How to Pack a Suitcase & Maximise Space
Nobody wants to get to their holiday destination and realise they forgot something. On the other hand, nobody wants to get to the airport and realize that their suitcase is too heavy because they packed too much. Travellers and holiday-makers need to find the perfect balance between bringing what they need and leaving suitcase space for souvenirs. If you want to avoid sitting on your suitcase to try and squash it shut, follow the 10 top tips for packing a suitcase below.
Choose the Right Type of Suitcase
The simplest way to make sure that you pack light is to buy a smaller suitcase. The more room you have, the more tempted you will be to fill it with things that you don’t necessarily need. A smaller suitcase will force you to be more economical about what you choose to pack. Lighter luggage is also cheaper and less stressful. If you travel with a carry-on suitcase then you don’t need to worry about checked baggage fees or lost luggage. Of course, you need to check your travel provider’s size and weight restrictions for carry-on bags. Invest in a luggage scale so that you can weigh your suitcase before you get to the airport. This will help you to avoid last-minute swaps or baggage fees. It will also help if you intend to leave some room for souvenirs. You should also decide whether you want a hard suitcase to protect fragile items or a soft suitcase for expandability. In either case, ensure that your suitcase is easily identifiable.
Plan What to Pack & Pack in Advance
Once you have your suitcase, make a list of what you will need to bring well in advance. This allows you to edit down your packing and to pick up any products that you still need to buy before you leave. Instead of leaving it until the last minute and potentially forgetting something, use your checklist to stay organized and pack ahead of time. Having a list should also prevent you from over-packing if you have already narrowed down what you want to take. The best advice for creating a packing list begins with considering your destination and the activities you intend to participate in while you are there. Plan your outfits, including jackets and shoes, according to what the weather will be like. You don’t need “outfit options” – and if you’re that indecisive, pack a capsule wardrobe. This means packing only essential items in a similar colour scheme with a few statement accessories. You only need to pack a few items to create several different outfit choices. It is better to pack 2 tops for every 1 bottom, but don’t be excessive. It is advisable to have an inventory of essential documents, devices, toiletries, and accessories as well as a list for your clothing, underwear, and shoes.
Should You Roll Clothes or Fold Them?
There has long been a debate over the best way to pack a suitcase when it comes to clothes. Some people swear by folding to avoid wrinkles, while others insist that rolling is the best way to maximise space. The truth is that there are benefits to both methods, and the best way to pack is to utilize both of them. It is more efficient to roll softer fabrics which are more wrinkle-resistant and fold heavier fabrics which are stiffer. For example, underwear and t-shirts can be rolled up tightly to save space. There is also a third option called “bundling” for packing clothes. It involves wrapping clothes around each other to form a bundle. However, it is not ideal when you want to get to your clothes. Layering is the best way to go. You can bundle outfits by rolling them together instead. Ensure that the clothes you need access to first will end up at the top. Packing your tubes of rolled clothing around the outside of the case creates a buffer for other items inside as you fill in the middle space. You can separate layers with dry-cleaning bags to prevent wrinkling.
Should You Use Packing Cubes?
Another much-advertised option for organising your suitcase is packing cubes. These are essentially a set of smaller bags or boxes to go inside your primary bag. Some people feel that having lots of little pouches increases the clutter inside your suitcase, but others find that they do help to keep things separate and neat. Packing cubes can reduce the hassles of bundling by allowing you to store rolled or folded items together for outfits. They also make it easier to find things and get items out of your suitcase without digging through and unravelling everything. You can zip up storage cubes and wedge them into your suitcase like Tetris blocks so that no space is wasted. The cubes work like drawers inside your suitcase so you should have designated storage spaces for everything. You should stack them vertically rather than horizontally so that they stay in place when your suitcase is standing up. This also improves their visibility.
Store Your Clothes Safely
Opening your suitcase to find your clothes creased and stained is not the best way to start a holiday. To avoid this, turn your clothes inside out when you pack them and wrap up anything that could leak or transfer dirt onto your clothing in plastic bags or shower caps. If you want to maximise suitcase space but still have clean and presentable clothes, it is best to follow the packing methods mentioned above. Sort out your outfits into packing cubes, rolling soft fabrics like polyester blends and folding stiff fabrics like denim. Don’t forget to bring a small laundry bag or spare storage cube to keep dirty clothing separate as you go. Putting a dryer sheet in each piece of luggage doesn’t take up much room, but keeps your clothes smelling fresh. Try to keep clothes separate from cosmetics or liquids to avoid spillages and stains.
