Packing sounds easy, but frequent travelers can attest to the fact that it’s a lot harder than it seems. How many times have you gone on a trip, thinking you packed everything you needed, only to find out you left something at home and have to buy it again at a Walmart or local drugstore? If you pack efficiently enough, however, the likelihood of leaving things behind goes down, as does the number of items you end up trying to cram into your suitcase. Follow these tips to do just that:

 

Buy a hard-sided suitcase

The bigger something is, the more you can fit into it. Likewise, the more flexible the container, the more you can fit into it. If you have a large, fabricated suitcase, the probability of overpacking increases drastically because of all that extra space. To avoid that, opt for a hard-lined suitcase no more than 22 inches tall, so you have enough room for what you need and not nearly enough room to cram anything extra into it. 

 

Think Tetris

Everyone knows Tetris: the block game where you need to fill every spot on the provided grid with blocks. Envision your suitcase as the Tetris grid, and your clothing as the blocks and get to work filling in every inch of available space. Stuff your socks into your shoes, and place your shoes heel-to-toe, wrapped in plastic bags to keep away dirt, at the bottom of your suitcase. When it comes to packing your clothes, fold them in a way that suits you—some use the rolling technique, some use packing cubes, and some use the bundle technique. All of them help you save space. 

 

Lay out what you think you need, then edit

Get out of the habit of packing things on the off-chance that you’ll need it, because more likely than not that won’t be the case. Lay everything you think you’ll need out on your bed and go through it all, making a pile of what you actually need to bring and what you’ll survive without. If you need something after all, you can buy it when you get to your destination.

 

Never unpack your toiletries

Keeping your toiletries packed away together will help prevent the possibility of forgetting something, such as a toothbrush or toothpaste. Not unpacking them will also keep everything in one place, so all you need to do is set your toiletry bag into your suitcase after the rest of your items are packed. Wrap items that might leak in a plastic bag, and to save space in that bag, consider getting all-in-one items such as shampoo and conditioner.