Today, more than ever before, a happy vacation depends on a well-packed suitcase. Airport security, high baggage fees, and crowded airplanes and buses make life very difficult for those who choose to bring half their closets with them wherever they go, and over-packing can make getting around a foreign city even more difficult. Even on longer trips, a huge suitcase is not necessary; a perfectly packed carry-on can keep expert travelers looking fresh and clean for weeks at a time, all without carting around a giant case. Whether traveling alone or as part of a big group, proper packing allows travelers to spend more time seeing the sights and less time worrying over luggage.
Before starting the packing process, do a little research. If you’re flying, familiarize yourself with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules and with the luggage policy of your airline, so you can avoid checking your carry-on or getting held up at the security screening. Buses and trains also have regulations, which you should learn ahead of time. In addition, it can be helpful to check if your hotel has amenities like laundry facilities, so you can adjust your packing priorities. Preparing a packing list will help you remember the most important items and avoid impulsive additions that take up precious space in your bag. Plan to pack a few neutral pieces that can be used to form several different outfits, and focus on layers. Be sure to check the forecast for your destination, so that you can avoid bringing extraneous clothes like rain jackets for a perfectly sunny week.
After you’ve decided what to bring, the actual packing process begins. Many experts recommend rolling rather than folding clothing, a technique that reduces wrinkling and takes up less space. Others focus on folding garments in layers to create compact bundles of clothing, while some travelers swear by store-bought suitcase organizers. Whenever possible, wear the heaviest items on the plane, bus, or train, and when flying, remember to bring a generously sized bag or backpack to serve as a personal item for storing essentials, in case you are separated from your luggage.