1. The edit
Begin a few days before the trip. Pile accessories and clothing on a sofa in the living room, which effectively limits the opportunity to have people over for dinner or drinks — a good thing when you’re about to embark on a journey! Over the next day or two, add and subtract items; group outfits on another sofa, assembling versatile clothes that can go with a couple of pairs of shoes. As my trips are highly clothing-intensive, I look for items that can fold up easily and are not too heavy or bulky. Sometimes I take along an extra handbag in addition to the one I carry on the plane and a clutch for evenings.
I travel with a BlackBerry, an iPhone, an iPad and sometimes a laptop, too. My iPad is the device I love the most: I use it to read PDFs of stories for the magazine, to pay bills and download books and magazines, and for music and storing photos. I always take laundry soap for my personal items and a steamer.
3. Roll or fold
I am a folder. I find my clothes get the fewest creases that way. The biggest challenge for me is shoes. I try to limit myself to a couple of day pairs, one evening if necessary and one pair of smart flats or boots, depending on the climate.
4. On-board necessities
I always have a cashmere sweater and pashmina, hand cream and eye-makeup-remover wands, a sample tube of moisturizer and, most important, an eye mask so I can sleep. I will categorically not check any medications, vitamins or jewellery that is of any real significance to me — just in case your bag doesn’t reappear on the other side.
5. To check or to carry on
I rarely manage to travel with just a carry-on, as much as I want to. Most of my trips require lots of clothing, with meetings and events from breakfast through dinner, and I am either too vain, too undisciplined or too fashion-obsessed to limit myself in such a cruel way.
6. Check the weather
The biggest pre-trip mistake people make is not checking the weather at their destination(s). Avoid this pitfall by adding where you’re going to your phone’s weather.com list, and start tracking changes a few days before packing. It’s not foolproof, but looking ahead 10 days can offer some sense of what to take.
Confession: I wrote these words during a trip to India, for which I packed a pair of sandals and two pairs of flats (I needed only one) in addition to the boots I flew over in. So I am not always successful! My big indulgence is shopping when I’m away — I call it “cultural cruising,” which means avoiding global luxury brands, which I don’t always manage. Somehow travel overcomes whatever modicum of restraint I try to have.
Nancy Novogrod is the editor in chief of Travel and Leisure magazine. She logs over 100,000 travel miles per year.