Style

The trick that will double your suitcase space & 9 more travel tips

Dec. 20, 2013 at 12:16 PM ET

packing light: packing light tips, packing light travel
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packing light: packing light tips, packing light travel

In the era of steerage-style air travel and crazy bag-checking fees, it’s time to get serious about packing efficiently. Here are 10 ways to do it while still looking like the pulled-together goddess that you are when you arrive at your destination.

Roll Your Clothes

It may seem counter-intuitive, but folding clothes the way you typically would in a dresser is a bigger space suck than rolling. Roll tightly, in the same way you would roll up a yoga mat after a workout. If done carefully you can cut the space your clothes take up by half. This method resists wrinkling too. Score!

Bring Only One Pair of Jeans

Denim lovers out there may regard this as blasphemy, but: You only need one pair of jeans! Pick a pair that’s skinny enough to look pulled together, but not so tight as to be uncomfortable on a plane. And select a dark wash that you can wear for casual walks around your destination, or dress up with a blouse and accessories.

Pick a Color Theme and Pre-Plan Outfits

It’s tempting to throw all your favorite pieces into your suitcase and assume you’ll put together a few great looks on the other end. But it doesn’t always—ahem, ever—work that way. Make thoughtful choices in advance along a color theme, laying out versatile pieces that you can combine into multiple outfits you’ve pre-planned. This will help you ditch those purple pumps that match with nothing but seemed like such a good idea before you found yourself lugging them around multiple airports with jetlag and a not-cute scowl.

Headed to a Hotel? Ditch the Hairdryer

If your destination is a hotel, you can call ahead (or check online) to confirm there’ll be a hairdryer in your room—and then save space by ditching your own. (After years of personal experience and experimentation, I feel compelled to add this caveat: We curly-haired girls know our diffuser attachments don’t tend to fit on the travel-sized dryers often found in hotel rooms, so use your judgment.)

Tuck Underthings Into Shoes

Maybe in your college days, you found occasions to stash a pair of clean panties somewhere hidden just in case you got lucky. (Hey, we don’t judge!) Channel that girl by tucking underthings like panties and socks anywhere you see a pocket of extra room in your suitcase—like the toes of shoes—and save a bit of precious space.

Compress Your Bulky Clothes

Airlines often charge extra per piece of luggage—so make a single bag count by stuffing as much into it as you can without exceeding the weight limit. For a small investment, you can buy a compression sack that will help you squeeze the air out of bulky items—especially useful for travel to a cold-weather destination.

Stick to One Evening Bag

This is another controversial one—but hear me out, ladies. We love our evening bags, but they can be not only bulky but also delicate and prone to damage when we cram them into overstuffed luggage. So try to stick to a single going-out bag—perhaps a clutch in a metallic tone that can go with black, brown, blue, or just about anything. If you select a tone other than silver or gold—say, bronze—it will be more likely to go with an array or jewelry and accessory options. Make sure it complements the pair of going-out shoes you’ve packed (and stuffed with undies!) too.

Bring an Array of Scarves

Scarves pack small and light, and they can really add variety to outfits you repeat. Pack a few wrinkle-resistant, brightly colored pieces that will pack a punch when tied around your neck, bag, shoulders, or even in your hair. A scarf can also be a great place to rest your head in an airplane seat—or even cover your eyes when you want to get some shut-eye in flight.

Streamline Your Beauty Regimen

Sure, your makeup case at home might contain enough to fill your entire carry-on bag if you let it—but don’t. Streamline your regimen by trying, say, a multi-tasking product that works for lips, cheeks and eyes. In addition to lightening your load, you’ll find the revamped approach allows you more time to get out there and explore your destination!

Wear Your Coat or Jacket on the Plane

In these days of massively inflated prices for checked baggage, outsmart the system by wearing some of your bulkier pieces—like coats and boots—instead of packing them. And if you get cold on planes, your cozy topper will keep you more comfy than a paper-thin airline blanket maintained with dubious hygiene practices.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.

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