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How to Pack The Most Crap Into Your Bag

Deciding what to pack for wherever you're going on vacation—African safaris, French Riviera beaches, sleepy New England towns, Las Vegas nightclubs—is stressful enough. But getting that stuff in your bag can really push you to the breaking point.

With these tips, though, it shouldn't be too big of a deal. Below, how to conquer the packing problem (without using any of those ugly, strangely space-eating, vacuum-packed bags you see on those infomercials):

Start with shoes. Pick two or three pairs, then build your outfits around them. They're the biggest space suck and often one of the heaviest items (weight-wise, I'd bet those flatforms trump the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Not that you'd be reading it anywhere other than your Kindle.) Then, use the dead space inside those shoes to hold sunglasses, socks, bras, phone chargers: whatever you want, just something other than air.

Wear your heaviest, bulkiest pieces on travel days. Unless your version of green transportation is a Flintstones car, you'll probably be sitting under intense air conditioning while you're en route anyway. Take advantage of that.

Roll wrinkle-resistant things like jeans and t-shirts. It uses way less space than the traditional fold & stack method (which, sidebar, only stamps creases and lines into delicate clothing. A better method for those silk blouses and dresses is to "bundle" pack them.)

Double up. Pack multi-purpose pieces (but not, like, those weird zip-off cargo pants). For space, I sleep in my yoga pants before wearing them to work out.

Weigh your bag. This handheld luggage scale is less than $20, a small price to pay when you consider Delta, US Airways and American charge upwards of $90 every single time your bag weighs just fifty-one pounds instead of fifty. Then you can cram in all the stuff you want with (relatively) wild abandon.

There's only one caveat to the joys of packing heavy—you have to remember to leave room for vacation buys. No sense in freaking out over amazing Italian Prada outlet purchases then only to really, really freak out when you can't fit them in your homebound suitcase, is there?

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