Packing is a pain. To do it efficiently takes time and focus. With each extended trip I take with my family, I challenge myself to halve what I think we need. Fashion decisions are the most difficult. I want to take all of my frocks and accessories with me so options abound. But, alas, I have learned my lesson. Too much luggage is a burden. Especially when the trip involves multiple plane flights, trains, ferries and tiny European car rentals. So, I streamline. To do so, I start packing two weeks before we leave. I place a cardboard box next to the table and drop things in as I think of them: books, gifts, sunscreen, shampoo, medicines. First, I pack the kids. I begin laying the clothes out by category on the dining room table: undies, PJs, tops, bottoms dresses, hats, shoes. Then, I create a small grooming kit for each kid with brush, toothbrush, hair ties and band aids. A few days later, I revisit the mounds and remove what is not entirely necessary. SpacePaks are a must have for frequent travelers. These zippered pouches allow me to compress clothing and keep everyone’s clothing organized. I have them in multiple colors for every member of my family. For my clothing, I only pack pieces that can be reworked several ways. I am a huge fan of J Crew and DKNY cotton tanks, harem pants, leggings and lightweight maxi skirts. For dresses, I favor maxi dresses that can be dressed up or down with jewelry. Everything must be washable. Shoes? Flip flops, sandals, sneakers (for hiking) and one pair of casual heels. I bring a small zippered pouch for “outfit making” jewelry: beads, a long gold necklace, hoop earrings and gold bangles. And a packable sunhat. That’s it. I always travel with an in-transit pharmacy that contains kids and adult Advil, Pepto Bismol, Benadryl, cortisone cream, Band Aids, Neosporin, Swim Ear drops, eye drops and saline nasal spray. Full sized grooming products hog precious space. All are scaled down to small containers and places in labeled Ziplock bags. I always shove an empty lightweight duffel bag in the suitcase to transport our treasures home. This year I have achieved packing nirvana: 2 suitcases for four people for an entire month.