Packing for a trip is a simple concept. Just throw in all the travel items you need and you’re good to go. Although any packing method will work, there are many practical packing methods that you may not be using.
Over the years of planning and packing for various types of trips, we’ve packed our luggage, suitcase, or backpacks in many different ways.
Some methods worked for certain trips while others would be better for a different type of trip or vacation.
Because every trip, holiday, or vacation is different, the packing method should also be different.
In this guide, we’ll explain to you how to pack the right way for a trip.
Or at least we’ll show you the different methods that you can use to pack for your adventurous and solo trips, family vacations, and anything else that involves packing. And also unpacking along the way.
PACKING METHOD #1 – LUGGAGE
Let’s start off with the first thing you’ll need for your trip – luggage.
Similar to the packing methods that we’ll go through in this article, your luggage should reflect the type of trip that you’re planning.
But before we begin…
…stop for a moment and take a good look at what your trip will look like.
Will you be moving around a lot, maybe you’re planning a longer-term trip? Or maybe this is gonna be a relaxing family vacay?
If you’ve still not decided where you want to go, you can check out our how to choose a destination article. And once you’ve decided where you want to go, plan your trip with our handy step-by-step planning guide. The links are below this section.
If you’re planning an adventurous trip or you’ll be moving around a lot, then a backpack is more appropriate.
Because carrying everything on your back will be a lot easier to get on and off buses, trains, ferries, and flights. Or imagine carrying a huge wheeled suitcase along a sandy beach to reach your seafront hut!
Wheeled luggage is a good option for slow-paced trips like relaxing holiday vacations where moving around will be minimal. Or when spending most nights in the same hotel.
# 2. PACKING CUBES / COMPRESSION BAGS
The goal of using packing cubes is to avoid having to dig through a whole suitcase whenever you need something.
Packing cubes are fabric-made containers that come in all shapes sizes. The main purpose of packing cubes is to organize and split up other travel items in luggage and backpacks.
Compression bags serve the same purpose as packing cubes.
The only difference is that you can compress the air out of the bags and get more storage room.
Just remember that compressing everything will allow you to pack more in the same amount of space. So make sure not to end up with overweight luggage.
Use different colored packing cubes so that it will be easier to understand what is inside each one.
Ok now that we’ve explained a bit too much about how practical it is to use packing cubes so….
..here are a few methods to organize with packing cubes.
- Organize by outfits. Use different cubes to categorize various outfits. Like use a cube for trousers, another for tops, one for underwear.
- Or for complete outfits. If you’re planning a short vacation, why not use the cubes to pack outfits for each day. It will save you time deciding what to wear once you’re there.
- For different family members. Instead of packing individual luggage, pack one big wheeled suitcase and split up family member’s clothes. Use different color cubes to make it easier to understand which cube is who’s.
- Different climates. Having loads of outfits for different climates in one luggage is a bit confusing because you can’t really understand what is what. If you’ll be traveling to different climate, separate clothes in different cubes. This method is also useful for trips that have different locations, like a few days by the beach, other days hiking and maybe a few days in the city. Separate everything by the type of activities.
- Miscellaneous. You know all those little things that always end up getting lost inside the luggage [jewelry, mobile chargers, accessories] put all those things in a small packing cube so you can easily find them.
Packing cubes will keep your luggage or backpack organized. And your bag won’t look like a bomb fell inside after each time you get something out.
#3. ROLL OR FOLD
Hmm, there is a huge debate about which is the best.
Many packing experts claim that rolling saves more space because it’s easier to compress clothes. Although that is true, we don’t find rolling applies to everything. Some things are just too bulky to roll up.
Imagine rolling a big bulky winter jacket for example.
What we do is roll things that are practical to roll up. Think of smaller items like T.Shirts, shorts, light trousers, dresses, skirts and so on.
Other things like jeans, jackets, zippers, hoodies, towels we fold all those things up. Certain things just seem too bulky to roll up anyway.
Our advice is to fold the bigger things and fill in all the gaps of your luggage by rolling the smaller things.
