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Travel has changed a lot in recent months. But packing smart and packing light can help you stay flexible, and take on any unexpected changes with grace. Plus, living out of a suitcase for a week—or even longer—is not as hard as you might think. Seasoned travelers will tell you that the secret is not just what you pack, but how you pack it.

The best part is you don’t have to spend a fortune on fancy packing cubes, high-tech luggage or other packing aids. Here are seven proven strategies that will bring out your inner road warrior.

RELATED: 8 tips for flying with a baby or a toddler

1. Make a packing list

Start a list of things to pack and keep it handy so you can add to it easily as you think of things. Be sure to include some of the most often forgotten items, such as daily vitamins and medications, sleepwear, underwear, socks, toothbrushes and phone chargers.

Plan your wardrobe based on anticipated activities, such as business meetings or special events. Draw seven columns on a piece of paper for your seven days (or more columns for more days) of travel. What activities will you engage in each day? Do you plan to work out? Maybe relax in the hotel hot tub? Make a note to bring “x” sets of gym clothing or a bathing suit.

2. Simplify your wardrobe

Consider simplifying your life with a travel “uniform,” which could be several pairs of black dress pants to wear with different colored tops. That way, you only need to bring black shoes. Compress neat stacks of clothing with suitcase straps or, for a tighter fit that will keep everything together, use VELCRO Brand straps to maximize space.

Avoid overpacking by limiting footwear and choosing clothing that can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfits or layered for warmth. Only bring items of clothing you can wear more than once (unless it’s for a special occasion), and consider wearing the same jewelry every day.

3. Maximize space

Maximize space in your suitcase by rolling versus folding clothing. (This is something you can even do at home to save drawer space.) Stuff small items, such as socks and belts, inside shoes.

Travel Space Bags help to save space by compressing clothing, especially bulkier items like sweaters. Place items inside the bag, roll out the air and seal it. Bring a spare bag to keep your dirty laundry separate from clean clothes and make a little extra room in your suitcase to bring home a souvenir or two. For a long-term solution, organize and secure small items with homemade travel pouches attached to the inside of your suitcase with VELCRO Brand fasteners for easy removal.

On travel days, wear or carry your coat, sweater or wrap. “Pack” your scarf, hat or gloves in your coat pockets or sleeves, and wear your heaviest shoes.

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4. Minimize creases and wrinkles

It’s best to bring clothing that resists wrinkling. However, there’s a little trick that helps prevent dress shirts, pants and suit coats from wrinkling—pack them inside plastic dry-cleaning bags. Lay the bag flat and then insert items into the bag. Fold clothing lengthwise in thirds and then in half. Pack these on top of everything else.

To remove any wrinkles that do occur (and to freshen clothing for a second wearing), bring a small spray bottle of wrinkle releaser with your toiletries. Lay the item of clothing on the bed and lightly spritz the fabric. Alternate between smoothing the fabric with the palm of your hand and pulling the fabric taut in both directions, then hang it up until it’s completely dry.

5. Contain yourself

Eliminate the need to rummage through your suitcase by packing smaller items such as underwear in clear plastic sealable bags. Use the same technique to store cables and chargers for your electronics.

Here’s an inexpensive trick to keep cords from tangling: Wrap them with VELCRO Brand reusable ties. These are also the easiest way to neatly wrap cords for your hair dryer or flat iron. If you decide to bring delicate necklaces, you can prevent the chains from tangling by threading them through straws and fastening the chain on the other end.

Bring only the toiletries you will need in the smallest size containers possible. Purchase a set of travel bottles in various shapes and sizes with labels. Pour from your full-size containers the amount of product you’ll need for a week, or whatever the length of your trip. Label your containers and place in a sealed plastic bag.

6. Know before you go

What amenities will be available to you? For example, if you’ll have access to a washer and dryer, and think you’ll need to do a load of laundry, pack a detergent with fabric softener pod.

Don’t forget to check the weather forecast before packing. Check it again before leaving so you can add or remove any last-minute items if necessary.

7. Settle in when you arrive

Unpack upon arrival at your destination. Hang up clothing, set out your shoes and move your toiletries into the bathroom. Settle in and make yourself at home for the duration of your trip.

Donna Smallin Kuper, an organizing maven and author, is currently writing for The Home Depot and other publications. Donna loves to travel and give extremely useful tips for living on the road, including using VELCRO® Brand fasteners to organize your suitcase. Check out the hook and loop fastener selection at The Home Depot.

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Tips & advice

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Donna Smallin Kuper | Home Depot

Donna Smallin Kuper | Home Depot

Organizing and cleaning expert Donna Smallin Kuper is the author of a dozen best-selling books on uncluttering, organizing, cleaning and simplifying life. Currently writing for Home Depot, Donna is often quoted by the media, in Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple and Woman's Day.

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