Be honest. Are you the man who waits until it’s almost time to leave, throws a few things into a bag and disappears for two weeks armed with just three pairs of pants and a toothbrush? You’re not alone.
While most of us don’t have a butler to pack our clothes, with just a few professional tips you’ll be amazed how much fits into a small case without emerging a crumpled mess. Here’s our tried and tested guide to packing a suitcase.
Be ruthless about what to take
Decide what you’ll need for your holiday or business trip and edit carefully. Here are some quick planning tips to get you started:
- Lay out everything you want to take on a bed – clothes, gadgets, toiletries, etc.
- Coordinate colours so you can pack less.
- Separate into two piles – must-haves and nice-to-haves. Pack the must-haves first.
- Don’t forget shoes and accessories.
Rolling and folding
Once you’re happy with the pile of things that made the final cut, careful preparation is the secret to successful packing. We reckon that the best way to pack a suitcase involves a combination of rolling and folding. Here’s the winning technique:
- ROLL – your jeans, shorts, t-shirts, jumpers, gym kit and pyjamas, to save space.
- FOLD – smart trousers, jackets and shirts with collars, for fewer creases.
The less time your clothes are in a suitcase the better, at least if avoiding creases is your main priority. After you’ve ironed your clothes for the trip, let them cool down on a hanger overnight before you pack them. Otherwise any creases will ‘set’ hard during transit.
Let ironed clothes cool down on a hanger overnight before you pack them. Otherwise any creases will ‘set’ hard during transit. Click To Tweet
If your main objective is to pack as much as possible into a small space, rolling all your clothes is the way to go. The trade off is a few more creases, but at least you’ll have enough clean pants, socks and t-shirts to last the entire trip. Don’t know how to roll? Check out our how to roll a t-shirt guide for simple, step-by-step instructions.
Of course there are some items of clothing that are tricky to deal with, even for professionals. We’ve tried and tested lots of methods to find the ones that work best. Have a quick look at our step-by-step guide to folding smart shirts. Or, for a quick guide on how to pack trousers and jeans, or travelling with a suit, check out our simple infographics.
What’s the best way to pack a suitcase?
Once you’ve rolled and folded everything you want to take, filling your suitcase is incredibly straightforward. Aim to create a ‘sandwich’ of three rough layers, with the heaviest things at the bottom and the most delicate things on top. Here’s what we suggest:
|Bottom layer:||Shoes, cables and adapters, toiletries. Fill any gaps with underwear and socks, and don’t forget to make use of the valuable space inside shoes to stash small or delicate items.|
|Middle layer:||Rolled items including t-shirts, jumpers, jeans, pyjamas, gym equipment etc. Create a flat, even layer to support the clothes above.|
|Top layer:||Lay your more creasable, folded items including suits, jackets, smart shirts and trousers on top. Close your case at the last minute, when it’s time to leave.|
How to remove creases without an iron
The journey might have been hellish but, no matter how enticing the bar, it pays dividends to unpack your luggage as soon as you arrive. The sooner you get everything on a hanger, the better. If your clothes do look a little worse for wear, here’s how to smarten them up:
- Hang your shirts in a steamy bathroom while you shower to remove the worst of the creases.
- Stubborn wrinkles? Use a hairdryer. Splash your clothes with a little water and use a medium heat to gently blow the creases out. Take care not to scorch the fabric – hold the dryer a few inches away and use short blasts of heat.
- If your room has a kettle, hold your clothes over the steam as it boils.
- It requires some effort, but nothing actually beats a real iron. If you’re in a hotel, ask to borrow an iron and ironing board. 15 minutes’ work when you first arrive will have you looking cool and crisp for the rest of your trip.
Other useful travel tips
- Be ruthless about what you pack and don’t take too much. Coordinated separates that can be layered-up work best.
- Clothes get less creased in a hard case than in a soft bag.
- Rolling your clothes takes up far less space. To prevent the rolls becoming loose, try using specialist packing cubes.
- Roll thin or easily creased clothes around something bulkier, like a jumper.
- Used coiled belts to fill the necks of smart shirts and keep the collars in shape.
- Use shower caps to cover the soles of shoes.
- Toiletries can be affected by high altitude – pack them in a plastic bag inside a waterproof wash bag to prevent spills.
- A dryer sheet tucked into your shoes, trainers or sports kit minimises bad smells.
- Travelling with friends or family? Swap some clothes into each other’s luggage in case any of your luggage is lost.
- Remember to leave room for souvenirs.
- If you’re taking carry-on luggage only, check the maximum liquid allowances. Pack a solid shampoo bar and toothpaste ‘tablets’ that are available from ‘zero waste’ shops and plastic-free retailers.
If you’re a frequent traveller who has tips to share, leave your comment below or drop us a line over on our Facebook page.