Globetrotters know how to make the most of their little closets-on-wheels. Here are some tricks to help you maximize space and pack like a pro.
- Do laundry a few days early so everything will be clean and ready for action. Have button-down shirts professionally laundered, pressed, and bagged at the dry cleaner so you can just pop them in your suitcase.
- Start your packing list a week before you leave. Begin early so that you can add items as you think of them and keep an inventory list should the bag go missing.
- When selecting your wardrobe, think coordinating solids, wrinkle-resistant microfibers (Lycra, nylon, spandex, and Tencel), and versatile shoes. Also remember that light-colored fabrics show stains, but they are cooler than dark clothes.
- To avoid wrinkles, roll or wrap clothes in tissue paper or lay clothes in the suitcase on their hangers and in plastic dry cleaners bags. Roll -- don't fold! -- wrinkle-happy clothes and pack tightly to minimize wrinkles.
- Avoid taking shoes or clothes you've never worn before.
- Stuff socks and underwear in shoes or purses to help these items keep their shapes.
- Pack an extra bag. If you have a luggage set, pack everything inside the second-largest bag, then put that bag inside the largest bag. When you arrive, feel free to stock up on souvenirs and duty-free goods -- you have an extra bag to carry it all home in! Or, pack an empty duffel to fill with take-home goodies.
- Bring items that do double duty: a hair dryer with a curling iron attachment, an alarm clock and radio, a calculator and translation guide.
- When you've stuffed your bag to the max, zip it up and tap it on the floor a few times to make extra room.
- Don't overstuff! Suitcase zippers may bust en route, or you could exceed airline weight limitations and have to cough up extra dough at the ticket counter.
- Unfurl belts and wrap them around the inside of your suitcase.
- Share bathroom basics (toothpaste, shampoo, and so on).
- Double-bag liquids (air pressure at 30,000 feet can wreak havoc on bottles and tubes).
- Pack a suitcase like you would a grocery bag -- heavy items on bottom, lighter ones on top.
- Pack all your valuables, one change of clothes, non-perishable snacks, a small bottle of water, and your minimum toiletry needs (at least your toothbrushes and toothpaste) in your carry-on in case your luggage gets delayed.
- As soon as you arrive, unpack and hang up your clothes.