We have all been there! We have tried to fit everything we think that we really need into our suitcase but it doesn’t want to fit. We try to fold everything flat and nice but we can barely close it. Here’s the good news; there are tricks you can use to fit everything you need and even double the amount of space in your suitcase. I used to love packing my bags for a new adventure. However, as a travel agent, traveling and staying in many different hotels- sometimes 4 or 5 in a week, living out of a suitcase soon became less of a novelty and more of a burden. Now after a number of first hand learning experiences, I thought it might be beneficial to share with you what I’ve learned in my ultimate blog post for How to make your packing easier. Get ready, its a long one!
Choose the Right Bag: This is where it all begins! The importance of having a good suitcase is beyond words, especially if you have additional travel plans in your future. If your current suitcase is more than eight years old, the first trip you might want to make, is to the store so you can purchase a new one. Today the latest fabrics and plastics are much lighter, more durable and far easier to wheel or to carry than they’ve ever been. Many include good ideas for better packing, with separate compartments, expandable sides, strong zippers, easy to maneuver wheels and longer handles. Your bag should be well-designed, and strong enough for what you need it to be. While some bags can cost an arm and a leg, they are a long-term investment, and you’ll be glad you made the decision to upgrade. Depending on what type of trip your are taking, as well as the length of stay, will be how you should determine the type of bag you will purchase. If your trip is more outdoor-focused, then duffel bags and backpacks make perfect sense. If it’s a three-day business trip to a city, an elegant roller and one other bag for dress clothes is a better choice. Carry-on size limits vary by airline. So research those before-hand if you plan on just using a carry-on. (One of the only things more exasperating than the family with 19 bags is the traveler trying to shove a massive bag into the overhead in a crowded aisle on a flight that’s already delayed.)If you’re unsure of what type of bag to take on a specific type of trip, ask your travel advisor.
Carry On vs.Checked Luggage: If you’re going on a short (2-5 days) holiday, you might want to consider taking carry-on luggage only. Most airlines will allow for one bag of carry-on luggage, and taking this option will mean you can avoid waiting for your bags on the other side. Be sure to know the carry-on regulations before you pack…You may not pack liquid or gel substances in your carry-on unless they are in individual containers of 3.4 ounces or less and enclosed in one clear, quart-size, plastic, zip-top bag per passenger. Any larger containers of liquids and gels must be packed in your checked luggage. For more information, see Airport Security Q&A. Be aware of restrictions on the size and number of bags you may bring onto your flight. Many airlines now charge a fee for every checked bag or have lowered the maximum permitted weight limits for checked luggage. If you plan to check your luggage, its important to still consider what you pack in your carry-on luggage. With so many travelers zipping in every direction these days, lost luggage is not uncommon. Pack what you’ll want on the flight AND a spare outfit, just in case your bags arrive behind you.
The Planning Process: Check the weather of where you are traveling each day. Check you travel your itinerary, that was ideally created by your travel advisor. What days are you doing fancier activities vs. more casual activities? When will you need to ‘dress to impress’ at a dinner vs. eating alongside a beach? Are there several days where the range of activities would necessitate a few attire changes? What’s the total duration of the trip? That’s generally a good base number to use for underwear and socks.
Make a List: Once you have your plan, make a list of every item you need to bring. The list ensures that you never forget to bring something important and reduces that panic of last-minute packing. Include even those ‘duh’ items, like a toothbrush and comb. I know it’s easy to get carried away when planning your travels, and leave packing to the last minute (I’m a prime candidate too, don’t worry). But plan in advance and you’ll thank yourself later. Ask yourself: What will the weather be like (only a quick google search away)? How long will my items last me (1, 2, 3 weeks) until I need to do my laundry? What do I need and what am I taking ‘just incase’? Its better to leave behind anything you don’t think you will use and in the worst case scenario, buy that item at your destination. Its better to have space in your luggage than to overpack – no one wants to pay excess baggage fees!
