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How to Make Your 3-Day Bag Fit 7 Days

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We’ve all been there. You get a friend, spouse, or significant other to sit on your overhead-compartment-friendly bag while you try desperately to pull the zipper closed, only to abandon said bag and opt for the larger model that will hold all of your must-haves. You then arrive at the airport and pay to check your ridiculously dense bag and later grumble as you check it for the return trip, knowing that about half of the items inside went untouched, wondering why on earth you thought needed five pairs of shoes for a three-day trip.
 
Great packing can be boiled down to two factors: packing the right items and packing them in the right way. Chances are, you can get a lot more mileage (frequent flier or otherwise) from your smaller bag and can fit more items inside of it with these helpful packing pointers.
 
Planning what to pack

  • Re-wear all but under-wear. Definitely pack a clean pair of socks and underwear for every day you will be gone, but plan to re-wear your other items. For example, you can wear the same travel outfit on your return trip, and, barring unexpected spills, you can re-wear jeans and other pants at least once. If you plan to layer shirts over tank tops or undershirts, you can swap out the under layer and re-wear each top shirt at least once. And you should need no more than two pairs of casual shoes (counting the one you travel in) and one formal pair.

  • Travel-size your toiletries. Take the time to transfer your toiletries into travel-size containers, or buy travel-sized versions. Bulky bottles of hair products, shaving cream, soaps and lotions take up tons of room and add lots of weight to the bag. And, it can cost you—you must check your bag if it contains liquids in sizes greater than three ounces each.

  • What weather? Make sure you have appropriate gear for temperatures and rain, but keep it minimal and smart. Sometimes a small umbrella takes up less space than a rain jacket, for example.

 
Packing method

  • Stop, fold, and roll. Rolled items take up much less space, so use this method for anything that is wrinkle-resistant (knits, cottons) or items that can get a little wrinkled. For items that wrinkle easily and for your more formal items, fold them neatly and place them on top.

  • Work from the bottom up. Stuff socks and undergarments into your shoes, and place the shoes at the bottom of the suitcase (along with any undergarments that wouldn’t fit inside them). Next, place your heavier rolled items, followed by your lighter rolled items. If you have anything fragile, you can place it between the two rolled layers for some padding. The top layer should be your folded items, with your toiletry case and any other items (belts, curling iron, etc.) tucked around wherever they fit.

 
International travel

  • The space-utilizing tips above will serve you well no matter the destination, but there are some additional things to consider when you travel internationally. You need to pack in a way that ensures your valuables are safe and your personal items are secure. Here are some tips for packing for international travel:

     

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    How to Pack from AAA Public Affairs on Vimeo.

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