Packing a suitcase might seem simple enough—but learning a few key strategies can mean the difference between a stressful journey and a streamlined one. Checked baggage fees, weight restrictions, delays, cancellations, and crazy waits at the luggage carousel are just a few reasons why packing light is so popular these days. Whether you’re headed for a three-day business trip or a month-long expedition, knowing the best ways to minimize your load, maximize your suitcase space and pack efficiently will smooth most of the wrinkles out of your next trip.

01Go small

small suitcase ljubaphoto / Getty Images

The larger your suitcase, the more you’ll be tempted to stuff into it. Stop yourself from overpacking by limiting yourself to a suitcase no taller than 22 inches, with hard sides and a structured shell. Bear in mind that even a carry-on that’s well within the airline’s size limits can easily become oversized if you use expanding features, or stuff every compartment.