We always want to take more in our luggage than we really need…that’s just human nature. You may have good intentions, it is just a weekend away after all. Thirty minutes later you have three quarters of your wardrobe on the bed! In today’s post, I look at the best way to pack a suitcase to maximize space.
I will give you the best way in which to make the most of your luggage space and allowance. I will run through some packing techniques and products that can help you maximize space.
At the end of this post, you will be in a position to start packing and make the most of your space you have to work with.
Packing fundamentals – Top 10 tips
Before we start packing our suitcase, we need to understand and appreciate some fundamental principles. This will benefit you immediately and make your packing task that much easier.
These form the groundwork for the packing that comes later. It will help you be more organized and it will help you once you unpack too, making things easy to find and manage. Trust me, it is worth paying attention to these.
Don’t worry, they will become second nature after a while, experienced travelers swear by them.
So, lets run through the tips…
- Be clear about what you need
- Think ahead
- Wear your bulky items
- Use a smaller bag or suitcase
- Use pill boxes for jewelry
- Use miniature bottles
- Use your shoes
- Nobody likes creases
- Balance your luggage
1 – Be clear about what you need
You should have a clear idea about what you will need. Are there any special events you need to attend or anything formal? Do you have any special requirements?
It is better to create a list of eventualities and activities planned. This is a great starting point as it gives you a starting point to consider the outfits you need.
2 – Think ahead
One of the worst things you can do is to not plan ahead and leave things to the last minute. This will give you a headache…trust me on that.
You will end up trying to pack too much and taking things you don’t need. You try and accommodate all situations without thinking about what you will actually be doing. You err on the side of caution.
The flip side to that is forgetting things. You may well end up packing too many of one thing but not enough of the other. The lesson here…plan ahead. It is more efficient and better for your blood pressure.
3 – Wear your bulky items
A common mistake and it can seriously reduce the amount of space you have in your luggage. Big coats and heavy wool jumpers are the biggest culprits.
The first thing to do is check whether you actually need them. Use a weather app and check the weather for your destination.
If you do need them…wear them. You benefit from more space in your luggage and it doesn’t count as part of your luggage allowance.
4 – Use a smaller bag or suitcase
This removes the temptation of taking things just in case you may need them. Using a smaller bag means that you take what you need rather than think you might need.
This may take some getting used to, but experienced travelers will tell you the benefits of doing this. It is less stressful and you have an easier journey with lighter luggage.
5 – Use pill boxes for jewelry
Using pill boxes for jewelry makes sense as it allows you to organize your jewelry based on days. Rather than throwing them all in one box, you have a more organized method. This saves time and also lets you plan for the time away.
In addition, you might want to think about using straws to feed your necklaces through. This stops the chain getting tangled.
6 – Use miniature bottles
If you do bring toiletries with you, make sure you buy smaller versions that are enough for your trip away. Having a lot of bottles can weigh your luggage down as well as take much needed space. You can always buy more at your destination.
You can also make your own miniatures if you really want by pouring existing toiletries into travel bottles. This allows you to save money and you get to use your regular brands.
7 – Use your shoes
I always recommend that you limit the number of shoes you take. Often you can get away with a couple of pairs, one for comfort and the other for more formal settings.
It also saves on luggage space and they can also be relatively heavy. If you do pack shoes in your luggage, make your you fill the inside with items that you are taking anyway. This could be toiletries or bottles. Make use of that empty space as it leaves more room elsewhere.
8 – Belts
If you are taking belts with you, stop them getting damaged by wrapping them around the inside of your case. Not only does it save space, it protects them. You also have the option of wrapping them around the inside of a shirt collar.
9 – Nobody likes creases
If you want to limit the creases in your clothing, do not fold them. Instead, use the clothes rolling method. Not only can this save space, it also stops clothes wrinkling.
Another method is to use the plastic bags your dry cleaning comes in. Fold clothes in the bag and the amount of creasing decreases.
10 – Balance your luggage
This is where most people make the biggest mistake. They mistakenly think that the heaviest things should be placed at the bottom of a suitcase.
The best way is to balance it evenly and put the bulkier items in the middle. This balances it evenly and helps you carry and maneuver it easily.
So, there you have it, the top 10 tips for the best way to pack a suitcase to maximize space. Some of these tips are common sense, others you will never have considered.
These are tips that are routinely used by experienced travelers so take them on board.
What is the best way to pack – Roll or fold?
There are a number of tests online with people trying to prove either way that their method saves space. Admittedly I have also run this test and my conclusion was as I expected.
