If you've planned an upcoming vacation, you’re probably excited about everything to do with it – except for having to pack that suitcase. Packing anxiety is a real thing. Packing for a trip is usually a disorganized, agitating, tedious mess that ends with us over-packing because we’re too stressed out to make decisions or too rushed to be thoughtful about it. Over-packing leads to its own set of problems, such as overweight luggage fees, damaged luggage, and absolutely no room in the suitcase for souvenirs or for shopping abroad. On the other hand, packing light is much more difficult than we wish it was. It requires thoughtful decision-making and plenty of pre-planning. Packing light is especially difficult for women, who have extra items to think about such as makeup, hair curlers and high heels. And let’s not forget the organization aspect. Packing in a disorganized manner  causes chaos when we can't find the things we need, or when we realize we forgot the item we so desperately need altogether. Luckily, there are certain packing hacks and tips that will help you ladies become expert packers and vanquish your packing anxiety. Here are 20 tips every woman should keep in her back pocket when packing for a trip:

20 Start Early

What does almost everyone reading this article have in common? Almost all of us are the type who wait until the night before (or the day of) a trip to start packing.

Rushed or frantic packing is never going to be done right, which is why it’s important to start early.

Travelers often make excuses about why they can’t start packing early, stating that they need certain items for their day-to-day routine and therefore can’t pack those items away in a suitcase early. However, starting early doesn’t necessarily mean physically packing a week before the trip. A week before your trip, however, you can start writing out a packing list and thoughtfully deciding what you truly want to bring with you. You can also proactively do some laundry and make sure to wash the clothes you know you’ll be wanting to bring with you. The point is, there’s plenty you can do to start the packing process the week before your trip.

19 Always Start With The Essentials

When you begin packing, first write down a list of essentials. These are the items you know you need to pack. For example, you might know you need at least one fancy dress if you’re going to somebody’s wedding, and you probably know exactly which makeup and skincare products you absolutely need with you at all times, and whether or not you need running shoes (will this trip involve hiking or a lot of walking?). It should be relatively easy to list your essential items. From there, you can add extra items until you run out of space. It helps to physically pack those essentials, and see how much room you have left for other items you hoped you’d still have space for.

18 Plan Your Outfits Ahead Of Time

Planning your outfits ahead of time is one of the best tips there is when it comes to packing, ladies. Not only will you realize that that you need to pack way less clothing than you thought you needed, but you’ll also relieve a ton of stress by pre-planning outfits that will look great in photos and in real life.

Pre-planning outfits is something you can start doing the week before your trip, which is why starting the packing process early is important.

You’ll have to look over your itinerary to see what types of activities you’ll be doing, and therefore what types of outfits you’ll need. You definitely only need a very minimal number of bottoms. Each time you pair your bottoms with a new shirt, it’s a new outfit, so make sure your bottoms are neutrals that can match with any top. When you go over your itinerary, you’ll become aware of how many comfortable outfits you need compared to how many dressy outfits you need. By planning outfits for each day, you’re taking organization to the next level and reducing a ton of your packing anxiety.

17 Pack Versatile Clothing Items

Plenty of online retailers sell magical maxi dresses that can be worn 16 different ways, for example. If you get one in black, it can look like a completely different dress when you tie the neckline a different way, and you can even wear these dresses as skirts by converting the top into a tie-belt for the skirt. You can also buy reversible clothing, and plenty of retailers are coming up with cool reversible patterns with travelers in mind. Even your own closet is probably already full of versatile clothing that will help you pack light. A pretty floral kimono can be a beach cover-up or a cute going-out outfit. It can be dressed up or down.

A simple black romper can be worn to the beach with sandals or dressed up at night with statement jewelry, heels and a nice hairstyle.

A striped t-shirt can be dressed up or down, as it can be paired with a high-waisted skirt and heels or worn with jean shorts and converse. Versatile clothing that creates multiple outfits often includes clothing that is a neutral color, can be dressed up or down, can be mixed and matched, or fits a color scheme you’ve chosen. Finally, never underestimate the versatility of a plain black t-shirt.

16 Know Which Materials Don’t Wrinkle

There are certain materials that always hang nicely and that never wrinkle. If you’re an avid traveller, you should be buying cute outfits in these materials. Lyocell is a form of rayon that doesn’t wrinkle, is soft and hangs nicely. Other fabrics that resist wrinkles are polyester, cashmere, silks, microfibers, thicker knits and spandex-blends. Spandex-blends are great because when spandex is blended with another material, it not only helps the clothing item resist wrinkles, but it also makes the item much more comfortable to wear (and comfort is key while travelling).

