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Travel Five tips for efficiently packing your suitcase

Woman trying to fit all clothing to packing her red suitcase before vacation

IndypendenZ/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

To the left

Assuming your suitcase has two halves of roughly equal depth, the left side will likely feature a zippered cover; this is where you want to pack your hard, bulky items. Fill it up with things such as your shoes (more on this later), toiletries, books, purses and electronics. Put heaviest items at the bottom, so it’s not top-heavy and prone to tipping.

The right stuff

This is where squishy things – i.e. your clothes – go. In most luggage models, this side features adjustable straps, possibly fitting over a cover. Once everything is in, yank those compression straps tight. Yes, that’s how you’re meant to use them. You’d be surprised at what a difference it makes.

Building blocks

Using packing cubes is most effective when you need to cram a lot in your bag – otherwise they just add extra material. Also, they need to be the correct size (you should be able to fit at least three in the right side) and be of high quality. One added benefit: In a small hotel room sans drawers, you can unpack and still stay organized.

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To roll or to fold?

The honest answer is … there is no right answer. Most frequent flyers do a combination of both. Rolling is often the default (particularly when using cubes), but sometimes it simply makes more sense to fold and/or lay flat (a bulky sweater; a suit jacket; material prone to wrinkling). If you want to get fancy try the Marie Kondo folding technique.

Step by step

Due to their awkward shape, make shoes the first items you place in the left-hand side. For flats, keep the soles along the side, around the perimeter of the bag. (Stash socks or other small items inside.) For heels, try placing them beside each other in opposite directions, heel to toe.

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