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Ultimate Guide to Packing your Suitcase like a Pro
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Ultimate Guide to Packing your Suitcase like a Pro

Ultimate Guide To Packing Your Suitcase Like A Pro: 13 Valuable Steps

Picking the location, booking flights, fantasizing about your  Instagram of famous restaurants  Travel has a lot to offer.

Nothing throws a cog in the organization machine quicker than hitting the ultimate travel roadblock: packing.

Novice travelers and pro tourists alike know the basics of packing. Bringing travel-sized versions of your favorite toiletries and a scarf that multitasks as a blanket and a beach towel is standard practice.

What else can you do to maximize your packing productivity?

Enter the ultimate guide to packing your suitcase efficiently from our friends at MakeSpace. They know a thing or two about making the storage process simple, and their tips for packing the perfect suitcase are no different.

Conquer luggage madness and consider yourself a professional suitcase packer in the time it takes you to read these 13 valuable tips.

Plan before you pack
1. Check the weather forecast
Unless you’re jetsetting to a tropical island --- in which case, can we come? --- the weather at your destination could be unpredictable.

Keep an eye on the forecast in the days leading up to your trip.

Choose clothing accordingly. Pack a long-sleeve shirt or rain jacket in case it gets cold or showers creep into your itinerary.  

2. Make a list
Laying out your clothes beforehand helps you create outfits and prevents overpacking. With a plan for each article of clothing you pack, you won’t risk showing up with a hodgepodge of mismatched outfits.

If you’re concerned about forgetting something, write a detailed list of all the things you’ll need. After you put an item in your bag, cross it off the list. Simple, effective, and makes leaving behind your hair dryer nearly impossible.

Go even more in-depth and download the PackPoint app. It will tell you what to pack based on the length of your trip, your destination’s weather, and any activities you planned. It’s like having a travel agent, tour guide, and personal stylist all in one.

Consider your suitcase
3. Size matters
Ever argued with a flight attendant about your bag definitely being able to fit in the overhead compartment only for them to decide otherwise?

Then you know how great of an impact suitcase size can have on your travel plans.

Avoid the hassle.

Check with your airline to review carry-on size restrictions. The last thing you want is to expertly pack a weekender bag with the intention of carrying it on only to find out it’s too large and has to be checked.

4. Weigh the issue
You didn’t even know you owned 50 pounds of clothes until an airline representative asks you to fork over $25 for exceeding their weight limit.

To be fair, it might not be just your belongings packing on the pounds.

Hard-body suitcases are heavy. If you’re worried about going over the weight limit with the items you’ve packed, keep in mind that your suitcase could be contributing to the heft.

Choose a suitcase that’s rigid enough to provide the protection you’re looking for without being so sturdy that you’d need to be a bodybuilder to lift it when empty.

Nip all this stress in the bud and weigh your bag before you leave for the airport. A manual luggage scale does exactly what its name implies.

Go ahead and include that extra pair of shoes. You’ve earned it.  

Save space
5. Count them out
A chronic overpacker trying to mend their ways could benefit from the 1-2-3-4-5-6 Rule.

For a week-long trip, this rule recommends packing one hat, two pairs of shoes, three pairs of pants/skirts, four shirts, five pairs of socks, six sets of underwear, and a partridge in a pear tree.

With this rule, you still have two more counts to finish your I’ve-Never-Packed-This-Efficiently-In-My-Life Happy Dance.


6. Roll it up
Folding is a thing of the past. Now, it’s all about the roll.  

Rolling your clothes and packing them tightly lets you bring the maximum amount of stuff (or your entire capsule wardrobe, if you’ve already got the “less is more” thing figured out), in the event you rejected the 1-2-3-4-5-6 Rule. You’ll also avoid wrinkles, because if you’re packing 14 outfits for a four-day trip, we’re willing to bet a portable steamer isn’t making the cut.

7. Use packing cubes
Go into packing autopilot and prepare your suitcase with packing cubes.   

With different cubes dedicated to shirts, pants, undergarments, and more, organizing your suitcase is easy.

If an item doesn’t fit in a cube, it can probably stay home. You’ll save space and your sanity.

8. Fill the emptiness
A full suitcase always has a few nooks and crannies that can still hold some smaller items. Take advantage of the hidden storage potential of the space inside your shoes or an open corner.  

Socks are prime candidates for filling in the empty spots. Pack them inside your shoes or add them at the end to eliminate any gaps.

Securely packing your suitcase will prevent it from shifting in transit, which could result in a broken steamer or wrinkled clothes. And that’s no way to start a vacation.   

9. Play with layers
You already know you should pack layers to prepare for any kind of weather.

But did you know that same principle can apply to the act of packing itself?


  1. Put your shoes on the bottom of the bag.
  2. Add the heavier rolled clothing. Start with pants, then sweaters and t-shirts.
  3. Pack undergarments on top.
  4. If you’re packing a carry-on, put your toiletry bag on the very top to make it easier to remove as you pass through security.

Following this order makes it easier for the items to compress when the suitcase is closed, which keeps your stuff compact and guaranteed to show up at your final destination in great shape.  

10. Remove the bulk
Reading up on all the hotspots to hit on your trip is a great way to get excited as you learn something new.

But if you’re only visiting Montreal, leave the huge guidebook on the entire country of Canada at home. Use Cool Cousin instead. You’ll get a map of locals’ favorite city spots and personalized recommendations for need-to-hit places in town, all in a convenient, weightless app.

For a more low-tech option, simply photocopy the pages of your trusty guidebook that you think will be most helpful. They will pack flat, can be folded and stashed in your purse when you’re out and about, and are easy to recycle once your trip is over. Save the space for a kooky souvenir from Le Rhinocéros.  

Keep it clean
11. Wrap and cap
Take the caps off of your travel shampoos, conditioners, and body washes, and place a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the bottles. Then tightly screw the caps back on the bottles. This will prevent any spillage, because a goopy mess was not invited on this trip.

12. Freshen up
A long trip is a great way to escape from your everyday routine and recharge. Unfortunately, if your everyday routine involves a washing machine, your clothes might start to have an “aromatherapeutic” effect that’s the opposite of relaxing.

Tuck a few dryer sheets or a small bag of potpourri in with your clothes to keep them smelling sweet throughout the trip.

13. Waterproof your bag
Dreaming of a white Christmas but having nightmares about damp pants?

Sleep easy.

You can brave those trips through the sleet and snow by making your luggage weathertight.

To easily waterproof your suitcase, use stuff you were already planning to pack.

Line the inner perimeter of your suitcase with water-resistant items, like rain boots on the bottom, toiletries in plastic bags on the sides, and a rain jacket on top.

Ta-da: instant impervious suitcase.

Tuck these tips away in your carry-on and feel confident in your perfectly packed suitcase. You have more important things to focus on.

This post was written by MakeSpace, with contributing expertise from NY Professional  Organizer Wendy Jacobs from Actually Organized NYC.
Make Space is  a Manhattan storage company that also serves Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Chicago, Los Angeles, and the greater Washington, DC area. They’ll pick up, store, and deliver your stuff right back to you, so you can spend more time planning your next big adventure.  

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