The conclusion was rolling your clothes saves some space over folding clothes. However, the space gained was minimal…in fact only for a couple more t-shirts.
It was hardly worth all the extra effort.
Therefore, if you do choose a packing method, do so because it suits your clothes to do it that way…not because you save space.
To decide which method you should use, consider the following.
- Do you really need that extra space?
- The material of your clothing
- What you prefer doing
Do you really need that extra space?
Yes, airlines have luggage restrictions so overfilling your luggage is not a good idea…in fact, it could be very costly. Squeezing the extra space into your luggage wont really make a difference unless there is a specific reason.
The material of your clothing
Whether you choose to roll or fold should depend on the material of your clothing. Some items are suited to folding, others to rolling. Medium weight materials like cotton are more suited to rolling. This limits any creases. Personally, I always roll my t-shirts when I travel.
Lightweight materials like silk and heavier materials like wool are more suited to folding.
What you prefer doing
The way you pack may well rest entirely on what you prefer. Some people like to roll as it does save on creasing but it takes time. Folding is simpler and quicker.
Remember, the room saved between rolling and folding is minimal.
The theory with rolling clothes suggests that you can save space in your luggage. As I mentioned above, this is true…but only by a marginal amount.
However, there are advantages and disadvantages of using this method.
Advantages of rolling clothes
- You save some space…marginally
- Less creasing
- Easy to find things in your luggage
- Better organization
Disadvantages of rolling clothes
- Takes time and effort
- Minimal space saving
- Some materials not suited to rolling
- Sometimes it introduces wrinkles over folding
Best way to pack a suitcase to maximize space – What else can I use?
There are a number of products on the markets that can make your life easier when it comes to maximizing space and organization.
The main products are;
- Packing cubes
- Compression bags
Essentially packing cubes are flexible boxes. They help to save space as you are apportioning sections to areas of your luggage. You therefore mentally limit what you take thereby creating more space.
Most people use them to separate items e.g. shirts, toiletries etc
Advantages of packing cubes
- Helps you limit excesses
- Limit wrinkles and creases
- Helps you stay organized
- Easy access to clothing
- Use one cube per outfit…then use it as a laundry cube
Disadvantages of packing cubes
- They could end up taking more space depending on the number
- The add weight to your luggage
- Initial cost of buying them
These are great for maximizing space in your suitcase. They work by squeezing the air out of your clothes. They therefore take less space and you can maximize your luggage space.
Advantages of compression bags
- Maximize space
- Great at reducing large items in luggage
- Self-compression – no tools required
- Protect your clothing and keep them fresh
Disadvantages of compression bags
- Can be tiresome removing things and then re-compressing bag
- Can re-inflate at times
- They are not suitable for all types of clothing
- They can crease clothes
Is it worth buying things to maximize space in your luggage? Yes, I think so. Personally, I use both these items as they serve different purposes.
The compression bags remove the air in my clothes so I can fit more in. Sometimes it allows me to get everything into my carry-on rather than having to check in luggage.
The packing cubes allow me to limit what I take by helping me stay more organized. I can visually see what I will be wearing on that day.
Therefore, if you travel regularly or even just occasionally, they both serve a purpose. I would recommend you buy both. They will help you and they will also last for many years.
How to pack like a pro – Step by step guide
Fold, roll or bundle? Is there a best way to pack clothes? Yes, there is. This is the method used by scores of professional air travelers. Use this method for the best way to pack a suitcase to maximize space.
Step 1 – Take everything out
So where to start? Lay everything you want to take out on your bed or on the floor. Once you can see what you want to take, it makes your job a lot easier.
Step 2 – Remove 1/3rd
The next step is to be brave and remove at least a third. The truth is that you will never use as much as you take and this makes the job a whole lot easier.
Here is how to do it and arrive with as few wrinkles as possible.
Step 3 – Shoes
Start with your shoes. Stuff socks or underwear in them to hold the shape of your shoe and use every square inch of your suitcase capacity. Footwear packed heel to toe makes an ideal foundation layer.
Step 4 – Fill the gaps
When your shoes are in place, fill the gaps with soft items like t shirts, socks, jerseys or tights. The idea is to create an even layer. If you can roll any of the items, even better.
Step 5 – Packing larger items
Interleaving bulkier items such as jeans, dresses, suits and skirts will minimize creasing and maximize space.
Here’s how to do it.
Lay out the first garment with one end in the suitcase and the other draping over the edge. Now put the next item on top of this but place it the other way around. Continue in this way, layering all the items and alternating the edges inside to get another even layer.
