Real Simple's special travel issue is full of ideas on what to bring, and how to fit it all in one bag.
The magazine's Kris Connell offered some pointers Wednesday in part three of The Early Show/Real Simple weeklong series on travel.
WHAT TO PACK
For starters, Connell says, gather everything you think you'll need, then put half of it back!
The average 22-inch suitcase, the largest size you can carry on, typically only fits two pair of pants, three sweaters, two dresses, five shirts, two pair of shoes, various accessories (belts, jewelry, socks), and beauty products.
When deciding which items to bring on vacation, think "mix-and-match," choosing clothes in the same color family. Bring things that can easily move from day to night — dark jeans are a must. You won't have to waste time ironing if you pack knits, wools and cottons.
HOW TO PACK
Start by rolling soft garments, such as T-shirts, jeans, underwear and cotton pants, and arranging them in the bottom of the bag.
Put long items, such as pants and skirts, in next. Stack them on top of each other, alternating waists with hems. Don't fold the pants. Allow "leftover" fabric to drape over the side of the suitcase.
Place folded items, such as collared shirts, next.
Then, fold the pants/skirts that are hanging over the suitcase sides back over your folded shirts and sweaters, creating a makeshift container for everything in the middle. This ensures that pants and skirts won't come out of the suitcase with heavy creases because they now have a "softer" fold.
Cover the clothing with a dry-cleaner's plastic bag. This helps keep creases and wrinkles from setting into your clothes.
Finish by snaking belts around the perimeter of the bag and placing shoes along the sides.
Speaking of shoes — a couple of tips to keep in mind:
ODDS & ENDS
Remember, if you plan to carry your suitcase on the plane, current rules say you can only bring three-ounce containers of liquids, and all the containers must fit into a one-quart, clear plastic bag.
Avoid bringing bottles that are filled all the way to the top, because the pressure on the plane may cause them to overflow. Instead, fill them only three-quarters of the way.
Your beauty products will be easiest to use if you group similar products together. Fill one bag with hair products, one with skin-related products, and one with cosmetics.
Finally, your hairbrush can catch on clothes and snag them. Cover the head with a sock before stashing it in your suitcase.
Make room for souvenirs by compressing your dirty clothes into Eagle Creek Pack-It Compressor Bags ($10-$18). Zipping your clothes into these bags reduces their volume by 80 percent. That's a lot of saved space!
A few items that are easy to forget, but you'll be glad to have along: extra batteries, re-sealable bags, copies of passports if you're traveling overseas, and guidebook PAGES (for example, don't lug the whole book on Spain along if you're just going to Barcelona).