In 2006 I went to Ireland for six weeks and nearly brought down the plane with the weight of my luggage. Yep, talk about high maintenance girl. And truth be told, I used about half of what I brought. Now that I’m on the road at least once a month, I find that people tend to think less of you if you bring your entire wardrobe along. I’ve picked up some essential packing tips that I’m here to share so that you can shed those extra bags and still seem effortlessly fresh at every occasion. You know…like me.

1. Embrace Sophie’s Choice
It seems obvious enough, but you would be surprised. I’m sorry, guys. You cannot – I repeat CANNOT – bring everything. You can’t bring the boots, the heels, the sandals, the sneakers and the flats all on one trip. Men, this applies to you, too. You don’t need to bring every shoe or button-down shirt you own. If I’m going to a warm destination I opt for a dressy sandal (with a heel), flip flops for the pool and either sneakers or flats, depending on if I’m going to be active or not. If it’s a cold destination, dressy boots and a comfortable closed-toe shoe will do just fine.

2. Mix and Match
Try and pack items that are versatile. Those shorts you wore to the poolside cafe can be dressed up with a blazer, t-shirt, necklace and heels for a night on the town. Accessories are light and portable and can dress up any daytime outfit, making for light packing. Dudes, one to two pairs of jeans and a pair of dress pants are fine. A blazer goes a long way in dressing up a t-shirt, as well. The things you can never overpack on are socks and underwear. I try to bring double the amount of underwear I think I am going to need, and same with socks. Socks get wet, you may change your clothes multiple times a day, and before you know it, you’re going sockless and commando to the final dinner of your trip. Also, remember that many hotels offer laundry services, so you don’t have to pack a different outfit for every day.

3. Trust Your Hotel
When it comes to toiletries, you can leave a lot of it at home. This way you can carry your suitcase on the plane and not worry about having to wait for it at baggage claim. Items like shampoo, lotion and toothpaste your hotel will most likely have. If you’re really worried, invest in some 3 oz. travel bottles and keep them on hand to take your favorite bath products away with you. Most drug stores sell these in their toiletry section. Hotels usually come equipped with their own ironing boards and hair dryers, as well. Note: Most European hotels do NOT have conditioner, as I learned the hard way. Some of the newer American brands now carry it in their hotel bathrooms, but this is a rarity.

4. Bag It
While many hotels offer plastic laundry bags, it is always a good idea to bring one of your own. Some of the fancier hotels have just cloth laundry bags, which you cannot take with you. Others have none at all. It’s always a good idea to have one on hand to keep your dirty clothes in. When it is time to unpack at home, all of your dirty clothes are all ready to go into the wash and you don’t have to waste time smelling your clean clothes to see if they have been contaminated. Also, if you’re like me, you went to the pool one last time before packing and you don’t want that wet bathing suit mingling with your clean, dry clothes.

5. Guidebooks and Gadgets
Guys, the point of travel is to…travel. Yes, you should be as comfortable and informed as possible, but for the most part, you can leave your guidebooks and gadgets at home. I’m not saying the books and research aren’t important, but in the day of modern technology and wi-fi, you can look all that sh*t up once you get to your destination. Try and do as much research beforehand as possible and write down the things that look most appealing to you. Remember to ask the locals what they recommend, as well. A hotel employee is a local, don’t forget. As for gadgets, you can leave your portable DVD player and water purifier at home. You want to feel at home when you travel, but be realistic in seeing what you can live without. A laptop should more than suffice.

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