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Having an enjoyable and smooth trip starts with packing at home. You want to make sure you have everything you need, and nothing you don’t need, along with you on your trip. Plus, you want to make sure it’s in a suitcase or bag that is easy for you to handle as you head to your destination. Use these tips to streamline your packing process and get your trip started in the right way.

Choose a suitcase: Start by picking out the perfect luggage for your trip. If you’re flying, you’ll need to decide whether you’ll check a bag, which often requires an extra fee, or if you’ll carry your bag onto the plane. Either way, you need to abide by the airline’s size restrictions. Short overnight trips only require a small suitcase, whereas longer trips may need multiple bags to make sure you have everything you’ll need. If you know you always bring too much with you, size down to a smaller bag to help you pack more modestly and realistically.

Work from a list: There’s a reason so many people make lists before they pack, and it’s because it gives you one more layer of defense to avoid forgetting something. Start making your list at least a day or two before you start packing so you can look at it with fresh eyes later and make any needed changes. Think through your clothing choices from head to toe, then mentally rehearse your morning and evening routines to list all the toiletries you need. Add on any other things you plan to use during your trip. You can also use online packing lists to help you get yours set up and remind you of things you wouldn’t have thought of.

Check the weather: You want to make sure you have the appropriate clothing for the weather, so research ahead of time what average temperatures are like at your destination this time of year. Then check again the day you plan to pack to get the latest forecast for the specific days you’ll be there. This helps you bring all of the types of clothing you need and avoid wasting space on clothes you’ll never get a chance to wear because the weather isn’t cooperating.

Pack staples: You don’t have to bring tons of clothes, so pick staples that you can wear multiple times. Plan to wear each pair of pants at least twice, and consider whether your daytime outfits can double as evening clothes, too. Bring only two pairs of shoes if at all possible. If you will be gone for much more than a week, pack clothes for a week and plan to wash them at your destination.

Plan to avoid overlap: If you’re traveling with people, plan ahead so you don’t duplicate things you could have shared. For example, many spouses share shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste when they travel, even if they don’t at home. You also can call ahead to your destination and find out if there will be a hair dryer, towels, and other items you may have packed so you can avoid bringing duplicates.

Packing a light bag when you travel saves you from carrying the extra weight, literally and mentally. You’ll have less clutter to work with at your destination, and you’ll be better able to get ready for each day efficiently. Plus, you may be able to save a money at the airport ticket counter if you managed to fit everything into a carry on instead of checking a bag!

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