Travel Hack: How to Pack a Suitcase Like a Pro

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Travel Hack: How to Pack a Suitcase Like a Pro

The holiday season is a busy time for those of us who don’t live where our friends or family do. If we’re fortunate enough, we’ll be packing up and doing some traveling to spend quality time with those we love. Whether by bus, car, train, or plane, travel can be stressful. This is especially the case when you have huge suitcases to lug around or pay for to be checked.

But what if you were a total pro on how to pack a suitcase? All you’d need is a small carryon and a backpack—no extra cost and no sore arms. Learn how to achieve this in just six easy steps!

Step 1: Make a Detailed Packing List

suitcase packing list for travel
My Winter Break packing list!

If you start out by listing out everything you need to pack a suitcase, the packing process will go smoothly. You don’t want to think you’re finished only to remember you really wanted to bring your sparkly heels for the New Year’s Eve party you’re attending and now you have to smash them into your luggage, effectively getting glitter all over your clothes. On the flip side, you can eliminate items you don’t actually need to take. Your suitcase will be lighter and you will have more room for the essentials. Make sure this list is detailed. Don’t just say “shirts;” instead, write down how many shirts you need to take. That way, you can more effectively budget the space in your suitcase.

Step 2: Organize all your Items

packing for a vacation
The messy part of packing

This is when things get a little messy. Take all the clothes and other items you need to take with you and lay them out on the floor. Create piles for shirts, dresses, pants, technology, books, etc. This is your second chance to edit what you’re bringing with you. Does it look like you have too many things for your one week trip? If you’re planning on bringing half your closet with you, then that’s probably too many clothes. Sometimes, you have to visually see everything to realize this.

A second benefit of laying everything out is that you are less likely to forget something. Double check your list with what you see in front of you and make sure everything is accounted for.

Also, organizing your items will make packing your suitcase much easier. And this leads us to Step 3…

Step 3: Start with Your Shoes

how to pack a suitcase for vacationFill in the bottom of your suitcase with your shoes and other solid, non-bendable items. This will help avoid getting dirt and shoe smell all over your clothes! It will also create little pockets of space in which you can put underwear, more socks, and other small items.

shoes with socks in them
Store socks inside your shoes!

Extra Pro Tip: Use your shoes as extra storage! Roll up your socks and put them inside your shoes. This works especially well with boots and sneakers.

Step 4: Double Package Toiletries

Whether you’re taking travel-sized bottles of shampoo or a regular-sized bottle of face wash, it’s important to double package your toiletries. First, take a Ziploc bag or saran wrap and secure it over the top of the bottle. If the lid comes loose of the bottle cracks, then this first layer will probably prohibit any further leaking. Then, take all your toiletries and put them in a plastic bag together. If they any liquid does leak enough to break through the first seal, at least they’ll just leak on each other.

Step 5: Roll—Don’t Fold—Your Shirts

Rolling your clothes saves space and avoids wrinkles. Not all clothes roll well, though. Most shirts can easily be rolled, as can some dresses and skirts. Try to roll as many clothing items as possible to conserve space in your suitcase.

If you don’t know how to roll your clothes properly, here are step-by-step pictures:

how to roll a shirt to pack a suitcase

After you’ve rolled all your shirts, pack them into your suitcase. If you have only one side of the suitcase into which you can put items, make these the next layer. If your suitcase is two-sided, put them on the bottom of the side without your shoes.

Step 6: Fold Bottoms and Lay Them on Top

how to pack a suitcase

Fold your pants, shorts, and whatever dresses and skirts that you couldn’t roll. These clothes will make the final layer on top of everything else in your suitcase.

Step 7: Utilize Every Pocket and Corner

Now that your suitcase is nearly filled to the brim, make sure there are no unused corners or pockets. If you have any underwear or socks left over, they can be stuffed into almost any small open area. Bras are great to put in corners because the cups match the contour. You don’t want to overstuff your suitcase, though, because it’s likely you’ll buy something on your trip and you’ll need the extra room. Fill your suitcase almost to full capacity, but not quite all the way there.


If you pack a suitcase this way, you are sure to be traveling like a pro!

Do you have any travel hacks or packing tips? Share them in the comments below.

Travel Hack: How to Pack a Suitcase Like a Pro

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