PACKING ADVICE

Be a Packing Genius: Step-by-Step Photos

Think packing everything you need for your trip into one small bag is impossible? Think again. Use this simple step-by-step guide (using readers' best tips) and you may even have room left over.

  1. With baggage fees on the rise, traveling by carry-on is the smartest way to go. But how to cram a weekend's worth of clothing (for two people!) into one tiny bag? We assembled readers' top tips to find out. The rolling, shoe stuffing, and rubber banding starts here!

    (Michael Mohr)
  2. But before we begin…here's the worst-case scenario: We tried to pack without the help of reader tips. That bag? Not going to close.

    (Michael Mohr)
  3. First, gather all the items you want to pack in one place. "Pick two to three colors to plan your outfits around so you can mix and match easily while on the road," reader Ivana Rix suggests. We went with a mostly warm palette of oranges and reds.

    (Michael Mohr)
  4. Rolled clothes are less likely to wrinkle. Reader Andrew Doukas adds: "Natural fibers like cotton are heavier and take longer to dry. So pack clothes made from wrinkle-free synthetic fibers." Fold all clothes in half first and then roll tightly, as we do here.

    (Michael Mohr)
  5. A handy tip from Amy Zimmer: "Sarongs are the most underrated packable in the history of man. They can be used as beach towels, regular towels, sheets, skirts, shower wraps, makeshift bags, etc. I never travel without one." Neither do we. Amy also loves taking along a little black dress—it can be dressed up or down easily.

    (Michael Mohr)
  6. One plus about rolling clothes? It will create a flat surface in your suitcase (thanks to reader Inga Carmack for pointing that out!). Once the first layer is in, it's time to start adding the other items.

    (Michael Mohr)
  7. "Use your shoes as packing cubes," recommends reader Ilana Berner. Slip in your socks, underwear, chargers for electronics, and even a travel alarm clock.

    (Michael Mohr)
  8. Believe it or not, every single item from the previous slide is inside these shoes!

    (Michael Mohr)
  9. Another common packing conundrum is how to wrangle the cords from electronic devices and their chargers. We are stumped…

    (Michael Mohr)
  10. …until we remember what reader Betty Thesky suggests: Use a rubber band to bundle each cord into a tidy, transportable package. (No rubber bands? Twist-ties work great, too.) For more household items that solve packing conundrums, check out our full story here.

    (Michael Mohr)
  11. Save space by choosing a good-looking jewelry pouch that can pass for a purse, says reader Phebe Schwartz (we picked up this bag from a Duane Reade drugstore for $10—not bad). Naturally, you can also fit cosmetics or other personal items inside.

    (Michael Mohr)
  12. Here we put the finishing touches on the second layer, which includes toiletries. Position heavy items—like shoes—close to the wheels of your suitcase, reader Ivana Rix instructs, explaining, "This will keep your bag from toppling over when it's upright."

    (Michael Mohr)
  13. Add all-weather items, like a poncho and hats, on the top layer of the bag, in case you need them right away. A poncho can also protect what's inside your suitcase from the rain. We have so much room left over from using reader tips that we can even add a thick guidebook.

    (Michael Mohr)
  14. Vacation, here we come! Have a tip we missed? Share it with us at tips@budgettravel.com.

    (Michael Mohr)

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