How To Pack A Suitcase Like A Pro Traveler

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Learning how to pack your suitcase for any occasion is super important and shouldn’t be slept on; knowing what kind of trip you be taking and narrowing down your packing list is essential to having a great trip!

Too many times have we not packed for the correct occasion and been beyond upset, ruining our best attire and accessories in a random rain shower. So after a few trials and errors, we compiled ur tried and true travel packing list for various trip styles! Whether you love short weekend trips, summer vacations, ski trips to aspen, or long abroad trips, we got you covered!

This post is all about creating the perfect packing guide for your upcoming trip!

two travelers with their packed bags
Copyright JackF via

How To Pack A Suitcase FAQ

Is rolling or folding your clothing better?

It really depends on the type of clothing and how hard or soft the item is. Most often, you will want to use the rolling method as this method of packing allows you to utilize the most space while also getting rid of any unwanted air stuck in your clothing. The folding method can often trap unwanted air in the folds and result in more space being used.

Also, keep in mind that folding is better for stiffer items, and rolling is better for soft, flexible items, so if the item is a very stiff item like a thick heavy jacket, you may want to fold this. Meanwhile, soft items like shirts or pajamas you can easily roll up.

Do packing cubes and compression bags actually work?

Yes! Keep in mind that both packing cubes and compression cubes will save space but there is a difference in the amount saved when using one over the other. Packing cubes generally are used to organize your suitcase. This can save space because you’ll be fitting and organizing your items into these cubes that can then neatly fit into your suitcase. If you use smart packing methods like rolling your clothing you can save a ton of space and stay organized by using packing cubes.

Meanwhile, compression bags, on the other hand, are actually designed to squeeze out any excess air trapped in the cube to essentially compress the bag. These allow you to utilize the most space while effectively getting rid of any unwanted air. These compression bags are great for staying organized and saving on extra space by getting rid of that unwanted pesky air that takes up a ton of space.

Where can you buy packing cubes and compression bags?

You can buy these neat travel tools at most department stores like Target, Marshall’s, etc. You can also order them online from amazon and other online retailers. Just be sure if ordering online to order way ahead of your trip to ensure that shipping delays don’t delay your package too much.

What Should’nt You bring in your suitcase?

Anything flammable, dangerous, illegal, you get the picture. Check out the TSA Guide for up to date information on what isn’t allowed on your carry on and checked luggage.

5 crucial must-have things to pack for the summer

  • Sunscreen
    • Whether you’re going on a beach vacation or packing for a cruise, don’t forget your sunscreen. It’s like forgetting your cell phone or wallet. It is of the utmost importance to take sunscreen and apply it religiously every two hours! No one wants a painful sunburn and skin damage during their fun vacation.
  • Small packable poncho
    • This is something that is a bit more portable and will protect from the rain. Just imagine doing your hair and makeup for a day at Disney World, only to end up soaking wet from random thunderstorms. These ponchos are tiny and super packable and also allow you to still move around, eat your food and drink the stuff without the hassle of carrying an umbrella around.

Speaking of Disney Parks! Thats a whole other beast and youll definitely want to follow our perfect no- nonsense Disney packing guide!

  • Mosquito spray
    • No one, and I mean no one, wants to spend their fun vacation time being eaten alive by bugs! Such a key to our how to pack a suitcase! Then you get those rashes or end up with bug bites all over. It isn’t fun, so it best remembers to bring that bug spray!
  • Waterproof phone case
    • This will protect your phone on those days that you plan to visit the beach, water parks, or other fun activities. And if you ever visit Venice, just remember, when it rains, it floods!
  • Umbrella
    • This serves to protect you not only from the weather but from the sun! Protect that skin now before it’s too late! And just remember, if the weather says there is a 10% chance of rain, DO NOT believe it. We made that mistake and ended up soaking wet, doing our hair and makeup for nothing because we got rained on as we waited in line at the Vatican.

5 crucial must-have things to pack for the winter

  • Hand and toe warmers
    • No one wants freezing hands and freezing feet! If it’s super cold, snowing or even raining, definitely bring hand warmers and toe warmers, so you aren’t completely miserable in the cold weather.
  • Layered clothing
    • Layers are your friend. Trust us. Layers might not be the cutest to wear under your outfit, but it will keep you warm and happy during your trip!
  • Beanies, gloves, scarfs, socks
    • Bring tons of beanies, socks, and scarves. These will keep you nice and cozy while you’re out and about in the cold weather. Whether it be a cold crisp day in Seattle or a snowstorm in New York, you will definitely thank us later.
  • Waterproof bag
    • This is a must have for best travel gear to bring with you! If it’s snowing or raining, you will definitely want a waterproof bag to keep all of your valuables dry and safe. Whether you’re carrying around a nice DSLR camera, carrying around your phone and money or carrying around souvenirs to take home, you’ll be worry-free knowing your stuff is protected in a waterproof bag.
  • Winter boots
    • Winter boots are generally meant for the cold and the snow so they will help keep your feet dry and warm throughout your trip. No one likes walking around with frozen wet toes, it can be quite miserable so definitely bring winter boots for your winter wonderland getaway.

