Every year, it seems like airline fees increase, especially for checked luggage. If you want to skip the fees and pack everything into a carry-on or two, you’ll need to plan carefully to make the most of this limited space.

Here are eight tips to help you fit everything you need for the perfect getaway into those small, overhead bins.

Ship Items Ahead

Did you know that you can ship items ahead to your destination? Even if you’re not staying with family and friends, hotels can receive packages for upcoming guests and are happy to store them for a couple of days until you arrive. This is an excellent way for families with children to have enough diapers on hand without packing them along. If you’re headed to a destination that requires lots of gear, like a ski trip, ship bulky items ahead of time to save space and money on the flight.

Use Vacuum Bags

Vacuum seal bags really do give you more space. It’s essential to plan your packing carefully if using vacuum bags so that you don’t have to seal and re-seal the bags multiple times before departure. Also, make sure that you have time on the other end to let any wrinkles fall out from the compression. Be aware that vacuum bags create lots of oddly-shaped packages since they conform precisely to what’s inside. Use those nooks and crannies you’ve created to pack other essentials, like a bag of jewelry or small toiletries.

Wear the Bulkiest Items

It may seem obvious, but many people don’t think to wear their bulkiest vacation items on the flight rather than pack them. Even if you don’t need your sneakers and coat on the plane, wearing them means you don’t have to find room in your luggage. You can always take off your jacket and put it under the seat or draped over your lap for the flight.

Photo: serezniy via 123RF

Plan to Do Laundry

If your trip lasts longer than a few days, plan to do laundry rather than pack different clothes for each day. Most hotels have laundry services available for a nominal fee, but finding a local laundromat can be even cheaper. If you’re worried about repeating outfits on a special trip, compromise and plan to launder skirts and pants but pack enough tops for the whole trip. Also, remember that accessories can completely change the look of an outfit and don’t take much room in your suitcase!

Check the Weather the Day Before

Over-packing occurs when travellers don’t want to be caught without weather-appropriate clothing and gear. While being prepared is important, it’s not essential to pack for all potential conditions. Check the weather at your destination the day before you leave. This will give you an accurate-enough picture of the trip to decide whether you truly need all those extra items.

Pack Inside Hidden Spaces

Taking advantage of the small, hidden spaces in your suitcase is one of the best ways to save space. Fill the insides of your shoes with socks, underwear, or other small items. Pack all your jewelry into a single box or bag rather than separate compartments. Belts and other awkward items can often go around the inside perimeter of your suitcase. In contrast, odd items like a hairbrush can easily squeeze in on top once you’ve stood the luggage upright and let everything sink to the bottom.

Roll, Don’t Fold

You don’t have to know why it works to believe that it does, but rolling your clothing takes up less space than folding! Shirts, pants, sweaters, and even undergarments can all be rolled to save space. They often end up with fewer wrinkles, too.

Skip All the Organizers

While organizing totes and pouches is tempting so that everything is easily accessible and in place, the extra bulk from these bags takes up quite a bit of room in your suitcase. Instead, try to use flat, thin bags to contain any liquids or powders that might spill, and pack everything else loose—some of the small, hidden spots are excellent for keeping jewelry, medication, and toiletries organized in your bag!

Try these tips next time you want to pack like the pros.

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