
He thinks you can do the same with a little planning. That means you should always pack well in advance of your departure date.
"Packing the night before is the wrong time to be doing it, because you end up throwing everything pell-mell into a suitcase," said Dyment, a travel speaker and the creator of OneBag.com, an online guidebook on traveling light.
Dyment recommends drafting a list of essentials that you can modify according to your travel destination. For example, you'll always need a "coat," but that can mean an insulated down jacket or a thin windbreaker depending on the trip.
"It's like a personal contract you are making with yourself," Dyment said. "The list should include stuff you absolutely need, and stuff you can live without. Make the list as small as you can. Reduce where you can. Many items can be used for more than one thing."
Dyment said this is a trick many women should use, but not many do.
"Women have convinced themselves that they need to carry a lot of stuff, and in fact they don't need to carry any more than men," he said. "Women actually have advantages over men because they can wear a few small pieces of clothing in a wide variety of ways. You can literally tie a scarf 35 different ways."
If you're beach-bound this summer, Dyment recommends one bathing suit, three tops, three bottoms, three pairs of underwear and socks, and a casual jacket or dress. Take single packets of powdered laundry detergent to hand wash your clothes.
"Think about color palettes," he said. "Think about fabrics. Skip hard-to-match patterns. You should be thinking, 'How can I pack so that every clothing item in my bag goes with every other clothing item in my bag?'"