How to Pack Perfectly for a Weekend Trip

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Waiting until the last minute to pack for a trip isn’t a problem, unless you don’t know what to take.

So, in the interest of helping you get out the door with the least amount of pain possible this spring and summer, we’re giving you a template. Of course, you should adjust the list to suit your itinerary and wardrobe. (And if you have more packing advice, share it with us in the comments.) Above, we take you step-by-step through the packing list for women; below, for men.

1. Don’t check a bag.

U.S. Airlines made more than $3 billion last year in baggage fees. Even if your airline doesn’t charge to check luggage, carrying on will still save you time. A carry-on suitcase that is no more than 22″ x 14″ x 9″ will meet most airlines’ size requirements and save you money and time. If you are flying a budget airline that charges for overhead bin space, consider getting an under-seat bag.

2. Keep a list in your bag or on your phone.

You can put a paper list in your bag so it’s always there when you pull it out of the closet, or save your basic list on your phone.

3. Pack minimally.

How many times have you returned from a trip to realize you didn’t even wear half of the clothes you packed? You don’t need as much as you think, and you can save more space by packing as many items as possible that work for multiple situations. There should ideally be extra space in your bag, so there’s room for a souvenir or two.

4. Be strategic with what you wear.

Wear the biggest pieces. It saves space in your bag and gives you layers in case the plane is hot or cold.

5. Roll your clothing to save space and avoid wrinkling …

And keep similar items together.

6. … Or learn to bundle.

Watch the men’s packing video to see bundling in action. The basic premise, which is easier to show than tell, is this: Place the tops of shirts and pants into the middle of your suitcase. Create a core, out of a book or towel or whatever else you’re packing, and then wrap your shirts and pants around it. It save space and is a great way to avoid wrinkling.

7. Bring an extra bag.

A nylon bag, shoe bag or even an extra plastic bag will likely come in handy at some point.

8. Know the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule.

Each liquid must be in a 3.4-ounce bottle (or smaller); all of the bottles must be in 1 clear, quart-sized plastic bag; and each passenger can have only 1 bag. If you travel often, consider investing in some 3-ounce, reusable containers. Or just buy the travel-size shampoos and soaps.

9. Keep electronics and liquids in a convenient place.

The trick to getting through airport security quickly is having your plastic bag of toiletries and your electronics somewhere that’s easy to reach. Pack them last in the middle of a carry-on suitcase and you’ll only have to unzip the top to pull them out.

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