Packing for a trip is much easier when you plan ahead. As you plan your trip, you can determine what you need to take with you by looking at the weather, location, and activities planned. It also helps to make sure that you have a sturdy bag that fits your basic needs. No matter what bag you bring, you can make the most out of it by packing carefully to optimize your space. Be sure to include toiletries, medications and valuables such as jewelry in a separate traveling case.
EditMaximizing Your Bag’s Space
- Choose between rolling and folding your clothing. If you need more space in your suitcase and aren’t worried about the weight, roll your clothes. This will take a lot less room than folded shirts and pants. If you do not need as much space and want to keep the weight down, fold your clothes. Folding is also generally better if you have clothes that are prone to wrinkling.
- Roll items as tightly as possible in order to save the most space. You can even use rubber bands or hair ties to keep rolled clothes tight in your bag.
- Rolled items will need to be packed tightly to stay organized, which is why this method is best if you’re trying to fit a lot into a smaller bag.
- Use packing cubes to make sure everything fits together. Packing cubes are smaller bags that you use to organize your suitcase. Depending on your needs, these can be organized by outfit, by weight, or by items. For example, you may have a heavy, midweight, and light cube, or you may have one for all your shirts, all your undergarments, etc.
- Packing cubes are available from many department stores as well as major online retailers.
- You may be able to find some packing cubes that you can vacuum-seal. Be careful to account for space after you open the bags, though. Unless you will have access to vacuum to compress the bags again, the items will take up more space after the cube is open.
- Use the inside of your shoes as storage space. Stuff your socks inside your shoes if there is no other room for them. Other small clothing items such as underwear are also easy to roll and place in your shoes. Small, fragile trinkets and souvenirs also work well in shoes, as the shoes offer extra padding and safety.
- Use creases and gaps to place underwear. Fit the underwear and socks down the sides and in the space between your clothing once the case is full. This will make sure that you don’t use valuable space in the middle for smaller items.
- Check out the weather at your destination(s) before you go. Look online or check the area’s news forecast to get an idea of what the weather will be during your trip. Pack items that will work well for the weather, and leave behind pieces that aren’t seasonally appropriate.
- Is it going to rain? Pack a rain jacket or something that can get wet and dry quickly. If it is going to be hot, pack shorts.
- On the other hand, if it’s going to be snowing the whole time, you can probably leave your shorts at home, no matter how good they look.
- Plan your wardrobe to match your itinerary. Think about what you will be doing on your trip, and pick clothes that match your agenda. If, for example, you want to spend most of your time at the beach, focus on packing swimsuits and lightweight clothes. If you’re packing for a business trip, though, you may want to focus more on professional attire like collared shirts and blazers.
- If you can, try planning each day in advance. Pack in outfits, rather than singular items. This will help you decide exactly what pieces of clothing to take.
- Choose multi-functional items. While some trips may require certain outfits for special occasions, most trips don’t. In those cases, look for items that can be dressed up or dressed down depending on what you need for that day. Try to keep items in the same complimentary color palette to make sure everything you bring goes together.
- Instead of bringing a different dress for walking around during the day and going out at night, for example, try brining one cute and comfortable black dress. Pair it with a cardigan or sweater to dress it down, or let it stand by itself for a night out.
- Save shoe space by opting to bring one or two pairs of neutral tone shoes that can go with multiple outfits. A pair of black ankle boots with a chunky heel, for example, can take the place of a pair of casual flats, formal heels, and sturdy trainers for walking around town.
- Pack several lightweight layers. Light layers typically work well for both warm and cool weather. If you plan on visiting multiple climates, pack items like basic t-shirts, light jackets and sweatshirts, and scarves that can easily be put on and removed as necessary.
- If you are packing for multiple occasions, bring a few basic items like shirts or blouses. Then, dress them up with layers like jackets and blazers, or dress them down with casual accessories.
- Light layers are often helpful, but they aren’t the right answer for every destination. If you’re going to the Arctic Circle in the winter, you should pack one durable sub zero-rated jacket rather than several lighter sweatshirts.
