1. Zip it up. Put your (TSA-approved) liquids in travel-size bottles and then pack them in a re-sealable plastic bag to prevent a messy suitcase spill. Since many airports require you to unpack liquids from your carry-on, this method has the added benefit of helping you move more efficiently and quickly through security.
2. Save space. To maximize the real estate in your bag, store smaller belongings inside of larger ones. For example, the inside of your hiking boots offer a nice home for cellphone chargers, adapters and other gadgets.
3. Shower caps as shoe bags. Protect clean items in your suitcase from the soles of well-trekked shoes by employing shower caps (they’re part of the free vanity set in many resort rooms). The elastic bands allow them to wrap around footwear, and they take up less room than your typical shoe bag.
4. Pill organizers are multi-purpose. There’s no need for a bulky jewelry organizer. Plastic day-of-the-week pill holders are the antidote for tangled chains and lost earrings. Place small jewelry, such as delicate necklaces, rings and studs, in the holder’s individual compartments. To protect bigger pieces that won’t fit, bundle them in plastic wrap.
5. Roll or fold? Both packing methods have a time and place. If you’re bringing a duffle or tote, rolling works wonders with t-shirts and jeans. Folding comes in handy when you’re toting a structured suitcase and packing wrinkle-prone or tailored clothing, such as dress shirts, woven skirts and trousers. Remember to choose your clothing options wisely: pick blends containing nylon or elastane (they resist wrinkling). Also, textures or busy prints and patterns helps conceal fold marks.
6. Split your belongings. If you’re flying with another person, consider packing half of your items in your bag and the other half in your companion’s bag, and vice versa. If your luggage gets lost en route, you will still have enough clothing and essentials to get by without it spoiling your vacation.
7. Pack less. Yes, you are reading that right. If you are staying in a unit with a washer/dryer, you have the luxury of doing a load or two (or more if you’d like!) of laundry while you are on vacation. Bonus: if you are flying and can fit everything into a carry-on, you won’t have to pay the baggage fee.
8. Toss it out. To make extra room in your suitcase for souvenirs, pack shampoo bottles and other toiletries that are almost empty. These can be used up during your vacation and tossed before you leave. If you have clothes or books you no longer want by the end of your trip, ask if there are any local charities where you can donate them.
9. Heavier items go close to the wheels. It can be frustrating when your suitcase keeps toppling over, especially when you’re rushing to make a connection. Remedy this by packing items strategically: Heavy pieces, such as shoes, should sit closer to the wheels. A bottom-heavy rolling suitcase is less likely to tip.