If you're a veteran business traveler, you've probably perfected the art of efficient packing. If you're new to the game and still lug everything but the kitchen sink on your trips, it's time to lighten your load. Here are nine guidelines to help you improve your packing technique and lose the excess weight you've been carrying around.
Create a Packing List
Make a list of belongings to bring on trips. Reuse the list each time. This list will prevent you from forgetting essential items and will keep you focused so you don't overpack.
To determine what to put on your list, tag or write down all the items you use at home in a one-week period prior to your departure, says professional organizer K.J. McCorry, founder and president of Officiency in Boulder. Then cross off the items you will have at your destination and highlight the items you think are essential. Consider which of the remaining items you would like to have with you. Delete those that you don't have room for and pack only those items you can accommodate.
Start Packing Early
Don't pack the day you are leaving. You will be frazzled, forgetful and more likely to toss unnecessary stuff into your suitcase.
Streamline Your Wardrobe
Stick with basic color schemes you can mix and match, suggests professional organizer Barry J. Izsak, president of Arranging It All in Austin, and president of the National Association of Professional Organizers board of directors. Use wrinkle-free fabrics.
Roll your T-shirts and clothing. Stuff shoes with belts and socks, and stuff fragile items into the toes of shoes, Izsak says. "Compartmentalize" your belongings by keeping like items together in your luggage or in milk crates. Consider buying an oversized fish-and-tackle box for your toiletries.
Purchase a plastic file box for your personal and financial documents, McCorry says. You won't want to go through a mountain of paper at the end of your stay, so try to file documents as they come to you. Consider creating a file box with tabs for financial files (like bills, bank statements and tax information), work files (information related to your current assignment), action files (documents that require immediate attention) and health/medical files (records that should be kept with you in case of emergency).
Minimize Purchases on the Road
Travelers may collect or buy things they really don't need when they are away from their home base because of the feeling that they have "nothing" at the moment, McCorry says. Try to avoid impulse purchases.
Go High Tech
Laptops and personal data assistants can store a huge amount of information in a small amount of space. Bring high tech gadgets only if you use them regularly, however.
Follow the Golden Rule of Packing
If you have to think twice about whether to pack something, you probably don't need it on the road. "When in doubt, leave it out," Izsak says.
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