I would say that I travel regularly - almost a trip each month but not insane jet-setting on a weekly basis. This year, I have clocked 78,000 miles (till date) and counting and with the regular travels, I have figured out some ways to make packing less painful.
I have been asked for travel packing tips so as promised, here is the requested entry!
My must-have essentials and tips for the flight -
... Pack a carry-on pouch for the plane and you'll just need to take that out. I stuff in colgate wisps (excellent for brushing the teeth), wet facial wipes to freshen up after a 17 hour flight, a brush, travel sized tube of lightweight moisturizer, lip balm, hand cream, eye shades. I don't wear any make-up when I'm flying.
... Other essentials include a travel pillow, a cardigan/shawl/hoody (planes get cooold, nothing too long or bulky as it'll be uncomfortable when you are sitting down), noise cancellation headphones (I use the Bose Quiet Control 3) - good investment if you travel often, socks (your feet will get cold on long flights. trust me.), book/magazine.
... Hydrate as much as possible on-flight. Instead of pushing the call button for the flight attendant, get up and walk to the end of the aircraft to get a drink. It forces you to move around and prevent blood thrombosis and you'll feel like crap if you sit in your seat all the time.
To avoid getting stressed out when I travel, I still make it down to the airport around 2 hours before flying out to the States/Europe and 1.5 hours within Asia. Even if you get priority queuing, it's better to go early as you never know what might crop up for example, I was in an accident on the way to the airport or security check-ins are more stringent etc. I also board early. Put it this way. If every passenger were to board 'on time' or at the last minute, the plane might get delayed and isn't it annoying to wait for just one passenger? Be considerate.
For those flying out to the U.S, make sure that your ESTA is sorted out and write down your confirmation number and details and carry it along. My co worker was detained for an hour because her ESTA wasn't complete. She was fortunate that her connecting flight was 2 hours later or she would have missed her flight.
... If you have issues getting over jet-lag, buy a bottle of melatonin from the pharmacy. It helps.
.. Wear easy to slip in and out shoes for the flights especially when you need to go through security checks that require you to take off your shoes. Wear socks if possible unless you want your bare feet to be in contact with the grubby carpets.
... Most security checks require you to take out your laptop for scanning. Pack it such that it is easy to take out and put it back in. Many spend a long time removing scarves, jackets, complicated shoes and unpacking and re-packing items at the security checks. I'm usually very quick. Before I reach the scanners, my laptop is already in my hand ready to place into the plastic container. I don't wear any jackets until after I have passed through customs and security checks as you will be required to remove it for scanning in any case. Don't wear any metal that will set off the alarm.
Clothes, shoes etc
... Regardless of season, I always carry these items - 2 pairs of ballet flats, 1 pair of heels (if there are plans to go out for a formal dinner/drinks), a shawl, a cardigan, stockings and leggings.
... I have a packing list so whenever I pack, I will refer to it and it minimizes forgetting to bring items! B.T used to laugh at me for having one but after he forgot to pack in some stuff, he got my list :)
... I love layering even when I dress in this hot climate. Most of my layering pieces are made of thin fabrics. When I travel to colder countries, I bring along my heatech wear from Uniqlo. I have them in different silhouettes - long sleeves, short sleeves and tanks. It feels like cotton but it keeps me warm. I use them as base layers and layer everything else on top! Layering helps to maximize your outfits so you can 'repeat' items which equates to bringing less stuff. Repeating doesn't mean wearing the same look - it's just layering it differently and matching with different items. When buying items to layer, try to look for tops of different lengths. So you have a white inner longer top peeking out from under a green shorter tank for example.
... Dresses. I wear dresses even in the winter. The trick? Stockings and leggings. They are my must-have essentials. It keeps me very warm as it's close to the skin - just buy stockings of different thickness. And for sleeveless dresses, you can layer long sleeve tops underneath it.
... Stockings and leggings. As mentioned above, it's so useful. I usually bring just one or at most two pairs of jeans. I depend on skinnies, leggings, jeaggings, stockings. Less jeans means that there's less bulk.
... Rolling and laying out flat. I roll thin items and fold thicker items into half. Pack socks, belts and small items last by shoving them into available spaces.
... Duffel bag. I always always always carry a spare duffel (large) bag - with extra luggage tags and a TSA lock (essential for traveling in the U.S). It is great for shopping buys!
... My luggage is a Samsonite spinner. I am petite and my arm strength sucks. So, I travel with semi-hard suitcases or soft as some call it. The spinner feature is very useful as you require little effort to roll it. Plus, it's expandable and very durable. Hard suitcases are more durable against hard knocks but they are heavier and add up more weight to the luggage weight limit ;)
... I rarely bring along my favorite designer bags when traveling. I have my MBMJ soft tote that I use as it's light and roomy and versatile for most outfits. If you are fussy about matching your bags with your clothes, limit it to at most 2 bags per trip. Don't waste the space in your suitcase! A small clutch or wristlet will be useful for drinks nights out.
... Accessories. Bring a couple necklaces, headbands, earrings and bangles to spruce up an outfit. I like wearing scarfs to change the look of my outfit and have different scarves for different seasons.
That's what I can think of right now. Feel free to share and add on :)
The quality rollable flats that I mentioned about in my previous entry. It folds into half and packs into the provided pouch. It's available in an array of colors - I got the dark grey flats. It's padded and comfy unlike many rollables out there that usually come with a thin sole. It won't pack into a clutch though.