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Avoid checked bag fees and overhead bin battles by learning the right way to pack for travel

Many frequent fliers interviewed for this article said they favored the Rimowa Salsa Deluxe, about $500. ”It moves well through airports, fits in most regional jet overhead bins and meets the standards of even more exacting European and Asian airline rules,” said Gary Leff, who writes the travel blog View From the Wing and is a founder of InsideFlyer.com.

Mr. Leff spent more than 130 nights on the road last year and flew more than 200,000 miles. A review of 31 bags by The Wirecutter, a product recommendations site owned by The New York Times Company, found the soft-sided Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 22-Inch Expandable Rollaboard Suiter, about $250, to be the best carry-on roller for most travelers.

Lay out what you think you’ll need, then edit ruthlessly. ”Think twice about everything you want to put in your bag,” said Ben Nickel-D’Andrea, who writes about flying first-class with his husband, Jon Nickel-D’Andrea, at No Mas Coach, part of the BoardingArea blogger network. Last month the jet-setting couple flew to Morocco for nine days with only their carry-ons and backpacks. ”Fully get rid of the ‘just in case I need it’ category,” the couple added in an email sent from the airport. ”If and when you need it, you can buy it.”


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Do the clothing countdown. If you need a mantra to help streamline your wardrobe, use the ”5, 4, 3, 2, 1” rule for a weeklong trip, limiting yourself to no more than five sets of socks and underwear, four tops, three bottoms, two pairs of shoes and one hat. The list can be modified to suit your needs, with a swimsuit and exercise gear or a suit jacket and dress thrown in, depending on the trip.

The decluttering guru Marie Kondo rarely exceeds a week’s worth of clothes. If she is away longer than a week, she wrote in an email, ”I will make time to do laundry.” Her bag — a Rimowa — typically includes two pairs of shoes (a pair for work and another low-heeled pair for casual occasions), two sets of pajamas, underwear for each day, and an extra jacket and dress, ”just in case my work clothes get dirty,” she said.

Think Tetris. Many road warriors recommend rolling your clothes in order to maximize space and minimize wrinkles. Some like packing cubes to keep their outfits ordered. Others prefer the more exacting bundle technique, which involves carefully wrapping each article of clothing around a central core, with underwear and T-shirts at the center and large, tailored items like blazers and dresses as the outermost layer. Whatever your method, the goal should be to fill every inch of space.