By Ashley M. Heher, AP Retail Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — Carrying your bag onto the plane yourself means you'll skip more than just the airport's baggage claim these days.
Traveling with a suitcase that will fit in the overhead bin can save you more than $25 in bag-check fees that most airlines now charge. So it has become essential to master the tedious task of cramming all your necessities — and that third pair of sandals — into a small suitcase.
Here are five ways to ensure you fill your suitcase wisely — and can zip it closed on the first try.
MAKE A LIST: Then check it twice. Once you know what activities you have planned — what type of weather is forecast — place everything on your bed. Then put half back.
"People overpack all the time," says Julee Wilson, staff fashion editor Real Simple magazine. "We always think we need more than we do. But you can definitely pack everything in a carry on."
BE UTILITARIAN: Look for clothing that can pull double duty. Susan Foster, author of "Smart Packing For Today's Traveler," says being choosy about what she puts in her suitcase lets her travel with just a 22-inch carry-on — even for a recent three-week trip to Europe.
Regardless of gender, she recommends travelers pack two pairs of slacks, four tops, a jacket, a sweater and no more than three pairs of shoes, including a sturdy pair for walking and a pair that matches both dressy and casual clothes. Then she adds pajamas and sundries.
"The only difference between a week and a month is called laundry," she said. "You just wear the same things over and over and over."
Foster also recommends taking extra care in choosing fabrics and colors. Opt for items that can be layered for warmth or mixed and matched to add a splash of color. She's even meticulous about small things like underwear.
"Pack three pairs of underwear for a trip of any length. One to wear, one to wash and a spare," she said.
To make sure items dry quickly, she takes quick-drying fabrics that can air dry overnight in a hotel.