No matter where you plan to go or how you choose to get there, you have to pack effectively for the trip. Filling your bag with the right clothes, shoes and toiletries will keep your luggage at an acceptable weight and ensure you have what you need. Follow these tips for packing a suitcase to get started!

1. Lay Out Everything You Think You Need, Then Cut Back

One of the most efficient ways to pack a suitcase is to set out anything you want for a trip — all the outfits, jackets, shoes, undergarments and supplies. Once you have everything, cut back. Remove all “just in case” items. If you need it while on the go, you can most likely buy it.

2. Leave No Space Unused

Fill every inch of your suitcase — this includes stuffing areas like shoes with socks. When you use this method, you allow yourself more room. Other ways to ensure you can use every bit of space in your luggage include bundling or rolling clothes or using packing cubes.

3. Put Travel-Size Toiletries in a Separate Bag

Shampoo, conditioner and makeup can be stowed in small bottles or tins and stuck in a clear tote for flights. Remember to include your medications and toothbrush. Keep these items in a separate bag or at the top of your carry-on to ensure easy access.

4. Arrange Your Clothes Thoughtfully

In general, keeping the outfits you plan to wear first near the top of your bag is a good idea, so you can find them easily. If you roll clothes, place them on the bottom of the suitcase, followed by anything folded.

5. Limit Yourself to Three Pairs of Shoes

Generally, you will only need three pairs of shoes. Choose a casual pair of sneakers or another comfortable option to wear on the way. Pack the other two pairs in your luggage. These could include dressier shoes, like heels, and a laidback option, like sandals.

6. Avoid Overpacking With Hard Shell Suitcases

Using hard-sided luggage prevents you from packing too much. You can't prod and squeeze the bag like a flexible, soft-sided one, which could end up too heavy. Hard shells have a finite amount of space — when you reach the sides, that's it.

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How to Pack a Suitcase
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