Planning a trip is always fun and exciting! But when it comes time to pack your suitcase, stress levels may increase. You always want to make sure you’ve thought of everything – especially if you’re embarking on a longer trip – but don’t want to overpack at the same time.

Learning how to pack a suitcase is important to making your next vacation easier to prepare. Once you know how to pack a suitcase, you can focus on all the fun you’ll be having on your trip and not worry so much about the packing!

To make your packing experience better and easier, here are six tips that will help on how to pack a suitcase efficiently. Let’s get packing!

1. Pack with the right type of suitcase

Finding the right suitcase will differ for everyone and the type of travel you do (long stretches, or short trips), but generally, it’s best to go with a suitcase that will fit just enough items, giving you no extra room to overpack.

According to the New York Times, buying a hard-sided suitcase, no more than 22 inches tall (so it can also work as a carry-on) with a structured shell is the way to go.

2. Make a list of what you want to pack

Sit down and make a list of all the things you think you will need for your trip. Include everything, even small items like hair elastics and nail cutters. Once you have your list together, leave it for a few minutes, then come back to it and start cutting things down.

Do you really need five pairs of jeans for a weekend trip? Or three sweaters when traveling to a tropical destination? The answer is most likely no. It’s also recommended to limit the “Just in case I need it” category. If you do end up needing it, you can buy it. When you pack a suitcase, the goal is to have a list of just the essentials, which will already make packing easier.

3. Pack the suitcase in the right order

Now that you have your list of what to pack in a suitcase, start thinking about where things will go in your suitcase. It’s recommended to put heavier items like shoes and hair dryers toward the base of your suitcase to help it from tipping over when it’s standing up. From there you can start putting other items in.

4. Roll clothing into the suitcase

The best way to maximize space in a suitcase is to roll your clothing. Start by laying out three similar items – three t-shirts, three pairs of pants, three pairs of underwear, etc. – and roll everything up. One roll of clothing will actually be three articles of clothing, which will save you tons of space. Roll up the rest of your items and tightly pack them in. Then you can lay bulkier items like sweaters and jackets on top. Items that crease easily can be put into a dry-cleaning bag or garbage bag and laid on top as well.

Another thing you can do is purchase packing cubes. These give your bag structure – you can pack t-shirts in one, pants in another. If you’re travelling with a spouse and are sharing a bag, you can both get different coloured cubes, so you know whose cube is who’s. These will be great for putting dirty clothes in on the way home, so they’re not mingling with your clean clothes.

If you are going to travel to a warmer climate, check the weather at your destination so you can pack weather appropriate clothing and not your whole wardrobe!

5. Properly pack toiletries

According to Marie Kondo, author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” it’s recommended to keep a separate toiletry bag for traveling. It’s a good idea to always have this little bag packed. This will help ensure that you never forget toothpaste or soap again!

Another great idea when it comes to toiletries is to invest is solid toiletries, like solid soap, shampoo, and conditioner. Use a knife to portion the bars out ahead of time and store them in a small container. This will take up less room in your suitcase.

To help you pack a suitcase more efficiently, you can also consider buying all-in-one options like shampoo and conditioner in one and creams that combine foundation, moisturizer and sunblock.

6. Use up the extra space in the suitcase

A great packing hack is to fill your shoes with small items like socks and underwear. You can also store small items in there – just put them in a plastic bag first so they don’t get all dirty. Another packing hack is to wear your bulkiest items on the plane. That way you don’t need to pack them!

And one final hack – create extra space by putting your usual purse in a larger tote if you are travelling by plane. That way you can fit more items in your carry-on bag, and it will store nicely under the seat in front of you.