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The Simple Science Behind Packing The Perfect Suitcase

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Let's be honest: Who hasn't haphazardly tossed clothes into a suitcase 20 minutes before you're supposed to leave for the airport, then realized you forgot to bring underwear while mentally recapping the packing pandemonium just after takeoff? Anyone? Bueller? Retweet if you agree?

Consider this an intervention. Call it a science, call it an art form, call it whatever you want, but knowing how to pack a bag the right way – and yes, there is a right way – is a skill that will make your life a bazillion times better. Let's go over the nitty-gritty, shall we?

The Case For The Carry-on

Five years ago, The Onion published what might be the most painfully accurate article in its 29-year history: "Dad Suggests Arriving At Airport 14 Hours Early".

"Planning for his family's Saturday evening flight to Florida, local dad Walter Holbrook suggested arriving at the airport at least 14 hours early," the satirical news site wrote. "'The plane leaves at 6:45 at night, and it takes a little while to park the car and get through security, so we should plan to get there no later than 4:45 a.m.,' said Holbrook, adding that it would probably be smart to add an extra 'eight to nine hours' to the car commute in case of traffic."

In retrospect, Dad might have been onto something: Last spring, The New York Times reported that security line wait times exceeded three hours one day in March at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina; wait times in Atlanta, Miami, New York, Seattle, Denver, and Chicago were no better. That being said, it's safe to assume that ditching a checked bag in favor of a single carry-on can be the difference between making and missing your flight, no?

Let's say you lugged your bag to the airport, successfully navigated the weird tag sticker thing, waited in line so long your clothes went out of style, dumped the bag with the airline employee who stared off into space the whole time, and finally managed to make it to your gate on time. After the flight, you get to duke it out at the carousel like it's a feed trough. Your prize for all that? Having to shell out for the convenience.

According to the budget-friendly travel site, checked baggage fees can run you anywhere from $20 to $35, depending on whose skies you're flying. Not horrible, but that's only if you're checking a single bag under a certain weight limit: Add just one more bag or a couple extra pounds, and you risk getting charged up to $100 extra in some cases. Or start unpacking and throwing heavy stuff into your carry-on. It's super dignified, and everyone should try it.

Pro Tip: Plan, Plan, And Then Plan Some More

Your packing process needs a plan of attack. Times columnist Michelle Higgins suggests two key guidelines. First, lay out everything you think you'll need, then tweak it "ruthlessly." "Fully get rid of the 'just in case I need it' category," she's told by a pair of travel bloggers who chronicle the first-class flying experience.

Second, Higgins recommends sticking to the "5, 4, 3, 2, 1" rule for a weeklong trip; it's her go-to "mantra to help streamline [a] wardrobe." While the rule can be amended to suit your specific needs for a trip, it generally goes as follows: Five pairs of socks and underwear, four tops, three bottoms, two pairs of shoes, and one hat.

"Sounds pretty straightforward," you're probably thinking to yourself right about now. Well, yeah — but a well-thought-out packing plan is nothing without a proper execution.

The KonMari Modus Operandi

If there's a Mozart of organizing, her name is Marie Kondo. The Japanese cleaning consultant and author has made a name for herself as the unequivocal authority on all things decluttering, earning a spot on TIME's list of The 100 Most Influential People of 2015 for perfecting the art of organization. Her tips for packing, detailed in her 2016 book "Spark Joy", turned one packing-loathing POPSUGAR writer who had trouble remembering a toothbrush for trips into a self-proclaimed "convert" to the so-called KonMari organizational method.

What makes the KonMari process so effective is that it revolves around a folding method that you've probably never tried before. Unlike most people's go-to packing method, which involves folding clothes into flat rectangles and stacking them on top of one another, the KonMari way demands clothing be rolled into triangles that then get placed upright alongside each other, with bras and suits placed flat on top. This particular method lets you see every item you've packed (or forgotten to pack) easily, and prevents you from having to unpack your suitcase every time you need to find a specific item.

The KonMari method works with a carry-on or duffel bag, FYI, though you'd having a hard time finding suitcases that complement it better than Rise Gear's bags.

Meet The Jetsetter's Saving Grace

Hiding in a single Rise Gear Weekender bag is a fully-organized hanging closet with shelves — not that you'd know it looking at its humble five-pound frame. Available in gray or blue, it's got removable shoulder straps for multiple carrying options and features separate compartments for your KonMari-folded "5, 4, 3, 2, 1" selections as well as tiny pockets for personal items, keeping all your travel necessities organized. When you've reached your destination, simply unfurl the Weekender and hang it in any closet or doorway using the included steel hooks to instantly transform the bag into a personal closet. It's hard to put a price on that kind of convenience, especially when you're on the go, but how does $139 sound?

Just like its duffel-style Weekender counterpart, the Rise Gear Roller Travel Bag functions like a portable closet — only this baby's on wheels. It also features a drop-bottom compartment for extra storage, plus a zippered shoe compartment on top to keep your kicks separate from your pristinely packed clothing. Take your pick of gray or blue styles, both of which are available now for just $199.

Don't wait until your next trip to snag a Rise Gear bag, though: They're only available in the Curiosity Shop for a limited time.

How to Fold/Pack a Suit in a Suitcase Without Wrinkling

Written by Curiosity Staff October 25, 2017

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