How To Pack a Suitcase: 4 Hacks for Newbies

Jan 31, 2024

A fully packed suitcase

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Learning how to pack a suitcase is an essential travel skill everyone must know. Packing can be an exciting yet stressful activity. As your flight date approaches, you may experience an inkling feeling that you forgot to put an essential item inside your luggage, leading to persisting anxiety. 

If you want to overcome this feeling and are looking for ways to make your next getaway to the Bahamas more convenient, learn the advantages, plus four different methods of packing to make your travel less stressful. 

Benefits of Packing Your Suitcase Appropriately

When you have an upcoming trip, packing ahead of time is your ultimate weapon against the stress associated with it. Experts recommend packing two weeks in advance, so you have wiggle time to mentally double-check if you have everything on your suitcase. 

Additionally, you want to ensure your luggage is zipped up 24 hours before your flight. It helps lessen the anxiety of rush. If you suddenly remember you need to bring an important item at the last minute, at least you can do it without panicking.

You’d also want to relax a day before your flight, which you can only do if you prepare beforehand. If you’re packing a suitcase for a 5-day escape to a tropical paradise, doing it correctly will give you peace of mind. Here are four tips on how to pack a travel bag like a pro. 

How To Pack a Suitcase - photo of clothes in a luggage

1. Using Packing Cubes

One of the most popular packing hacks is utilizing packing cubes. These items are zippable pouches to help you organize your things by categories. The bags vary in size, so you’ll have several options to fit your essentials. For example, you can get a small cube for underwear, a medium for footwear and a large one for clothes. 

The best thing about these packing pouches is you can arrange travel items accordingly and label them. Finding things when you need them becomes easier. You won’t have to rummage through your suitcase and create a mess out of already organized items. 

Packing cubes are helpful, but they have disadvantages. For one, it’s an extra expense. Since it’s a bag within a bag, they can add weight and make taking out clothes a bit of a hassle.

2. Rolling 

Although many travel enthusiasts highly acclaim packing cubes to solve messy suitcase worries, other solutions are better at maximizing every inch of space in your luggage — without these pouches. 

If you want to know how to pack a suitcase with a lot of clothes, rolling is the best way to go. It has its disadvantages for sure like it takes extra time. But if the goal is to fit everything you need in a single carry-on bag, this method is preferred.

Some of the advantages of rolling clothes are:

  • It’s easy.
  • You can fit more clothes.
  • It’s easy to find a particular outfit compared to when you stack them.

The cons of rolling are:

  • It takes time.
  • It’s great for thin clothing but not for bulky garments like sweaters.
  • It will more likely create wrinkles on clothes.

Ultimately, choosing to roll clothes boils down to your packing goals. It’s a space-saving strategy if you want to fit more stuff in your luggage.

3. Folding

“Is it better to roll or fold clothes in a suitcase?” This question is common for new travelers and here’s the answer — it depends on the length of travel and purpose. Folding is an alternative to rolling. It’s the easiest there is and perhaps a widely popular packing solution for travelers. It’s more beneficial to those leaving their homes only for a few days, like a three-day trip to visit your loved ones in another state. Some of its merits are:

  • It’s faster to do.
  • It requires minimal effort.
  • It’s convenient.

Some of its cons are:

  • Cotton clothes get creases and wrinkles.
  • It consumes more space.
  • It can be challenging to find a particular outfit when clothes are stacked over one another. 

Folding clothes is a conventional way of how to pack a suitcase. Perhaps, you’ve used it many times, but particular circumstances sometimes call for different measures. Use this hack if you’re traveling with fewer clothes in stow. Otherwise, consider other means. 

4. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Packing Method

Besides mental stress, packing in excess costs extra, as you have to pay to check in your luggage. If you’re a chronic overpacker and want to shift to the minimal side, the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 packing guide is for you. The philosophy behind this hack is “pack less, wear more.”

The first tip to make this effective is to bring versatile pieces of clothing you can improvise in many ways. Some examples are anything denim, a reversible jacket or a slip dress adaptable as a night-out or night-in outfit. 

Here’s what your suitcase or duffel bag would look like with this packing trick. 

  • 5 Tops: Tees and sleeveless or halters that are flexible and with colors adaptable to any other bottom 
  • 4 Bottoms: Usually include shorts, jeans and skirts
  • 3 Dresses and 3 shoes: Rompers and dresses that complement your accessories and regular or dressy flats if you want to skip the heels 
  • 2 Bags and 2 bikinis: A backpack or tote bag plus a small sling bag whenever you go out with fewer things and at least two pairs of swimwear if you plan to swim
  • 1 Hat, a watch and sunnies: Carry more accessories or jewelry if they fit the luggage. 

The second tip to make it seem like you have more items in your luggage is to stick to a color palette that allows you to combine tops and bottoms gracefully. Whether you choose a tone that’s neutral, pastel or a splash of color, ensure they’re easy to mix and match. 

Pick a Packing Method Accordingly

In a nutshell, you’d naturally want an organized suitcase to help you wherever you go — not a source of mess during your trips. Travel in itself is stressful as it switches up your usual daily routines. You’re also forced into a new place or environment where you sometimes don’t know anyone. 

By learning how to pack a suitcase, you can make your trips less stressful. For your next getaways or out-of-city business conferences, try these suggestions and see which method most suits you. 

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Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.