There’s a science to it…

Though packing means you’re going somewhere, which is inherently exciting – it can also be a huge pain, involving jumping up and down on bags and breaking zippers while trying to squeeze every last ounce in. But really, it shouldn’t be.

Packing should be a well orchestrated concerto, lead by a master conductor. That conductor, by the way – is you. With decluttering as the hot new craze and new luggage options changing this travel ritual, it’s important to take a step back and realize that packing a suitcase is a system of well thought out ideas. It should never be like throwing trash into a garbage can. Here’s how to pack your suitcase with simplicity and brilliance, every time…

Start In Order Of Importance

Open your suitcase and pack one item at a time, in order of importance. This will also help to ensure you don’t forget the “one thing” you need. Declutter guru Marie Kondo’s Konmari method suggests going a step further, only adding things which are either necessary or bring joy.

Socks and underwear are always amongst the first necessities. Best decluttering tip? Aim for flexible items which can be both casual or professional. For example, a blue blazer turns t shirt and jeans into a fashionable outfit, but also sharpens up a professional look as well.

To be a true packing wizard, take things further with flexible shoes too. Finding a fashionable sneaker, boot or slip on which fits more than one purpose and eliminates the need another pair is massive space saved.

Get A Suitcase That Doesn’t Suck

Sucking at packing is a temporary thing. In fact, you shouldn’t fall into that category after reading this. But if you have luggage that lets you down you’ll never be able to realize you full packing guru status, and will always fit in less than you should. On that note: don’t just get a suitcase that’s great, get a “small personal item” that’s great too, to maximize your allowance.

Here are a few of the best carry on options for all budgets. We personally swear by the Away Travel brand, and here’s one of the best “small carry on item” options, which matches seamlessly. A good carry on is an investment in never having to check a bag again, so even a more expensive option will probably save you money versus checked bag costs over time.

Stop, Fold And Roll Your Clothes For Max Packing

Going item by item, it’s important to sit, think and ask yourself… “am I actually going to wear this?”. If the answer is yes, then fold the item in half along the most logical line and roll it tightly.

Yes, before you ask, it’s scientifically proven that rolling clothes while packing creates more space, but also helps with wrinkles. By rolling things into one layer of lots of “little items”, you’re also able to see your entire packed wardrobe and sort through it more easily. This take a bit more time, but it’s worth it.

Maximize The Full Carry On(s) Rules

When you travel, there are many rules you’re forced to play by, but use them to your advantage. People forget to put effort into their “small personal item”, which is allowed in addition to a carry on bag. This is where you can put your iPad, headphones, snacks and change of outfit for the plane, leaving your main carry on as the workhorse for wardrobe.

By shifting (and rolling) a few items into something such as a backpack, in addition to a full sized carry on, you may be able to ditch the checked bag entirely, making travel both faster and cheaper. That’s a lot of upside. Don’t forget, each checked bag typically costs at least $50 round trip these days on economy airline tickets, so finding the bag combo that keeps you from ever paying checked luggage fees ever again is a great value.

Think What You Can Get When You Get There

There’s hardly a hotel worth staying at which doesn’t offer complimentary shampoo, soap and other things which take up space. Whenever possible, think about what toiletries or basics you can easily get at your destination for free, or with a quick trip to the pharmacy. If it’s the difference in paying $50 for a checked bag and paying $10 at the local pharmacy for a few goods, it’s not hard to figure out the smarter play.

But don’t stop there, many hotels now provide loaner work out gear and other practical travel conveniences, even including shoes. Never miss an opportunity to leave something behind, if you can easily acquire it where you need to be. Best way to find out? Email your hotel, Airbnb or host in advance, or pick up the phone and call the property.

Actually Use Those Packing Straps For Once

Any great piece of luggage has straps inside. They’re not designed to make packing any more miserable, or create additional hurdles for you to climb through, they are there to compress your stuff down, taking a big pile and making it smaller. Un toggle them, pull them to either side of the bit you’re about to pack, and once you’ve got everything in – latch and pull.

Visual: both ends of the straps outside of the area you’re going to pack. Then latch over your clothes and yank. It’s actually amazing how much more you can pack if you give these compression gems a good yank. Just don’t pull your back out, or the pool might be less enjoyable.

Now go practice. What’s your best packing tip?

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