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by David Isle

Next week will be one of the most heavily traveled this year. With travel comes stress. What you pack and how you pack it should be designed to reduce that stress as much as possible. 

The first step is to pack light. Bring stuff that you can easily mix and match. Make sure you can wear all of it with the shoes you wear on the plane, so you don’t have to pack another pair (unless you absolutely need sneakers to maintain your Iron Man workout routine or something). If you can fit everything in a small duffle like the one above, you won’t have to worry about checking it or whether or not there will be overhead space for it. Then have a second small bag or briefcase with anything you’ll need during your trip, like books or a laptop.

The second way to reduce your stress is to pack stuff that doesn’t wrinkle easily, so you don’t have to worry about your clothes looking like you slept in them. Luckily, this is usually no problem with heavy winter fabrics. Bring shirts in oxford cloth, which looks great wrinkled anyway. There’s basically no way to pack a sport coat without getting it wrinkled (although this is the method that comes closest in my experience), so if you want to have a sport coat with you for the trip, the best thing to do is just to wear it while traveling. The extra pockets may come in handy anyway.

If you find that even your best attempts at economizing space leave your travel wardrobe busting out of your luggage, try rolling your stuff up before packing it. When you just put a stack of folded clothes into your bag, unless your bag has the exact dimensions of your stack, you’ve got a bunch of space going to waste. Rolling allows you to use that space. Witness the difference between my stuff stacked and put in my bag:

Compared to my stuff rolled and put in my bag:

The first way, I have to mash everything down in order to close the bag. The second way, I can already close the bag easily and still have nooks and crannies to stow away gym shorts or a scarf.

Once you’ve got everything tidily packed, zip up and head out. Save your worries for the flight delays and over-served relatives.