suitcaseChecking luggage may be unavoidable for longer trips or traveling with children, but you may be surprised just how much you can fit into a carry on suitcase, if you plan your space carefully.  It’s not unlike planning the construction of a building.

1. Economy Of Space.

A building’s blueprints  not only ensures that you have everything you need but that you don’t waste space.  The same is true with carefully planning your packing.   Most of us tend to over-pack. Perhaps that’s the origin of the phrase “just in case.” Versatility is important. Choose neutral colors, particularly with bulkier clothes, so you can mix and match and create more outfits.  For business trips, one suit is usually plenty.  Try to wear it to prevent wrinkles and save space.  Shoes are particularly bulky.  Versatile black is usually a good bet and try to limit them to no more than two pairs, including the ones on your feet.

2. Foundation First.

Assuming you have a familiar rolling suitcase, pack your heavier items on the bottom (the wheel end).  This would include your pair of shoes and toilet kit.  Think of this as the foundation of your suitcase packing.  Books would go here, but try to limit their size and quantity.  None would be the most helpful number.

3. Bricks and Mortar.

Some clothes need careful folding, others don’t.  Think of the folded clothes as bricks and the rest as mortar.  Folded shirts and pants go in after the foundation, then the mortar (socks and underwear) can be troweled into the gaps.  Rolled socks can also go in the shoes.  By using every square inch of space like this, you can free up space for a real space hog like a bulky sweater.

4. Accessible Light Switches.

The location of important details matters.  When you’re in an unfamiliar dark building and the light switch is not in an obvious location, it can be a very panicky feeling.  The same is true when your medication is buried in your suitcase.  Reserve the outer pockets of your suitcase for things like travel plans, cell phone chargers, and magazines to read while waiting in the airport.

With the right plan you can construct a smart carry-on suitcase that will save on check-in fees.