Travelers packing light this summer
Many travelers, especially air travelers, are aiming to get up and go with as few accouterments as they can without sacrificing style.
People are thinking about packing light at all stages of the traveling process, from what suitcases they'll use to the souvenirs they'll buy.
Stylist Amanda Ross, fashion director for travel-themed Departures magazine, says she thinks about packing when she's doing her initial shopping.
"It really comes down to how you shop and what your wardrobe is about."
But even more basic is the bag it will go in.
There are more FedEx boxes of clothes and accessories coming into the lobby of Manhattan's upscale Mondrian SoHo than one might imagine, says hotel General Manager Gary Thomas.
He personally uses that send-ahead system. "You don't have to carry anything then or worry about an extra pound or two, and it's even more reliable than taking it with you."
Dan Tarala, vice president of product design and strategy for Victorinox Travel Gear, said the goal about 10 years ago was to get a suitcase that could be used for two weeks down to 17 pounds; now it's 5 pounds.
In the world of suitcases, that means wheels still rule. They've just changed to smaller, more nimble ones, Tarala said. The evolving trend toward four wheels instead of two might seem counterintuitive, but they can be smaller and better distribute weight. They also encourage a lower profile of the bag, which results in more efficient use of the space inside.
Hard-side suitcases made of polycarbonate, as opposed to soft leather or nylon bags, are gaining wider acceptance, Tarala said. The hard bags need less framing inside. They offer durability comparable to nylon, and the modern design can rival the luxury of leather.
He recommends using a 50-50 split case -- the middle divider is the difference between everything inside the bag shifting "all over the place," Tarala said -- and starting packing by filling the voids near the handles and the wheel casings.
Stylist Ross puts the heaviest item in first: her shoes. She tries to restrict herself to one pair of flat daytime shoes and a dressier pair of evening heels. They have to go with everything, she says.
Could you get away with only black shoes? Only brown? By starting off thinking that way, you'll end up organizing your outfits ahead of time, which minimizes extra last-minute stuff, Ross said.
Ross wears a lot of dresses on the road. "They're the least amount of work, the least amount of thought, and the most multipurpose. You can change from a flat to heel and wear the same thing all day."
She's particularly fond of seasonless jersey dresses that don't wrinkle, even if rolled up tight. And, Ross said, definitely no hangers. "I pack my dress in a plastic dry-cleaner bag, folded in half."
And cashmere cardigans and wraps fold up flatter than you expect, she said.
Jewelry adds heft, she said, but it adds even more style. It goes in her carry-on, shopper-style bag with her computer, phone and notebook. Ross says she treats that bag as a mobile office, leaving most personal clutter out of it. She will tuck inside a clutch handbag if a more formal occasion is on the itinerary, and if the trip involves sightseeing, a small day bag with a chain strap.
Mondrian's Thomas suspects some people are "strategically underpacking" so they'll have an excuse to shop. Buying an umbrella, sweater or rain jacket is probably a smarter souvenir than a tchotchke, he said.
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