Packing is an art, a science and a necessary evil. It is a task travelers need to tackle before their journey; but not everybody excels at it. Most of us even dread it. But this guide will change all that. Step away from the pile of mountainous clothing, get off that suitcase you are trying to squash shut and allow this guide to un-clutter your mind and your suitcase.
Table of Contents
- 1. Pack light
- 2. Know your airline’s baggage rules
- 3. Choose the right bag
- 4. Pack in layers
- 5. Wear the heavy, bulky stuff
- 6. Rules for shoes
- 7. Avoid all ‘just in case’ items
- 8. Pack for one week
- 9. Make a list before you start
- 10. Roll clothes-do not fold them
- 11. Use packing cubes/folders or luggage organizers
1. Pack light
The main reason why people fail to pack efficiently is because they fear they will forget something they need. Clutter of packing is often chained to past events. In order to pack a suitcase efficiently, you must first unshackle yourself from the fear of packing. Once you let go of this fear, you will feel more alive and might even enjoy your trip a bit more.
2. Know your airline’s baggage rules
Assuming you are traveling by airplane, you must know the rules for carry on and check in luggage. There is nothing more frustrating than having to check what you thought was a carry-on item. Also, the carry-on luggage rules differ from airline to airline. Do call yours and confirm the weight and types of items allowed. Avoid looking on third party websites as their measurements and rules could be outdated. Once you know your airline’s weight restrictions, aim for the bag to weigh on the lower end of the allowed weight. Weigh your suitcases on a weighing scale at home before leaving for the airport. Here are some rules:
- Check in bags -2 pieces 50 lbs each
- Carry-on bags-one purse or laptop case, an additional bag that can fit in overhead bins or underneath seats.
3. Choose the right bag
Size of your travel bag certainly matters. 22x14x9 inches is the standard carry-on bag dimension. If your bag is bigger than these, you might need to check it in. The cheaper the airline the more the restrictions they have on luggage sizes. While packing, do not forget to count the bag’s weight. Before you pack anything, your bag is already having some weight. Go for wheeled hybrid backpacks as they are lighter than wheeled suitcases.
4. Pack in layers
This is the best way to pack a suitcase to maximize space. If you are traveling to a cold country, pack multiple thin layers instead of 2 or 3 bulky items like jackets and coats and sweaters. Two warm but thin t-shirts and two or three base layers will take up lesser space than a single thick sweater.
5. Wear the heavy, bulky stuff
Even if you aren’t cold, wear your heaviest and bulkiest coat. You can always stash it later in the overhead bin. If you live in a warm country and are traveling to a cold one, you might consider selling warm winter wear prior to returning.
6. Rules for shoes
Carry no more than 2 pairs of shoes if you wish to maximize the space in your suitcase; this includes the pair you are wearing. Wear the bulkier pair and pack the lighter/smaller pair.
7. Avoid all ‘just in case’ items
Cluttered packing is often a result of taking everything you think you might need just in case. So pack only the must-haves. Packing light requires making certain sacrifices. It is best to bring your core wardrobe that you wear over and over at home or work.
8. Pack for one week
Whether you are going away for a week or a month, break down the packing into manageable chunk of one week. Remember you will always have access to laundry if you are going away for more than a week. (Doing laundry is often cheaper in most countries than having to pay for excess baggage or even a checking in bag.)
9. Make a list before you start
An easy way to pack efficiently is to make detailed lists before you pack. Break down the lists into:
- Paperwork– Passport, travel documents, insurance papers etc. Take copies of important documents as well. Carry ID and boarding passes. Forex, cash, credit/debit cards also belong in this category.
- Electronics-phone, charger, camera, batteries, laptop and its charger, tablet if you need one.
- Toiletries– Make sure all your toiletries fit into one quart bag. Airlines allow liquids and gels in 3.4 oz or less bottles. Toothbrush, paste, cleanser, and moisturizing lotion are all that you need to make you feel human when you arrive. You can buy the rest upon landing.
- Gear– Travel bag lock (check with the airline if you are allowed to lock your bag), notebook, pen for filling custom forms, earplugs and eye mask, water bottle 9so you do not have to buy disposable bottles).
- Clothes– As stated above, take only the clothes you need for a week. Keep a small towel handy. Jacket, 2-4 t-shirts/blouses tops for women, 2 long sleeve shirts/blouses or tops for women, 2 pairs of pants/skirts for women, shorts, workout gear, swimsuits, underwear, rain jacket, sweater/warm winter wear. Tweak this list as needed.
- Accessories– Scarves, hats, goggles, etc.
Once you have listed the items you need, you can start your packing.
10. Roll clothes-do not fold them
Rolled clothes use up lesser space and this method of packing also helps you find things easily.
11. Use packing cubes/folders or luggage organizers
Two sided packing cubes are perfect for packing used and unused socks/underwear and also for general organization. Buy luggage organizers like these which can help you pack a suitcase like a pro.
Packing light is more than just about saving money- it is also about minimizing your physical and mental burden. Make sure you pack all items that are flexible and convenient. Remember: traveling is about having fun and experiences-not just your gear. We hope these easy ways help you pack your suitcase efficiently.