Top Five Reasons Amy Zimmer Is the World's Best Packer:
5. I'm a roll-aholic. I even roll clothes before putting them in my own closet. It's not just for keeping wrinkles out when packing, folks!
4. When there's no scale in sight, friends have me lift their suitcases to check the weight. I'm usually within five pounds. Years of packing and weighing have left me with skills.
3. I'm a master at filling cracks and crevices. Empty shoe? No, a storage space for a travel alarm clock, some socks, and a pair of sunglasses!
2. I know that 10 pieces can look like an entire wardrobe with only some minor additions. Give me a scarf and I'll take you from beach bum to Friday-night chic with a mere flip of the wrist.
1. People always say, "Is that all you brought?" at the beginning of the trip, and then they say, "Another new outfit?" when we're 10 days in. You can call me the Master of Creative (and Deceptive?) Accessorizing.
ABC's of Packing Well
A-All-weather items are key. Don't forget sunscreen, and try to pack clothes that work for a variety of conditions.
B-Black clothes to the rescue! They hide stains (in case you need to wear them more than once and don't have laundry access), and they work for all occasions. Best of all, it's easy to dress black up when you need to.
C-Carry on your essentials, like medicine and keys. You never know when a bag may get delayed, so you need to keep your most important things with you at all times.
D-Double-duty items are the way to go. Bring a moisturizer with sunscreen, for example. Or try a reversible bathing suit on for size.
E-Examine your suitcase for signs of wear and tear before packing. Make sure it's going to weather the trip well.
F-Flexibility is key. "Make it work," as Tim Gunn would say. Rather than needing to have the PERFECT outfit for every occasion, figure out a creative way to combine your items to get the looks you need with fewer pieces.
G-Games are something every parent should pack, but even if you don't have kids, a deck of cards or Bejeweled on your iPod can help you pass time while you're waiting for onward flights. A friend and I used to play what we called "Coingammon." All you need to bring is dice and a paper copy of a backgammon board, and then you can use the local coins to play.
H-Half the space but double the function—pack a chamois cloth or a travel towel instead of a regular towel; it dries quickly and takes up less than half the space.
I-International destinations are great places to find fun new beauty products. Pack only a few essentials and have fun shopping once you arrive!
J-Jewelry can make any outfit look new. It can also dress up a basic T-shirt. Bring some bold necklaces and earrings along. They won't take up much room, but they'll make a lot of difference.
K-Kits are handy—whether it's for sewing or first aid, you never know when you might need something from one of your kits. Just leave them in your suitcase between trips, and then they'll always be ready to go.
L-Lists help you avoid overpacking. Write out what you'll need, and then make a plan for the different outfits you can create out of the clothes you've decided upon.
M-Mix and match. Bring things that work in many ways. For example, one of my favorite travel outfits is a strapless dress that can also be worn as a miniskirt, a knee-length skirt, or a swingy, strapless shirt.
N-Needs only—not wants. Pack just the essentials, and remember that you'll most likely buy new things at your destination.
O-Overbooked flights are so common, and getting bumped is a great way to get another vacation. Pack a bikini, just in case. Even if you're flying to a wintery spot, you may end up with an unexpected layover in Miami.
P-Prepare well in advance. You will surely overpack if you're throwing things into a suitcase at the last minute. If you think it through, you'll be much better off.
Q-Quick-drying clothes are a traveler's dream. If you're caught without access to laundry facilities, you can always hand-wash and hang your items to dry. If they're made of the right fabric, they'll be ready to go by morning!
R-Reading material is an airplane must-have. I try to bring books that I'm happy to leave behind, so my load is lightened and a smile is put on someone else's face. I'm also a huge fan of Kindle for PC. I download to my netbook, and then I'm set for the whole vacation.
S-Sarongs are the most underrated packable in the history of man. They can be used as beach towels, regular towels, sheets, skirts, shower wraps, makeshift bags, etc. I never travel without one.
T-Tried-and-true clothes and shoes are best. A trip is not the time to break in a new pair of sneakers or to try out those new pants. Go with things you know are a sure bet. I once packed a new pair of pants for a trip to Africa, only to find out that they were the kind that showed sweat really, really easily, so I walked around all day with sweat on the backs of my knees. I didn't wear them the rest of the trip. What a waste of space!
U-Underwater cameras are loads of fun if you're taking a beach trip. I usually bring one along even if I'm not planning on doing any snorkeling—it takes the worry out of having a camera poolside.
V-Valid passports with plenty of empty pages are necessary for any overseas excursion. Check in advance to make sure you have more than six free pages, and don't forget to travel with a copy of the first few pages. I keep this in my e-mail as well, in case all of my things go missing.
W-Waterproof bags are necessary for all liquids. Who wants an open shampoo bottle to destroy their whole vacation wardrobe?
X-X-ray-ready carry-ons are key. I try to avoid carry-ons altogether on longer trips, but on shorter trips, a carry-on might be all you bring. Make sure you don't have any illegal items in your bag when you're packing. Burrowing around in the bag at the security checkpoint is frustrating for you and irritating for other passengers. Get the eyebrows waxed so you won't need your tweezers, cut your nails short to avoid the clippers...there are plenty of ways to travel without forbidden implements.
Y-Yelling or pouting will get you nowhere when you have overweight luggage, so make sure you weigh it in advance.
Z-Zipping pouches work wonders in regard to keeping things separate and easy to find!