Packing a suitcase efficiently can make all the difference between a good vs. great vacation. Ensuring that you have everything you need for the trip will lead to less stress and more fun! Planning ahead is also key. Whether you are a frequent traveler or just looking ahead, these tips are sure to help your trip run smoother. Check out my top suitcase packing tips and be sure to tell me some of your favorite strategies!
Rules you need to know in advance!
#1. Be aware of airport security rules
Be prepared for the 3-1-1 rule on liquids and gels in advance – doing so will allow you to move through security much faster. According to this rule, you can only pack liquid containers under 3.4 oz in your carry-on bag. All containers need to be placed in a 1 qt. clear bag. And, each passenger is allowed 1 bag. Visit the TSA site for more information and additional carry on rules.
Check out this great TSA approved travel cosmetics kit from Pitotubes
#2 Check your airline’s carry on size requirements in advance
Airlines vary in allowable carry on luggage size limits, however, the max for most airlines is 45 linear inches. Check your luggage at home and make sure it fits within your airline’s requirement, or else you will have to check the bag. This could be a problem if your carry on is a necessity. Also, make sure to take the 3-1-1 liquid rule into account; if in doubt it is best to place the items in your checked luggage.
Packing requires a lot of planning! Check out a few of these helpful pre-planning tips.
#1 Make a list!
The single most important thing you should do before attempting to pack is take a piece of paper and write down everything you need for your trip. You do not want to forget any necessity, however, you also do not want to over pack and weigh yourself down. What activities are you planning? Check the weather forecast – what type of clothing will you need?
Write down all your necessary toiletries and medications. Don’t forget about chargers and cameras. Anything you possibly need should be added to the list. Start making the list a week in advance. This gives you time to add any forgotten items and take off unnecessary items.
#2 Buy any small items you need in advance
Buying small items like sunblock (travel sizes are great), etc. are going to be much cheaper when purchased online or at a drugstore than at a resort. Plus, who wants to waste their valuable vacation time shopping for toiletries? Not me!
#3 Consider purchasing vacuum saver bags
I have used these space saving bags on multiple trips. They really help to reduce the bulk of clothing, which takes up the main portion of your suitcase. I use Space Bags space saving bags both for travel and at home.
You will be able to pack more clothes without taking up more space. As a bonus, these bags come in handy around the house. They work great for storage bulky winter items like jackets and clothing, extra comforters, and blankets (great for those with limited storage space).
#4 Plan and organize outfits for the week
Planning out outfits for your trip has numerous benefits. First, you will have all the required apparel for each activity, whether you are hiking, swimming, dancing, exercising, fine dining, etc. Second, picking out versatile outfits which can be re worn more than once will help condense your suitcase.
Don’t over-stuff your suitcase with 5 pairs of jeans – most hotels have washing machines available if you really need one. Pack more tops than bottoms as they are more lightweight. You can wear the same jeans again, however, a fresh top is a must.
#5 Don’t go crazy packing bathroom supplies
Organize all your cosmetics into a handy carrying case. This ensures that they do not spill all over your clothing. Plus, it makes them easier to find when you arrive. Most importantly, buy travel size containers of your favorite products, or buy plastic containers which you can refill each time with your own products.
Not carrying full size cosmetic containers really helps keep me organized and saves tons of space. Don’t forget to leave the hair dryer and straightening irons at home – you are on vacation! Use the hotel amenities if necessary! I bring with Perricone’s Power travel set with me on the go. I love this line (especially the vitamin c ester serum) and appreciate the convenient travel size.
#6 Don’t bring full size vitamin/medication bottles
One of the best items I have ever purchased is a simple pill organizer. I take a lot of vitamins and wouldn’t go on a trip without them. I use to pack all my full sized bottles, which unfortunately took up too much space. Now, I just organize what I need in my handy pill organizer, conveniently marked with each day of the week.
You can find these just about anywhere – your local dollar store, Target, any drugstore, etc. If you want something fancier (AM/PM separator, more colorful), there are plenty of variations available such as this colorful organizer from Apex.
#7 Pack wrinkle free clothing
No one wants to spend their vacation sitting in front of an ironing board. Bring with only clothes that are wrinkle resistant. Also, rolling your clothes, as opposed to folding, prevents wrinkles and takes up less space. If driving, hang up nice clothes as opposed to using a suitcase.
#8 Purchase a luggage lock to ensure safety of your items.
This TSA approved Master Lock is a great buy. Locking up your luggage gives you a bit of extra security.
#9 Carry all valuable items with you.
I wouldn’t take any chance when it comes to high end items. Either leave them at home or keep them safe in your purse or carry on luggage.
#10 Bring with an extra (empty suitcase) for souvenirs.
An extra small suitcase will ensure that you have enough room for any extras that you have picked up during your vacation. No need to try to shove everything in and possibly break your new treasures.
Additional Space Saving Tricks for a smooth packing experience
#1 Rolling clothes takes up much less space than folding clothes.
This technique also helps minimize wrinkles.
#2 Put all socks/underwear/workout clothes in the mesh zip up bag on the side.
I try to squeeze as many in as possible to save the suitcase space for more bulky items. Lingerie and workout apparel are not going to ruin no matter how much you squeeze them down, hence shoving them all into the mesh side pocket.
#3 Use space saving vacuum bags
As mentioned above, Space Savers sells a decent collection of varied sized vacuum saving bags. Another great company is Ebags. They make terrific products for organizing clothing, and are available in a variety of different sizes. Both take up minimal space while also promoting organization.
#4 Pack all your clothes first and then squeeze in extras.
I try to shove in all my extras (umbrella, vitamins, cosmetic bag, shoes, etc.) after putting my main clothes in. Use every nook and cranny available to maximize your space.
#5 Wear your heaviest shoes/bulkiest sweater/jacket, etc. on the plane.
Limit the number of shoes you pack and wear the bulkiest pair on the flight. Wearing these space consuming items will free up tons of extra space. I try to stick with 2-3 pairs of shoes at most. For example, during summer travels I might bring 2 pairs of flip flops and one pair of dressy sandals.
#6 Stick with the essentials.
Do you really need to bring with your own hairdryer? A curling iron? How much time will you have in the hotel? Take some time to contemplate what you actually need for your trip as an attempt to cut out extra junk and maximize space.
#7 Use the outside luggage pockets.
There is room to squeeze a few small items in these pockets if you need the additional space. I often stuff these pockets with items I am going to need right away at the hotel (toothbrush, etc.).
#8 Pack a few plastic grocery store bags.
These will come in handy during your return trip when separating dirty laundry from clean items. Also, works well for keeping bathing suits and other damp clothing away from clean apparel.
Now it’s time to share your favorite suitcase packing tips!