8 Essential Suitcase-Packing Tips

Lauren Murphy
Written by Lauren Murphy
Updated February 14, 2022
Mother with daughters packing suitcase at home
Photo: Sumala Chidchoi / EyeEm / Getty Images

Stay organized while you’re away by packing your suitcase the right way

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Traveling is stressful, but packing a neat, organized suitcase will make it a lot more manageable, even if you have to get multiple kids and their belongings through airport security. Whether you’re leaving on a jet plane or hitting the road in the family car, these useful tips will help you pack your bags like a pro.

1. Make and Follow a Packing List

Before you jet off on your next trip or embark on a move, take the time to plan out what you need to pack. Consider how many days and nights you’ll be gone and decide what you’ll wear for each one. Make a packing list that includes your clothes, shoes, and other everyday essentials, like your toothbrush and face wash. Consult the list as you pack your bags to avoid overpacking while making sure you have everything you need.

As if traveling with a toddler wasn’t stressful enough, adding a mid-airport meltdown because of a forgotten toy is enough to make you pull your hair out. Make a thorough packing list for all your family members and help them check everything off before you leave the house.

2. Think Minimal

The key is to choose clothing items that you can mix and match throughout your trip to cut down on the amount of items you need to fit into your suitcase. Start by picking clothes that are basic but reusable items, like a top that’s comfortable enough to wear to a meeting and to dinner afterward.

You should also pack shoes that will match multiple outfits instead of jamming several pairs into your suitcase. Not only will paring down make your bag lighter and easier to carry, but it will also keep it organized.

3. Pack Heavy Items First

A woman packing suitcase and holding shoes
Photo: Kathleen Finlay / Image Source / Getty Images

Pack heavier items, like shoes, at the bottom of your suitcase. This will make it easier to carry and help it stay upright when traveling. Likewise, if you’re packing heavy sweaters or jackets, layer these items on the bottom of your suitcase so there’s room to pile lighter pieces on top.

4. Try Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are a miracle-working product. These small zippered bags help you compartmentalize different items within your suitcase. You can use one or multiple packing cubes to separate items in your suitcase.

With packing cubes, you’ll never have to dig through your luggage to find that pair of socks that somehow ended up at the bottom. Every item will stay contained in its designated cube.

5. Roll Your Clothes

If you’re heading on a long trip (or want to bring a lot of clothes), use this packing hack to fit more clothing items in your suitcase. Tightly roll your clothing items and arrange them face up. Rolling them into tight circles will allow you to fit more of them inside your suitcase, and it will make it a lot more organized—you’ll be able to see and grab what you need easily.

6. Use a Compression Bag

A woman using a vacuum pump
Photo: franz12 / Adobe Stock

Compression bags are sealable plastic bags with pressure valves that lets air out, not in. This packing tool allows you to suck all of the excess air out of a bag before you pack it, making it much smaller. Pack bulky items, like big sweatshirts, in compression bags to save valuable suitcase space.

7. Keep Liquids Separate

If you’re a frequent flier, this rule probably isn’t news to you. Airport security has strict rules around liquids in your carry-on bag, and they must be removed and separately scanned. So if you’re flying to your next destination, pack your liquids in a separate, easy-to-access bag within your carry-on. When you get to security, you can easily take it out and avoid holding up the line.

8. Wrap Your Shoes In Bags

Not only are shoes big and bulky, but they also have the potential to damage the rest of the contents of your suitcase. Clean your shoes before you pack them to get rid of any caked-on dirt. Then, wrap them in a plastic or reusable bag to make sure they don’t make direct contact with your other items. The bag will also protect the shoes, so you can pack them in the bottom of your suitcase to make room for everything else.

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