Heading out on a bucket list adventure? Lucky you! We’re avid travelers, too, and we’re eager to share our advice on the best way to pack a suitcase. With just a handful of helpful tips—like how to pack shoes and where to place which items in your bag—you can steer clear of excess baggage fees and avoid lugging an overloaded suitcase. Because we want you to feel relaxed, free, and unburdened on your next trip.


The Best Way To Pack Clothes In A Suitcase

We’ll get to the best way to pack clothes in a suitcase. But first, start by laying out all the clothes you think you need to take. Then, cut that amount in half. Trust us—you’ll never use as many items as you initially plan to pack. And if you do come up short and long for an extra beach dress or a warmer sweater, purchase something locally as a memento from your trip. Note: If you’ll be able to do laundry while traveling, you can pack even less.


When selecting which items to take, opt for solid colors and neutral tones so that everything can be easily mixed and matched. Use accessories to add accents of style and color. For example, pack a lightweight printed scarf, a brightly colored tote bag, a trendy pair of sunglasses, or a boldly patterned reusable bottle.


Comfort is key while traveling, so be sure to include items that make you look and feel good. Bring dual-purpose clothes, like a comfortable, breathable travel outfit that can serve double duty as hiking, yoga, or lounge wear.


Once you’ve culled your travel clothing, it’s time to pack. The best way to pack clothes in a suitcase is to tightly roll the soft items and carefully fold the stiff items. Knit tops, t-shirts, denim, cotton pants and shorts, and workout clothes can all be rolled and will remain relatively wrinkle free. Fold dress clothing and stiff items like button-down shirts, slacks, jackets, and blazers.


We love using ultra-light packing cubes to keep clothing organized by type. There are also plenty of compression organizers on the market if you’re looking to reduce the overall volume of your clothes. When packing everything in your bag, start with the heaviest items at the bottom. Strategically place lighter items and anything you’ll want to access quickly at the top.


How To Pack Shoes 

Before adding shoes to your bag, decide how many pairs you need. As fun as it is to have a variety of footwear on hand, shoes take up far too much space. You can probably get away with only three pairs of shoes for nearly any trip: comfortable trainers for walking and working out, nice shoes for dressing up, and sandals/flip-flops for warm weather or boots for rain and snow.


Wear the heaviest, bulkiest shoes on the plane (you can slip them off to be more comfortable once you’re on board). Stuff socks into the shoes that you pack to save space and help the shoes keep their shape. Protect them—and keep the rest of your belongings clean—by storing shoes in ultra-light shoe bags or a travel laundry bag. Then pack them around the edges of your suitcase.


Bonus Dos & Don’ts

When considering the best way to pack a suitcase, pay attention to these additional tips:


  • Pack a reusable water bottle, which can be refilled once you’ve passed the airport security checkpoint and all throughout your trip. The 18-oz. Avana® Ashbury bottle fits nicely in most airline seat pockets and keeps water refreshingly cool.
  • Opt for an e-reader instead of books or magazines that add extra weight.
  • Take a packable tote for groceries, market produce, and any other purchases.
  • A lightweight, fast-drying Turkish towel is a travel must. It works as a towel, a beach blanket, a poolside sarong, an after-bath wrap/robe, a sun shield, or a scarf.
  • Transfer toiletries to travel-size containers, or simply buy what you need on arrival.
  • Pack jewelry in a pill box or a small fishing tackle box.
  • In your carry-on bag, include a change of clothes and (if you’re headed to a beach destination) a bathing suit. Even if your luggage is delayed, your enjoyment of the trip won’t be!
  • Finally, be sure to check the baggage policy for the airline you plan to use. In Europe and Australia, for example, luggage weight limits are often lower than in the U.S.


Start your trip with a properly-packed and well-organized bag and you’ll save time and hassle in transit and once you reach your destination. And remember—the more space you save in your luggage at the start of your trip, the more room you’ll have to add any treasures that you may find!


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