Packing the smart way

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Smart moves

Finney has a few other travel rules. Flip-flops are a must to use as bedroom slippers, beach sandals and shower shoes.

And, pashminas -- those fringed scarves that cost $5 to hundreds of dollars -- can do multiple duties as plane blanket, beach coverup, evening wrap or colorful scarf accent. "I usually bring two," Finney said.

Designer Isaac Mizrahi said he never travels without "Blankie" -- his black, heavy cashmere fringed scarf.

Size matters, and so does weight

"Only pack what you can carry. If you cannot lift your bag yourself, you have too much stuff," Finney said. Even if your suitcase rolls, you will need to hoist it up steps, onto buses or into the trunk of your car.

If you're buying new luggage, consider the weight when empty. It's not a bargain if it's already heavy before you put anything in it. Make sure wheels and pull devices operate smoothly.

Check airlines for maximum carry-on dimensions, generally 45 to 52 inches (height plus weight plus length). Similarly, check for weight restrictions and charges for checked bags.

For information on banned and permitted items in carry-on and checked luggage, check the Transportation Security Administration,; 866-289-9673.

The basics

-- Stick with basic neutral clothes; add two colors for pop.

-- Pick easy-care jersey or no-wrinkle knits.

-- Roll clothes or layer in dry-cleaner bags.

-- Leave expensive jewelry at home.

-- Limit shoes to a maximum of these four pairs: sneaker; casual flat; dressy; flip-flops... and Band-Aids for blisters.

-- Don't want to carry on? Stick to one checked suitcase.

-- Wear your heaviest footwear on the plane.

-- Pack only what you can carry up a long staircase.

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