Compartmentalize: Some people swear by packing with compression sacs. They condense your clothes into a tight bundle and save suitcase space.Others love packing cubes (I personally love cubes) .Each type of garment gets its own cube. They help you organize your clothing, configure everything in your suitcase and easily unpack at your destination.Then there are also stuff sacks. One of the more popular packing articles on Google is from Matador Network. The article recommends using stuff sacks to organize your clothes. You can put t-shirts in one, pants in another, shoes in a series of two or three. You can also buy compression sacks that reduce the size of the items in the bag, or go simple and use clear plastic zip lock bags. They organize your clothing, help you see what you want inside your suitcase, prevent leaks from liquids and keep stuff dry. They also come in handy in a multitude of other ways. Pack bags in different sizes: Use big ones for organizing items like shorts and t-shirts in a single bag and small ones are handy for packing little items that might get lost in the suitcase. Bring spares for various uses during your travels like dirty laundry, new acquisitions, wet swimsuits, or even snacks on the go. It may seem simple – but this is one of the easiest tricks in knowing exactly where everything is. Put your large and heavy items at the base of your suitcase so you will be able to see more of your items without shifting anything around inside your case. Last but not least, the one item you’ll never forget – should go into your suitcase last! Place your undies in small spaces and gaps at the last minute to save space and have easy access to a fresh pair when you arrive.
Rolling vs. Folding: The age old debate! Its true that rolling your clothes will save space and prevent your clothes from wrinkling, but is it worth the extra time? The choice to roll or fold is totally up to you and depends on your preferences, but a great trick is to do both. Roll the clothes you wish to keep wrinkle-free. Shirts, sweaters, blazers, dress pants, and the like should be folded carefully and placed above the rolled clothes in the suitcase. More delicate items, such as evening wear, should go on top. For delicate items, try tissue paper. Lay the item face down and place tissue paper on top. Fold it up with the tissue paper inside. Use additional layers of paper as you fold the garment so it is completely wrapped in and around paper. This is easy enough the first time you pack, but becomes a pain if you have to keep repacking. I only use this approach for evening clothes that I don’t want to crush.
The Shoe Issue: Ah, shoes. We need them, yet they take up so much space in a bag. Pack as few pairs as you can get away with. Some experts advise no more than three, but your trip might call for more. Take the lightest pairs you can. If you can, leave the hiking boots behind. Pack shoes that do double duty for day or night. And think neutral: black or brown shoes will match more outfits than green.To pack, put them in bags to avoid getting the rest of your stuff dirty. Pack them along the bottom of the suitcase, with soles touching the suitcase’s bottom. Put a shower cap over your shoes. Whether you’re aiming to keep your clothes clean or your favorite shoes protected, separation is simple with something you’ll find a second use for: a shower cap! Use the inside of your shoe as storage space: It may seem like an obvious one, but it will save you oodles of space. Whether its delicate items you wish to protect or simply placing socks and underwear inside a shoe, this little trick is bound to save space by the end of your packing (especially if you pack as many shoes as I do)
Toiletries: Leave any big heavy glass bottles at home. Decant your favorite shampoo, conditioner and any face and skin lotions into small plastic travel bottles and buy a sample size of toothpaste, and put all of them into a clear, resealable plastic pouch. Count out the number of pills or vitamins necessary for your time away, and put them into small empty plastic tubs. Unless the final destination is in the middle of Antarctica, anything needed can be bought from a local pharmacy. And don’t forget the one, most important and definite essential: travel insurance.
Put Fragrances Inside a Sock First: Ever arrived at a destination to find your expensive perfume/cologne now creating a misty aura through your entire suitcase!? Prevent spillages and breakage by placing your fragrances inside a sock first to protect them.
Use Cling-wrap to Stop your Jewelry from Tangling: Tired of spending precious travel moments untangling your jewelry? Fear not! Use 2 strips of cling wrap to hold your jewelry into place. Simply place a your necklace on one strip of cling-wrap, layer another strip overtop, and voila, tangle no more. Use a pill compartment for small jewelry items (rings and earrings) to prevent losing them in your bag.
Place Cords/Chargers in a Sunglasses Case: Probably the most important items to travel with are your laptop and phone chargers. Tired of losing them? Place your cords and chargers inside a sunglasses case to prevent them from tangling as well as knowing exactly where to find them when you open your case.