15 Organize Your Makeup Methodically

Carefully write a list of the makeup you actually need and will use. Chances are, you don’t need 3 different eyeshadow palettes – you just need your favorite one to create your favorite look.

Pack your makeup in one of those handy, compact, travel makeup cases.

Don’t use one of those bulky, expandable makeup boxes. It’s easy to fit all your makeup in a compact travel makeup case if you stick to packing your favorite products and you use travel-sized makeup containers. For example, you don’t need a full-sized bottle of foundation for your trip, so just put the amount you need in a smaller travel-sized container. You can get these handy containers at your local drug store or dollar store.

14 Organize And Protect Your Jewelry

There are plenty of packing hacks specific to organizing your jewelry. For example, those pill organizer boxes are great little boxes for packing and organizing earrings and rings. And, since us ladies hate it when our favourite necklaces get tangled in our luggage, try laying your necklaces flat between two pieces of plastic cling wrap. This prevents necklaces from moving around in your suitcase and getting tangled. There are also plenty of travel jewelry cases you can buy online that keep your jewelry organized, all in one place, and tangle-free.

13 Don’t Attempt To Travel With Solely Carry-On Luggage Unless You Have To

Plenty of you have probably stressed yourselves out even more, and made your packing anxiety even worse by attempting to fit everything into carry-on luggage. Attempting to pack extra-light, so that you can travel with solely carry-on luggage, is often a huge mistake. People do this in an attempt to save money, since checking a bag is often quite expensive, and some airlines are outrageous in their checked bag prices. People also do this because they think it’s simply easier to travel with a lighter load. However, unless you have a really good reason for wanting to travel with solely carry-on, you should be planning on packing a real (full-sized) suitcase. Packing a checked bag will reduce your packing anxiety because you no longer have to worry about carry-on restrictions such as the maximum size of liquids you can pack, and you also don’t have to make as drastic of compromises either.

12 Leave Some Room In Your Suitcase Instead Of Stuffing It Full

Always leave room in your suitcase in case you want to buy souvenirs, or go shopping, or bring back duty-free alcohol. Leave empty, unused space in your suitcase because it will get used for something and even if it doesn’t get used, at least that empty space that you’ve left is helping to ensure you don’t get charged extra for having overweight luggage. Lastly,

leaving some room in your suitcase makes it easier to pack up and leave when the time comes.

You won't have to waste time trying to fit everything in the suitcase if you've left a lot of spare room in it.

11 Use Space-Saving Packing Hacks

There are a lot of space-saving tips out there for you to research and find on your own, but I’ll name a few that are guaranteed to help you out. First of all, shove shower caps full of clean socks into your shoes to use up that empty space inside the shoe. Then, think about the extra room in a sunglasses case, and how you can store jewelry, lipstick, and other items in there along with your sunglasses. Stuff your underwear inside of the concave cup of folded bras to save space and to ensure your bras retain their shape.

10 Pack Zip Lock Bags For Organization And Cleanliness

Zip Lock bags are a great thing to pack because you can use them to organize makeup, seal away dirty underwear, ensure your liquids don’t leak all over your clothes, and more. Nobody wants dirty clothing to stink up the clean clothing, and nobody is happy when they can’t find a matching sock. There are countless uses for Zip Lock bags and you’ll be happy to have them. Other uses for Zip Lock bags include bagging dirty shoes and bagging souvenirs for loved ones to keep them all in one place.

9 Remember That The Little Things Add Up

You might think that small things such as bikini tops, sunglasses and lipsticks don’t matter because they don’t take up much space. Think again, because the little things definitely add up, and

when it comes to things like bikinis and sunglasses, you should be decisive and pack one or two pairs.

For example, just find the perfect pair of sunglasses that suit your face shape. You know, the ones that look fantastic on you (and have good UV protection) and then be done with it. That’s your favorite pair of sunglasses, and that’s the only pair you’re bringing with you. It has to be the same deal with things like bikinis and sandals. If you pack 5 pairs, you probably will only wear one or two of those pairs and the rest you’ll realize you didn’t need. You don’t need all these options because in actuality, you know what your favorite pairs that you’ll wear the most are.

