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9 Packing tips for traveling with bulky winter clothes

Getting geared up for your upcoming winter ski trip or getaway? Good for you.

But before you hit a single slope, you’ll need to figure out how to schlep all your bulkiest winter gear to your destination with as little hassle as possible. And with airline fees run amok for extra checked luggage, saving space is as economical as it is convenient.

Here are nine super space-saving tips for packing your bulkiest winter clothes.

1. Wear bulky pieces on the plane

Puffy, heavy jackets and heavy shoes should be worn on the plane to save as much space as possible for other items. Once you’re on the plane, it’s easy to squeeze a jacket in the overhead bin around other luggage. As a bonus, a nice, fluffy jacket doubles as a blanket or pillow while in flight.

2. Smart layers

Light layers are your friend when looking to save suitcase space and layers don’t come any lighter, or warmer, than thermal underwear. Other smart, and again light, layers like sweaters can be taken on or off or stuffed back in a bag easily. Pack plenty of cold-weather accessories like scarves, gloves and knee socks, which add warmth without a lot of bulk.

3. Roll, don’t fold

The best space-saving technique is to roll your clothes, rather than folding them. For even more space-saving power, lay smaller items on top of larger ones, then roll both items together. One 25-year veteran airline pilot says his number one packing tip is rolling his undershirts, underpants and socks into what he calls little “footballs”; that way, clean ones are easy to find and the day’s set is all together to make getting dressed in a weird city simple.

4. Space saving bags

If you really need to get you luggage slimmed down, you could consider investing in space saving bags that let you suck every bit of air out of your clothes until they’re flat as pancakes. There are lots of different brands on the market. There are also hacks you can use to make your own DIY space saving bags by either submerging the bag underwater to force out all of the air — which is potentially problematic for all sorts of reasons — or retrofitting an everyday plastic zip-seal bag to fit your vacuum hose.

5. Make use of every inch of space

Don’t let one single square centimeter of space go unutilized in a stuffed suitcase. Use the insides of your shoes to stow smaller items.

6. Rubber bands

Travel blogger Michael Tieso swears by rubber bands to get lots of bulky items into a small bag. “I use rubber bands to tie up each piece of clothing and use up the most space that’s available to me in my bag.” He says the rubber bands are way more useful than packing cubes.

7. Pack mix-and-match outfits

Pack clothing items that go together, so you don’t need as many extras. If all of your outfits are from the same or similar color families, you’ll only need an emergency extra sweater and pair of pants.

8. Unpack a few of those pants

No one is going to notice if you wear the same pair of jeans twice on your trip. If you really need to save space, pull a pair or two of bottoms from your bag.

9. Include multi-tasking wardrobe staples

There’s no need to pack three separate outfits to get you through one day’s worth of plans. Start with a basic outfit for daytime plans, and add heels, a blazer or sparkly jewelry to take things up a notch at night. Oh, and you know those comfy yoga pants you packed for that just-in-case lazy day at the hotel? There’s no reason those beauties can’t double up as PJs, right?

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More on smart packing

The secret to packing one suitcase for you and him
The well-dressed woman’s guide to packing a suitcase
7 Practical packing tips

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