When you really think about it, most of the hassles of traveling include luggage in some way — especially when it comes to flying. You have to be sure to gather everything you need, pull off some Houdini-level magic to get the zippers to close, lug your oversized bag to the airport, and by then you’re so fed up with this ball and chain that you’re willing to pay somebody to take it off your hands and possibly lose it completely. Carrying on? Well then you have to jam it into the X-ray machine, possibly have a rubber-gloved agent paw through your possessions, miraculously close it all up again, maneuver it down the narrow aisle of a plane, and squeeze it into a tiny cabinet — only to have it fly out and hit you in the face upon arrival. You then have to drag your recent attacker all through a second airport (or more, if you have a layover) before finally reaching your accommodations for the night, opening up your bag, and realizing you basically forgot everything you needed.
Allow us to spare you some of the headache (and arm-ache, and backache) by helping with the very first step. Determining what to bring and what not to bring can save you from unnecessarily lugging around too much stuff, and also make sure that you’re not forgetting anything important. Packing twelve pairs of socks for a three-day weekend might be a bit of overkill, for instance, especially since all the socks in the world won’t get you on an international flight when you’ve forgotten your passport. (Just ask my mom, my dad, and one of my sisters… all on separate trips.) You may think you’re a packing pro, but we’ve compiled some expert tips that could make you rethink the way you travel. The exact details will obviously vary based on the trip, but here are some solid suggestions to get you started.