1. Try Bundle Packing
For the best way to pack your clothes for maximum space and minimum wrinkles, try bundle packing. Bundle packing involves wrapping clothing around a core, such as a dopp kit or a rolled up pair of socks. It’s more space efficient and clothing-friendly than folding and stacking clothes, or even rolling.
2. Use Every Bit of Space
Pack larger bundled items first, saving heavier items like jeans and thick sweaters for the bottom of the suitcase. Save small items like socks and undergarments for last–after the major pieces are in, stuff them into every spare crevice: inside the hollows of your shoes and in the corners of your packed suitcase.
3. Remember the Liquid Rules
Make sure your containers with liquids or gels are all under 3 ounces, and that they all fit into a 1-quart clear plastic zip-top bag. Pack the bag toward the top of your carry-on because you may have to take it out and put it through the security scanner separately.
4. Bring the Tools
Although the TSA doesn’t allow items like knives or sharp scissors, know what you are allowed to bring. Safety razors like disposable razors are allowed, as are tweezers, knitting needles, nail clippers, and blunt or super-short scissors.
5. Limit Yourself to 2 Pair of Shoes
Shoes take up space, so pack ones that multitask, and limit yourself to a practical pair and a dressier pair. Comfortable flats with a bit of dressier detail are ideal suitcase companions because they are light, take up little space, and can multitask for anything from walking around to going out to dinner. If you’re going somewhere warm, nice flat sandals can be your multi-tasker; if you’re going somewhere colder, low-heeled boots work well. Place them in dust bags or plastic bags so they don’t dirty the rest of your belongings.
6. Let Yourself Recharge
Don’t forget chargers for your phone, music player, camera, and connector cables in case you’d like to upload anything to your computer. Tuck chargers into the outside pocket of your suitcase, for easy access.
7. Seperate Out Personal Items
You’re allowed one true carry-on bag, plus one personal item like a backpack or purse. Think about which items you’ll want to have on hand during your trip, and which ones you’re okay putting away in an overhead bin. In your purse: Wallet, cell phone, iPod, books and magazines or digital reader, a bottle of water, lotion and lip balm for the dry cabin air, gum for takeoff and landing, and ear plugs in case you get placed next to a screaming baby.
8. Choose Your Luggage Wisely
Although some airlines allow slightly larger carry-on bags, you should be safe across the board with a bag that’s 22” x 14” x 9”. Remember that adding a lot of stuff to external pockets can add extra girth, which might get your bag rejected when it’s time to board. Leave a little extra room in your purse or backpack so that if your bag won’t fit into the test luggage sizer, you can move around some surplus belongings.
9. Pack Yourself
Include what you’ll be wearing as part of your packing list. Before you start packing, list out everything you’ll take, so you don’t over-pack too many “just in cases” in the end. If you’re having trouble fitting everything into your luggage, choose to wear some of the bulkier items like boots or jackets.