There are two schools of packing: shove everything in a bag and hope for the best vs. packing with precision. After years of falling into School A, our style editor is a firm adherent to School B now. If you’ve ever wanted to know how to fit more than you dreamed possible into a suitcase and have it come out unwrinkled, you are about to get seriously lucky. Read on for the five tips she swears will change the way you travel forever. Shop everything you need for the traveler in your life in our Holiday Getaways gift guide.

1. Pick your preferred suitcase style.
Know thyself as a packer. Are you straining the edges of your fabric bag to get every last item in or do you need an ultra-durable hard case to stand up to frequent long haul flights? Or are you minimalist enough to go with a hand-held duffel? Our style editor Melissa leans towards a lightweight fabric bag that spins on four wheels, which allows her to move quickly and easily through airports while always having space to stuff in just one more souvenir. If you’re always fighting against your bag not being the perfect one, you’ll never pack as well.

2. Make a list and check it twice.
No one likes arriving and discovering they forgot to pack socks or underwear or sneakers or sunblock or anything, really. Melissa ensures she has what she needs by checking against a list that she keeps on her phone. There are the basics she’ll need anywhere, and then a version for beach, a version for international travel (passport!) and a version for serious cold weather. Having them already created and used repeatedly ensures there is less that can be forgotten in planning the list and packing it. A little extra planning goes a long way.

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3. Layer everything you can.
We’re not talking about how you style your outfits once you get there — it’s all about treating your packing like a nesting doll. Socks? Those go inside your shoes (which keeps them from getting flattened). Tees and tanks? Use them to fold up your more delicate pieces like they are tissue paper. Jewelry? Pack that into your extra purse you’re packing. Not only does it all take less space, but your items will actually come out looking better for the extra cushion.

4. Roll, roll, roll.
Almost all pieces of clothing come out with fewer wrinkles if you roll them up instead of folding them. (No sharp angles to crease in a roll, get it?) Not only will your clothing look fresher, but the rolling takes up considerably less space than folding. Melissa swears that this trick has almost doubled her volume! She folds only blazers and coats to protect the shoulder pads and places those on top at the last minute.

5. Keep a travel toiletries kit ready to go.
Our style editor keeps one toiletries bag always packed with travel and mini sizes of her face wash, moisturizers, shampoo, and conditioner — the basics. If you never take your toothbrush out of your bag, you can’t forget it on the trip. And it gives a perfect home to all those samples we love to collect and never use. By having a separate set of toiletries live in one place at all times, not only do you forget less, but your packing time is considerably shorter.

And unpack as soon as you arrive. Not only will your room feel cleaner if you can stash your bag out of sight, but you’re guaranteed to keep your clothes from over-wrinkling or getting squashed. If something spills in your bag while you’re traveling, you also catch it immediately. After that’s taken care of, it’s time to hit the streets and enjoy your trip!

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Our Style Editor Melissa in an outfit she’s packed many times.

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