Credit: Diane Bondareff

My mind was on packing this morning as I pulled my clothes from the closet for another day at the office. At the end of the week I will be leaving for a 10-day trip to Asia, and everything I put on is a test run. How will that printed silk dress work in meetings in Hong Kong? If I add a sweater under my lightweight three-quarterlength jacket, will it also get me through a day of appointments in Beijing? Will the black pants and long white sweater I wore to cocktails on Sunday night be right for a casual evening in Tokyo? And better remember to put my silver chain and black onyx ring aside this evening—they definitely have to make it into my bag.

Given the season and the myriad challenges of vacations and family visits that ensue, I thought I would offer some of my own tried and true strategies for that inevitable part of travel—packing. (For more on the subject, see Trip Doctor for T+L fashion director Mimi Lombardo’s advice.)

Review your plans. It really helps to stop and consider what you’ll be doing morning, noon, and night, so you can avoid wardrobe inadequacies or oversupply. Follow the weather. Being prepared for hot spells, storms, and cold snaps is also essential to avoid discomfort and unnecessary shopping. That emergency coat I bought one wintry October in Milan still hangs unloved and unused in my closet. Apps like and WeatherBug make it easy. Pack in your head first, or on paper. Some people get by with mental lists, but if you have the time, write it down. Lay out your clothes. I position shoes and accessories with my outfits, limiting the range of colors and tones and relying as much as possible on multipurpose items. My clear plastic zip-up cases, filled with shampoo, toothpaste, and creams and potions, are always ready to go. Be your own valet. Who has time to bother with an in-room ironing board and iron, or the confidence to turn over the clothes you rely on to housekeeping? Bring your own steamer; I do, always.

One last little thing: Be sure to factor in some extra room in your bags. This will allow you to bring back a few treasures; for instance, from this issue, a sweater with horn buttons from Kitzbühel, in the Austrian Alps; a sari or shawl from Odisha; a bag or two of San Francisco’s best coffee beans; or a hobbit doll from New Zealand—my niece Sophie would love it. The coat may not have been a good purchase, but I’m pleased to say that my other personal travel souvenirs have been loved and used.

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Twitter: @TLNancy