How to Efficiently Pack a Suitcase
Prepare to be wowed by all the space you save.
How many times have you arrived at your destination and opened your packed suitcase only to find a rumpled pile of clothes? It happens to the best of us. To avoid this, it's important to load clothing and other travel must-haves the smart way. According to Joanna Wirick, a professional life and home organizer, "when you pack a suitcase intentionally, you can fit more than if you choose not to." By strategically placing clothing in your suitcase and using specific tools, she says, you can also reduce wrinkling.
As for how to begin the packing process? Check the weather at your destination, says Amy Tokos, the president of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO). This way, you will bring what you actually need—and will certainly wear—for the duration of your trip. Wirick notes that if you sort your suitcase correctly, you will also eliminate stress down the road. "A well-packed suitcase means that you have taken the time to think about what you're bringing and how, which reduces the likelihood of forgetting something important," she says. "Travel with ease knowing you have everything packed." Ahead, more ways to efficiently pack a suitcase in no time.
Have your essentials at the ready.
Beyond clothing, there are other items you need to include, notes Wirick, and you should start with toiletries. She recommends bringing only the necessities, like moisturizer, cleanser, sunscreen, and bug spray, in a leak-proof, customizable travel container. Consider one of her favorites, such as the Cadence Get Outside Bundle ($42, keepyourcadence.com). Next, get your technology ready to via an organizer, like the DDgro Electronics Travel Organizer ($11.49, amazon.com). "Include the following: an all-in-one adapter for international travel, charging cords, a solar or rechargeable charger (just in case you don't have access to an outlet), and earbuds," Wirick adds. "I recommend having a main tech bag and then a smaller tech bag for each person in the family. This way, you're not frequently being asked, 'Mom, can I get the charger?'" Don't forget to pack a safety case, like the RFID Currency and Passport Organizer ($25, containerstore.com), that includes your passport, credit cards, and travel documents, so they are secure and accessible at any security checkpoints; an emergency bag (like a first-aid kit or a tote with travel medicine) is also suggested.
Keep garments wrinkle-free.
Next, on to the clothes. Your goal is to make your garments fit in your luggage, but to also be wrinkle free once you unload them. Sharon Lowenheim, a NAPO board member, says to work from largest to smallest items: pants, then skirts, then shorts. Match them up along their waistlines and fold them in half to minimize bulk. "Fold shirts, sweaters, underwear, socks, and pajamas, and place them on top of the bottoms, up at the waistband level," she continues. "Then, start rolling the pile from the waistband end. Keep rolling until you have a compact roll of clothes. Place the roll into the bottom of your suitcase so that it doesn't shift in transit."
Lowenheim recommends wearing your bulkiest pair of shoes (and any heavy winter coats, for that matter) while you're traveling, and lining the rest along the sides of your suitcase, with socks slotted into them. Place any non-liquid items in the middle (like your solid toiletries and technology bag). Put your jackets on top and fold your sleeves over into the center—and you're done! Just tuck any liquids you do end up packing, along with other items you need readily available, into an outside pocket.
Assess your clothing before you pack it.
Remember: Don't overpack. Stuffing too many items into your case can actually damage your luggage in the long run. There's also a big benefit to packing light: Lowenheim explains that the less you carry, the less time you will spend worrying about your clothing—and you can dedicate that saved mental space to your trip experience. "Judiciously pick the least amount of clothing that will be used most often for your destination," she says. "Lay out all the items on your bed in advance and reduce what to take by removing the 'nice to bring along, but not necessary' items."
To really get that perfect fit, consider using compression bags, like the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cube Set ($30.38, amazon.com). "I can say from personal experience that they make a difference and allow you to get a few extra items in there," says Wirick. "Your clothes will get a bit more wrinkled, but if your priority is to pack more, this is the best option." Also, opting for a large purse or carry-on bag will allow you to stow away any extras.