How to Pack a Suitcase Efficiently – Our Winning Tips

September 24, 2023

Packing a suitcase may sound like a simple and straightforward feat, but after years of traveling, we would argue that packing should be looked at more like a science. Learned the hard way over thousands of kilometers on flights and on the road, smart packing allows you to enjoy your vacation without having to worry about forgetting anything important or bringing too much. Don’t have the science down yet? Don’t worry, I’ve prepared a guide for you with all the tips and tricks to help you understand how to pack a suitcase in the most efficient way. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

How to pack suitcase properly

How do you pack correctly?

1. Know the weight limit of the airline

When flying and checking a bag, I know from past experience that the 25-kilogram weight limit comes up quickly, making it important to pay attention to how much I’m packing in my bag. Be sure to plan ahead and weigh your luggage before leaving, ensuring you don’t end up like many travelers I come across in the airport who have to frantically pull things out of their bags to minimize the weight at the last minute. Before flying, check the weight limit, and then, based on that, you’ll be able to plan and prepare better.

2. Folding or Rolling Techniques?

In my opinion, there isn’t much difference between folding and rolling techniques when it comes to packing. I always recommend choosing what is most comfortable and easy for you. Personally, I prefer the rolling technique, having found that my clothes are less likely to wrinkle this way. But try both ways and see which you prefer! 

Still don’t understand the difference? Here is a brief explanation:

Folding Technique

This is the most basic way to pack your clothes in a suitcase. Lay out all of your folded clothes. Stack the longer garments, such as pants and long-sleeved shirts on top of the shorter garments. Then, place shirts with collars on top of these. Sunglasses and other accessories that require delicate handling should be placed on top of everything else so that they are not crushed by bulkier items.

Rolling Technique

Rolling your clothes can help you save space and prevent wrinkles. It’s an especially great technique if you are traveling with a suitcase or backpack and want to fill all the corners. Plus, it’s suitable for different types of clothing and fabrics, such as jeans, knitwear, and synthetic fabrics. Simply roll up each item and pack away!

Advanced Tip: Reduce your must-haves! The biggest packing battle is figuring out what you really need versus what you want. Putting together set outfits for each day is a great way to plan and ensure that each item will be used. 

3. Pack Clothes Made of Wrinkle-Resistant Fabrics

When possible, pack clothes that are less likely to wrinkle. For example, jeans won’t wrinkle as easily as cotton pants. Linen, although lightweight and fashionable, is another wrinkle-prone fabric that should probably be avoided when packing. 

In addition to jeans, consider packing a few pairs of sweatpants or leggings. These pants take up less space in your suitcase while also staying free of wrinkles. 

Pro tip 😎: For easy access, put the items you’ll use the most on top. This way, you won’t have to mess up your carefully packed suitcase every time you need to pull out an item. Take advantage of any external pockets on your suitcase to store things you’ll need to pull out regularly, like passports or charging cables.

Pack Clothes Made of Wrinkle-Resistant Fabrics

4. How to pack shoes in a suitcase

Shoes are often the hardest item to pack because they are relatively heavy, have odd shapes, and are often a little dirty. I recommend wearing the most bulky shoes on the day of your flight (boots for example) and packing the rest of your shoes in the crevices and sides of your suitcase.

Here are some additional tips for packing shoes in a suitcase that will save you a lot of space:

  • Pack just one of each type: sandals, sneakers, and a pair of “evening” shoes.
  • Fill your shoes with smaller items: Shoes are a smart place to store smaller items like chargers, sunglasses, socks, and more. This will help you save some space here and there.
  • Pack each shoe in a bag: Using plastic or cloth bags, keep your shoes in these to prevent dirt from getting on your clothes or other shoes.

Pro tip 😎 Did you know that potato chip companies leave excess air in bags of chips to prevent the chips from breaking during shipping? Use the same method to prevent wrinkles in your clothes by placing them in a bag with a little air.

5. How to Pack Fragile Accessories & Equipment in a Suitcase

You don’t have to leave fragile items at home. Here are some tips that will help you keep them safe:

  • Wrap your clothes around the fragile items: Wrapping items up will keep them cushioned throughout the journey. Make sure to also pack your fragile or expensive items in your carry-on bag, that will go with you on the plane, so you can maintain maximum control and surveillance.
  • Make a packing list: Taking the time to create a packing list, a week or two before your trip, is one of the best packing tips out there because it ensures you don’t forget anything. Plus, starting early gives you to time to purchase anything you still need or place an Amazon order without the last minute stress.

6. Make a List

Start by creating your main packing categories (clothes, cosmetics, electronics, documents, etc.). Under each category, list the items you want to bring and consider the following:

  • How many times can you realistically wear each clothing item you want to take? The more, the better.
  • How many days will you be at the beach and need swimwear? 
  • Do you need dress shoes, hiking boots, or any other particular footwear?

These questions will help you pack more minimally, and decrease the chances of bringing unnecessary clothes that won’t be used. And of course – this list will allow you to be more organized, helping you not to forget anything – so don’t skip it!

Make a List

7. Don’t pack everything in your suitcase

As tempting as it is to pack all of your belongings in a checked bag and not think about it again until you land at your destination – remember that sometimes mistakes happen. Your suitcase can get lost or stolen. So if you want peace of mind, expensive or important items should always be taken with you on the plane. 

To protect your suitcase from being opened and having things stolen from it, you can wrap your suitcases in a lot of cling film. It’s a bit of a hassle, but it does help decrease the chances of theft!

8. Choose the Right Size Suitcase

Once you have a list of everything you need to pack, it’s time to choose a suitcase. Today, there are a wide variety of suitcase brands that offer you a variety of styles, colors, and sizes. According to the duration of your vacation, choose a comfortable, easy-to-identify suitcase that will allow you to move around easily. Before making your purchase, it’s recommended to check the airline’s policy to view their maximum weight allowance. Choosing the right suitcase that suits your needs will not only help you avoid unnecessary overweight expenses, but it will also help you move more quickly in and out of the airport.

Another thing to consider is a carry-on suitcase that comes with you on the plane. Make sure it is the right size and that it can fit in the overhead storage – and of course, that it is comfortable and light.

9. Keep toiletries separate

Remember Murphy’s law? “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. Put everything that can spill from your toiletries separately to prevent damage to your clothes. If you are taking only a carry-on, make sure all of your toiletries meet the airline’s regulations.

Another tip – Pack your cosmetics bag last to avoid it getting crushed in your suitcase, and so that you can remove it quickly if necessary at security checks. We recommend taking a transparent case for all cosmetics, making it easier for security personnel to see what is inside if they want to check.

Don't Forget to Leave Room for Souvenirs

10. Don’t Forget to Leave Room for Souvenirs

If you fill your suitcase to the brim before you even leave home, where do you plan to store all your new souvenirs?

There are two ways to free up space: the first is to simply leave extra room in your bag. The second method is to bring old clothing that you don’t mind leaving behind. Wear these clothes during your trip and donate them before you leave your destination.

11. Packing electronics and cables

I travel with a lot of electronics, and it was always a challenge to pack them in a way that they didn’t get tangled. After lots of trial and error, though, I found a method that works. I now use cable organizers, which help me fold them neatly without taking up too much space.

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