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How to: pack lightly and efficiently

Whether you’re flying out to Cancun or spending the week back home in Des Moines, spring break is a welcome relief from the stresses of college. Regardless of the destination, though, everyone needs a quick and efficient way to pack clothes.

1. Start with tops and T-shirts

Take the most delicate and easily wrinkled items and fold them first. The fewer folds, the better. Then place those on the bottom of your suitcase, working up from the most delicate to least delicate. The weight of the heavier tops will flatten out the thinner ones, reducing wrinkles.

2. Move on to pants, skirts and dresses

Guys, you have it easy on this one. Simply fold your pants and trousers in half at the waist, leaving the legs long. Stack these in your suitcase on top of the shirts, and alternate which side you put the waistbands on. This will eliminate bulk at one end of the bag and distribute weight evenly.
If the legs or waistband dangle over the edge of the suitcase, that’s fine, just fold them back into the bag.

Ladies, follow those same rules, but with a twist.

After you’ve packed up all your pants, start with dresses and skirts. The premise is the same, so fold them along the waistband and lay them in the suitcase, folding over any cloth that hangs on the outside of the bag.

3. Shoes and jackets

It’s recommended to wear the heaviest or bulkiest shoes on the day of travel, as well as any heavy sweaters or coats. Especially if you’re flying, this can save you from the airplane air conditioning. If you’re driving, you can always take them off in the car.

Tennis shoes can be wrapped in a plastic grocery bag, and dress shoes, flats or sandals can be pushed into crevices in your suitcase that are not filled with clothing. Just be sure to lay the shoes heel-to-toe to conserve space.

4. Socks and underwear

Socks should be pushed into tennis shoes or any closed-toe shoe to make use of the space where a foot normally goes. Since socks aren’t that big and don’t need much care, filling in empty spaces with socks is completely acceptable.

Underwear should be rolled, not folded, and placed in outside pockets of the suitcase or bag.
Rolling conserves space and prevents them from getting bunched up and bulky in transit.

5. Miscellany

Accessories such as belts can be placed in the suitcase on top of pants or skirts. Handbags, if you take more than one on your travels, should be placed inside of one other like nesting dolls. If you must carry a handbag while you travel, make it large enough to carry the essentials, but small enough to easily transport.

Clutches with removable straps that can be turned into cross-body bags are excellent for traveling.

Jewelry, makeup or toiletries should be placed in separate Ziploc bags and placed on top of the clothes. If anything leaks, the bag should catch it.

Follow these simple tips and your vacation will be well organized and  neat. You will be ready for an awesome spring break, and won’t have to drag along a heavy, overpacked suitcase.

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