Photo of a suitcase on a bed

Traveling can be stressful, especially when it comes to packing everything you need – and only what you need. Airline luggage weight limits often mean packing light, and even if you aren’t flying, you may want to keep it simple anyway so you aren’t hauling around all the contents of your bedroom closet.

To find out more about packing efficiently for your next trip, check out these tips from other travelers.

Make a List and Stick to It

Making a list of what you’ll need for your trip may seem like an obvious step, but it’s an important one. Vicki Garside, who runs the travel website Make Time to Travel the World , recommends making your list prior to putting anything in your suitcase – and sticking to what you wrote down. “If you have already a set number of items, this will stop you from over packing and help keep within weight restrictions,” Garside explains.

For international travel, you’ll need to plan more carefully and consider what extras you’ll need to add to your packing list. Andrew Schrage, the CEO of Money Crashers, who travels frequently, recommends, “Be sure to remember to bring extra copies of your passport, and customer service numbers for any of the credit cards you’ll be travelling with in case they’re lost or stolen.” Being prepared for emergencies like this can help to give you peace of mind while you’re traveling abroad.

Check the Weather

Be sure to look into the weather at your intended destination. If it’s warmer than where you live, you might not need as many heavy sweaters as you might need at home. And do you really need a winter coat and boots, or will jeans and a sweatshirt suffice? Warmer destinations may allow for lighter clothing options, which can help you keep your suitcase light.

Do Laundry

If your next trip involves an airplane, you’ll need to be careful of weight limits on your luggage. Cutting down on how much you pack isn’t the only way to go about meeting these limits. “Choose lightweight luggage bags for travel,” Schrage recommends. For longer trips, he also recommends packing clothing made of lighter materials, such as khakis instead of jeans, and scheduling in time to visit a laundry facility while you’re away. Scheduling a laundry stop means you can pack fewer outfits and still have enough to wear.

If you’re taking a particularly long trip, consider checking out the laundry accommodations at various hotels before booking a room. See if you can find one with convenient, inexpensive laundry facilities.

Pack Fewer Toiletries

Pamela Wagner, a seasoned traveler who has taken nearly 60 trips, recommends keeping the toiletries you take with you to a minimum. “Only take small amounts of toiletries with you. You can always buy new ones,” she explains. Most hotels also provide some toiletries to guests as well.

In addition to saving space in your luggage, the fewer bottles of liquids you take with you, the less chance there is that they’ll spill on your other items while they’re in your suitcase.

If you do pack toiletries, be sure to put them in plastic bags so they don’t make a mess of your clothes if the bottles happen to leak.

Use Every Space Available

Wagner also recommends using every nook and cranny in your suitcase to maximize storage space. “I also always fill up my shoes with socks, underwear and other small stuff to keep them in a good shape,” she says.

Also remember that most suitcases have exterior pockets, so be sure to utilize those if you’re running out of space.

Roll or Fold Clothes

Among frequent travelers, rolling your clothes versus folding them is hotly debated. Frequent traveler Keith Shadle, another frequent traveler, is in favor of rolling them to avoid wrinkles. “Roll your clothes. Yep. Roll your clothes,” he advises. “Socks bundle around underwear (clean of course) and then roll them inside shirts or pants.”

On the other hand, Suzanne Wolko, a travel blogger who has traveled solo and for business, recommends against rolling. “I’m not a fan of rolling or packing cubes which so many swear by,” explains Wolko. “I create a layer of clothes while I live out of my suitcase for the short weekend trip to the three-month sabbatical in Europe.”

If you’ll be travelling often, try both methods and see which one works best for you.

Cut Down on Duplicates

Kim Milnes, the owner of the Family Travel Boutique, admits that she’s “an over packer.” She recommends cutting down on how much ends up in your suitcase by packing just one pair of shoes. “How many pairs do you ‘really’ need?” she asks.

Other items can also be used more than once. Depending on what type of clothes you’ll need for your trip, you may be able to wear items multiple times during your trip. For instance, you may be able to get away with just a sweater or two if it’ll be warm during the day, and jeans can sometimes be worn more than once before needing a wash.

Wear Heavy Items

If you’re running out of room in your suitcase or worried about meeting airline baggage weight limits, plan to wear your heaviest items – such as boots, your coat and possibly a sweater – on the plane. That way, they won’t be taking up space in your suitcase.

Know Before You Go

If you’re unsure of whether your baggage meets airline weight limits, be sure to check out the airline’s website to learn exactly how much your suitcase can weigh before incurring extra fees. Then weigh your suitcase before heading to the airport. If your suitcase won’t fit on the scale, weigh yourself without the suitcase. Then step on the scale while holding your suitcase and subtract your own weight from how much you weigh with the suitcase. This will give you the weight of the suitcase alone.

If you travel frequently, you might also consider purchasing a handheld luggage scale. It’s portable, so you can take it with you to make sure any souvenirs you bring home won’t put your luggage over the weight limit on your return trip.

Weighing your suitcase in advance can help ensure that you don’t run into any surprises at the airport check-in counter.

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