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Lately I've been on a mission to pack as light as humanly possible. In my dreams, I'm the Suave Traveler, a superhero who zips around airports nimbly and stylishly, never stopping to fumble through a cluttered bag, and always having exactly what I need (and only what I need) on hand. I have a long way to go, and the Suave Traveler remains a deeply fictional character. But I've become a ruthless packer, to the point where travel companions often ask me, "Is that all you're bringing?"
For my trips this spring and summer, here are a few items that will make the cut:
1) To carry: Jack Gomme is my favorite source for chic, roomy, but compact-looking bags (in men's and women's styles). I've crammed four days' worth of stuff into just one of the bags from their Summer 2007 Daphne collection. The shops are in Paris and Tokyo, but some U.S. stores carry the line, including Takashimaya in Manhattan and StyledLife in Minneapolis.
2) To wear: I'm into Cole Haan's new Nike G Series shoes. Cole Haan is usually too preppy for my taste, but the G Series summer collection has some great finds, especially the fantastic ballet-style flats with a sneaker sole, wearable in everything from messy fish-markets to sceney restaurants. The men's line can do double-duty too.
3) To read: If I'm going to Asia, I'll pack a Luxe City Guide—the size of a dollar bill and not much thicker, with brutally picky and reliable tips on where to eat, shop, explore, and hang out. Luxe just branched out to Europe too, with guides to Paris, Rome and Madrid.
4) To eat and drink: I keep a few retro Planters Peanut Bars in my bag. Small, hunger-killing, good for a quick protein fix, and tastier than most energy bars. I also like Republic of Tea Traveler's Tins, filled with unbleached tea bags in flavors like pomegranate-green-tea, albeit with silly names like "Get a Grip," and "Get Some Zzz's." I can't tell if they do what they say on the tin, but they're soothing and made with organic rooibos. And their tiny, near-weightless size is an inspiration to my superhero alter-ego.