Competition season can be hectic and the last thing you want stressing you out is your travel bag. Packing is tricky. You expect it to be easy but once you get started, you realize you have a lot more to do than you initially thought. A smart packer never packs her bags the night before or morning of a big event or traveling day. A smart packer plans ahead! Here a few tips that will make the packing process much simpler.

#1: Make a List
That's right. A good plan of action always requires a list. Write down absolutely everything you need to bring with you. Don't even leave out the simple things you think you'll remember (like practice wear). Often times, it's the small but important things that are left behind (how many times have you forgotten to pack a toothbrush?). Once you've made the list, read it over. Have a parent, teammate, or coach also look it over to make sure you didn't miss anything.

#2: Get the Perfect Bag
What exactly is a "perfect" bag? It's one that's large, but not oversized, durable but not heavy. Most cheer bags are either backpacks or duffle bags. It's better to fit everything into one bag, as opposed to carrying around several. Look for a cheer bag that has inside compartments so you can organize your small accessories. Or, use several small zipped bags to separate items. Forgo any boxes or hard containers "“ they're bulky, heavy, and take up a lot of room in a bag. If you have a lot of small items, or have items you need to use often, consider also taking a lightweight tote for easy access. In your tote, include necessities like your wallet, phone, itinerary, bobby pins, chapstick, iPod, etc.

#3: Pack Twice
This is one of those rules that sound silly until you try it. Pack your bag with everything you'll need. Did everything fit? Probably not (and if it did, you may be forgetting something or you're already an expert packer).

Now, unpack. Lay everything out and double check to make sure you have everything. Then, get rid of anything unnecessary. Do you really need three extra practice wear outfits? Can you get away with just one can of hairspray? There's a good chance there are a few items you can remove.

Whether or not you remove any items, start packing again. Put the heaviest items on the bottom, like your shoes (if they aren't in their own shoe compartment). Next, you can add your makeup and toiletries bags, and then your clothes. Any breakables (like glasses) should be at the top.

For items like practice wear, try rolling them rather than folding them. You can save a lot more space (just don't do that with your uniform or it will wrinkle!). To keep your competition uniform in good shape, hang it in a garment bag and carry it separately.

#4: Don't Make a Mess
One of the worst things you can do is not securely lock any and all makeup and hair products packs and products. Shattered makeup compacts, crushed eyeshadow, and leaky hair spray will ruin clothes, shoes, and your bag. Don't have a fancy pack for everything? Put it in a Ziploc bag.

#5: 5 Important Reminders
Make sure at least 3 people are assigned to bring the cheer music mix for your performance. That way if one person forgets or if someone's luggage gets lost, you have a backup.

Always carry a little cash on you when you travel in case of emergencies.

Don't forget extra clothes, socks and footwear; for casual hanging out, sleeping or special events. If you have extra accessories, bring those too in case one of your teammates forgets something!

Don't forget flip-flops for showering, and plenty of hair ties and bobby pins!

Don't wear or bring any expensive jewelry. You can't wear it during your performance anyway, and you don't want to risk losing it or having it stolen.

What are your packing tips?