- Look into your accommodation’s facilities to see if there is laundry service. Some hotels and hostels will have laundry rooms for their guests to use. Others may be close to a laundromat or a dry cleaner. See if there is a laundry service at or near where you will be staying. If so, plan on doing a load or two of laundry so that you can reuse clothes instead of packing more.
- Make a packing list. Once you have a clear idea of what you will need to match your trip’s weather and schedule, make a packing list. This will help keep you organized and bring only the things you need. If it’s not on the list, it likely doesn’t need to be in your bag.
- Don’t forget to include things like underwear, socks, sleepwear, and toiletries on your packing list. These items can be easy to overlook.
EditMaking the Most of Your Bag
- Choose the right bag for your trip. Different trips will have different luggage requirements. Think about the type of bag that will be best for your trip. Are you going on a shorter trip? If so, you may want a smaller bag. Do you plan on going to a bunch of different destinations? Then consider an easy-to-carry backpack instead of a more cumbersome suitcase.
- If you prefer to sling your bag over your shoulder, carry it around with you, or want more flexibility in how you organize your bag, a duffel bag may be a better choice for you.
- Suitcases tend to be easier to pack and unpack and easier to organize. However, they harder to carry with you throughout the day and can be more difficult to store in small spaces.
- Depending on your needs, you can find bags that have built-in toiletry kits, garment bags, shoe storage, laptop and tech storage, and other features.
- Pack your duffle bag from lowest to highest priority items. Duffel bags are great for getting a lot in a smaller bag, but they don’t open up all the way like a suitcase. That means that you should put the items you will need sooner toward the top of your bag.
- Lower priority items like spare jeans and shoes can go on the bottom.
- Items you will need right away, including your toiletries if you will need to take them out for security screening, should be packed on top.
- For fragile items, you may want to purchase a smaller hard case that you can pack in your bags. Items like shampoo and lotion that are prone to leaking should be packed in water-resistant bags such as a toiletries kit or plastic bag.
- Organize your suitcase from heaviest on the bottom to lightest on top. Always put heavier or larger items at the bottom of the suitcase. This will make it easier to find items and will keep heavy objects from crushing or damaging lighter pieces such as souvenirs and toiletries. 
- Pack lighter items like dress shirts on top. This will help evenly distribute the weight and keep lightweight clothes from wrinkling.
- Pack fragile items in the center of your case. This way, they are less likely to be broken. You can also roll them up in t-shirts or other pieces of clothing to offer additional padding and protection.
- Bring plastic bags for dirty shoes and laundry. Carry a few plastic bags with you so that you can pack dirty shoes and laundry. This allows you to take your dirty items with you without having to pack an extra bag or use a whole side of your suitcase just for dirty clothes. You can use a grocery bag, small trash bags, or even shower caps for shoes.
- If you are traveling by plane or train, try wearing your bulkiest clothes during your journey. This will maximize the amount of space you have in your bag for other items. For example, wear your boots and pack your flats to save on shoe space.
- Place toiletries in a toiletries bag to prevent leakage on your clothing.
- In order to keep necklaces and bracelets from tangling, loop one end through a straw and clasp it on the other end.
- Use travel-size toiletries to save space for shorter trips. If you are flying on a plane in the US, they must be or less.
- Make sure to add a durable, up-to-date luggage tag to all of your bags. That way, your transportation company can contact you if your bag is lost or damaged.
- If you are traveling by airplane or going through a security checkpoint, make sure you don’t bring any knives, guns, lighters, nail clippers, silverware, perishable items, letter openers, and large amounts of liquids, as they may be confiscated.
- Many airlines have weight restrictions for carry-on and checked bags. Check with your carrier to see their weight restrictions and associated fees.
- Pack a Beach Bag
- Pack a Duffel Bag
- Pack a Suitcase for a Short Holiday
- Properly Pack Your Things for Storage
EditSources and Citations
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