On the eve of my California vacation, I finished folding my laundry and cleaning the house (I like to tidy in advance so when I come back from vacation I'm not met with dirty dishes and tumbleweeds of dog hair) and could finally commence my FAVORITE PART OF VACATION PREP: packing!

Wait, what? I actually *enjoy* packing? Yes, folks. And let me tell you why. It's a perfect opportunity to get amped up for all the fun to come, run through your activities and schedule, and make this vacation you've planned for months finally feel tangible! The worst parts of packing -- fitting everything in your bags and trying not to forget anything -- are easily solved with 4 simple rules, and then it's easy sailing from there. Employ these rules that I live by and you'll be dancin' your way through the packing process in no time.

1) Make a List

This. Is. Key. Set yourself up for success by preparing for your trip before you even pick out a single outfit. Some of us plan our vacations out to a T - every hour is taken up by an activity, including allotted downtime. Others like to book flights and fly by the seat of their pants upon landing. Whichever your planning preference, you can jot down your schedule and at least look up your destination's weather to dress appropriately. Not ever activity will require something for you to pack specifically for it, but it's a good way to visualize yourself on your vacation and jog your memory for any details you may forget when you look at the whole.

An excerpt from my list looks like this:

Thursday: 

Fly to SF - comfy clothes

Dinner with friends - nice outfit

Bed - jammies, toothbrush, facewash

Friday:

Brunch with Megan

Hiking - workout clothes, tennies

Dinner back at Amelia's house

Go out in Berkeley - hot girl disguise

2) Lay Out Your Stuff

Now that you have your handy dandy list, you can pick out specific outfits to match your activities on each day. "Nice outfit" turns into your new navy dress, velvet flats, and blazer. If you have room, you can even bring backup outfits for spur-of-the-moment indecision. Even this little bit of planning saves you from the old "pack my whole closet in case I need it" chaos.

3) Pack Backwards

This goes against your instincts (what happened to first things first?) but it comes in super handy so you don't have to dig to the bottom of your duffel bag for your jammies the first night. Here's where your list really saves your butt - just pack from the bottom up! You'll be so happy you packed back-to-front on your last day of vacation, when you're not repacking all the stuff you pulled out of your suitcase on the first day!

4) Pack Smarter, Not Harder

If you tuck socks and underwear inside your shoes, line your jeans around the exterior of your roller bag, and neatly roll up any clothing that would get wrinkly and bulky in the middle, you can save yourself the headache of jumping on top of your bag to zip it closed. Pro tip: put everything you need to take out at the airport in the most accessible pockets of your suitcase or in your purse, and keep an extra layer (sweatshirt, jacket) out of your bags so it can be a blanket or pillow in transit.

Congratulations: your jam-packing days are over!