How To Avoid Overpacking Your Suitcase, Because The Struggle Is Too Real

As much as I hate to admit it, packing can be a major struggle. My family and friends consider me to the be their resident packing expert whenever they need tips for a trip they're going on, and I'm always happy to help. But when it comes time for me to follow my own advice, I often come up short. I end up having to edit, then re-edit, all of my outfit decisions. Even though I still struggle at times, I think I've generally figured out how to avoid overpacking your suitcase.

Over time, I've started filtering out things like my fabric steamer and curling irons in favor of the hotel room hair dryers and iron, and I avoid packing an extra pair of shoes or jeans as much as possible. These omissions, along with little reminders to myself (like packing one less of something than I think I need), have helped me significantly reduce the amount of things I pack in my luggage on every trip. Packing the right way has seriously improved my stress level when I travel (which is great, because I travel often).

So, if you have trouble figuring out how to pack up your suitcase for your trips, try following these simple rules next time.

1. The Right Luggage Makes All The Difference

@kristincorpuz_

If you're trying to pack in just a carry-on for your trip, you definitely need to find the right suitcase for your needs. You want something that's durable and able to accommodate a lot of stuff without warping its shape. I usually recommend hard-sided luggage for this reason; if it closes, you'll be able to fit it into the overhead bin, no matter how much you stuffed it.

My top recommendations are currently the Away Bigger Carry-On and the BÉIS Carry-On Roller. What I love about these is that they have compression straps on one side and a zippered pocket on the other, so that all of your belongings can be flattened, and they stay in place no matter how much your bag gets knocked around.

2. Get Rid Of That Extra Pair Of Shoes

For me, shoes are always the most difficult thing to pack. They're bulky, oddly-shaped, and they take up a lot of room in your suitcase. Try to limit yourself to one of every type of shoe in neutral tones, so you're prepared for any occasion and any outfit.

I always bring a pair of sneakers (that can be used for both on-the-go workouts and active experiences), a pair of sandals, and a pair of heels, just in case. I usually wear a pair of hiking or combat boots on the plane so that they don't take up space in my bag.

3. You Can Probably Skip The Appliances And Hot Tools

Guille Faingold/Stocksy

Of all of the extra things I tend to travel with, the ones that have been phased out fall under the appliances and hot tools categories. I used to say that I absolutely would not travel without my fabric steamer, but now, I only bring it when I know I have an event. I also phased out my curling iron for the same reason.

Most hotels supply hair dryers and irons, and though those don't always work exactly how I want them to, the saved space in my luggage is totally worth it.

4. Don't Forget To Roll Your Clothes Or Invest In Packing Cubes

If you're still struggling with getting everything to fit, roll your clothes or buy packing cubes to compress your pieces and save some space. Rolling your clothes is an age-old trick — and it's free. Packing cubes are great if you have trouble keeping everything organized when you're packing; they allow you to separate your items by category and pack accordingly.

5. If You Have To Bring Outerwear, Carry It Onto The Plane

HOWL/Stocksy

Never — I repeat — never pack your outerwear. If you're headed somewhere cold and need to bring a jacket, do just that: bring a jacket. Just one. Then, carry that jacket onto the plane. Jackets are too bulky to try to stuff into your suitcase, and you'll want it as soon as you get off the plane, anyway. It also doubles as a blanket if you get cold on planes.

6. Whatever Things You Think You Need, Pack One Less

This tip is really helpful when I'm trying to edit myself. If you think you need to bring four pairs of jeans, pack three instead. I've found that a lot of the clothes I bring on trips often end up unworn, and I would have much rather had that space in my luggage for souvenirs or (maybe) that extra pair of shoes.

7. Don't Try To Overstuff Your Bag — If You Have To Sit On It, You've Gone Too Far

Ali Harper/Stocksy

If there's one thing I've learned in all of my travels, it's close to impossible to repack your bag as perfectly as you did the first time. Plus, you're more than likely to pick up a souvenir or two on your journey.

So, if you overstuffed your bag on your way there, it's going to be really difficult to make it work for your return trip. My general rule of thumb is that I shouldn't have to sit on my luggage to close it on the trip over (but it's usually OK for the trip back). Sitting on it strains your luggage, and it also means you might not be able to fit everything you need to on the way back.