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Thirteen Expert Tips to Packing the Perfect Suitcase

If you're planning a trip, you're probably wondering what to pack and how to fit it all in. Here are tips from an expert packer on how to make packing easy, effortless and always have everything you need.

1. Make a Plan

Start with your notebook, not your closet. Fashion and style consultant Kelly Flores-New says the first thing you should do before even pulling out a suitcase is to make a plan on paper. Chart out your days, your activities, a list of essentials, and after you've packed, take that paper with you. You won't forget which outfit you were going to wear on which day.

2. Pick a Color Palette

Pick out your clothes in one neutral color palette. Pack a pair of pants, shorts, capri pants, leggings, etc. all in the same color. It'll make mixing and matching tops much easier. Your accessories will change the outfits so it doesn't look like you're wearing the same thing each day.

3. Choose Fabrics that Travel Well

Pick fabrics that don't wrinkle. Kelly says to grab and squeeze a handful of the fabric. If it wrinkles in your hand, it'll wrinkle in your suitcase.

4. Get the Big Picture

Lay out everything on a table or bed where you can see it before putting it in the suitcase. It'll allow you the opportunity to edit your wardrobe and make sure you have what you need. Do not put things in your suitcase piece by piece. Use this time to lay out your other supplies - cell phone chargers, reading glasses, contact solution.

5. Pack Toiletries to Go

Have a bag of mini toiletries ready to go at all times. If you use something, replace it before you even plan your next trip. It'll make packing at the last minute less stressful.

Put your toiletries in last so that if you have to pull them out for security, they're easy to access, and you won't hold up the line.

6. Make Space for Laundry

Use a plastic grocery bag for your laundry, but keep a dryer sheet in the bag to keep your suitcase smelling fresh.

7. Separate Your Jewelry

Put your jewelry in individual small bags and put all the bags together in a larger back in an accessible place in your suitcase. If you have to check your bag last minute, you can pull your jewelry out and put it in your handbag.

8. Bag Your Shoes

To keep them from snagging or dirtying your clothes, separate your shoes by putting each pair in a cloth bag.

9. Keep Important Documents Close at Hand

Get a zippered pocket case and put all your important documents inside - receipts, directions, confirmations, tickets. Keep this case in a easy-to-reach location, like in a zippered pocket in the front of your suitcase.

10. Pick the Right Suitcase Size

Suitcase size is key! Make sure it's not too big or too small or your clothes will wrinkle. If you need extra space to bring items home, pack a foldable tote in your suitcase.

When putting items in your suitcase, don't waste an inch of space and stack things from one side to the other keeping everything level as you go. If you're worried that you need extra room for anything you might buy, put a tote bag or reusable shopping bag inside your suitcase to carry back anything you purchased on vacation.

11. Identify Your Suitcase

Kelly always puts a piece of paper in her suitcase with her name, telephone number and email address in large print so that the airline can identify who it belongs to in case it gets lost and know how to contact her.

12. Packing the Perfect Suitcase from the Bottom-Up To use every inch of space, start by putting soft items down at the bottom, in between the ridges created by the handle. Then, layer your jeans on top, folded just once. If you're taking more than one pair of jeans, place the second pair with the waistband at the opposite end of the first, so you don't create a lopsided suitcase.

As you go, keep building and layering, trying to keep everything level. Should you fold or roll? Kelly says do both. She folds most items but rolls smaller, soft items to tuck into unused space.

The last item to pack? Your jean jacket. Turn one shoulder inside out and fold the other right-side-out shoulder over it. Then flatten out the collar and fold it into thirds.

13. How to Pack Tough Fabrics

Want to pack something made of linen or another easy-to-wrinkle fabric, Kelly has a trick. Put the item on a hanger and put a dry cleaning bag over it. The bag creates little air and reduce friction, reducing wrinkles. Fold it in thirds and shake it out when you arrive.

For more from Kelly, visit KellyStyle.com.

Special thanks to Leslie and Co. Boutique. Contact them at (713) 960-9113.
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