If you’ve ever made a mess of packing your travel bag, you know that how you pack your suitcase can determine whether you have a vacation that’s stress-free or stressful. The last thing you want to do on vacation is scramble to pick up something you forgot at home, or find yourself wearing clothes so wrinkled they leave you feeling self-conscious.
That’s why we’ve put together this packing guide. Whether you’re packing a carry-on suitcase for a weekend break, or are heading away for the long haul with loads of check-in baggage, our suitcase packing tips will see you sailing through your travels without a fuss.
Start with a Packing List
It’s easy to forget something important if you pack without a plan. That’s why we recommend making a list of everything you’ll need for your trip. This could be broken down into categories like ‘clothes’, ‘toiletries’, ‘electronics’ (or not, if you’re looking for a digital detox!) and anything ‘extra’ that springs to mind – like sunglasses, a travel adapter or those books you’ve been meaning to read.
We’d advise making sure that your suitcase packing list includes:
- Clothing, shoes and underwear
- Any medicines and cosmetics
- Tickets, money and travel documents
- Electronics (e.g phone charger, powerbank, plug adapter)
For some trips, it’s also advisable to pack at least a basic first aid kit, as well as any location-specific extras like bug spray.
If you’re struggling to decide how many clothes to take with you, follow the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 rule. For a long weekend, pack 5 sets of socks and underwear, 4 tops, 3 bottoms, 2 pairs of shoes and 1 final item like a jacket or hat. It also helps to keep in mind the destination and nature of your trip. If you’re planning to laze on sunny beaches then you’ll want to pack swimwear and sunblock, just as if you’re going hiking you’ll need your trusty boots (and a travel-ready Go Bag!)
Lay it all out
It’s happened to all of us at some point or the other – we’ve tried to zip our suitcase shut and it just won’t happen (unless we jump on top of it). This can be easily avoided by laying out everything you want to pack beforehand on your bed or carpet. It’s a good visual indicator of whether you’re carrying too much or too little with you. And, importantly, it helps you figure out the ideal suitcase size for your trip.
Weigh things up
Having laid everything out and selected your suitcase, begin by packing the heaviest items at the bottom of your suitcase, by the wheels. This will keep it stable while you’re moving about, and also ensures your clothes don’t get crushed or that something fragile doesn’t get damaged. The last thing you want is to open up your suitcase after a long flight and find a broken bottle has soaked your clothes. Pro-tip: always pack liquids in leakproof toiletry bags.
It’s also important to think about how much your carry-on suitcase weighs – some airlines have weight restrictions for carry-ons now, and you don’t want to find yourself frantically repacking your travel bag at check-in because you’re over the limit.
There’s still a lot of debate over whether it’s better to flat pack or roll up clothes. We recommend the latter for 3 reasons:
- Rolling prevents your clothes from getting too wrinkly
- It allows you to fit more in less space
- It helps keep things organized
We’d actually take things a step further and suggest you roll up your clothes and transport them in storage bags, which you can then neatly fit against each other into your suitcase (like you would in a game of Tetris).
You can decide how you want to pack the bags – whether each one should have one type of clothing in it, or whether you want a storage bag for each day of the trip. Either way, you can label them all so that you know where everything is and can get what you need in an instant.
Bonus suitcase packing tip: if you’re off on a long vacation (lucky you!) then consider taking an empty Stasher as a laundry bag so that you can keep worn clothes away from the rest until it’s laundry time!
To avoid any messes, remember to store liquids and toiletries in waterproof, TSA-friendly travel bags. Pack these at the top of your suitcase or in a place that’s easy to access so you’re not digging through clothes while security looms over you.
Before You Leave
Once you’ve finished packing and ticked everything off your list, be sure to double check the following:
- Make sure you’re not overpacked. Airlines list their luggage restrictions so weigh and measure your suitcase to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
- At the same time, make sure you don’t under pack so much that your belongings are rattling about in your suitcase. If you’re way under, pack an extra backpack for day trips or consider downsizing your bag.
- When you’re traveling, it’s good to have important travel documents on you, as well as a lightweight, pocket-friendly bag for medicines, hand sanitizer or snacks. Remember to take a reusable bottle too!
Our tips for packing a suitcase are for travelers of all kinds. With your travel bag packed like a pro, there’s just one other thing to remember as you explore the beautiful planet we call home: take only photos, leave only footprints.