Packing A Suitcase – How To Pack

Packing a suitcase is all about the best use of a limited space. The better you use the available space, the more you can pack or the smaller bag you need for your trip.

There is no one right travel packing method. Some packing techniques are though better than others, i.e. regarding the best use of space and protecting your clothes from wrinkling.

There are three main suitcase packing techniques, i.e. folding, rolling and bundle wrapping. This article explains each method in detail and with photos as well.

The Folding Travel Packing Method

Folding is the traditional ways of packing a suitcase. It is simple to use, you just fold the clothes as you do when you are putting them away in your wardrobe. The downside is that the clothes are compressed in the bag, causing creases in the folds.

The good news is that you can significantly reduce the wrinkles by folding one item over another. This give each item some support where you have folded it, i.e. so it creases less in the folds.

Folding is simple to do, just fold one item over the next, just like the photos show.

Pair of trousers on a suitcase
1. Put New Item On The Top
Trousers being folded into suitcase
2. Fold The First Item Over The Next

The Rolling Travel Packing Method

Rolling your clothes instead of folding them does not only result in less wrinkles. You can also fit more into your bag as the clothes takes less space when rolled. No wonder this is the favorite packing method of backpackers.

The rolling method also works great when packing a suitcase. Rolling is easy and you can roll most clothes. Just lay the garment down, fold back any sleeves, and roll the garment from the bottom up.

Roll luggage item from the bottom up
1. Put Item Flat And Roll From The Bottom Up
Rolled up luggage items take less space
2. Rolled Items Take Less Space

Packing tips for rolling clothes:

  • Some people put rubber band around each item to keep them neatly rolled, we have not found that necessary
  • Roll you clothes in tissue paper to reduce wrinkles further, e.g. if travelling with delicate items like evening dresses and shirts. Just place some tissue paper on top of the garment before rolling it

The Bundle Wrapping Packing Method

Most travelers are familiar with the folding and rolling techniques but fewer know the bundle wrapping method. