Everyone loves to take a great trip but most of us don’t look forward to packing for one. It can be quite stressful to decide what to bring and what to leave behind. We’ve all experienced the packing scaries – standing over an empty suitcase imagining our worst fears coming true: not having enough underwear/shoes/insert item of choice. When choosing between what to bring and what you can do without, there are some rules to live by to simplify the process.

These 10 tips should make packing less stressful so you can focus on your upcoming adventure:

  1. Do your homework. It’s important to familiarize yourself with your airline’s baggage policy so you understand your limits (and avoid dismantling your perfectly packed suitcase in the check-in line). Take some time and think about your itinerary. Will a large suitcase slow you down and make your travels a logistical nightmare or do your plans allow for some flexibility? It’s very rare that travelers regret packing light. Less luggage = more comfort, more convenience, and more opportunity to enjoy your trip.
  2. Versatility is everything when prioritizing what to pack. If a shoe/outfit can only be worn once, it’s likely not worth the space. Try to bring items that serve multiple purposes. Scarves, for example, can dress up a casual look or keep you warm on a chilly night. Plus, they don’t take up a lot of room.
  3. Chose comfort over style. If a cute pair of shoes has a nasty track record of giving you blisters, you should probably part ways. It’s critical that you bring shoes that are functional so you can get the most use out of them. Pay close attention to the fabric of your clothes and try to bring items that are durable, wrinkle-free, and can dry fast. Without cramping your style too much, try to bring neutrals that are great to mix and match.
  4. Pajamas are overrated. When you’re limited on space, it doesn’t make sense to bring clothes dedicated to sleeping. Try to bring tops/bottoms that can be worn during the day but are also comfortable enough to sleep in.
  5. Layering is key. A big bulky jacket might be non-negotiable depending on where you’re headed but leaving one behind could be a game-changer. You can stay warm by layering tops, which takes up a lot less room and provides more options for your travel wardrobe.
  6. Make decisions in the interest of space. As much as you love your noise-canceling headphones, compromise and bring your less bulky earbuds. Small sacrifices like this can make a huge difference. Traveling should be an opportunity to disconnect so no need to bring a laptop, tablet, kindle and so on – try to consolidate as much as you can. Apps are a great way to replace maps, guidebooks, and cameras.
  7. Before putting items in your suitcase lay them out and conduct an evaluation process. It might seem like overkill but packing should be a calculated process. Before officially giving the stamp of approval, try to think about each item and how often you intend to use it. You’ll need to make some tough decisions but it will all be worth it when your bags are lighter and your stress levels are lower.
  8. Remain calm! You don’t have to pack EVERYTHING you think you’ll need. You can always buy things on the go or count on your hotel/accommodations to provide some travel necessities. On that note, try to lower your standards a bit while on the road. You probably won’t be able to use all the special products that are available to you at home. Don’t stress! A couple days, weeks, or even months without completing your usual routine isn’t going to set you back.
  9. Allow yourself some time to edit your decisions. Most of us tend to overdo it while we’re in a packing frenzy. Carve out some time to remove any impulse items that may have made it past the first round. Many seasoned travelers pack everything they think they will need and then cut it in half. This might seem extreme but it’s an effective way to ensure you only bring the essentials.
  10. Once you decide what to bring, you’ll want to make sure you pack effectively. Most travelers recommend rolling over folding to create more room. If toiletries/gels made the cut, keep them separate so that a spill doesn’t set you back. Stuffing your socks into your shoes can also create some extra space.

If you’re about to embark on an upcoming trip, it’s critical that you pack light and right. Packing thoughtfully will set you up for a successful and memorable trip. Try to practice some self-control but leave a little room for the items that will bring you joy along your journey!