8 Research Your Airline’s Baggage Allowance

Most plane tickets include one checked bag and carry-on luggage. Now, carry-on regulations generally allow you to have one piece of carry-on luggage and one carry-on personal bag.

Many people think ‘personal bag’ means a purse, but it can actually be a big, roomy tote bag.

I suggest your personal bag be a spacious, structured tote bag because you can still put your real purse inside, and a bunch of other stuff. If you maximize the space of your personal bag, and your carry-on bag, you’ll effectively create more room in your suitcase. If you’re going on a shorter trip and you were able to pack everything you needed into carry-on, you should still bring a large tote as your personal bag because that extra space could be used on the way home for souvenirs!

7 Pack Heavier Items In Carry-On, Not In Your Checked Bag

Your checked luggage will always be weighed, but it’s extremely rare for your carry-on luggage to be weighed. That’s why it’s so important to pack the heaviest items in carry-on. By that, I mean shoes, makeup, books, and heavy sweaters or jackets. When it comes to checked luggage, the average fee for an overweight bag is $100, but it could be more. Most airlines have a weight limit of 50 pounds for a checked bag, and they typically consider anything more than 4 pounds over an ‘overweight bag’.

6 Wear Lots Of Layers At The Airport

There are a couple of reasons why you should wear layers to the airport. For one thing, it’s smart to wear that thick sweater and those bulky hiking boots at the airport instead of packing them to save your suitcase the space and weight. It’s also beneficial to wear a couple of sweaters (layers) because

those big sweaters or jackets you’re wearing can double as a blanket or pillow on the plane,

and the remaining layer will be needed since airplanes are always chilly. It goes without saying that anything that takes up a lot of room in your bag (such as a winter coat) should be on your body instead.

5 Roll Your Clothes

There are a few key benefits to rolling your clothing items instead of folding them inside of your suitcase. For one thing, rolling clothes saves space. You can cram more outfits in, which is important for us women. Rolling clothes also helps them to stay wrinkle-free. While folding can crease an item, rolling it will keep it in better condition. A suitcase full of rolled clothes also helps you visually. You can see more of your clothes at once when there are rows of rolled items instead of folded pieces on top of each other.

4 Pack A Kindle E-Reader Instead Of Books

A vast majority of travelers love to read while they’re on vacation. Sunbathing by a pool or at the beach while reading a great book is one of the most relaxing things to do on a trip. Reading before bed is also a great way to help you fall asleep, especially since many of us have trouble sleeping when we’re away from our own familiar beds. The only problem is that books are heavy and they take up a lot of space.

Download books onto a Kindle so that you can save the weight (and the space) and have all your books on one device.

A Kindle screen is designed in a way that does not hurt your eyes and it’s a very lightweight device.

3 Go Easy On The Shoes

It’s crucial that your shoe collection be dramatically minimized when you’re packing for a trip because just like books, they’re heavy and they take up a lot of space. Most people who pack 6 pairs of shoes only actually wear 2 of them. Try to pack a maximum of 3 pairs of shoes. You only need one pair of heels. Make it a neutral pair that goes with everything. You’ll also only need one pair of sandals (or flats) and one pair of runners. Many of us wish we could pack our black sandals, white sandals and red ones and we wish we could pack our black and white converse – but you just have to make decisions based on what you know you’ll wear more.

2 Always Pack Warm Clothing

Even if you’re going to a hot, tropical destination, always pack at least some warm clothing. Pack a couple of cozy sweaters and some warm leggings and warm socks. Be prepared for unexpectedly cold air conditioning, chilly winds at night, or boat rides with cool breezes. When it comes to weather, always expect the unexpected because even hot destinations have cold nights, even sunny destinations get rain, and weather isn't always what you expect. Mother Nature is unpredictable after all.

1 Ensure Your Carry-On Luggage Has The Essentials You’d Need If Your Checked Luggage Was Lost

Pack your carry-on luggage mindfully, including the essentials you’d need if your airline happens to lose your checked luggage. Airlines lose checked luggage all the time, and usually you’ll get it back within a few days, but it’s crucial that your carry-on luggage has what you’d need for a few days. Anything that has to do with you bedtime routine (makeup remover, face wash, etc) or your morning routine (makeup, contact lenses, etc) should be packed in carry-on.

Personal essentials such as medication should be packed in carry-on.

Finally, carry-on luggage should also have your valuables, because your valuables should always be kept with you.