How To Pack Efficiently
Packing for a trip is an art. You might be able to get away with cramming everything in a bag, but read these tips for some better ideas.
You have to admit, not everything about traveling is great. Even though it’s worth it, you do have to give up some luxuries. For example, you can’t take everything you own with you.
Some of us try. Maybe you’re the “take-as-many-bags-as-necessary” type who refuses to leave anything behind, even if that means three bags for an overnight stay ten minutes from home. Or maybe you’re the “sit-on-your-suitcase-so-it-will-zip” kind of packer—you can fit three weeks of clothes in a 3-foot duffel bag. Granted, it’s a 3-foot, 100-pound duffel bag, but you’ve got plenty of extra underwear.
Okay, so that’s gotten you this far in life. But with airlines adding fees for additional bags (or even the first one) and overweight luggage, over-packing can cost you. Even if you’re not flying, every suitcase you pack is another hunk of dead weight you have to drag everywhere you go. And cramming it all together makes for wrinkled clothes and broken zippers.
Don’t fret, dear traveler. MCRT is here to help with some tips for packing it all up right.
Yeah, yeah. No-brainer, right? I can feel your eyes rolling already. Hear me out.
The best way to decide what you’re going to pack is to think about where you’re going, how long you’ll be there, and what you’ll be doing there.
What’s the weather going to be like? If it could go either way, then you have an excuse to pack for every scenario. Otherwise, don’t pack your goose down jacket for your Mexican beach trip, “just in case.”
How long is your trip? A good rule is to pack enough outfits for each day, plus one extra and any special clothes you need. If you’re going to be staying for a while and you’ll be able to do laundry, pack a week’s worth of clothes. Socks and undies are small enough; take a couple extra, if you have room.
As painful as it may be, leave behind anything you don’t definitely need. Do you really have to take your hair dryer, curling iron, flat iron, hairspray, gel, and three hats? And you can probably do without your iPod alarm clock or free weights for a while. Remember, you’re going this trip to get away, so…get away.
Pack outfits, not clothes.
Your first instinct might be to go to your closet and pull out everything you might wear. Instead, think about it in days. You’ll wear that shirt the day you leave, this one on Tuesday, the brown one on Wednesday… you get the idea.
An outfit doesn’t always mean a new set of clothes. You can re-wear your pants and overshirts as long as you don’t drop ravioli on them. Try to pack outfits you can mix and match. We’re all about saving space here.
Roll, stack, and stuff.
You might have heard of rolling your clothes, or maybe you already do it. It does save space, but if rolled poorly, your clothes can come out looking like a neurotic Pug’s forehead. Follow this method, and your clothes will be ready to wear.
For shirts, lay them face down (if it’s a button-down, make sure that all of the buttons are done up, even the collar) and smooth out the bumps. Fold the sleeves back so that they’re parallel with the sides of the shirt. Then, fold the edges of the shirt in over the sleeves so they meet in the middle—it should look kind of like double doors. Finally, carefully roll up the bottom of the shirt up to the collar. Make it small enough to hold together, but not too tight or it will crease.
Any shoes or heavy items go on the bottom of the bag. Next are pants and shorts. On top of them, t-shirts and skirts. Any button-down shirts sit on the top, collar facing up. If anything is especially thin and wrinkle-prone, lay it on top.
Socks and underwear go in your bag’s pockets. Otherwise, but them with the pants. You can also just roll and cram them around the sides once you’ve packed everything. That goes for anything else that doesn’t wrinkle or need to be presentable (PJs, undershirts, swimsuits).
You’ll come back with more than you had when you left.
Unless you hate memories or are hitch-hiking broke, you’re going to get souvenirs or gifts. Plan for that extra space now.
If you’re going to have a lot of them, pack an empty bag inside your luggage. You can fill that one with your purchases. You’ll have an extra bag on the way back, but at least you can avoid some trouble (and fees, if you’re flying) on the trip out.
Packing might not be your favorite thing, but at least it can be relatively painless. The more you travel thinking like this, the better you’ll get at packing efficiently. You might even think up your own tricks. Then maybe you can actually enjoy your trip.
Bonus Packing Tips:
- If you have a stand-up bag, think about which way things are going to shift when it’s upright. Put heavier items toward the bottom side.
- If there’s anything you can buy when you get there (like toiletries), way and get them there to save some extra room.