Travel is an important part of life for millions of people. In 2019 alone, 1.9 billion American citizens took a leisure trip, and another 464.4 million traveled for business.

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, proper preparation can be the difference between a successful trip and a catastrophe. And if you’re a frequent traveler, learning how to pack a suitcase like a pro is essential.

That’s why we’ve compiled this packing guide, so you can pack your bags with ease for your next getaway or conference.

Let’s get started

1. Choose the Right Suitcase

Before you begin to pack your bags, you need to be sure you have the right ones! Now, unless you’re going on an extended trip, you shouldn’t bring more than one suitcase and a backpack or purse per person.

Go for a suitcase without a ton of interior compartments – there’s a better way to organize, we’ll get to it later! Interior compartments can add weight and make it more difficult to pack. Instead, choose a suitcase with one large empty space inside and a few exterior pockets.

Exterior pockets are a great place to put the items you may need to reach quickly during travel. The last thing you want to do is dig through your belongings in the middle of the airport.

If you’re going on a vacation where you may do some shopping or bring home souvenirs, an expanding suitcase is an excellent option. These bags have an exterior zipper that will allow you to increase the size of the interior by an inch or two.

For those who avoid checking bags when they can, pick a small hard-shell suitcase, no more than 22 inches tall. That way, you can have the option of using it as a carry-on or checking it. Plus, the hard-shell will prevent you from overstuffing the bag, preventing it from becoming too large to fit in the overhead compartments.

2. Become a Meticulous Packer

Now that you have your suitcase, it’s time to get started packing it. The best way to pack luggage is to be as meticulous as possible.

To avoid making a huge mess in your home, make a list of everything you think you’ll need first instead of laying everything out. Then, edit your list down.

Don’t allow yourself to create a just in case category on your list. If you find that you’re in need of a “just in case” item on your trip, you can buy it.

As for clothes, plan all of your outfits in advance and don’t be afraid to wear something more than once. The only clothing item you need to pack for every day of the trip is underwear.

For a weeklong trip, bring no more than four tops, three bottoms, and two pairs of shoes. You can pack exercise gear, a swimsuit, and any formal attire you need as well, but for everyday wear, stick to the minimum.

It’s a good idea to ask if the resort or hotel you’ll be staying in has laundry facilities and if they do, how you pay to use them. Many accept credit cards, but you don’t want to haul your dirty clothes to the laundry area only to find that you don’t have the coins you need.

3. Choose Your Packing Technique

That’s right, there are many techniques when it comes to how to pack a suitcase, each claiming to be the best way to pack luggage. The one you choose comes down to personal preference, but it’s usually best to use a mixture of the most popular methods. These are rolling clothes, bundling outfits, and making use of packing cubes.

Rolling your clothes is great because it prevents wrinkles and wasted space in your bag. Bundling outfits includes rolling clothes as well, but instead of rolling each item individually, you roll them together.

It’s easy! For each outfit, you should have a top, bottom, underwear, and socks. Lay your bottoms out first, folded in half, then a folded shirt on top, and finally, your socks and underwear. Roll them all up together, with your bottoms on the outside, and secure it with a cord or hairband!

Packing cubes are another fantastic packing tool, especially when more than one person is sharing the same bag. If you’re sharing a suitcase with your partner, for example, you can each choose a color of packing cube and you’ll know at first glance which items belong to each person.

Use the smallest bag you can by packing it in a way that your belongings take up every available space. You may be able to find luggage storage when you arrive at your destination, but if you’re unable to check into your hotel right away and need to carry your bag with you, you don’t want to heft around a massive suitcase.

4. Use a Few Packing Accessories

Speaking of packing cubes, let’s get into a few helpful packing accessories to make packing your suitcase even easier. Along with putting your clothing in packing cubes, it’s wise to put your toiletries in one. Put everything you need into this bag, such as toothbrush, toothpaste, hair care products, etc., and never unpack it.

You should also keep a packing cube or plastic bag to carry your phone chargers and other cords to prevent them from getting tangled or lost. Plastic bags are also useful for swimsuits and other wet clothes, toiletries, and small items like socks.

Even if you plan to use a laundry facility at your hotel, pack a laundry bag. It will save you from packing your wet or dirty clothes in with the rest of your belongings.

Learn How to Pack a Suitcase to Make Travel Hassle-Free

Traveling is an extremely enriching experience. Meeting new people and seeing new places can be one of the best experiences of your life if you approach it the right way.

Although there’s a lot that goes into travel prep, from organizing your paperwork to creating a budget, knowing how to pack a suitcase is one of the most important. After all, you’ll be living out of it for the duration of your trip!

Need more tips for traveling like a pro? Be sure to take a look at our blog!

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