Pack Your Shoes Properly
Something that everybody needs to bring when they travel is shoes – but these awkwardly-shaped items are often difficult to pack. Shoes can be bulky and not very flexible, so choose which ones you need wisely. You should not pack more than two pairs of shoes in your suitcase. It is best to wear a pair of heavier shoes such as boots on your feet while you travel, and take a pair of trainers or sandals in your suitcase. Only bring a pair of formal shoes if you will definitely need them. The golden rule, or holy trinity, is one casual shoe, one evening shoe, and one everyday shoe for walking comfortably. Wear the bulkiest pair and pack the others. You can utilize the space inside your shoes as storage if the insides are clean. Stuff rolled-up socks in there, which can also help shoes to keep their shape. This is important when you are placing your shoes at the bottom of the suitcase. Put your shoes soles-down in an old shower cap or plastic bag to prevent any debris from transferring onto anything else in the case. You don’t want dirty footprints everywhere!
Downsize Toiletries and Electronics
If you have handy travel-size bottles, put some of your full-size toiletries into these. It is important to check the liquid regulations for carry-on luggage for each airline and airport you will be using. Keep your liquids and cosmetics packed in a watertight and resealable clear bag, even if they are already in their own storage cube. Your airline and the airport should specify the maximum they allow for a bag of liquids. Adhere to this by only taking the liquid products that are absolutely necessary, and only in the amounts that you will actually need while travelling. If you don’t have any travel bottles and buying travel-size products is too expensive, look for free samples. Multi-use cosmetics could also save space. This means 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioners, moisturizing body wash, and make-up removing face wash. If you are travelling with friends or family, you can split toiletries between you to share rather than you all bringing everything individually. Group hair products, body products, skin products, and cosmetics separately to make them easier to find. You should consider reducing the electronics that you pack as well. Can one of you bring a multi-USB charger and (if necessary) travel adapter for everyone to share? Do you really need a separate camera, or is your phone camera good enough? Do you really need to bring an iPad or Kindle? Can you download books on your phone to save some space?
Repurpose Pill Boxes and Sunglasses Cases
Small loose items like earphones, hair ties, or medication can be annoying to pack. Bundling all your random bits and pieces into one cube or bag inside your case can take up more space than necessary. Instead, utilize old sunglasses cases or pillboxes to keep things together. Storing wires in a sunglasses case is a good way to stop them from getting tangled up in your suitcase. The same applies to jewellery. If you have room, you can feed necklaces through straws and put earrings through the holes in a button to prevent them from tangling up or getting lost. If you have a daily pill organizer, it is also a great way to pack smaller pieces of jewellery according to which rings or earrings you intend to wear each day. Of course, you might want to use sunglasses cases and pill boxes for their original purpose. You can always pack jewellery and wires in resealable plastic freezer bags as a cheap and easy alternative. Or you could try laying your jewellery between sheets of clingfilm, sealing it safely, and putting this layer at the top of your suitcase.
Wear Bulky Items When You Travel
It’s common sense to remove the bulkiest items from your suitcase completely. If you must bring a heavy coat or a chunky pair of shoes, wear them on the way instead. You can always take your jacket off and store it under your seat if you get too warm. Before you commit to this, consider whether you really need a thick jumper or big hiking boots for your trip. Try to find more lightweight substitutes. Of course, you might have to sacrifice some comfort if you end up wearing heels or jeans to travel in just to make extra room in your luggage. But whatever you’re wearing on your body doesn’t count towards your luggage allowance, so this is one way to bring some extras that otherwise might not fit in.
Distribute Weight for Movement
Packing a suitcase tends to become an exercise in squeezing things in anywhere they will fit. However, this is not the best way to go about it. You want to consider how securely your belongings are packed and how easily you can access things without unpacking everything. You also need to balance the contents of your suitcase so that it is not top-heavy or bottom-heavy. Avoid placing heavier items across the bottom of the suitcase when it is lying open, because these will slide down and crush other items when you close it and stand it up. Distribute heavy items towards the wheels (if you have rolling luggage) and pack your clothes or storage cubes in vertically. This will give you a handy cross-section view when you lie the suitcase down and open it, making it much easier to locate whatever you’re looking for in there.