The Best Way to Pack a Suitcase

Remember: Less is always more.

Closely following airplane passengers who use your shoulder as a pillow, packing is undeniably one of the most frustrating parts of traveling. Even when we think we're being conservative, we pack too much. Those gladiator sandals somehow board the plane with us, while our toothpaste ends up at home.

However, just because you're not an expert yet doesn't mean a perfectly-packed bag can't be in your future. Just a little planning means you can enjoy more space for the stuff you'll actually need and an easier time finding everything on arrival. Here's how. And for more great travel tips, here are 20 secrets that hotel employees won't tell you. 

Think About What You "Need." Then Divide by Half.

Woman looking at clothes in closet

And use common sense: you shouldn't bring anything to a vacation that you wouldn't wear at home, and don't bring along five separate bathing suits on a work trip "just in case." "The thing that is most important when you're packing is avoiding packing clothing that you don't wear in your non-traveling life," says Karin Socci, the professional organizer behind The Serene Home.

Don't Pack Those Aspirational Pieces

Closet of suits

Rookie mistake: packing your favorite dress without making sure you can still fit into it. "People often pack things that they want to wear on a trip and then don't," says Socci. "People pack things that don't represent their true style in real life."

Roll Your Clothes

Packing suitcase

While paring down what you pack is a good start, organizing is just as important. "In KonMari, the way that we pack a suitcase is by rolling things and packing into small, tubular shapes. Especially if you're living out of your suitcase, you want to be able to see everything when you look down," says Socci. She suggests folding your most-worn items, like pants and shirts, so that they're neatly contained, but still immediately visible when you open your bag.

Use Packing Cubes

Packing suitcase

Fortunately, even if you're not a genius at rolling your clothes, there's still a simple way to keep everything organized: packing cubes. "If there's one type of item I would recommend, it would be packing cubes," says Socci. "You want all your t-shirts in one cube, all your underwear in another cube. When you unpack, you'll find that everything arrives less disturbed and is and a lot easier to find." And what's a more heartwarming feeling than finding your comfiest pajamas after a long flight? Of course, if you're adamant about arriving well rested, the 10 Best Tricks for Sleeping on an Airplane can help you out, too.

Think Small, Pack Small


Remember: you can wear things more than once, and hotels offer cleaning services. Unless you're missing something crucial—such as a tux at a wedding—there's almost no such thing has under-packing. "We always overpack," says Socci. "Very rarely we'll get to the end of the trip and say, 'I wish I had brought more stuff.'"

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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