The Personal Item. I do not waste my personal item allowance on a tiny purse. I bring a large tote bag that I can stash under the seat, but will still give me extra storage space. The tote (see photo above) will come in handy for keeping all of the things I'll need on hand during the flight within arms' reach. I pack this tote with a smaller purse, travel documents, passport, camera, kindle, magazines, jewelry, chargers and medications. (just in case they gate check my carryon)
Zip-Lock Bags. Getting everything for a big trip into one suitcase means that it will be jam-packed. Rather than having my suitcase explode all over the hotel room every time I open it, I like to keep everything separated in LARGE zip-lock bags and air bags (you can purchase these at any of the big box stores in the packing isle). The clear bags make it easy to find things, will help keep everything wrinkle free and they can save space (if you compress all the air out). They also make it easy for the TSA to root through my belongings if they have to do a hand-search. Same goes for small items like chargers and medicines—keeping them in bags makes them much easier to find. I use small sandwich-sized bags as well as the larger gallon-sized variety, and keep them in my suitcase between trips for reuse. I also pack empty bags for dirty laundry. My best tool for any trip is my custom excel packing spread sheet. It keeps me from forgetting the things I need for every trip. The sheet also keeps me from over packing because I plan out what I will wear each day. By using these tips I can get everything I need for a weeks vacation in one small piece of luggage!!