The challenge of packing for a trip can be a daunting task. We want to be prepared for every excursion, integrate local fashion, have clothes that are comfortable and weather appropriate, and fit it all into a suitcase (preferably a carry-on to make travel smoother). In a perfect world our entire wardrobe could travel across the world with us, but in reality we need some tips and strategies to decide on what and how to pack.

The destination and itinerary of your trip will obviously influence your packing decisions, but you don’t want to get too carried away trying to find a different outfit for every part of the trip. Research the destination and expected weather to decide what style of clothing would be most appropriate. As many European cities are known for being leaders in the fashion world, if you want to blend in with the locals, do some research on current street styles in your destination and let that guide your packing decisions. A trip to a tropical island, however, would call for a more laid back style and would mean packing colorful beach wear and light-weight resort wear. If the trip will include dinners at upscale restaurants or reception events, be sure to take note of the dress codes and pack pieces that will be suitable. Try to pack attire that can be dressed up or down depending on how you accessorize the outfit. This will save room in your suitcase as you are not packing a separate outfit for one single occasion.

You will also want to keep in mind any excursions you plan to take on the trip. Whether it is a day trip to a nearby city, a day at the beach, or a day of touring local attractions, you will want clothing that is comfortable. Prepare for every aspect of your trip by packing light layers. Pack items that coordinate well together and can be combined in multiple ways to create a variety of outfits with just a few basic pieces. If you pack three neutral-colored bottoms, four tops, two cardigans, a scarf, and a jacket, you can combine them in different ways to make over twenty outfits. If you have the luxury of space in your suitcase, another good rule is to pack three tops for every bottom. This will give you more options and doesn’t force you to be as conservative with your choices. You can save space in your suitcase by wearing layers and the shoes that would take up the most space in your bag onto the plane. For excursions, you will also want a day bag to carry belongings or souvenirs. Before leaving for your trip, test out your chosen bag to be sure it will be comfortable and easy to carry.

When packing your suitcase there are many space saving tips to help fit everything. We have all heard of rolling our clothes to fit more, but you can take this tip a step further and roll jewelry, accessories, phone chargers, and undergarments in with your clothing to keep things compact and organized. You can also stuff your shoes with socks or products so that space does not go to waste. If you are worried about your clothes wrinkling in transit, you can place dry cleaning bags over them before rolling to help keep wrinkles from forming. Another strategy for saving space is to use compression storage bags to compact your clothes. These compression bags can then be rolled or stacked in your suitcase. If you are planning on bringing back souvenirs from your trip, don’t forget to leave space in your bag to allow for this. Be sure to weigh your bag to be sure it fits within the weight limit for checked bags, or to make sure you can lift the bag into a carry-on compartment.

Overall the most important tip to keep in mind is to plan ahead. Think about all of the factors that influence your packing decisions. Decide which pieces in your wardrobe are the most versatile, and narrow down what you actually need.