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How to Pack a Suitcase

Packing a suitcase is all about personal preference. Would you rather fit more clothes into your bag, or make sure they don’t come out wrinkled? Are you all about organization, or are you cool with a little suitcase chaos if it means not having to check a bag on your flight?

Everyone has an opinion. Some say you should roll your clothes, others recommend folding them, origami-like, into a bundle, while others swear by tools like packing cubes or compression bags. Whatever your preference, here are five tips on how to pack more efficiently for your next trip.

1. The bigger your suitcase, the more you will take with you: The simplest way to avoid bringing too many things is to buy a hard-sided suitcase, no more than 22 inches tall (works as a carry-on) with a structured shell so you can’t squeeze in any extras.

2. Do the clothing countdown: A golden rule to help streamline your wardrobe, use the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 rule for a week long trip. Limit yourself to no more than five sets of socks and underwear, four tops, three bottoms, two pairs of shoes and one hat. The list should be adjusted to fit your needs. Throw in a swimsuit and exercise gear or a jacket and dress if you’ll need them.

3. Lay out what you want to pack, then edit ruthlessly: Think twice about everything you want to put in your bag. Match outfits to specific days and activities you have planned on your trip.

4. Play some suitcase Tetris: The best way to fit everything into one bag? Fill every inch of space. For example, footwear should be stuffed with socks. Then lay your shoes together heel to toe at the bottom of your suitcase in a plastic shopping bag to protect clothes from dirt. How you exactly arrange everything in your suitcase is a matter of personal preference, but here are some popular strategies.

    • Roll your clothes. This helps to maximize space and minimize wrinkles.
    • Use packing cubes. These smaller bags help you keep your clothes compact and your outfits ordered.
    • Try the bundle technique. Carefully wrap each article of clothing around a central core, with underwear and T-shirts at the center, and large tailored items like blazers and dresses as the outer layer.

5. Keep liquids in easy reach: Toiletries should always be placed on top of your suitcase in a clear bag since you never know when T.S.A. might be interested in looking.

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