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Packing Tips for Travel
Say "So Long" to Supersizing
By Amy Ziff, Travelocity's Editor-At-Large

An old boyfriend once said to me, "If you ever write about packing tips, you're a hypocrite!" Well, I'm ready for a challenge.

As a girl who has spent too much time and energy schlepping, stuffing, tugging, and lugging oversized bags around the world (even if only from car to curb and curbside to cab), I'm through with it. Done. My recent years as a frequent traveler have convinced me that slim is in--and I'm ready to help you downsize too.

For all you pack-a-holics, I'm telling you, once you get thin, you'll never want to go back. And it's not that hard--just follow these rules:

Rule #1: Stack your clothing and other items on your bed--don't just toss it all in your bag as you go. Put out everything that you want to take with you.

Rule #2: OK, now the hard part: cut your stacks in half. No "ands, ifs, or buts" about it. (This is how we trim the fat. I know. It hurts. That red sweater looks so good on you--and it still will when you return home.)

Rule #3: When deciding what stays and what goes, get back to the basics and mix and match items. Select outfits that do double-duty. Stay with simple patterns and pieces so that all elements can be inter-changed to work with more than one outfit.

Elements like sweaters, shoes, and belts should be neutral enough to go day to night, as well as work with various pants, skirts, business or leisure. (If you feel like a "three items for 13 outfits" page from a magazine, you've hit the bulls-eye.) Use small items like a scarf or necklace for added color and variety, as they don't take up much space.

Rule #4: Think ahead and eliminate unnecessary items. As the saying goes, "Waste not, want not." If you're going to the Caribbean, but are afraid of cold nights and think you should pack a coat or two, check the forecast. Find out beforehand if they're having a hot spell, or if hurricane season is hitting early.

Rule #5: Downsize by pouring your shampoo and toiletry items into portable containers. You may want to be prepared with bandages, stain remover wipes, and a sewing kit, but you don't need to take the kitchen sink. If you're in a pinch, they're likely to have it where you're going.

Rule #6: Just because you have extra space doesn't mean you have to fill it. Remember, the current baggage guidelines follow weight restrictions. Besides, a bit of room in your bag means you can justify picking up a gift or two to bring back home.

Miscellaneous things to watch out for: shoes! I suggest sneakers and a single pair for day/night dress.

Don't toss in items at the last minute--these are space killers! If you can't pick it up yourself, what business do you have bringing it? Don't be afraid to start over; practice helps you perfect the art of packing.

Take the packing challenge! See if you can downsize. Traveling light should be your new mantra. Believe me, if I can, you can too.

Oh, and as for that ex of mine, once again, you'll be surprised how good it feels when you shed what you don't need.

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