5 crucial must have tips and tricks to know to pack for a weekend getaway

  • Keep it lightweight and only what you need
    • When traveling for the weekend or just a 2-3 day long trip, you will want to be concise with your outfits and packing list. Take only what you need, so bring along like 3-4 outfits, 2 pairs of shoes and then your toiletries and accessories like a camera and phone charger.
  • Travel sized toiletries
    • Probably one of our best long flight tips! Travel-sized toiletries are great since they essentially allow you to take only enough for the 2-3 days of travel you’ll be doing. You’ll want to buy travel-sized bottles so you can fill them yourselves, and then for things like deodorant, you’ll just need to buy a small travel-sized deodorant. Plus, with travel-sized toiletries, you can take them with you in your carry-on and, most often, will not need to check a bag since everything is TSA-approved.
  • Universal makeup pallet
    • This should include everything you need in one makeup kit to keep it concise and save space in that carry-on or traveling backpack.
  • At least one dress up outfit, and 1 cute bag to go with this outfit
    • You never know when you’ll have a night out! We always bring a night-out “outfit” just in case we decide to go out. Or for those last-minute instances where you meet someone, and you decide to go hit the town!
  • Dyson air wrap hair styler
    • This is the all-in-one hair styler that you MUST absolutely have! This thing curls, straightens, and dries your hair! We definitely recommend buying this product as it’s the perfect way to bring everything you need all in one item.

Tips and tricks to maximize space in your suitcase

  • Use the rolling method for soft items like clothing
  • Use the folding method for hard items
  • Use the space inside your shoes for small items like toiletries.
  • Make your most frequently used items easily accessible
  • Use the bundle method for pre-planned outfits
  • Wear your heaviest shoes, coat, etc. on your person while flying to save that extra space for your suitcase
  • Use packing cubes or compression bags to seal and compress clothing items

Getting started at packing your suitcase

  1. Create a packing list
    1. This should be all of the essentials or in other words, only what you really need.
    2. Keep in mind to pack an extra set of clothing in your carry-on luggage in case the checked luggage gets lost during travel.
    3. This list should keep in mind how long you will be traveling, how many outfits you will need, pairs of shoes, how many toiletries to bring, etc.
    4. You will want to make this list at least 4 weeks in advance of the trip so that have the time to go out and purchase or order any items you still do not have on hand.
  2. Begin to grab everything from your list and make piles of these items
    1. This should be about 4 weeks before the trip.
    2. As you see everything being piled up you’ll know if you need to add more of something or take away from stuff.
    3. You’ll also know what you still need to go out and buy or what you need to order.
  3. Purchase packing cubes and travel-sized toiletries.
    1. Some people don’t even bring toiletries with them because they just plan on using hotel-provided toiletries or they plan on buying toiletries at a nearby grocery store after arriving to their destination.
  4. Grab your pre-planned outfits
    1. These will be the outfits that you have planned out ahead of time, down to the socks and undies.
    2. Use the bundle method for packing your pre-planned outfits together.
    3. This makes it easy to just grab that bundle and go on with your day.
    4. After bundling, store them in a packing cube.
    5. For any extra clothing, you can roll them up and store them in packing cubes. Rolling saves on space and helps decrease unwanted wrinkles in your clothing if done neatly.
  5. When packing shoes, utilize the space that is inside of the shoes.
    1. Use this space for storing sealed toiletries or clothing. Just make sure the shoes are clean, though!
  6. For your most used items like Travel Toothbrushes, hair ties, and daily use toiletries, store them in easily accessible areas like pockets or in their own packing cube so that it is easy to grab and use when needed.
    1. Easily accessible areas can be either outer or inner zipped pockets in your suitcase or in your carry-on luggage.
  7. Suppose you have a pair of heavy doc martens or hunter boots that you want to bring with you, its best that you wear these on the flight or trip. These heavy items will not only take up all your space, but they’ll also add on a lot of weight, and most airlines only allow luggage to be a certain weight.

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