The best way to pack your suitcase for your next trip

The best way to pack your suitcase for your next trip

As someone who just got off her 79th flight this *year* a few hours ago (yes it is April 12, and I do mean since January 1), I certainly know a thing or two about packing a suitcase. It can be a little different packing for work-related trips compared to vacations but overall, similar principles still apply. So let’s talk about the best way to pack your suitcase for your next trip.

This was taken on my honeymoon in Santorini, Greece.
Santorini, Greece where I spent my honeymoon

1.Use packing cubes

Packing cubes were honestly something I thought was totally unnecessary for a long time. It wasn’t until I was in Hawaii for 8 days with my friends in October and my friend Stephanie was using them that I realized it was something I needed to try. On that trip, I succeeded in not checking a bag, however my carryon was so stuffed that the second I unzipped my bag there was practically stuff everywhere in an explosion of bathing suits, underwear, dresses and toiletries. Not fun. And also not easy to find that one thing that I needed that was definitely at the bottom of the big ol’ pile.

This is where packing cubes come in. For the trip we just took to Hawaii last week, I was able to organize so much better. For this trip which was vacation, I had a cube for each: bathing suits, underwear/socks/bras, workout clothes, during the day clothes, and nice clothes. However when I travel for work, my cubes are slightly different: underwear/socks/bras/panty hose, workout clothes, non-work clothes, and work clothes.

One of my FAVORITE parts about using packing cubes is when I am going on vacation and I am not sure the size of the suitcase I am going to be taking…

Has this ever happened to you before… you figure out everything you are bringing, fold it up all nice and neat in your suitcase only to realize that you aren’t going to fit it all in? Then you have to unpack everything to move to a larger suitcase and inevitably the nice, neat piles you folded are now *not* in nice, neat piles anymore?

Your problem is now solved with packing cubes. Once everything is packed in the cubes you can just arrange the packing cubes in your suitcase, if they don’t fit, it takes less than 30 seconds and zero re-folding to move to a different suitcase. Eliminate that frustration, get packing cubes. I promise that using them is the best way to pack your suitcase. The kind that I have are currently $25.99 on Amazon so you aren’t looking at breaking the bank, but you certainly will be eliminating the frustration.

Here are the packing cubes that I have. However if you follow the link, you can see there are different colors (maybe if you are packing for two kids you might want two colors) and a variety of sizes. They are seriously the best way to pack your suitcase!

2. Pack with a list

Ok so going for full transparency, I do not utilize lists for my business trips. I practically pack the same thing over and over for these so it would be a bit of a waste. However, vacations are different so I absolutely use lists here. And unless you travel regularly, they really will be helpful for you as well.

Why spend time making a list when you could be spending that time packing? Well it will help you really think of everything. I have certainly been guilty of forgetting important things like socks, toothpaste, or my charger because I needed to charge up but I didn’t unplug it from the wall when I left on my early morning flight. And it’s not like you can’t purchase these things once you reach your destination, but this is taking valuable time out of your vacation.

The other important thing about lists is it will help you think of the things that you should bring that you don’t normally interact with on a day-to-day basis. For example, I have a GoPro that I don’t bring with me on work trips but I often bring it on vacation. Since I don’t see the GoPro regularly, it’s easy to forget about it when I am packing for vacation, especially if I am packing in a crunch.

3. Wrinkle-free clothing

People often argue about whether or not you should roll or fold the items in your suitcase to avoid looking like a hot mess when you arrive at your destination or spending an hour ironing everything. My favorite solution is to consider the items that I am packing and how wrinkle-prone they are and to just pack the items that are less likely to wrinkle during the trip. Side note: This maybe because I dislike ironing unless it involves me throwing something in the dryer, haha. If you are deciding between two shirts and you know that one of them will require ironing and one won’t, just pack the wrinkle free option!

4. Consider the weight and size of the items that you are packing

I am heading to Iceland in a few weeks and it will be colder there than it is where I live. Instead of packing my winter coat, I will be bringing it on the plane with me. My coat is big and it would take up too much space if I put it in my suitcase.

*As a reminder the FAA limits the number of items you can carry onto a plane to two; a carryon that fits in the overhead compartment like a roller board bag and a personal item such as a purse that fits underneath your seat.*

FAA restrictions aside, most airlines don’t give you a hard time about things like jackets or pillows, and these things are not [usually] included in your two item limit.

You should also consider the weight of the items that you are packing. For example, my husband wanted to bring his Carolina Blue Nikes on our trip to Hawaii since the Heels were in the Final Four (and won the NCAA championship…go Heels!). These shoes are heavyyyyy. Much heavier than his sandals that he was also bringing to Hawaii. He opted to wear these shoes, rather than his sandals onto the plane to save weight in the suitcase.

Cheering on our favorite tall drinks while enjoying the semi-final game against Oregon.
Cheering on our favorite Tar Heels in the semi-final game against Oregon April 2017.

5. Think about security lines and restrictions

If you are just bringing a carryon on your next flight and you do not have TSA pre-check, or you are traveling through an airport that is not TSA pre-check capable, consider the security restrictions BEFORE you leave for the airport. The best way to pack your suitcase is to keep your liquids, gels, or aerosols (in your 3-1-1) bag in an outside pocket or on the very top of your suitcase. This will absolutely help you speed through security as you won’t have to dig for your bag of liquids and hold up the line behind you.

If you travel even a few times a year, I would certainly recommend looking into TSA pre-check. It is very nice not to have to go through the scanners, take your shoes off, or remove your computer or 3-1-1 liquids from your bag. It’s not that expensive and it is good for 5 years. It is also covered as part of some travel credit card benefits, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Hopefully these 5 tips helped you learn the best way to pack your suitcase for your next trip. Do you have any pointers from your own travel experience? I would love to hear them in the comments! Also, for more travel-tips be sure to subscribe to my list so you won’t miss a post!

Currently reading: “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne

Currently listening to: “Relentless” by Tim Grover

Me at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
Me at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona



Also published on Medium.

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