Ultimate Guide to Packing

You're so excited for your trip, until you think about the not-so-fun part: packing. What will you bring? How will you take everything you need with you? End your packing worries and woes with this ultimate guide to packing.

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Love to travel but hate packing? Learn how to pack better and smarter with these tips and tricks. Whether you're traveling every week for business or getting away for your yearly vacation, we've rounded up packing tips for every scenario.

Watch and read on to discover what packing tips you need to try. Then say goodbye to lost earrings, wrinkled clothing, and a stuffed suitcase. You'll be a pro when it comes to packing and more prepared than ever for your next trip!

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Packing Basics

  • Less is more when it comes to packing! You need less than you think you do, so don't be tempted to overpack. One way to help limit what you bring is making a packing list for your necessities. Remember to include anything specific to your trip that you might need (such as a passport) so you don't forget it. Then only take those items with you. Don't be tempted to add something just in case you might want it.
  • Be sure to check the weather in your destination city to inform your clothing choices. You also want the clothes you pack to be versatile. Pack clothes that can be worn with multiple outfits so you can layer and coordinate efficiently. 
  • Try to limit yourself to two pairs of shoes. You want a good pair of walking shoes and one pair that's a little dressier. If your really need a third pair, like boots or pumps, wear them when you travel to save suitcase space.
  • Even if you're not flying, take travel-size toiletries to save space. Buy them and stash them in your suitcase so they're there right when you need them.

Packing Tips

How to Pack a Suitcase

  • First, lay out your suitcase on a flat surface at waist height (like your bed) so it's easier to pack. Pick out an outfit for each day of your trip and place them together. Set out additional clothes you may need for an evening event or special occasion. Don't forget to include shoes, jewelry, and any other accessories during this process.
  • Time to fold! Keep each item with its outfit and in a neat stack. Transfer the stacks to your bag. It will be easier to find what you need each day if it's all together. 
  • For smaller items like scarves or hose, fill in the gaps between other clothes. Roll them to save space. Don't forget to also include an empty bag to put dirty laundry in.
  • When the day of your trip rolls around, pack your final, everyday necessities like medicines, a contact lens case, or cosmetics.

How to Pack a Suitcase

Packing Advice for Fliers

Preparing for a flight? Follow these packing tips:

  • Gather your packing supplies a couple of days prior to your trip. Figure out how many bags you need to take, keeping in mind that airlines may charge extra for checked bags or items weighing over 50 pounds.
  • It's a good idea to check your airline's weight limits and charges prior to packing. A lighter bag will also make it easier to maneuver around the airport.
  • Tie a colorful ribbon on your checked baggage so it stands out at the baggage claim, where so many suitcases look alike.
  • Make sure you place carry-on liquids like shampoo, foundation, and body wash in travel containers following TSA rules. As a reminder, this means bottles smaller than 3.4 ounces. 
  • Put all your toiletries in a quart-size clear sealable bag in your carry-on. Better yet, put it in an outside pocket so it's easy to pull out and send through the security line. Items like lipstick and mascara are considered liquids, so place them in quart-size bags with your other toiletries as well.
  • Consider bringing along an extra T-shirt, pair of underwear, and socks in your carry-on. This way you'll be prepared if your flight is delayed or you spill something on yourself. Place a sweater or coat on top of the clothes or in the large outside pocket of your bag so you can easily reach it.
  • Remove anything unnecessary from your carry-on bag like gift cards or extra credit cards to make room for important items that you won't want in your checked luggage. On your travel day, wear the heaviest or bulkiest items you want on your trip instead of packing them, to save space.
  • Wear slip-on shoes so you can get through airport security more quickly.
  • If you're taking gifts to your destination, ship them instead of bringing them along with you. It's much cheaper than checking a second bag, and they should arrive at your destination within a few days.

How to Pack

How to Pack Clothes

It seems like there's never enough space for all the outfits you want to bring on a trip. However, there are smart ways you can save space when packing up everything you'll want to wear. 

  • Put shoes in your suitcase first since they're heavy and take up lots of room.
  • Slide small items like socks or a belt into your shoes. Arrange the shoes so the soles are out (like in a shoe box) to save room. Slide the shoes into a shoe bag to keep them from getting dirt on your other clothes. This will also protect your shoes from any scratches or scuffs that could occur during travel.
  • If you have bulky items like sweaters, consider compression bags. These are great space savers. Simply slip items inside the bag, seal, and roll out the air.
  • Place delicate items between sheets of tissue paper to protect them from snagging, then place them in a zippered plastic bag. 
  • Workout and swim gear should also go in plastic bags. This way, wet items won't mix with the rest of your clothes.

Still short on space? Not to worry—there are still a few more tricks to save precious space.

Try rolling clothes, which takes up less room and prevents your clothes from getting wrinkled. Or try the bundle method: Lay your suitcase out flat with the lid unzipped. Put the shoes in first, along with small items like T-shirts.

Then place pants so the pair has one side out of the suitcase. Add another pair with the legs hanging off the opposite side. Continue to alternate. When done, keep the legs hanging out and add in the shirts.

The arms should lay across the pants in the suitcase, and the hem should hang out the front. Repeat, this time with the shirt hem hanging out the back of the suitcase. Once all your shirts are layered in, it's time to bundle.

Wrap the pant legs over the bundle, one side then the other. Wrap shirt hems on top of the bundle, starting with the last shirt you packed. Keep alternating sides until finished. Tuck into corners of the suitcase, and secure the big bundle with the tie-down straps provided in your suitcase.

How to Pack Clothes

How to Pack Accessories

Stop small items from getting lost or snagging on clothes! Start by investing in a jewelry roll with clear plastic windows (or use small zipper bags) to store your jewelry. Use these to store your earrings, bracelets, necklaces, watches, and more. When it comes to valuable jewelry, make sure it's in your carry-on bag; you wouldn't want any of those items to get lost.

When packing your daily makeup, put everything into a cosmetics bag. This way if products spill, the mess is contained.

For electronic chargers and other cords, secure with a cable clip or a rubber band. Then slide them into a clear, sealable bag.

For a hairdryer, loop the cord and secure with a hair tie or rubber band. Pack your comb and hair brush in their own bag so they don't snag on clothing. Pack in an inside pocket of the suitcase so the bristles don't get crushed.

Need an evening bag for your destination? Place the handle or chain inside the clutch so it doesn't get tangled. To save space, place any small items like scarves or socks inside.

How to Pack Accessories

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