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Packing and unpacking can be the worst part of any trip, but there are ways to make it somewhat less painful. Read on to learn seasoned travelers’ favorite tips and tricks.

  1. Start at the Bottom

The heaviest items, such as shoes, books, and outerwear, belong at the bottom of the suitcase. This weight distribution helps keep rolling bags stable, and it’s less likely that delicate items will be wrinkled or smushed as the bag makes its way to its destination. Also, for travelers who plan to go to dinner or a meeting right after they check into the hotel, the going-out outfit should be right on top so that it’s fresh, ready, and easily accessible.

  1. Use Cubes and Bags

Packing cubes make it really easy to organize a suitcase and to fit everything in with minimal wrinkling. They also help travelers separate the dirty clothes from the clean ones, which is really nice if there are multiple stops on the itinerary. If packing cubes are not an option, travelers can also layer plastic dry-cleaning bags between the layers of clothes in the suitcase.

  1. Bring Extra Bags

Many travelers need to bring back more than they started out with. It’s always a good idea to pack an empty, lightweight, collapsible backpack or other zippered carry-on bag in case there’s a need for extra space on the return trip. Travelers can also bring laundry bags to keep clean clothes separated from dirty ones.

  1. Pack Personal Items in a Carry-on

Experienced travelers know that there’s always the possibility that their suitcases won’t make it to the hotel when they do. It’s inconvenient enough to be without clean clothes, but missing essential medications can be far more problematic. Honestly, no one wants to have to use hotel toiletries for the whole trip. Prescriptions and personal care items should be packed in a carry-on that stays under the traveler’s control. Remember the TSA limits on liquids and pack travel-size toiletries in a clear zippered bag.