1. Plan ahead so you knowwhat to pack, says Susan Foster, author of Smart Packing for Todays Traveler. What happens to people is, at the very last minute they say, OK its time to pack and, two hours before they leave for the airport, they start throwing things into their bag.
2. Is there a chance your carry-on bag might get bumped? Consider tucking your most essential essentials medication, important papers, eyeglasses, etc. into a smaller bag within your bag. That way if, at the last minute, the flight attendant has to put your bag below, you can pull out the important things quickly and keep them with you.
3. Use clear, resealable plastic bags or mesh packing bags to keep things organized. Resealable plastic bags, available at grocery stores, have a plethora of uses: You can isolate wet or dirty clothes, slip in a hot (or cold) washcloth and use as a compress, or use them to fashion a dust cover for your camera. Pack-Its, packing folders from Eagle Creek, nylon cubes from Magellans, even simple mesh lingerie bags work well to group small items and allow security agents to easily see what youve packed. (Eagle Creeks Medium Pack-It Folder costs $29.85, and a set of three mesh cubes costs $14.95, both at Magellans, 800-962- 4943 or www.magellans.com.)
4. Make sure the things you pack can do double duty. Anne McAlpin, who designed a line of travel products called Annes Everyday Travel Style, offers her Pack It Up Travel Towel as an example: The microfiber cloth is absorbent enough to use as a towel, large enough to tie around your waist as a sarong or wear as a shawl, and also works as a cozy airline blanket. (It comes in four colors Essentials, 800-258-0758, or www.travelessentials.com.)
5. Why pack all that extra air? Compression bags allow you to roll the air out of your fluffier clothing, leaving you with a compact bundle to stow. (Space Bags travel bags, set of eight, $19.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond stores or at www.bedbathandbeyond.com.)
6. Everyone is familiar with travelsize toiletries, but what about other tiny essentials? Minimus has the answer. The online retailer stocks sample sizes of everything from laundry detergent to kosher condiments. Many of the items cost just pennies apiece, and none requires refrigeration. Shipping is free for orders of $20 or more within the continental United States, but the company also ships internationally, just in case you run out while youre on the road. (www.minimus.biz.)
7. Magellans website also includes a collection of free articles with advice on topics such as choosing the right luggage and how to take great photos. You can also download tips for navigating security at airports, traveling with kids, and, yes, even packing properly. (www.magellans.com.)
8. If you are traveling overseas, a small, dual-voltage immersion heater can help you make sure the water you brush your teeth with is safe as well as provide you with your morning cup of tea or coffee. ($16 at www.baggageforless .com, or 877-422-4243.)
9. The free shower cap in your hotel room makes the perfect shoe sleeve to keep mud and dirt out of your bag, says McAlpin. Hotel doesnt have one? Slip your shoes into the plastic bags your newspaper comes in.
10. Maximize your wardrobe in a minimum of pieces with mix-andmatch clothes. Travelsmith offers a series of Pack-N-Go separates that are wrinkle-resistant and quick-drying; theres a T-shirt, tank top, belted shirt, one-button jacket, and pants for women in black, grass green, and a blackand- white geometric pattern, and each item comes in its own little pouch. For men, they carry wrinkle- proof microfiber blazers in black, navy, and khaki that go with any outfit. (Womens Pack- N-Go clothing, $35-$69; micro- fiber blazer, $199.50. 800-950- 1600. www.travelsmith.com.)