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Pro Packer: Best Way to Pack a Suitcase

We heard you just booked your next flight—how exciting! Now it’s time to pack…not so exciting. Macy’s is here to help make the usual packing experience not so stressful with an ultimate step-by-step guide for packing your suitcase.

Even if you already think packing is simple, we want to make it even simpler for you by providing general guidelines, tips and tricks—AKA packing life hacks. If you follow these steps and pro packing tips, you’ll become a pro packer in no time. Trust us, when you know how to pack a suitcase, you are so ready for your vacation to start that you literally strut to the airport. Bring on the packing!

10 Steps for a Perfectly Packed Suitcase:

1. Start with Size. The first thing you’ll want to consider when you begin to pack your suitcase is its size. Understand your limitations! If you’re traveling by car and have the space, then pack as much as desired. But if you’re traveling by air, it’s definitely worth looking into the airline’s luggage size and weight restrictions to avoid those last-minute surprises when checking in to the airport.

2. Check the Weather. Have you ever made it to your destination only to realize you’ve forgotten your raincoat or rainboots? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Even though no weather forecast is 100 percent accurate, having a general idea of what the weather will be like during your trip can help you decide on the clothes and accessories you should pack. And let’s face it—the right travel clothes for women are very important!

3. Check Your Itinerary. Are you packing a suitcase for a business trip or vacation? The best way to pack a suitcase is to know exactly what you’ll be doing. It’s not only important to pack for what you’re definitely doing, but also for spontaneous events that might pop up with.

4. Create an Essentials List. Make a packing list. These are perfect for travelers with type-A personalities—you know who you are and we’re right there with you! This master list of everything you need for each day should include all the basics and your personal must-haves. Keep this list handy so you can re-use it for your next trip.

5. Count Your Clothes. If you need to streamline your travel clothes, use the 5-4-3-2-1 rule for a week-long vacay. Pack no more than five sets of socks and underwear, four tops, three bottoms, two pairs of shoes and one accessory. Adjust according to your needs: throw in a jacket or dress and swimsuit or exercise gear if you’ll need them. Don’t forget to mix and match—these don’t need to be full outfits. Choose a basic color scheme and stick with it, then throw in accent clothing pieces for some fashion fun.

6. Save Space for Shoes. If you’re packing light, stick to the 5-4-3-2-1 rule. However, if you have a bit more room, pack that extra pair of shoes. A good rule of thumb would be to take a comfortable pair for walking and two dressy options for evenings. Life hack—wear the biggest pair while traveling. TADA! You’ll automatically have another pair at your destination.

7. Toiletries, Too. You should definitely pack your toiletries and cosmetics in a separate toiletry kit made for traveling. This could be your go-to travel toiletry bag that you’ll never have to unpack. Store it in the corner of a cabinet or drawer for easy access when packing for your next trip. Toiletry bags should be placed within easy reach (especially liquids) and on top of your suitcase in a clear bag, so you’re prepared for TSA inspection.

8. Necessary Accessories. You can’t complete an outfit without the accessories and if there is one area where you can pack a few outstanding items in, this is it. Accessories are typically small or lightweight, such as jewelry, scarves and hats. You can wear the basics to travel in, then sneak a few extras into your bag. Those brand-new sparkly fashion earrings? Check. Chic straw hat. Double check. Do the same with purses. Travel with one, which can double as your personal item and then pack one or two smaller options that can easily slip into your suitcase.

9. It’s All About the Order. Once you know what you’re going to pack and how much of each, be tactical about the order in which you place items into the suitcase. For example, put heavier items (like shoes) toward the base of the suitcase near the wheels to help prevent the case from tipping over. Then fill it with your clothes and other soft accessories.

10. Use All Available Space. This may seem obvious, but the key to efficient packing is making sure that no valuable space goes unused. This means flattening scarves and belts along the perimeter and packing shoes toe-to-heel. You can even stuff shoes with socks or sunglasses to make space for those “only if I have extra room” items. But even if you have the space, go back to your original vacation packing list—do you really need it? The less you pack, the less you have to unpack!

Keep reading for some fun, pro packing quick tips!

Get Packing with 8 Pro Packing Tips:

1. Get Rolling. Maximize the space in your suitcase by rolling your clothes.

2. Bring Your Sole Mates. Place shoes in small bags to prevent dirt from the soles from getting on your clothes.

3. Keep It Sealed. Zip-top storage bags are great for storing toiletry items that may leak. They also keep small items in place within your luggage. Shop luggage with wet pockets available to store toiletries or wet bathing suits

4. Use Your Scents. One sheet of fabric softener goes a long way in keeping your packed clothing smelling fresh.

5. Safe Travels. Place delicate souvenirs and travel accessories in between clothing to prevent them from breaking. Plus, use a luggage scale to abide by airline weight requirements.

6. Don't Air Your Dirty Laundry. Pack empty plastic bags for storing worn clothing.

7. Hold on to Your Memories. Pack a lightweight duffel bag so you have extra space for souvenirs.

8. Accessorize. Use travel accessories to add the perfect touch to your travels. Packing cubes are perfect for organizing.