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Packing is really a matter of preparing – making sure you have whatever you need while traveling. You also want to return home with all of your belongings and news ones you’ve acquired all intact. Some basic principles that will help are to prepare for problems, choose the right luggage and plan for the return.

Anyone who’s traveled much knows you’re likely to lose your luggage at some point. It really isn’t so bad if you’re prepared. Include in your carry-on bag a small survival kit with basic toiletries, a change of underwear, socks, pants and shirt. As long as you have something to get you through a day on foreign soil, you’ll still be your best. It also beats buying tacky clothing at the airport.

The luggage you take on a trip may depend on what you have, but you’re likely to want a garment bag for suits and other hanging items. For everything else, pilot bags or duffles provide plenty of space. The wheels of a pilot keep you rolling, but duffles are often easier to stow on an airplane, train or bus. The bottom line is to have enough luggage, but not too much to handle. One carry-on bag and two larger bags should suffice for the average traveler. If you need more, be prepared to pay with labor or tips. You should also know the brand, color and name of your luggage to help describe it when it’s lost.

To maximize space in luggage, you must get an idea of what you are bringing and where you’re packing it. All of the items to be packed should be laid out next to open luggage.

Clothes can be folded within one another to make thick creases and reduce wrinkles. Don’t be afraid to stuff socks, undergarments or other items, such as towels, in corners and nooks to get the most from your luggage. You don’t want it bulging to the point of being awkward, but it’s made to be filled.

Your carry-on luggage should include your survival pack and smaller items you might want in transit – sunglasses, books and magazines, cards, makeup, phones and laptops, etc. Other things such as gifts and hats need to go with you, too. You usually get two carry-on bags on flights. Again, just make sure it isn’t too much to handle. It’s better to check more stuff than try and carry it all with you. Always try to bring less since the tendency is to bring too much.

Bags should be packed nearly full, but with a little extra space. You can plan on acquiring things along the way as you travel. If you’re a heavy shopper, you might even want to bring an empty bag to bring everything back. No matter what, it’s good to have reserve space. You don’t necessarily have to fill it, but it’s there if you need it.

A shave kit or cosmetic bag is best for loose toiletries and other health or beauty items. But for larger bottles of lotion, shampoo or oil, place them in a plastic bag that seals. It could save your luggage, clothing and peace of mind if something breaks.

You should always check your luggage before a trip. If the airline damages it, you’ll know. Make sure seams are good and zippers are closed. For luggage that’s checked, be ready to take off straps and stuff them somewhere in the luggage, like an outside zipper-pocket.

Packing gets easier with each trip. By following some of these basic tips and learning as you go, you’ll be packing like a pro in no time at all.