How to pack a suitcase in 12 steps

How to pack a suitcase in 12 steps

Are you a serial overpacker? Do you stuff your suitcase to the limit, only to spend your entire holiday in your swimsuit? Is travelling light an impossible goal? We’re here to help you change your ways. 

We’re all on a tighter budget nowadays, so making the most of your hold luggage space to avoid paying extra charges is a must. Or, if you’ve challenged yourself to go hand-luggage-only on your next getaway, the need to pack light in your carry-on is more important than ever. 

Take a look at our packing tips and get ready to become a holiday pro. FYI, we’ll be sticking to the traditional packing methods for your travel essentials here – you’ll probably have seen some more unconventional hacks across social media… 

1. Make a packing list 

We’ve all heard the old saying – fail to plan, plan to fail. Ok, so that might be a little overdramatic, but it’s worth making a packing list before you start. That way, you’ll have something to look at when the temptation to pack your entire wardrobe strikes, while not missing out on any essential items (we’re talking plug adaptors, charging cables, any medicines or must-have toiletries…) Plus, when you’re packing to come home, you can remind yourself what you need to track down from under your hotel bed. 

2. Invest in a hard-shell case 

This one’s a must if you have a habit of overpacking. Hard-shell suitcases aren’t as forgiving as soft-sided cases when it comes to overstuffing, but are sturdy enough to hold everything with less risk of damaging either the case or, more importantly, the zip. Hopefully, sticking to this type of hard-sided suitcase should stop you needing to recruit family members or friends or strangers in the airport to sit on your suitcase to get it closed. Depending on your luggage allowance, hard-shell cases are allowed for both hold luggage and carry-on. 

3. Pack heavy items near the wheels 

Stick heavy and bulky items like pairs of shoes and bottles of shampoo at the bottom of your suitcase. This way, when you’re wheeling your case around, they won’t squish and wrinkle your clothes (no one wants to iron on holiday). This will also help with the weight distribution of the case, so it will be easier and smoother to roll around. 

4. Roll your clothes 

We’ve heard plenty of debating about whether you should fold and stack or roll your clothes. But the verdict’s in – get rolling and you’ll save storage space. It’ll also help reduce creasing on delicate clothes if they’re rolled up like cinnamon buns. You should also invest in some packing cubes – these zippable containers let you divide up your packing into easy-to-access segments. For example, you could pack tops and dresses in one of the packing cubes, shorts or trousers in another, and underwear and socks in a third. 

5. Use every bit of space 

Get ready to stuff those socks and underwear into your shoes – you’ll be surprised how much extra space you can get from inside a backup pair of trainers. If your suitcase has got any zipped pockets, either inside or outside, they’re good for storing other items that you need quick or easy access to, such as medicines or face wipes. 

6. Organise your jewellery 

Spending hours untangling jewellery isn’t our idea of holiday fun. So if you’re ready to accessorise on your getaway, pick up a small jewellery holder or case to keep necklaces and bracelets organised. Or you can get thrifty and use an old toilet rollsimply loop your bracelets around it and strand your necklaces through the tube itself. 

7. Control your cables 

Once you’ve remembered to pack all the cables you’ll need, make sure you wrap them up properly – they can take up lots of space and get damaged if you just stuff them in your case. Old sunglasses cases work well as cable containers. Or you could invest in a multi-way cable that has multiple connectors on it for phones, headphones, e-readers or electronics such as razors, for an all-in-one cable solution. 

8. Make sure your toiletries don’t leak 

This is everyone’s worst nightmare, so it’s best to be overly cautious with this one. If you’re able to take travel-size toiletries, you’ll already save yourself unnecessary liquid risk. Try unscrewing the lids of your bottles and pop a piece of clingfilm over the neck before you screw it back on to give an extra layer of protection. Obviously packing any liquids in their own plastic bag or container will mean any leakages won’t ruin clothes, too. Plus, if you’re super scared of leaks, invest in a shampoo and conditioner bar – these solid blocks are hand-luggage compliant, too. 

9. Pack a couple of pillowcases for laundry 

We know you don’t want to be thinking about boring life admin like washing when you’re on holiday, but it’ll be worth it when you get back. Pillowcases pack down nice and small in your suitcase, then while you’re away, you can stuff them with worn clothes to help separate what’s clean. Plus, it’ll make life easier when you’re back to the daily grind – you can just shove the dirty laundry in the washing machine and get back to your holiday blues. 

10. Leave room for souvenirs 

If you’re the type of person who can’t resist a memento from your holiday, or have to buy a gift for every member of your extended family, make sure you leave enough space in your suitcase when you’re getting ready to depart. Wrap any fragile items in clothes to stop them getting damaged, and remember the 100ml liquid rule if you’re planning on bringing back any liquids – read, alcohol – from your travels. It may be worth packing an extra tote bag to use on the return leg, if your luggage allowance allows. 

11. Swap paper books for an electronic reading device 

Despite e-readers being around for over 15 years now, the paper-versus-digital debate is still going strong in the literature world. We know a real book just feels different, but if you’re struggling for room, you can’t beat the flexibility and space-saving credentials that an e-reader has. You can load it up with as many books as you want and even buy more while you’re away – WiFi depending – so it really is the most efficient way to indulge when you’re chilling by the pool.  

12. Edit your packing 

If you’re organised enough to pack your suitcase in advance, wait a day or so then go and check your choices – do you really need that extra top? See if you can cull a few pieces of clothing or leave any non-essentials at home.  

Ready to get packing? Check out our latest deals and get that next holiday booked.  

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Author: Becky Wells and Hannah Stratton 

Last updated: 14.07.2023