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Packing light for international travel--yes, it's possible!

As the time of my departure to Shanghai draws ever closer, I thought now would be a good time to write something about the packing aptitude I've acquired over the last several years of (relatively) frequent international travel. My task this morning was to pack my life into the following four bags: If you know what my wardrobe looks like (relatively-speaking, since I am a guy), you'll know this was no easy task. From the mental pretzel of deciding which things will go in which bag to the chafed hands I now sport from tugging zippers that, for all intents and purposes, shouldn't be able to zip, I'm happy to report that I was successful. The first bag I packed was one of my carry-ons, a delightful shiny denim duffle bag from American Apparel, which I designated as my "dress clothing" bag. I decided to pack my dress clothing—which is essential for work—in a carry-on so that I would be in contact with it at all time. While an airline losing a bag is a rare occurrence these days, it does happen and the last thing I want to be doing Sunday as I recover from my fourteen hour, fifty-minute flight is running around Shanghai looking for slim fit slacks. Below, you can see what the bag looked like before: And after: I packed it. Yes, everything I intended to fit into it did fit. Next, I moved on to my first checked bag—the trusty Swiss Gear backpack that came with my now-deceased Dell laptop—into which I packed miscellaneous items, including photographs from walls of my Austin apartment (still in their transparent IKEA frames), my drapes from said apartment and all of my toiletries. Due to asinine rules regarding liquids in carry-ons, it's a good idea to place your health and beauty products in checked luggage. If the liquids in one of your carry-on bags exceeds the posted limit (which is one liter as of this posting), you will be required to throw them away. In the case of my "big bottle" Aveda products this was not an option. Again, before: And after: The third bag I packed was my second checked bag, the big 'un, my Kelty Red Cloud 5600 backpack, which I initially purchased for my first overseas trip (Europe) in 2005. It's a sturdy, reliable monstrosity and handily fit all of my casual clothing, miscellaneous textiles, shoes and accessories, going from this: To this: The final bag I will pack—I say "will" because I'll throw some things into it last-minute—is a Fred Perry shoulder bag, which will spend the flight under the seat in front of me and contain everything I'll need to access—laptop, iPhone, camera, reading material and work documents, for final read-through. The below photo shows you what all four of my bags look like full: You might be asking yourself if I have some secret to fitting a whole ton o' stuff into such (relatively) small bags. Or you might not. In any case, the answer is yes: I roll my clothing. How, you ask (or don't), does on roll his or her clothing? The answer is below in picture, first for a shirt and second on a garment of the lower body variety. Use common sense with underwear and accessories. Shirt:

(1) Lay flat.

(2) Fold in half.

(3) Tuck sleeves.

(4) Roll down, starting from the collar.

Pants:

(1) Lay flat and fold in half lengthwise.

(2) Roll down, starting at the waist.

My sister Stephanie is on her way over to say what will surely be a somber goodbye, and I have a piece of lukewarm, half-eaten chicken sitting about a foot from me that still somehow looks appetizing. As such, I'm going to peace out for now. More when I arrive in the other hemisphere.

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