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How-To · June 19, 2015

How to Pack a Suitcase: 4 Tips to Help You Save Space and Travel Light

Be on the Lookout for Unexpected Spaces

This first tip applies throughout the entire packing process. No matter how efficient you are, it's easy to overlook certain spaces that accidentally go to waste. For example, you can stash toiletries or electronics inside a pair of shoes, or wrap a belt, tie, or other thin object along a bag's inner lining. Empty containers are also common culprits: water bottles can store any number of things, and travel-sized grooming containers shouldn't be any larger than needed.

Don't Just Make a List, Lay It Out

There's a good chance you map your travel wardrobe by the number of days you're away (at least we hope you do). But if you really want to optimize, you can take it one step further. After choosing the clothes you want to bring, arrange them on your bed according to outfit. This gives you a chance to visualize, and possibly consolidate: Is there a shirt you can wear twice, instead of once? A pair of shoes that happens to match all of your outfits? Every item you're able to cut is another slot in your suitcase.

Fold Smarter

Once you've assembled your final lineup, it's time to start foldingand it's amazing how far technique can go when it comes to saving space. We recommend choosing a strategy according to your itinerary:

If you'll be staying put for the entire trip...try interfolding your clothes to minimize wrinkles. This trick involves stacking all your clothesopen and flat, starting with pantsand then folding them all together to form a tightly-packed bundle. It won't take any longer than individual folding, and will ensure that all your items arrive crisp and neatly pressed. You can find a full tutorial (with handy pictures) right here.

If you'll be moving from place to can roll each outfit into a clothing burrito, which saves space while allowing for easy access. Just start with each outfit's largest component (e.g. jeans), layer the other items on top, and tightly roll the bundle before securing it with a rubber band. For a more visual guide, check out our video tutorial here.

Layers, Layers, Layers

No, this has nothing to do with warmth. Once your clothes are all properly folded, you'll want to place them in your suitcase. This is where the layers come in: As a rule, you should start with the heaviest/bulkiest objects before moving to the lightest.

Your first layer should consist of shoes, bags, and other unwieldy items: Fill in any gaps with smaller sundries like underwear and charging cables. Next, layer on any standard apparel, like pants, sweaters, and t-shirts. (They can be folded using either technique above.) Finally, top it all off with more delicate itemsdress shirts, linen blazers, etc. This not only prevents any unwanted crushing, but allows your clothes to compress more easily as the suitcase closes.

For more travel-ready tips and tricks, watch our video on 6 Packing Hacks Every Guy Should Have in His Arsenal.


Nathaniel Nagy

Copywriter, cold brew advocate, purveyor of handcrafted birthday haikus since 2009.