How can I avoid over-packing for trips and still look my best? - WVTM-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Birmingham, AL

How can I avoid over-packing for trips and still look my best?

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By Ann Sullivan

Q. I'm looking forward to vacation this summer, but I always pack too much, and everything ends up wrinkled. Any advice?

A. When trying to travel light, there are two things to keep in mind: Simple clothes allow you to change your look or add accessories with ease, and solid colors are more flexible than patterns. The size of your suitcase will make a big difference in how you can pack and how much your clothes wrinkle. A 26- to 30-inch suitcase will allow you to lay clothing flat with few folds. After you lay out all your clothing, try to eliminate as much as possible, based on what you really need.

Remember too that you do not need to take the entire contents of your bathroom with you. Instead, transfer small quantities of must-have products to travel-safe 2-ounce plastic bottles with screw tops to avoid spills. Place this in re-sealable plastic bags as an extra precaution and stash a few emergency paper towels, in case of an unavoidable spill or leakage.

Take along extra zip-top plastic bags for laundry or wet swimsuits. When you're ready to pack, start by placing heavy items, such as shoes and toiletry kits, in the bottom-hinged end of your suitcase. Shoes should be packed heel to toe in shoe bags, plastic bags or old socks. Tuck soft items in them to conserve space. Line the remainder of the bottom of your suitcase with nightgowns and sportswear. Next, pack pants, letting the legs hang over the edge, and then pack the rest of your clothing from the heaviest to the lightest.

Try to fold clothes where the natural creases fall: elbow, knees, etc. Keep wrinkles to a minimum by packing fragile dresses, suits, skirts or shirts in plastic bags; the slippery bag will help keep garments wrinkle-free. Another option is to use tissue paper between the folds. Finally, fold your pant legs over the pile: This will help keep their crease. You can also use this technique for dresses. When you get to your destination, hang clothing in the bathroom while showering, to steam out any wrinkles.

Ann Sullivan is a certified professional organizer and the author of Organizing for Life: The Kids' Room. 

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