You must do some planning if you want to avoid lugging extra stuff with you on vacation. Procrastinating until the night before you leave on your trip is a surefire way to pack too much of what you don't need and too little of what you do.
Make a List
Several days before you leave, make a list of everything you think you need according to each day of your vacation and be honest with yourself. Which items could be used for multiple purposes and which will you realistically use only once? Eliminate single-use items wherever possible.
Make a Pile
Physically looking at all your stuff can be a reality check. Gather all the items that remain on your list. If you're shocked at the size of the pile relative to your suitcase, you need to get rid of more stuff.
Reduce and Recycle
Instead of entire suits, pack lightweight, easy-to-wash separates you can mix and match for a different look every day. Choose neutral-colored shoes. Be prepared to wear each item several times.
Buy or Borrow
Don't pack items you can borrow or buy cheaply at your destination, such as toiletries, a hairdryer or a beach towel.
What You Wear Counts
Decide what you will wear on the plane in advance--underwear, socks, pants, shirt, shoes, coat--so you don't inadvertently duplicate those items in your suitcase.
Make Carry-on Count
Decide which items go in your carry-on luggage, including a change of clothes in case you get delayed or your luggage gets lost. Remember, carry-on items count toward the total amount of clothing you take on a trip.
Kaukab Jhumra Smith is a journalist and media consultant based in the Washington, D.C., area. Her work has appeared in international and national publications since 1995 and earned several chapter awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. She graduated from Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and received a Master of Journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.