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It’s been exactly 64 days since my husband and I parted with our bright little beach cottage in Southern California. That’s exactly 64 days now that I have been living out of a suitcase while we wait to settle into our new home. Whether you’re preparing to go through a military PCS (as I currently am), or you’re just an indecisive over-packer (which I also am), try these 11 most efficient ways to pack your suitcase to save yourself some time and hassle.

1. Dryer sheets 

Toss a few dryer sheets in the corners of your suitcase to keep your clothes smelling fresh and clean. During your trip you can also use them as a “frizz-ease” for your hair or rub them on your skin to keep mosquitos away!

2. Wear your heaviest items

My sister recently gave me a pair of Doc Marten boots that I absolutely LOVE. The problem is they’re super heavy and I’d rather save that extra weight in my suitcase for my clothes. I’ve decided to wear them the day of my flight. Yes, I’ll be flying in 80 degree weather-I don’t care! It’s usually freezing on the plane anyway.

3. Pre-plan your outfits, or at least separate by category

Okay, so ideally it’s best if you plan your outfits for each day ahead of time and stuff them into large Ziploc bags but as we all know, sometimes that can be twice the headache and really only doable for shorter trips. Your other option is to group your clothes by category. It may seem like common sense, but many times we make the mistake of throwing it all in there anyway that it will fit. In this case it takes more time and creates a huge mess when we have to unpack the entire suitcase just to find that one cardigan you want to bring to dinner. Using large Ziploc bags or even just placing all dresses together, all long sleeves together etc. makes it quick and easy to grab and go.

4. Roll clothes (short-term) 

Rolling up your clothes is the number 1 way to fit the most possible into your suitcase. However, if you plan on using your suitcase as a temporary closet like I am, this probably isn’t your best bet because things will be a bit harder to find.

5. File method (long-term) 

This is the best way to both maximize space and stay organized for a longer period of time. You’ll get almost as much use of space as you would if you use the roll up method and you’ll be able to see exactly what you have.

6. Proper placement

Regardless of the method you use when packing up your suitcase you always want to keep your favorite pair of jeans or your go-to tees on top. If you typically have three or four favorite pieces that you wear on rotation and you’ve brought them on your trip, you want to be able to access them easily while still making some effort to keep the rest of your luggage organized. Don’t feel bad if you don’t wear everything you packed.

7. Worry and wrinkle-free

If you’re worried about keeping your clothes wrinkle free, you can always bring along an anti-wrinkle spray (assuming where you’re going doesn’t have an iron) …but if for some reason the night you’re packing you realize you’re fresh out, you have three other options. The first is to pack up a hanger. Each time you shower hang your garment on the shower rod and let the steam do the de-wrinkling. The second is to use your blow dryer, and the third is too use a flat iron. Hopefully, you don’t have to result to one of your last options, but if you do, just make sure to hold your clothing about an inch away so it doesn’t burn!

8. Not-so perfect packing list

The best way to return home with everything you left with is to make a packing list. Write down every item you put in your suitcase before your trip. At the end of your trip you can refer back to the list to make sure everything you took out goes back in. My problem with this is that I have 3 older sisters and every time I come back from a visit I have traded off a good portion of my stuff and gone shopping like a maniac. So, for me, a packing list it isn’t always realistic or practical. Instead, throughout my trip I use my phone to jot down my most ESSENTIAL items that I take out of my suitcase or purse. If I’m out to dinner and realize I left my watch on the kitchen counter or my phone charger behind the TV, I throw it on my memo right then and there.

9. Snack bags save the day

As a professional organizer I always carry snack bags on me. I use them for separating almost everything including baby clothes, hardware, etc. When packing a suitcase they work great for storing bottles and tubes of liquid. Although, there are various methods of preventing a spill, the thought of not having my liquids completely separated from my clothes just in case makes me cringe. I also use them to keep my jewelry from getting tangled by placing one accessory per bag.

10. Bring a pillow case or an extra bag for dirty clothes

This should actually be the first thing you do because as obvious as it may seem, I ALWAYS forget this part!

11. Shower caps 

This one has become a Pinterest favorite! Place your shoes inside of a shower cap to keep the bottoms from rubbing on your clothes.

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