Tip: the main purpose of rolling is to compress those outfits by putting pressure on them while you roll. So try not to put too much pressure on delicate outfits like shirts or dresses. You may damage them. Actually, it would be better to fold those sorts of things.
And another tip: If you’re packing wheeled luggage, instead of packing with the bag laying flat on the ground [or bed], lift it in its upright position (resting on the wheels). Pack from bottom to top starting with heavy things like shoes and jackets and slowly make your way to the top.
When you pack this way it’s a lot more practical because you can easily see what is in your bag.
#4 FRAGILE AND DELICATE ITEMS
Most fragile or delicate possessions that we own and carry with us on vacation are either expensive or things that define who we are. Think of hats and suits or laptops, cameras and drones…
Certain things are a bit risky to carry around with us on vacation. But taking the right precautions and using the right packing methods will ensure those things are kept safe throughout your travels.
For electronics, it would be best to have a suitable carry-on specific for those sorts of things, like a camera bag with a compartment for lenses and an outer hard shell casing. And usually also a compartment for laptop.
An alternative is to use your own ordinary carry-on.
While packing your carry-on, wrap your laptop or camera in a soft beach towel and place it in the middle of all the clothes.
Make sure there is padding all the way around to ensure there is no room to stay bumping around. And add extra padding at the bottom of your bag just incase your bag takes a hard landing anything you pack will be weel protected.
Packing a hat and a suit
Whenever packing any delicate outfits always make sure your bag isn’t tightly packed.
To pack a hat, make sure to stuff the inside so it doesn’t get squashed when you pack other things. Start packing your bag and leave your hat well spaced out somewhere at the top.
It’s best to fold any bulky things and place them under the hat rather than around.
To pack a suit, open the buttons and fold the chest over to the back while leaving the arms inside. At this point you should have something that looks like an inside-out waistcoat.
Then, fold over from the back so that the chest is tucked inside. And next fold over top to bottom.
For trousers, lay them down flat facing towards you and fold on one side. Grab your jacket and place it on the trousers. Wrap the trousers around the jacket and you’re done. I’m not sure if all that makes sense but you can click here for a 2 minute easy explanation on Youtube.
#5 PACK WITH A PURPOSE
Is there anything you’ll need out of your bag during your journey (during your flight or bus ride)?
Maybe you’ve got a long layover and have booked somewhere for a few hours and you’ll need a fresh outfit?
Whatever the case, if you have certain things that you may need somewhere along the way, make them easily accessible.
For example, if you think you may need to cover yourself up during the flight, put a hoodie in the top part of your bag.
Or if you’ve got a long layover and need a fresh outfit to change into, pack a complete outfit in a packing cube and make it easily accessible at the top of your carry-on.
#6 SHOES – DIRTY CLOTHES – LIQUIDS
Remember, anything that could potentially damage the rest of the things in your bag should be put in some sort of confinement.
What we do is pack shoes and dirty clothes in separate lock tight plastic bags. Even any liquids that are well sealed in their own container should be put in a plastic bag. You never know when some liquid container may decide to explode.
If you have any liquids with some sort of pump thing, make sure it is locked. We also wrap some tape around the lid to make sure it stays that way.
Generally, these things go in a specific part of our bag, usually somewhere at the bottom.
We put them at the bottom because shoes are heavy and just seem odd to have at the top of a bag. And liquids, if they leak through their container and also manage to make it through the plastic bag, at least all that liquid (which is usually gooey liquid from shower gels, creams, etc) doesn’t go all over the clothes.
Oh, BTW. If you’re carrying any liquids, you’re only allowed to carry 100ml bottles. Anything larger must go in the check-in compartment.
I guess that brings us to the conclusion.
For any future trips, refer back to this guide. Hopefully, it will help you pack in a more practical way by following the 6 steps of travel packing methods. And those bags that look like a bomb fell inside while laying in the hotel room will be something of the past.
I occasionally still manage to mess up everything in my bag but I try to keep those occasions minimal nowadays.
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