How To Pack Your Suitcase
We’ve all read tons of packing lists and blogs about what to bring on the vacation, but rarely is the actual packing process addressed. Instead of resorting to the theatrics of cramming everything in and sitting on the suitcase top to close it up, try using some of these handy tips and tricks for how to pack your suitcase.
When it comes to packing clothing, there are several different schools of thought. Your primary goal should be to reduce the amount of luggage real estate taken up by your clothes. There are a few techniques that are used to do this.
The Traditional Fold Method
The traditional fold technique is generally not recommended for maximizing space. If you do decide to fold, the best advice for folding is to make sure that you smooth the item to be folded so it is wrinkle-free and ready for folding. This works best for heavy and bulky items like jeans and sweaters, as well as jersey type fabrics that don’t hold wrinkles. A downside to folding is that it often creates wrinkles, and stacks of folded clothing often leave small unused spaces in the suitcase.
The Rolling Method
Another way to deal with clothing is to employ the rolling method. This involves folding the item in half. Then, starting at one end, you tightly roll the fabric, smoothing the wrinkles out as you go. This method works great for keeping dresses and skirts wrinkle free, and it makes packing easier, as you can fit rolled clothing along the sides of your suitcase. Another bonus is that the TSA can easily see all of your clothes if they choose your bag for inspection. Unfortunately, sometimes rolling does not work well for bulky items like jeans or sweaters. The rolls can end up being very big and taking up a lot more space than necessary.
The Bundle Wrapping Method
The last technique is one known as bundle wrapping. This one is a little bit more confusing than the others, as it involves a distinct process. Basically, you want to start with the items that wrinkle easiest like dress shirts. Lay the first shirt out flat on the floor with all wrinkles smoothed out. Then place the next shirt flat on top of this, alternating the direction so that it extends above or below the first item. Be sure to align the collars. Place slacks and skirts horizontally, and alternate directions with each piece. After you have the clothes laid out, then select some sort of rectangular object to use as a core to your bundle. A book would work, or a pouch containing your toiletries. Place the core on top in the middle, then tightly wrap the clothing around it to form an easy to manage bundle that has maximized the space in your suitcase. Although this makes an extremely compact and easy to handle bundle, one of the downsides is that in order to get to your clothing, you must undo the entire bundle to retrieve one item. This would involve completely unpacking your suitcase upon arrival, which is a bit of a hassle.
As you can see, each method has its benefits and drawbacks. Consider using a mixture of the different methods to maximize that space. Perhaps a bundle of your slacks, skirts and dresses, with the sweater folded on the bottom and t-shirts rolled and tucked in the sides would work better than just one method. Use your judgment and fit the method to your clothing and suitcase.
A Few Parting Tips
Although clothes take up the most space, packing accessories can eat up those inches as well. Shoes are the biggest culprit, although toiletries and electronics are a close second. First of all, try to wear your heaviest and bulkiest pair of shoes while traveling. When you pack the other shoes, make sure you wrap them in a plastic or cloth bag. This is so when you re-pack them, they don’t spread dirt and debris all over the inside of your suitcase. Put them heel to toe, and don’t forget to stuff them with small trinkets or socks to maximize all of the space. Toiletries can be tricky, but placing them in a plastic bag or a mesh pouch is the best way to contain them. Try not to use any holder with a stiff shape, as this takes up the most room. Make sure that the container you use is see-through for easy inspection. There isn’t much you can do to reduce the size of electronics, so consider leaving everything non-essential at home. Make sure that with all shoes, toiletries, and electronics you place them at the top of your suitcase in case the TSA inspects your baggage.
With your newfound knowledge of packing techniques, you can now fit more in and not have to worry about how to pack your suitcase or keep the zipper from bursting on your bag. Keep experimenting with the different packing methods, and don’t forget to have a blast on your vacation!