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9 Tips for Mastering the Art of Packing Light

One way to de-stress on vacation? Travel as light as possible. Simply put, less baggage means less to worry about. I know; I know. It always sounds like a good idea until you actually start packing. Then we go all Mary Poppins on our suitcases. Yes, I do need five more pairs of jeans just in case I spill food on every single one. Yes, I do need six extra T-shirts and every hair product I own. “I need options,” we tell ourselves. But think about it this way: The fewer options you have, the fewer decisions you have to make, the easier it is to de-stress.

Not to mention, the less stuff you bring with you on vacation, the more room you’ll have to bring back things you pick up along your travels.

So here are some secrets to packing lighter.

1. It’s all about the roll

I do solemnly swear that rolling your clothes instead of folding them is a huge space-saver. You’ll be able to fit more into a smaller suitcase.

More: 11 reasons you should travel more this year

2. Shoes are valuable storage space

Don’t let any nook or cranny go to waste. Need some jewelry to match your vacate outfits? Pack it in your shoes, trust me. Filling your shoes with clothes and other items will help keep their shape while squished into your suitcase.

3. Plan your outfits for each day you’re gone

Before you pack, lay out an outfit for each day to cut down on the chance you’ll pack more than you need. (Hint: You always pack more than you need. So, underestimate.) It’s simple, but much more effective than just guessing and throwing a bunch of random stuff in a bag. I’ll take this, and this, and this, and this —we’ve all been there and it never ends well.

4. Repurpose your bottoms

Maximize space by doubling up on how many days you wear your pants, skirts and other bottoms. The more outfits you can make from the least amount of clothes, the better (i.e., three shirts for one pair of jeans). It’s like outfit math.

More: How to ruin your vacation with one swipe on your iPhone

5. Hit up the sample-size aisle… after you get to your destination

If you can, plan on buying mini toiletries once you get to your destination that you can also recycle when you’re done. That way, you don’t have to travel with bulky bottles of lotion or hairspray cans either direction.

6. Suck it up and use the hotel hair dryer

Not ideal, but think of it this way: You’ll be able to do more shopping because you’ll actually have room in your suitcase to bring it home with you. Not a bad deal, right?

7. Pack 20 percent fun, 80 percent basic

Now is not the time to experiment with new styles and fashion trends. Stick to simple clothes you know you like and that are versatile. You can bring one or two funkier, more vibrant shirts if you must, but it’s OK to be basic for the sake of your suitcase. The simpler everything is and the more it all matches, the simpler the outfit math gets.

More: 14 travel destinations that will change the way you see the world

8. Exercise your right to do laundry

It’s easy when you’re staying with a friend or family member, but if you’re staying at hotels or taking a cruise, call ahead and get the details on their laundry service.

9. Wear your bulkiest shoes on the plane

It’s easier to pack slim ballet flats and sandals in your bag, but boots and tennis shoes take up more space. Wear the bigger shoe so you don’t have to pack it. But again, aim to pack only a couple of pairs of shoes that can be worn with multiple outfits (outfit math, remember?).

Image: Gabriela Arellano/SheKnows

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