I remember being a newbie at traveling and having no idea that there was a right way and a wrong way to pack. By the time I got to my destination I was exhausted because my long journey was made extra tiring by all my heavy bags. Then while unpacking I realized I made some pretty bad mistakes.
That was then and this is now. Now I know how to pack a suitcase efficiently for maximum space utilization and convenience without struggling with extra weight. At my destination, I’m prepared with the right clothes that are all in good condition, and I have enough space for souvenirs while returning. So what is the most efficient way to pack a suitcase? Here are my tips from several years of travel experience.
One more thing – some of these ideas require you to have travel accessories that help keep your suitcase neat and organized. If you think that the cost of all these add up, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make some of them yourself out of stuff you find lying around the house.
1. Choose the right luggage
Before you do anything else, you absolutely must invest in good travel bags. If your old ones are falling apart, too heavy when empty, or just not working for your needs, get rid of them and buy new ones. Confused as to what you’ll need? Start here to narrow down your options.
2. Check the weather before hand
While you can’t be sure that the weather will be the same when you get there, you can at least have a good idea and pack only a few “just in case” items.
3. Make a checklist and lay out all your things before hand
A checklist can be added to over a few days before you travel, so there’s less chance of you forgetting anything. If you just grab and throw things into your suitcase at the last minute, you’ll definitely leave out something important or pack unnecessary things – one of the most common packing mistakes people make.
The best way to pack a suitcase is to lay out everything on your list before putting them in. Make sure your clothing and accessories coordinate with each other, and preferably with more than just one other piece. Remove whatever doesn’t make sense. Having a versatile color palette is a smart way to ensure that you pack light because you can mix and match pieces to create completely different outfits each time.
4. Use packing cubes to organize
These are some of the most useful travel accessories you can buy if your suitcase usually gets messy during a trip. Buy them separately or as a set, with all the same size or in three different sizes, and use them to pack your tops in one, trousers and skirts in another, undergarments in another, and hair styling tools and accessories in another. At your hotel, unpacking is easy – just remove each cube and place in the closet or leave them in the suitcase. Everything stays neat and tidy and you won’t have to fish around to find an item of clothing. At the end of your trip, use them to separate soiled clothes.
You could also consider compression sacs like those from Flight 001 Spacepak. You can get separate ones for clothes, lingerie, shoes or toiletries or buy them as a set. They’ll save you space in your luggage as long as you don’t go over weight restrictions.
5. Use toiletry bags, cosmetic bags and jewelry rolls
Like packing cubes, these help organize all your small items and prevent liquids and powders from getting into everything. Your jewelry will be protected in a pouch or roll rather in an in-built pocket. However, don’t put valuable jewelry in your checked bag if you’re flying. Those pieces should always go in your carry on. Full-sized toiletries should be packed in your checked luggage.
6. Pack heavy and awkward items first and smaller items in between
Things like a blow dryer, books and souvenirs should go in first because clothes and smaller things can fit in between the nooks. Spread them out through the length and breadth of the suitcase so that their weights are evenly distributed.
7. Place shoes right on top
Put shoes in plastic bags and place them right on top if you’re flying so that TSA won’t have to root through everything else if they want to screen your suitcase. To maximize utilization of space, pack socks and belts in the shoes. These also help keep the shape of the shoes.
8. Roll your clothes instead of folding
If you don’t need packing cubes, the best way to pack clothes is not to fold them. In order to save space and keep your clothes as wrinkle-free as possible, roll them up instead. The very thin garments like tank tops can be rolled up in groups of 3 or 4. Bulky sweaters and jeans can be rolled up individually. Fit each roll tightly side by side.
9. Pack formal wear in the mesh compartment inside the lid
If you’re not taking packing cubes and there are items that need to be protected, put them in the lid’s mesh compartment with tissue paper in between each layer. You don’t want your high heels getting caught in the lace of your dress, do you?! If you don’t have formals, use that compartment to carry light books or a travel purse.
10. Use a TSA-approved lock
Always locked checked in luggage to deter anyone from trying to steal something. However, use only a TSA-approved lock if it is not a built in type. Security agents are allowed to break open any other lock to manually screen your suitcase.
So there you have it! I hope you now have a good idea of how to pack a suitcase efficiently and painlessly. Try these tips at least once and see if any of them need to be tweaked or completely changed to suit your needs.