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6 Tips for Packing Your Suitcase More Efficiently

After the challenges of the past year, it’s safe to say that most of us are itching to make our triumphant return to travel. And with the light shining brightly at the end of the quarantine tunnel, it’s definitely not too early to start getting prepared for that next trip. 

So, on that note, consider the following six tips on how to pack a suitcase efficiently. (And maybe, once you’ve mastered the art of perfectly packing your bags, you can start looking for other ways to spend that checked-bag fee on your next getaway.)

  • Start big, then cut back: Gather all the clothes you think you’ll need on your trip, then start paring them down. Among the keepers, choose clothes that will match up well color-wise, and keep more tops than bottoms. For a week-long trip, a good starting point is the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 rule — which calls for limiting the clothing you pack to five sets of socks and underwear, four tops, three bottoms, two pairs of shoes and one hat. (Of course, these numbers can be adjusted to suit your specific needs based on your trip plans.) Then throw in a swimsuit if you think you’ll need one, as well as a suit jacket if your itinerary includes any activities that might call for more formal attire.
    Pro tip: For packing efficiency, leave behind any items that fall into the “just in case I need it” category. The need for these things rarely actually materialize, and if they do, you can just buy them on the trip.
  • Roll with it: To both maximize space in your suitcase and prevent your clothes from wrinkling, roll rather than fold your softer clothes such as underwear, T-shirts and jeans. With tops, start with your usual folding technique, then roll them up tightly before packing them. (To really reduce the footprint of your T-shirts, try the military roll.) With pants, put the legs together, fold in half, then roll from the waist down. For stiffer garments like starched dress shirts and blazers that don’t roll down well, careful folding is a better route to take.
    Pro tip: Because how to pack a dress shirt in a suitcase — and especially doing so without wrinkling — seems to be a common (and perpetual) challenge, we figured a bit of guidance in this department might be in order. First, button the shirt up, all the way to the top button. Next, lay it face-down on a hard, flat surface like a table or a bed, and spread it out with the sleeves outstretched to the side. One by one, fold each sleeve inward across the back of the shirt, and once the sleeve is laying across the shirt’s back, fold it upward about halfway up the sleeve — so that the cuff hits the back of the shirt’s collar. Next, fold in each side of the shirt in thirds, so that you end up with three stacked sections, each roughly the width of the collar. Lastly, fold the shirt in half from the bottom up, then fold it in half from the bottom up once more if you need to do so for space-maximization purposes. If you’ve done all the folding right, when the folded shirt is facing up, the full collar will be visible and unfolded.
  • Take a Tetris approach: To pack in as much gear as possible, aim to fill every available inch of space in your suitcase. For example, when packing shoes in your suitcase, stuff them with socks first. Then place them heel-to-toe in a plastic shopping bag to keep your clothes from getting dirty, and pack them at the bottom of your suitcase. (Bonus: You can use the shopping bag later for packing wet or dirty clothes on the return leg of your trip.) Once all of your larger gear is packed in, fill in any suitcase gaps with smaller items like your belt, socks, underwear, phone charger, etc.
    Pro tip: To keep your clothes better organized and as compact as possible, consider buying packing cubes. Usually lightweight and thin, these accessories can also serve as building blocks to help with your Tetris approach to perfectly packing.
  • Pack your first outfit last: If you know you’ll be heading straight out to dinner, a meeting or a similar event upon arrival, set the clothes you’ll be wearing for this outing aside, and pack them last. This way, when you arrive, you’ll save time by not having to dig through your entire suitcase to find this first-day apparel, and it’s less likely to wrinkle when packed on top, too.
  • Lock down your liquids: You likely know the drill on this one. First, organize any liquids you’ll be taking on the trip into a separate, clear bag. Then, pack this bag in an easy-to-reach spot so it can be quickly and easily pulled out as required when passing through airport security. Of course, to maximize space in your suitcase, opt for travel sizes with your essential toiletries like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.
  • Wear your bulkier items on the trip: To free up space in your suitcase — and to keep from getting cold during your travels — wear your bulkiest items on the plane or during the drive rather than packing them. For example, if you’re headed for the beach, pack your flip-flops while wearing your sneakers on the trip, as the latter takes up much more suitcase space if packed. And while a light jacket can be a real space-eater when packed, it can be great to have when facing temperature changes during your trip, and it can easily be tied around your waist or thrown over your shoulder when you’re not wearing it.

Now that you’ve got the 411 on making the most of your suitcase space, head over to the Batton website to grab some choice apparel to fill it with. Or to see and try on our gear in person, visit one of the 50-plus retailers throughout the Eastern and Midwestern United States who carry our apparel.