The Ultimate Guide to Packing Your Suitcase
The Ultimate Guide to Packing Your Suitcase Too often travelers struggle to drag tippy suitcases through airports, only to have them fall over or roll away when you stop and try to rest. These bulbous, unbalanced suitcases are packed to the brim, making it almost impossible to roll around beside you. Whether you prefer a 2-wheeled bag or a spinner, a stout hard-side luggage or soft-set, lightweight suitcase, a few guidelines will help you pack all that you need while achieving optimal luggage functionality. Always Pack Bottom to Top: One of the biggest complaints in the luggage industry is an unstable bag. Travelers buy bags and stuff them to the limit, only to find the bag constantly tipping over, or incapable of smoothly wheeling across the ground. Often, the issue is not with the bag itself, or the “stuffing” per say, but rather the way in which the bag is packed. Almost every piece of luggage is made to turn on its side for packing convenience. While this makes it easier to pack, it’s not a great representation of how the bag will actually travel. If you pack the heaviest items (shoes, hair care products, belts, etc.) on the bottom of a bag in this orientation (telescoping handle on the ground), then you are actually weighing down one side of the bag. This will cause even the sturdiest of bags to wobble and wheel improperly. A better strategy is to pack all the heaviest items along the wheel base, even when packing a hard-side bag with even space on each side of the zipper. Placing shoes, belts, and toiletries over the wheels helps the bag maintain a low center of gravity. That way, a spinner bag will glide smoothly alongside you and a 2-wheel “rollaboard” will float along behind you with ease. This also keeps the bags from tipping over excessively whenever you stop to gather yourself. The bottom line is that your travel will be much easier if you pack bottom to top. Save the Expansion Zipper: Bag expansion is a must in the modern era of tightened airline restrictions. That extra inch of space can go a long way towards keeping an essential item with you at all times. Most people view the expansion zipper as an opportunity to pack more FOR your destination. That way they can bring extra clothes and items for the trip. This might work for the journey THERE, but what about the RETURN journey when your items are disheveled and you’re stuffing souvenirs? The expansion zipper should be more of a safety valve than a packing tool. It should give you that extra little bit of space you need for the return journey when your items are more disorganized and you have extra souvenirs to bring home. Stuffing the bag out too early (The trip to your destination) will make it almost impossible to re-pack when you need to come home. Just do yourself a favor, sacrifice the extra space on the way there, so you have it on the way back. Roll Your Clothes or Use Packing Cubes: Folding clothes the traditional way and stacking them in your suitcase might seem tidy, but it actually wastes a lot of space. The space between stacks is virtually lost, and the remaining space is never enough to smash in everything that you need. Instead of folding your clothes, you can carve out a lot more space by rolling like clothing items together. For example, roll all of your shorts or tee-shirts together into a cylinder, then stack or smash the different rolled items next to each other to maximize the space and keep your clothing from wrinkling as an added bonus. Packing cubes are a helpful tool to keep you more organized. Pack-able cubes that allow you to group outfits together before your trip. They are thin enough that they don’t occupy too much space, and come in a versatile set of sizes and orientations to pack any item. Much like rolling your clothes, packing cubes help you maximize every square inch of space you’re given by your carry-on or checked luggage. Wear Heavy Clothes/Shoes/Coats: While warmer clothes and jackets are essential, they occupy a ton of space. Trying to fit them in a bag with the rest of year gear, especially a carry-on is a nightmare, forcing you to make difficult decisions on what to take and what to leave. To avoid getting caught between a rock and a hard place, try to wear the bulkiest items in your packing detail during the trip. You may look a little funky if you’re flying to a tropical island with a rain jacket, jeans, and boots on, but you’ll be able to stow away so much more in the newly available space. Take Advantage of the Maintenance Zipper: Luggage rail bars for the telescoping handle take up space and make the packing surface uneven in your bag. One trick to maximize the space, and smooth out the packing surface is to pack your socks in between the railing inside the maintenance zipper. This exploits the otherwise lost packing space between the two bars. To take it a step further, place your rolled tee-shirts on each side of the rail bars to create a relatively flat surface from tee-shirt roll, to telescoping rail bar, to socks in between. Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll make the most of your bag, making it easier to pack, and easier to move.