NEW YORK — What’s worse than lugging a heavy bag to your summer vacation spot, only to pop it open and find it filled with too many of all the wrong things?

If you pack lightweight, versatile clothing instead, you can save money on luggage fees at the airport and even hoist your own bag into the overhead compartment. If you’re driving, you’ll find yourself with room in the trunk for souvenirs.
“The lighter you travel, the easier it is the whole way through,” says style expert Mary Alice Stephenson.
Here are tips from the experts for packing light:

Light layers
Stephenson suggests taking several lightweight items that can be mixed and matched.
A light summer dress — in a colorful print, vibrant color or with beading or sequins in cotton or a silk blend — is her top pick. A short tunic, long maxi or something in between can be worn over a bathing suit with flip flops, or with embellished sandals at night.
“You need a summer dress that is beach-friendly but glamorous for going out at night,” said Stephenson, whose clients include models Molly Sims and Hilary Rhoda and actress Michelle Monaghan.
Then add a pair of khaki pants or capris. “It’s kind of like summer’s jeans,” says Stephenson. “It’s really light and airy.”
If pants aren’t your thing, grab a pull-on skirt in breezy cotton or gauze.
With a neutral on the bottom, add something special on top, like a floaty blouse with embellishments, puff sleeves, or a feminine, floral print, Stephenson said.

Next is a T-shirt or tank top, basics that come in all colors and prices and can be worn with everything, including those khakis already in the bag.
Pick the best bathing suit for your body, and use it as another item in your interchangeable vacation wardrobe.
Another option is a wrap dress, like the signature style in jersey from Diane von Furstenberg. It doesn’t wrinkle, and feels light and soft, the designer says.
“If you could only have one thing, you could take the wrap dress,” she says. “It will take you to the beach, to visit churches and to dinner.”

Fight the chill
A sea breeze or a blast of air conditioning can leave you shivering, so pack your favorite cardigan, in cotton or thin cashmere.
“It can be belted over the tank top or worn over the summer dress or worn with khakis,” says Stephenson.
Or take a thin shawl or pareo, which can cut the cold and be used many ways, from a trendy summer scarf to beach cover-up. “I have a very light cashmere shawl I carry everywhere,” says von Furstenberg, who travels often.

Soulful sacrifice
While it may be painful to leave some beloved shoes behind, experts suggest wearing your heaviest pair while traveling and packing no more than two others. merchandiser Rachel Funk says shoes that make the cut should serve at least two functions, like sightseeing and going to lunch. says a pair of women’s dress or casual shoes generally weighs 1.5 pounds. The site has choices that come in at or below the 1-pound mark.
“Watch out for heavy, wooden stacked heels, and anything with a platform will weigh more,” Funk says. “The less material the better.”

Limit the extras
Carry a tote bag that can double as a beach bag, and bring a clutch or small shoulder bag for sightseeing, Stephenson says. Take one necklace in coral or turquoise or chandelier earrings to dress up your outfits. Pack a crushable sun hat.
As for toiletries, packing expert Susan Foster says don’t bother with the government-approved three ounces for a carryon. A 1-ounce bottle of shampoo lasted her during a three-week trip. She also had three pairs of microfiber underwear that she washed and were dry in the morning.
Belts and shoes, especially men’s, also pack on pounds, says Alan Krantzler, vice president of merchandising for luggage brand Tumi. He suggests one neutral color palette for apparel — black, navy or gray, perhaps — and then one set of leather accessories that will complement everything.
There’s definitely a push in the luggage industry to make lightweight bags, Krantzler says, but travelers are the ones who can effect the biggest change.
“People are looking to save one or two pounds on the bag, but they’re not thinking about what they’re putting in,” he says.

Denim dos
If you can’t do without denim, wear your jeans while traveling because they’re probably the heaviest thing you’re taking, Foster says. And consider a summer-weight pair.

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