That long awaited trip is about to begin. You’ve been working hard getting everything organized. Travel clothes are ready. Shoes collected. Toiletries and accessories sorted. Now it’s time to stuff the suitcases.
Not always an easy task, is it? Will it all fit? Will that carry-on “pass” airport security? Will there be enough room to bring back souvenirs? The answers are yes, yes, and yes, and I’m here to give you the tips you need to make that packing task easier.
Five Tips for Efficient Suitcase Packing
With some pre-pack planning (check out my prior post, Ten Tips To Put That Suitcase On A Diet) and these five favorite suitcase packing tips, you should be packed in no time with room to spare. Following these tips will take that extra “air volume” out of your suitcase, have you arrive less wrinkled, and help you get in everything you need:
Tip #1 – Roll Roll Roll It Up
Rolling clothes not only saves space but also helps reduce wrinkling. Need to pack clothes that are still in their dry cleaner bags? Leave them in the bags, and roll them up. Rolling clothes in dry cleaner bags is quite effective in keeping wrinkles to a minimum.
Tip #2 – Pack ’em up with Space Saver Bags
Space Saver packing bags are awesome! No lie – by placing clothes into Space Saver bags, you should easily cut down on the amount of packing space you need by at least 25%. There are so many ways to pack with a Space Saver bag. Read more about using Space Saver bags in Tip #3 of Travel More Efficiently With These Ten Must Have Items.
Packing cubes such as sold by Eagle Creek are also helpful in keeping items more organized inside your suitcase. I personally don’t use them, as I prefer the Space Saver Bags. Traveling with kids, I need to cut down on space as much as possible, and just find the space saver bags more efficient.
Tip #3 – Bag Those Shoes But Stuff Them First
First and foremost, take time to clean any shoes you plan to pack, especially the bottoms. Bringing a piece of home on the trip is great, but not if it’s the dried up remnants from that romp through a mud puddle.
Ready to pack up the shoes? Stuff them first! An effective use of packing space is to stuff the insides of shoes. Usually I stuff socks. Makes sense, huh! Socks stuffed into shoes. The inside of a shoe is also a good space to place smaller items that might otherwise be easily lost inside the suitcase as well as for safely transporting small, fragile items.
Shoes stuffed. Now bag them. This will prevent dirt from transferring to surrounding items. You can use plastic grocery bags from around the house as well as larger ziplock bags. You can also buy bags designed to hold shoes, like these Magellen Shoe bags or these from Shoe Socks. I go for either grocery bags or gently used ziplock bags. They serve double duty as dirty clothing bags during the trip.
Tip #4 – Keep ’em Clean and Dry
Always place liquids inside waterproof bags. Nothing is worse than opening up that suitcase upon arrival, only to find the top of your shampoo bottle popped open during the flight. Airplane cabins are pressurized, sometimes causing bottles to pop open. Use ziplock bags, or specially designed toiletry bags like those sold by LLBean to protect your contents from a potentially messy spill.
Airport Security Tip! Most importantly follow the TSA 3-1-1 liquids rule for your carry-ons. If packing any liquids in a carry-on, put them into a see-through quart-size bag, and then place this bag in an easily accessible location. Not only will this keep liquids from spilling onto other items, it will speed you through security. No more glaring eyes as the TSA security agent tears apart your carry-on searching for that forgotten bottle of lotion!
Read more about TSA liquids requirements at Make Your Trip Better Using 3-1-1.
Tip #5 – Fill Every Corner But Save Some Space
Use every inch of packing space available. Start filling the suitcase in layers, beginning with the larger space saver bags, packing cubes, or larger rolls of clothes along the bottom. If you have items like jeans or jackets that don’t roll well, aren’t bagged or cubed, layer them next, flat atop the first layer. More tips include:
- Place shoes with flat soles up against the edges of the bag, leaving the middle open to place toiletry bags and other travel items.
- Wrap belts around the outer edges of the bag.
- Use socks and underwear to fill empty corners.
- Fill up those side pockets. Items that can fit well here include flip flops, magazines, books and papers, or other smaller, thin items.
Don’t stuff the suitcase, though. You want to have enough space to bring back those souvenirs! Concerned you might not have enough space for all those goodies you want to pick up? Pack a collapsible daypack or duffel bag for the return trip.
Just One More Item, Pleeeease! Ok, now that you have all the essential items in your bags, now is the time to perhaps throw in that uber-cool top or extra pair of shoes. If there is any space left over!
What Not to Pack for Airplane Travel
The TSA, the FAA and airlines prohibit certain items from being brought onto airplanes in carry-on and/or checked bags. Know what you can – and can’t – bring in your carry-on before you get to airport security. Know what items should be placed into the checked baggage. And know what you should just avoid packing altogether with this guide from TSA – TSA Prohibited Items!
Yes, that includes Fido! He has his own suitcase requirements!
Checking Baggage? Weigh So You Don’t Pay!
Don’t forget to weigh any bag that’s going to be checked at the airport. Airlines are very strict when it comes to overweight luggage, and often charge exorbitant fees for a suitcase greater than 50 pounds. Check your airline’s luggage requirements to know exactly how much you can bring, and what baggage fees might be involved.
How do you pack your suitcase? Do you have any favorite tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the Comments section below.
Our bags are packed, heading out bright and early Tuesday for our own Thanksgiving vacation. Just letting you know it might take a little longer than usual to respond to comments, but I will! I promise!
Images from Samsonite.com, CBSNews, Amazon.com, Shoesock.com, Amazon.com, and Flickr Creative Commons via zhouxuan12345678.