How To Pack a Suitcase

Line of suitcases

Knowing how to pack a suitcase is essential to being a good traveler. Your top concern is how to make the most of the space while avoiding excessive wrinkling. This can be achieved in a number of ways, and you can even mix and match methods to find the one that works for you.  

  1. Determine how much and what kind of clothing you'll need for your trip -- a weekend getaway to the country obviously requires fewer items than a week in the mountains. Will there be laundry facilities where you're going? What kind of weather can you anticipate? You won't need flip-flops for skiing, and camping trips are no place for a nice tie.
  2. Toiletries should be as small as possible, and packed in sealable plastic bags for protection against spillage.
  3. Make a packing list of everything you think you'll want on your trip, then try to eliminate a few tertiary items. Remember, if you find yourself in need of something when you arrive at your destination, chances are good that you can purchase it there. Does the vacation list seem reasonable? Now you're ready to pack.
  4. The Rolling Method:
    • Lay each item of clothing out on the floor. Partially fold them -- fold pants in half lengthwise, and shirt arms neatly to the back of the shirt.
    • Starting from the bottom of the article of clothing, roll tightly packing a suitcaseuntil you reach the end. This should result in a neat cylinder, which you can then fit into your suitcase -- think of it as playing clothes-Tetris.
    • Place heavier items like pants and jackets in the bottom of your suitcase. Shirts and skirts go on top of these.
    • Underwear and socks should be rolled as well and placed inside shoes, which can go either at the sides or on the bottom of your suitcase.
    • Very delicate or otherwise unrollable items like blazers and fancy dresses can either be placed flat at the very top of your suitcase, or hung inside a separate garment bag.
    • To avoid crushing bras, place softer items inside the cups, and try to nestle them in a corner.
    • Leave room in the center of the suitcase for your toiletries bag(s). A snug place in between your clothing cylinders should prevent squashing and spilling.
  5. The stacking combination:
    • Start with your shirts. Stack unfolded items on top of each other, starting with the most easily wrinkled and moving up.
    • Fold all the shirt sleeves together in toward the body of the shirts.
    • Now take all the bottoms of the shirts and fold them together toward the tops of the shirts. This should result in a largish rectangle of shirts, which you can then fit into the bottom of your suitcase.
    • If you have dresses, lay them down in the suitcase over the shirts-rectangle. Let the bottoms of your dresses hang over the sides of your suitcase.
    • Take your skirts and pants individually. Fold each in half lengthwise.
    • Stack all the now-folded skirts and pants next, in the same very-wrinkly to not-so-wrinkly order.
    • Now take the entire pile and fold it in half lengthwise, resulting in a largish rectangle of skirts and pants, which you can then place into the suitcase on top of the shirts or dresses. If you have dresses, this is the time to fold the bottoms over the pants-and-skirts rectangle.
    • Fit shoes, which have been stuffed with underwear and socks, into the empty spaces.
    • Continue your game of packing-Tetris with toiletries and accessories.
  6. The daily plan method:
    • Decide on an outfit for every day you'll be traveling.
    • Pack each outfit in its own large resealable plastic bag -- the rolling method works well for this style.
    • Place each plastic bag in your suitcase, along with your plastic bags of toiletries, and shoes.


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There is no way I'm going to put my undergarments inside my shoes!!!! But the rest have been helpful, thanks.

By Cherry Ozoa

THANK! YOU! I have previously been the worst suitcase packer ever. I think now the tide will turn.

By Alan Hammond