Five years ago there would be no way that I could write this post. In fact, I would probably laugh in your face if you told me to give packing advice. I’m the girl that would have to sit on her suitcase, hoping that my body weight alone would be enough to somehow make all the contents compress to half the size, while someone else had to try and zip it. It was rough. I mean zippers broke, the sheer effort lacerated people’s fingers, and I was always left having to think of creative ways to somehow get all my stuff to my final destination. Clearly, I was an idiot. I never even wore half of that stuff.

Luckily, studying abroad in Spain my junior year of college was like going into rehab and I quickly learned how to be a smarter packer. Sometimes I do relapse (don’t we all) and over pack like a crazy woman but, for the most part, I’ve been able to pack extremely well. I even packed for 30 days in a small carry on. I know, I got mad skills. When time is of the essence you don’t have any to waste on packing and re packing so here are my top 10 tips for packing:

Do your laundry before you pack

It’s much easier to start packing when you have all your clothes to look through rather than realizing that you want a specific shirt and digging around in your hamper to find it 5 hours before your flight.

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Why does this look like so much fun to me? Oh yeah, because I prefer to procrastinate over doing laundry

Make a packing list

Having a list makes it a lot easier for you to pack effectively and quickly. If you have this before you start, it will prevent you from grabbing random clothes and tossing them into your suitcase. Split it up into categories to make it easier as well. Need inspiration? Download this one here.

Don’t pack clothes that require ironing

Honestly, don’t even buy clothes that require ironing. Who even has time for that these days?

If you can’t afford to lose it either financially or emotionally DO NOT pack it

Things happen when you travel and you don’t want to ruin your trip by losing something valuable. If you have to pack it, be extremely careful and keep your eye on it. I once had my DSLR stolen in Spain and I was devastated. Ever since then, when I pack my DSLR I treat it like an extension of my arm.

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I am obsessed with this camera. I mean it’s red for heaven’s sake

The moment you think of packing something, pack it

There’s been too many times that I’ve told myself that I’ll pack something pivotal and ended up leaving it behind just because I didn’t put it in my suitcase right away.

Never bring more than two bags with you.

Any more than that and it’s just extremely difficult to move around. I mean how many hands do you think you have? You don’t need more than what’s in two bags. Trust me.

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I wish my luggage actually looked like this. #luggagegoals

Don’t forget your camera charger.

You will go through that battery in a heartbeat especially when your friends insist on going through all the photos you just took to make sure that they look perfect in every one of them. Be prepared for the fights when they want to delete ones where they think their chin looks crooked. It’s better just to give in, my friends.

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How many takes do you need to get a laughing photo right?

Pack articles of clothing that you can mix and match.

Bringing that one sparkly dress may seem like a good idea and maybe it is but the second sparkly dress definitely isn’t. Switch it out for some blouses and skirts that you can mix and match. On my recent trip to Argentina and Chile, with 2 long sleeved T’s, 2 button downs, and 2 vests I was able to make plenty of different combinations

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See? Endless options. And one too many photos of me

Pack extra underwear

It doesn’t take up much space and who knows when you will need an extra pair

Leave room in your suitcase

If you’re going to a new place you are going to want to buy things. Leave room accordingly. Don’t be the person who has to buy a new suitcase just to fit their tawdry (er I mean important) souvenirs.

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Into the box they go!

Those are some of the tips that have helped me travel in a carry on for the past 5 years no matter the length of my trip! Why don’t I just take a bigger suitcase? Read my reasons why I love traveling with a carry on here.

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  1. awesome tips! number 3 is crucial – I always think of something that’s absolutely essential then forget to pack it if I don’t put it in my suitcase right away

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