Last Updated on April 13, 2020 by Greg Head
How to pack a suitcase may seem like child’s play.
However, many people end up overpacking to the point where not all of the necessities fit, but somehow a plethora of unnecessary items are in the suitcase.
Packing a suitcase without any kind of method or technique can end up driving people crazy.
It’s actually much harder than most care to admit.
Not packing a suitcase right can result in broken items, spilled liquids, imbalances that make it hard to maneuver, and in the case of airline travel, heavy fees due to oversized or overweight baggage.
Here are some of the most crucial tips for you to follow in how to pack a suitcase.
8 Ways How To Pack A Suitcase
Use Every Inch of Space Available
One of the best ways to ensure that you can maximize the space in any suitcase is to use every last inch of space available.
Think about playing Tetris when you pack a suitcase, or in other words, fit everything together as closely as possible.
For example, when it comes to packing shoes, they have a lot of room on the inside of them, so use that to your advantage.
You can stuff multiple pairs of socks inside of each shoe, therefore maximizing the space at your disposal.
You can then lay your shoes heel to toe in the bottom of the suitcase, and then stuff small items around the shoes to fill in the unoccupied spaces.
This should be done for any kind of hard object with a hollow space inside of it, such as shoes, small boxes or containers, or anything else you plan on taking along for the trip.
Every last inch of space should be taken advantage of.
This will either let you pack much more in a single suitcase or it can allow you to travel with a smaller suitcase.
Use a Good Clothes Packing Technique
One of the most valuable tips to follow when packing your clothes is to use a good clothes packing technique.
This is important for a variety of reasons, mainly for your own convenience, and it could save you money too.
If you employ a good technique when packing clothes, you can fit a lot more in a small space than you might think.
Fitting more items into a small space can allow you to bring along more with you or allow you to use a smaller suitcase.
The smaller the case, the easier it will be to travel with.
Moreover, airlines, trains, and buses always have specific baggage allowances.
These can differ from one method of transportation to another, and even from airline to airline.
Critical first step in how to pack a suitcase, be sure to research the specific method of travel you are using, and the company you have bought your ticket from.
You don’t want to have a suitcase larger than the baggage allowance dictates, or else you will end up paying a heavy fee for oversized baggage.
At any rate, employing a good technique is key.
What you should try to avoid doing is folding your clothing as you would to store it in your closet.
While it looks neat, it’s not very effective for saving space.
One of the best ways to pack as many articles of clothing as possible into a tight space is to roll them.
Start off by folding your clothing to form a long rectangle, then use some elbow grease and lots of pressure to roll pants, sweaters, and shirts into tight tubes.
This will go a long way in maximizing the space at your disposal.
Use a Compression Technique if Possible
Related to the previous point of using the right packing technique, anything you can do to compress your clothing will go a very long way in saving space.
Some people may want to go as far as putting clothes in vacuum-sealed bags.
Clothes are very soft and can compress down into a much smaller package.
Vacuum sealing clothing is a great storage method for maximizing space, and doing so will allow you to fit much more into a small suitcase.
Of course, buying vacuum bags and a vacuum sealer may be out of the question for you, but there are still other similar methods.
For instance, if you have five T-shirts and two pairs of pants, fold them into a neat pile or roll them up.
Chances are you are bringing along a belt or two as well.
Take that belt, wrap it around the clothes, and cinch the belt together as tight as possible around the clothes to form a compact and hard package.
Think About Weight and Balance
People often get carried away when packing a suitcase, and often end up packing much more and much heavier items than anticipated.
Of course, the heavier your suitcase is, the less convenient it will be for travel.
You don’t want to be lugging around a cinder block with you, and the longer the travel time, the more relevant this becomes.
You want to pack all of your essentials, everything you really need, but always be conscious of the weight.
If you have to choose between heavier and lighter items, and the lighter items will suffice, it’s a good idea to forgo the heavier items.
Not only will this make your life much easier during the hours you are traveling, but it will also ensure that you meet all baggage requirements.
Remember, unless you are traveling by car, you will need to adhere to strict baggage guidelines, specifically in relation to weight.
Airlines, bus companies, and trains have strict rules in terms of how heavy baggage can be, so do a bit of research in regard to your specific mode of travel.
No, you will not be ejected from the airplane due to a suitcase being 10 pounds overweight, but you will incur some very heavy overweight fees.
Now, packing some heavy items, depending on your situation, may be unavoidable, but be sparing.
You want to ensure that the heaviest items are packed at the bottom of the suitcase, at the foot where the wheels are.
