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The 5 Worst Packing Mistakes, From an Expert

Vacation is relaxing, but the preparation? Not so much. It’s usually 10 p.m. the night before a flight when I find myself pulling jeans and underwear out of their designated drawers and throwing them into a twisted, chaotic pile in the hollow of my suitcase. Shoes squeeze in around the edges while I avoid trying to let their soles touch any clothing remotely close to the hue of white. I manage to squeeze my suitcase closed, barely, just barely. Then, as I run out the door the next morning, in a flash of genius, I remember to stuff in a charger and one last pair of socks (better safe than sorry, right?).

We can all agree that packing shouldn’t have to be this scattered and stressful. So I turned to someone more knowledgeable than I am for advice on how to breeze through prepping for vacation. Anna, a professional organizing expert with Thumbtack, was the right woman for the task. Below, she tackles five major packing mistakes it’s time to quit for good.

Armed with her advice, gone will be the days we deal with chronic overpacking, forgetting of key essentials, and, well, the general chaos that may have come with packing in the past. So before you head out on vacation, take note (and do a little last-minute trip shopping too)!

1. Quit Overpacking

“This is the number one mistake people make and what often results in checking a bag. Be realistic; who you are in real life is who you will be on vacation. So if you don’t wear wedges, don’t pack them!”

2. Fold, Don’t Roll

“People are pretty divided on this, but trust me, rolling ends up taking up more room and can cause your clothes to become wrinkled. You’ll want to fold your clothes into thin, compact folds (think Marie Kondo technique).”

3. Put Shoes and Heavy Items in First

“You should always put your shoes on the bottom of your luggage. That way if they are dirty, it won’t get on your clean clothes. Anything else that is heavy should also go on the bottom to ensure the bag can easily move.”

4. Pack a Laundry Bag

“We often come back with dirty clothes from vacation but have a few pieces that are still clean. Packing a travel-size laundry bag or even a grocery bag helps keep dirty and clean clothes separate, which is a must.”

5. Don’t Pack Bulky Pieces

“If you’re traveling with a carry-on, two sweaters alone will take up half of your suitcase. Opt to wear your bulky sweater and coat onto the plane instead of packing it. You’ll save yourself room and you can easily take those layers off as you travel.”