Let’s face it: Packing is the worst part of going on a trip. Even if you typically love organizing, there’s something inherently stressful about relying on the contents of your bag for the entirety of your travel time. Long trips or international travel only exacerbate the situation.
Knowing how to pack your suitcase more efficiently can reduce stress and help you avoid those annoying airline fees. With some creativity and patience, you’ll be jetting off to your destination, ready to relax and enjoy your trip.
1. Create a Capsule Wardrobe
To maximize space in your suitcase, you need to minimize the amount of clothing you bring. Capsule wardrobes have been an insanely popular way for people to pare down their clothing for the last several years.
However, few travelers consider this an option when packing for travel. Try to stick with all neutrals or at least a basic color scheme, so each piece works with multiple others.
2. Make a List
Don’t do any packing until you’ve made a list. Be as ruthless as possible and only bring what you need – nothing more. If you travel frequently, keep your list from trip to trip and adjust as needed.
Add everything to your list, including clothing, electronics, entertainment, gear, and anything else you need to remember. Refer to your checklist frequently and look it over one more time before packing things away.
3. Lay Everything Out
As you gather each item on your packing list, lay it on the floor or your bed so you can look it all over before stowing it away. This will make double-checking you have everything much easier. Also, you’ll be able to be even more ruthless and make cuts to items that aren’t absolutely necessary.
For example, when laying out your clothing, you may find you packed a skirt that doesn’t match any of the tops you chose. Reducing your items will help you save room for locally purchased souvenirs on the return trip.
4. Fold Strategically
Stuffing clothes into your suitcase or folding any which way isn’t the most space-saving idea. Instead, try one of these four methods:
- Kon-Mari Method: This folding style may seem complicated at first but is well worth learning. You’ll save space and be able to see everything you packed.
- Rolling: You can master this technique easily. Simply lay each piece of clothing flat and roll it up.
- Mixed: Not all clothing folds small enough to fit, and some fabrics are resistant to rolling. In these cases, it may be easiest to mix and match folding techniques.
- By Outfit: Wrap small items like underwear and a bra inside your shirt and then your bottom layer. You won’t have to second guess what to wear when you get there, and you won’t end up packing a bunch of pieces you don’t really need.
5. Limit the Available Space
Odds are good you’ll pack to fill the space you have – there’s always something more you can bring. Resist the temptation by using a suitcase or bag that gives you just enough room.
If you’re traveling domestically or for a short period, pack everything you need into your carry-on items. Doing so will help you avoid hefty checked baggage fees and get you through the airport much faster. Just make sure you leave room for essentials like sanitizer, a mask, wipes, and important documents.
6. Wear Your Biggest Items
Chunky sweaters, big shoes, jeans, and outerwear weigh down your suitcase and take up valuable space. If possible, wear your biggest items instead of packing them. Of course, if you’re traveling at the height of summer, you won’t want to wear a down jacket, but you might be willing to wear a pair of sneakers or hiking boots.
7. Plan to Do Laundry
Especially if you’re going to be gone for over a week, you should consider doing laundry on vacation. You’ll be able to pack fewer clothing items. You can even find travel-friendly detergent pods or sheets.
8. Use a Luggage Scale
When you think you’re all done, use a luggage scale to check the weight of your bag, especially if you plan on checking it. Airlines will charge overage fees for suitcases weighing more than the allowance. Luggage scales are relatively light, so packing one with you might be a great idea. Weigh your bag again before the return trip to ensure you don’t exceed the limit.
You can get through the packing process with ease – no more excess baggage fees and late-night wandering for forgotten supplies. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to a more relaxing trip.
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