Packing is a science, not an art. There are few things more disorienting than arriving somewhere and realizing an essential was overlooked. I have been professionally circumnavigating the globe for two decades; the lessons I’ve learned will save any traveler heaps of time—and undue stress.
Skip the duffle—everything will be a mess on arrival. A four-wheel spinner from Samsonite, Tumi, Rimowa and Brics are the best (ideally, one that folds out butterfly-style).
Make a laminated list of trip necessities regardless of destination or length of stay. Keep inside your carry-on while its stored away and cross-check before you close the case.
Having a permanently pre-packed cosmetics bag with miniature versions of your grooming regimen will save you time.
I favor identical coordinated cosmetics cases for everything: cables and chargers, socks and hosiery, jewelry, beauty products and so on. They will help you stay organized at destination.
If you don’t keep dust bags for shoes, Ziploc bags will work. Procure larger ones for sweaters, wet swimwear, and gym laundry.
Consider BYO hangers. I take the basic skinny black velvet ones with me wherever I go.
Invest in a travel steamer. It takes a few minutes to blast everything on arrival and makes clothes look brand new, especially sweaters.
Pull out all the clothes and accessories that might work, ideally double what you will take. Spread everything out around the room, like you would ingredients in a meal.
Then try on looks; consider taking mirror selfies that can be saved to a designated album on your phone so you know your outfits.
Do a strict edit. Eliminate ‘maybes’—every item in the case should be part of a look, and multi-purpose. Think of it as a Venn diagram in which things will cross over.
Designate one side of your suitcase for accessories, cosmetics, and all solid items. Your apparel should go on the other side.
Fold only structured items like jeans, jackets and tailoring and place those on the bottom or top of the case; your softer fabric items can be rolled. Play Tetris with your packing—it makes it a fun challenge. There will be spaces lurking that can take a belt or rolled t-shirt.
Jewelry is your friend. It means all your separates can be dressed up or down for day to night and eliminates the need for event wear.
Luxury silk pajamas are a secret weapon. I have many a time thrown a sweater over the bottoms, the top over jeans to sip a martini at a hotel bar or run an errand.
Bring minimalist fashion-forward leather sneakers; they’ll take you from airport to meeting, dinner to errands.
Pop some bold jewelry, a black top/sweater/blazer and a pair of heels in your carry-on. If your checked luggage goes missing or you have to rush straight to something post-flight, you will still have a dinner or work look on hand.