Marie Kondo’s life-changing approach to organizing your possessions are spreading like wildfire, helping people all around the world to get their lives in order. She was named by Times as one of the top 100 most influential people in 2015; pretty impressive for someone who writes books about tidying up. For one bag travelers, her methods are magic. A small bag allows you to skip the baggage reclaim and head straight into town to explore. You don’t even need to drop it off at the hotel as you might with a larger rucksack. However, for even the most minimalist long-term traveler it can be hard to fit everything that you need into a carry-on. So what tips does Marie Kondo have for making the most of limited space?

Get the Right Bag

Two bags with the same volume of space may not necessarily be able to fit the same amount of stuff. It’s all about clever design features, which allow you to keep everything separated into its rightful place. Pick a bag where you can identify how each pocket would be used. If it has high-quality threads and the right amount of padding, then you can fit more in without it feeling heavier on your back.

Become Familiar with Your Packing List

Marie Kondo is a big promoter of knowing your possessions. Once you know what needs to be packed in, you can work methodically and strategically. You might surprise yourself how changing the order in which you pack your things actually creates more space. By having a minimalist home, it will become easier to know what you need to take traveling. Once you are familiar with your packing list, it will become second nature to pack it all up efficiently.

Use Packing Cubes

A bag with many pockets is excellent, but you can add even more separation with packing cubes. This way, rather than unpacking your whole bag, you can just unpack the cube you need. For Marie Kondo, this isn’t just about fitting more in but keeping the contents protected. A small pouch will hold your spare change and keys that would otherwise always get lost, but also consider keeping your shoes and dirty clothes separate so that they don’t ruin your clean clothes.

Roll Your Clothes (Probably)

Marie Kondo’s Folding Guide is a valuable resource, with each item of clothing having a distinctive method to keep the clothes protected and neatly stowed. However, if all you are packing is a couple of basic T-shirts and underwear, then rolling is the way to go. Generally speaking, a rolled T-shirt takes up less space than a folded one. However, consider your situation carefully. If your bag is completely filled to the brim, then your best option might be to fold the top and slide it into the laptop pocket.

Fill Any and Every Cavity

Rookie packers will just throw each item directly into a bag, but experts in the minimalist lifestyle know that is a waste of space. Consider each and every cavity and fill it with other items. For instance, Marie Kondo recommends stuffing all your underpants into a bra. Remember: an empty shoe takes up the same amount of space as a shoe full of toiletries.

Make Sure You Love Every Item

The Japanese Art of Decluttering, as outlined by Marie Kondo, is all about stripping out anything that you don’t feel passionate about. The same should go for your packing list. Go through each item and think long and hard about its value. Does the item give you joy? You might find this a strange question as you stare at your toothbrush, but eventually, you’ll remember how nice it feels to finally brush your teeth or reapply some deodorant after a long-haul flight. Once you have removed any items you can’t justify, then staying packed and organized will be a breeze.

It’s Better to Underpack than Overpack

Ever heard the phrase “It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it”? Yeah, forget that. Every year, millions of people set off abroad with bags full of just-in-case items. Strip your packing list back to the bare essentials. If you have one of every article of clothing, then you have enough to get by. Beyond that, maybe some essential hygiene products and your phone, wallet, and passport are all you need. You can add a laptop to that if it’s how you make a living, but everything else is a luxury. So if you have an item that you are unsure about, the best solution is usually to leave it behind. This is especially true if it is something that can be bought at your destination if needs be.

Getting the packing list right is crucial for the minimalist traveler. In her work on decluttering and organizing, Marie Kondo has everything you need to know. On the one hand, you need to start eliminating those items that you don’t truly love or feel passionate about bringing. On the other hand, you should find the right backpack and organize the interior space carefully. It can be a bit trial and error, but in no time you’ll be a packing pro, ready to take on the world.

Written by Thom Brown