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We all tend to over-pack for vacation. And since winter is the perfect time to head somewhere tropical and warm (a week on the sand with a margarita is the best cure for the cold), you’ll be tempted to bring your entire summer wardrobe with you.

But then you get hit with bag fees, heavy luggage, and just too many options. Here are four tips on packing all the clothes you need into a carry-on — and making it work.

Plan your outfits.

Yes, it’s easy to just throw some summer clothes into a suitcase and work on making an outfit later, however, planning what you’re going to wear beforehand will save you so much more time in the long run. No one likes to scramble right before dinner or wonder why you packed three of basically the same top.

Take some time before you start packing and think about what it is you’re going to be doing on vacation. If it’s going to be mostly on the beach, you probably don’t need anything too formal. And if there’s going to be a lot of active activity involved, it might be smart to pack extra athletic wear. Envision exactly what you’ll wear down to your shoes, and you’ll avoid bringing anything unnecessary.

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Mix and match.

While planning your outfits will help figure out what to bring, if every outfit is completely different, it will still be hard to fit everything into one suitcase. Think about bringing pieces that you can easily re-wear like a great pair of jeans that match all your tops, or a skirt that can be styled casually and out to dinner. It also helps if you pick these basics in neutral colors and fabrics so you can easily mix and match.

By only bringing one pair of jeans or two bikini bottoms rather than five, you can greatly cut down on the amount of stuff you’ll need.

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Use accessories.

As practical as a white t-shirt and jean shorts are, admittedly, they can get a bit boring. But you could get away with wearing the same variation of this look by spicing things up with accessories. Pick a couple bracelets, some necklaces, and maybe even an anklet (you are on vacation, after all) that you could add to create interest. By wearing a hat you’re both creating a complete outfit, while also protecting yourself from harmful sun rays. If you’ve got a basic sundress, belt it one day and wear it loose the other.

The great thing about accessories is that they take up very little space in your luggage, but transform your vacation style. And many vacation spots sell handmade jewelry and local gemstones, so you can buy there as well. You can wear a lot of these extras on your body on the plan,e too, and not take up space in any compartment.

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Think sample size.

Many of us have extensive skincare and beauty routines, which is quite challenging to upkeep on your vacation. You won’t be allowed to bring full-sized products in your carry-on, but rather than checking a bag, find samples of all your favorites. This does require you to plan ahead a little more than normal, but it’s worth it to get rid of the extra baggage.

Many of the stores where you purchase your products will be willing to provide you with samples, especially if you’re buying something or are a regular customer. You can now buy mini versions of your favorite perfumes (this can also be a way to try a new scent without the investment), and many toiletries come in travel sizes.

It’s also good to keep in mind that hotels and resorts have many things besides what they put out in the rooms. Obviously, you’ll be stocked with shampoo, body wash, and lotions, but oftentimes if you ask reception downstairs, they can provide toothbrushes, toothpaste, and the like.

 

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What techniques do you use to travel light? Let us know in the comments below!

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