How to SMART-ly Lighten Your Suitcase When Traveling

You’ve secured the perfect parking spot at Smart Park JFK or LGA and now you are ready to load up the car. But don’t those bags seem a little cumbersome and heavy? Thinking you maybe should have packed a little lighter? After all, you don’t want to be charged even more for a bag that is overweight! Well, we’ve found some great tips from the editors at Travel & Leisure to lighten your load and pack SMART-er. Enjoy!

Keep a Packing Checklist

“I keep an ongoing list in my phone of items of my absolute essentials to pack for every trip (charger, cleanser, bathing suit, daily sunscreen, etc.). It makes last-minute packing a lot less stressful because there’s always a checklist for reference.” — Katie Fish, Fashion Market Editor

Use Packing Cubes

“There’s not much that makes me feel like an organized human as much as dividing my belongings into color-coded cubes. It’s so wonderful to know exactly where everything you brought is as soon as you unzip your suitcase. Plus, you can very easily move your packing cubes into the drawers of your hotel dresser and instantly be done unpacking and ready to go.” — Richelle Szypulski, Assistant Digital Editor

Roll, Don’t Fold

“I am a roll-don’t-fold devotee. I also never check a bag, unless I’m taking my snowboard with me. Even then, only the snowboard gets checked, not the suitcase.” — Laura Teusink, Managing Editor

Pack In-flight Essentials in a Separate Pouch

“I have a small zippered pouch that I always put in my carry-on bag — in it I stash all the things that I want to keep with me on a flight (headphones, earplugs, EmergenC, phone, wallet, etc.) so that when I board I can just pull that pouch out, toss it into my seat, and then place my carry-on in the overhead bin, quickly and efficiently.” — Nathan Lump, Editor in Chief

Pack by Outfit

“There’s nothing more annoying than struggling to stuff everything back into your suitcase at the end of a trip only to realize you didn’t even wear half the clothes you brought. That’s why I started strictly packing by outfit — not individual item — and only letting pieces I had a plan for make the cut. I’ll take a skirt only if I know I’m bringing a top and shoes that I would wear with it, and I’ll think about the activities on my itinerary and what I see myself wearing while doing them. I hate checking a bag but love clothes, so being realistic and planning ahead is key.” — Nina Ruggiero, Senior Digital Editor

Keep a Prepacked Dopp Kit

“As my collection of skin-care products continues to expand (I’m not 20 anymore), so has the time required to sort through it all — at the last minute, with my Uber to JFK honking downstairs. I recently started keeping a separate Dopp kit stocked with travel-size duplicates of all my essentials. This means I can just grab my toiletries and go, with no risk of forgetting some crucial cream or spray — plus it gives me an excuse to go nuts on all those cute mini items in line at Sephora.” — CB Owens, Copy & Research Editor

Bring Half of What You Initially Packed

“When I went on my first international trip, I was advised to pack everything I’d like to take with me — and then remove half of it from my suitcase. I find this really helps in terms of figuring out what I actually need for a trip and bringing just the essentials.” — Elizabeth Preske, Digital Editorial Assistant

Choose a Soft-Sided Bag

“Packing in a soft-sided weekender or duffel gives you the flexibility (literally!) to shape your bag to what you’re packing instead of the other way around. My canvas overnighter takes on a different shape depending on what I need it to hold and will squish, even when packed almost beyond its means, into spaces a hard-sided roller bag just won’t go. I hope my current bag will last forever but I’m eyeing this simple weekender from Makr as its eventual replacement.” — Skye Senterfeit, Photo Editor

Always Be Ready to Go

“The more you pack, the easier it gets (or at least, the easier it should get) — so make being ready to travel part of your everyday life. Collect travel-sized toiletries when you have the chance: Get an extra toothpaste when you go to the dentist, ask your hair stylist for shampoo and conditioner samples, and keep all of them organized in a ready-to-grab toiletry bag. Learn which items of clothing work best for travel: They shouldn’t wrinkle easily, they should work for day or evening, and they shouldn’t take up a lot of space in your bag. And always pack less: What didn’t you use on your last trip? Don’t bring it.” — Jessica Plautz, Deputy Digital Editor