With fliers being coaxed — or shoved — toward lighter travel these days, now seems a good time to give some thought to the fine art of efficient packing. Trouble is, the Terminal’s personal, time-tested method of preparing for a trip — a frenzied ritual involving two bottles of Febreeze and a crowbar — isn’t for everyone.


Enter Doug Dyment. By day, a mild-mannered, semi-retired technology consultant, by night (or by blog, anyway) Dyment is something of a packing superman, able to cram weeks worth of clothes, toiletries and gear into a single bag. His Web site, OneBag.com, is a labor of love and a treasured resource for packing hacks.

Recently, Dyment offered the Terminal six quick tips to improve everyone’s travel prep. So without further ado:

1. Write a packing list — It seems simple, and it is. But designing and writing a good one isn’t always easy. Think of your packing list as a contract with yourself: This is all you will put in your bag. Nothing less, nothing more. The easiest way to create your own list is to start by stealing somebody else’s and tweak it over time. Dyment recommends his. Here’s a printer-friendly version. (Note: Don’t feel compelled to pack everything on this list. Some of you can get by for a few days without a rubber door stop or bivouac sack.)

2. Bundle, baby, bundle — Most people pack their clothes by folding items individually, as you’d find them in a store or your closet. Don’t. (As an aside, here’s a recent WSJ story on people who can’t break the folding habit.)

Dyment recommends bundle-wrapping. As he writes on his site, this technique involves carefully, tightly wrapping clothes around a central core object, such as a toiletries case. This helps keep wrinkles from setting in.

3. Avoid packing liquids — They spill. They’re heavy. And they take up a lot of space. Substitute solids for liquids or gels where you can. Instead of toothpaste, try tooth powder. Bottles of perfume can be swapped out for solid sticks or pots of scented balm, and sunblocks also come in deodorant-style sticks. (If you’re a contact lens wearer, sorry - still no good way around that.)

On a personal-care note, Dyment suggests travelers contemplate switching from metal tubes of shaving cream and gel to shaving oil, saying a thumb-sized bottle of the stuff should last you about three months. He also claims it works better than shaving cream and, as a bonus, should allow you to ditch other accoutrements of your toilette, such as aftershave. Check out OneBag’s list of solid substitutes here.

4. Pick a color scheme and run with it — Take clothes in two or three basic, coordinating colors that can be worn repeatedly in different combinations. “Just make sure that everything that goes in your bag goes with everything else. My personal favorite color combination is grey and blue,” Dyment says.

5. Be a softy — Avoid suitcases with rigid exteriors, which are tough to jam into overhead compartments. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should yank your old duffel bag out of the closet (Unless you’re traveling to Wrinkle City — ed.). Dyment says the best shape for a bag is rectangular, like most suitcases. Just choose one with soft, flexible sides.

6. Watch how you roll — This might sound like sacrilege to many business travelers, but Dyment says you should ditch that rollie bag. Wheeled bags are too heavy, too rigid, and sacrifice too much internal space to make room for the wheel assemblies. And while travelers who circulate in a climate-controlled world of jetways, conference rooms and hotel corridors find wheeled bags handy, they’re less helpful when you take them into the real world of “cracks and crevices and dog poop and cobblestones and stairs,” Dyment says. “Wheels are just a liability in all of those situations.”

If you have a physical condition that requires a wheeled bag, Dyment recommends purchasing a decent set of collapsible wheel carts, which won’t impede on your packing as much.