The lightest items should be packed at the top, where the pull handle is. This will ensure that your suitcase is not top-heavy.
A bottom-heavy suitcase has much better balance, will not tip or fall over, and is much easier to maneuver.
Wrap Fragile Items in Clothing
One problem which often arises when packing a suitcase has to do with fragile items.
For example, if you are visiting family for the holidays or visiting friends you have not seen in years, chances are that you will be bringing gifts for them.
Gifts can often be fragile and delicate.
Bottles of alcohol, glass items, and anything else of the sort don’t take much to break.
Airlines and bus companies, if you are going that route, often are not too careful with passenger luggage, often carelessly throwing them around.
This, therefore, puts your fragile items at risk of breaking.
A great way to ensure that any fragile items do not get broken in the suitcase is to wrap them.
For instance, if you are bringing along an expensive bottle of alcohol, wrap it in a few T-shirts, a sweater, some pants, or any other fairly large and soft article of clothing.
You could even pull a few pairs of socks over a bottle to provide some padding.
Anything you can wrap around fragile objects to create a padded buffer will do.
Moreover, never put delicate items on the outside of the suitcase.
The more fragile the item in question, the more towards the middle, the core of the suitcase, they should be placed.
All of those clothes will act like bubble wrap or packing peanuts to protect those delicate items.
Bag Any Sort of Liquids
Another issue which often arises when packing a suitcase, or realistically, when unpacking a suitcase, is that of the spilled liquid; this can be a true nightmare.
If you plan on taking your own shampoo or body lotion with you, or a bottle of alcohol, one of the worst things that can happen is having them break or open up in any way, thus spilling their contents into your suitcase and all over your valuable clothing.
Not only does this make a massive mess that needs to be cleaned up, but it may very well ruin clothing.
Liquids like shampoos, body lotions, toothpaste, mouthwash, and other such items can cause horrible staining, instantly ruining clothes.
Therefore, to ensure that this does not happen, always place these liquid items inside of bags, well-sealed bags, such as Ziploc bags.
Keep the point above in mind as well, because wrapping liquids in a soft protective layer will help stop them from being crushed or moved around too much, which should help stop them from opening up.
However, in the worst-case scenario, if they do open up and spill their liquid, if you have them stored in a sealed bag, at least the liquid will not ruin the rest of your belongings.
Pack the Essentials on the Outside
Yet another mistake that should be avoided when packing a suitcase is to pack your essentials on the inside of the case, or in other words, under piles of clothing and other belongings.
Here, we are talking mainly about toiletries, but this could also apply to medicines and anything else you need quick and constant access to.
Simply put, you don’t want to have to dig through your suitcase every single time you need to get to your life-saving medicine, or just to your toothbrush too.
Any such items, specifically related to toiletries and medicine, should be packed in a separate toiletries bag.
You can then keep this in a smaller outside pocket of the suitcase (if the suitcase has one).
If your suitcase only has the one large main compartment, consider packing these essentials in your carry-on baggage for easy and quick access.
Although, remember that airlines specifically have rules about liquids.
You cannot take a large bottle of hand cream, mouthwash, or any other large container containing liquid with you.
If you plan on taking any such thing with you, be sure that it is well under the size limit for liquid containers, or else it will be confiscated. However, if you are not traveling by air, this is not relevant.
This concept applies to all of your belongings in fact.
Anything which you need ready access to all the time should be packed on top, and anything which you only might need, or will need later on during the trip, should be packed towards the bottom of the case.
This will allow for easy access to your most used and needed items.
Only Pack What You Need
You may be tempted to pack as much as possible, but this is a mistake, and moreover, fairly pointless too.
First of all, consider how many days you are going to be away, and then gauge how many clothes you need to bring based on this.
Generally speaking, you will want to pack one pair of underwear and one pair of socks for each day you will be away.
For T-shirts, you might want to bring one for each day.
If you are a really neat and careful person, in terms of pants and sweaters, one of each for every three or four days should suffice.
Of course, you might want to bring along one extra of each just in case something unexpected happens.
However, that said, you only want to bring along what you really need.
If you are going on vacation, remember that there are always places you can wash clothes or buy something cheap if an emergency arises.
Another related tip is to totally eliminate anything which you are not sure that you will need.
Anything that fits into the “just in case” category, should be left at home.
Packing a Suitcase
If you follow all of the tips outlined today here on how to pack a suitcase, you should have no problems fitting all of your essentials into your suitcase with ease.
Remember, use a good packing technique, create compact clothing packages, aim for lightweight items whenever possible, pack heavy items at the bottom, and use every last inch of available space.