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How to Save Space in Your Suitcase

February 3rd, 2017 - 9:01 AM

Best way to pack a suitcase

There’s nothing more frustrating than packing everything you need for a trip, only to find out the suitcase won’t shut. Now you’re left trying to decide which items get to go and which ones must stay behind. But, whether you’re packing for a move, weekend getaway, extended holiday or business trip, there are plenty of ways to pack your luggage to help maximize the available space. Check out the steps below for tips on the best way to pack a suitcase.

packing bags

How to pack a suitcase

Step 1. Determine what size luggage you need

Determining what suitcase to use ahead of time can make the packing process go more smoothly. Think about where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone and the mode of transportation you’re taking to get there. Remember most airlines permit a 9’ x 14’ x 22’ carry on and many bus services have specific types and sizes of bags they allow, too. Because of these different suitcase regulations, it’s a good idea to check the luggage allowance beforehand to keep from using the wrong size.

Step 2. Set out everything you want to pack

Packing is much easier when you know what you’re working with. So, before throwing items into a bag, lay everything out you want to take. Then, look over it and remove any clothing and shoes you know won’t get worn. The general rule of thumb is to take three shirts for every one pair of pants and no more than three pairs of shoes. And if you’re trying to pack lightly, choose articles of clothing that can mix-and-match to create a combination of outfits. By planning in advance, you can eliminate unnecessary items and prevent overstuffing.  

Step 3. Fill shoes with small items

Get creative when packing by filling every inch of space — like the inside of your shoes — with small or easy to roll items. Stuff them with things like undergarments, socks, charging cords, ties, etc. Not only does this save space within the suitcase, but it helps your shoes keep their shape, too! After they’re full, place them in the suitcase toward the bottom in a heel-to-toe method. Fitting them snugly together is another space-saving technique that creates room for more belongings.

Step 4. Roll, bundle, fold or file clothes  

When it’s time to pack your clothing, there are four different space-saving options to choose from: rolling, folding, filing or bundling. Pick one, or choose a combination of methods. 

  • Rolling. This is a popular method used by military personnel and flight attendants, and is widely noted as the best way to pack and save space. Just fold your shirts or pants in half and then roll them up from top to bottom — quick and simple!
  • Folding. Want to keep it old school and just fold your pants and tops? No problem, just pack the folded clothes into travel space bags that remove all the air once sealed. Removing the air makes them flatter which means there’s room for more!  
  • Filing. Try packing clothes in the suitcase like folders are filed in a cabinet. You’ll be surprised how many more shirts and pants can fit when they’re filed neatly.  
  • Bundling. Creating a bundle is great for heavier items like jeans, sweaters, or business attire. See the video below for instructions.  

Watch this video to see the rolling and bundling methods in action:



Pro tip: If you’re packing because of a move, take comfortable attire for unloading/unpacking and any other clothing you’ll need immediately (like business attire for work). The rest can be packed into wardrobe boxes and placed in moving equipment.

Step 5. Pack toiletries

The last things to pack are toiletry items (make up, styling tools, hair products, hygiene products, perfume/cologne, etc.). Keep in mind that most hotels provide the basic necessities like shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash and a hair dryer (additional items are typically available upon request or purchase). To save more space for clothes, souvenirs or other goodies, consider opting out of taking your own toiletries and using the ones supplied for you.

If that doesn’t sound ideal, pack your own products in travel-size containers. Go through your daily routine a few days before packing and set aside everything you actually use — and only pack these items. By putting them in travel-size bottles, you can save a ton of space.

Share your suitcase packing tips

Do you have other great packing tips that save space? Share them with our readers in the comments below!