Step 6 – How to fold them
Finally, one by one, fold the garments back in. Don’t include your collared shirts in this process. I will come to that later.
Now we need to create some ‘magic’ space. Throw a bag from the dry cleaner on top of your packing. Due to its slipperiness, the clothes will naturally adjust underneath to fill the pockets of air trapped by all those folded layers.
Step 7 – The remainder
Next up, non-clothing items such as toiletries, books and cameras.
These awkward shaped objects should be placed towards the middle for maximum protection.
Remember to double bag your toiletries to ensure stain free clothes and gunk free cameras.
Step 8 – Belts
For a top tip, instead of rolling belts up, save space by slipping them around the inside of your case.
Step 9 – Shirts
Finally, those collared shirts I mentioned earlier. Place them on top as a final layer. This way they are protected from creases and wrinkles.
Rather than stuffing the inside pockets of your case with things you forgot to pack, use the hard shape of the case to offer protection from creasing.
Step 10 – Toiletries
Leave your toiletries bag inside your suitcase after you have unpacked, ready for the next time you travel.
There we have it, the best way to pack a suitcase to maximize space.
Using this method, you are packing your suitcase at capacity…using every square inch. This is how the professionals do it…they know what they are doing.
Learn…implement and succeed. Watch the video and follow our general guidelines too.
The important thing to take away from this article is that you probably don’t need everything you plan to take with you…be brutal when you remove items from your clothing list. The reality is that you can always pick things up at the place you travel too.
Remember to always wear your bulkier items…which are always the hardest to pack too. Always check the weather at your destination too, the weather apps are incredibly accurate these days. It stops you taking things that you wont need.Find out where i get the biggest discounts on my luggage
If you have any hints or tips that you can add to this article, leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you. Do you do anything in particular that helps you pack your suitcase more efficiently? What have you learnt over time? Leave a comment and share your experience 😊
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Is it better to roll or fold clothes?
Generally, the accepted method is rolling clothes. Having said that the space saving is minimal at best. The real benefit comes from preventing wrinkles and creases which is very helpful when you are on holiday.
I would always recommend rolling clothes but it is important you learn the correct technique to rolling clothes. It is more than ‘just’ rolling your clothes up, it is knowing where to fold them too for the best wrinkle free results.
How do I fit the most in my suitcase?
Before you even try to fit everything into your suitcase, remember to remove at least a third. Chances are that you are over compensating and you do not need everything. Removing a third will help you pack more efficiently as well as stress free.
Follow the steps above for the best method, it attempts to use every inch of luggage space whilst still leaving your clothes wrinkle free.
What is the best way to pack a suitcase?
The best way is getting everything in there that you will need without ruining your clothes and still being within your luggage allowance.
I have tried many ways to pack over the years involving folding, rolling and bundling…. including the Konmarie method. I always come back to the method described in the steps above. I like it because it is simple and logical.
Everything is organized and simplified. I have done it so often now that I do it on autopilot. Packing my luggage is now an absolute breeze and I know exactly how much I can get in there with ease. This really makes life easy and eliminates the stress I use to have trying to get the zip to close.
I won’t change how I do things now, this really is a life skill.
How do you pack a bag for air travel?
It really depends on whether it is carry-on or check-in luggage.
For carry-on luggage, it is important that you keep things organized as you may need to access them while travelling. This may include security checks. Keeping things clear and organized means that you can breeze through this without adding creases and wrinkles to your clothing.
For check-in luggage, the priorities are slightly different. For a start once you pack, it is unlikely that you will open it again until you arrive. The larger luggage allowance also means that you don’t have to be as strict about what you take…although I have found being strict does make traveling so much easier.
Either way, using the method outlined above makes packing an absolute breeze. See for yourself.
How do you pack shoes in a suitcase?
Place them at the base of your suitcase hell to toe. Make sure you use the space in them too otherwise it is wasted space. It also allows you help keep their shape.
If it is a wheelie case, place them near the bottom for better stability. If it is a carry bag, place then in the middle for better balance.
How can we save luggage space?
By using every inch of the case. This means that you sometimes need to be creative by squeezing things in like pairs of socks.
The best way is to not worry about luggage space…but to take less with you. It really is that simple.
If you can’t reduce the amount of clothes any further, remember to wear your bulkier items. There is no restriction on wearing two coats and a jumper on an airplane! Not having to put these items in a suitcase can save space.
You should also consider using compression bags. These bags are designed for air travel and luggage. They squeeze the air out of your clothing thereby minimizing the space require. They are cheap to buy and very effective.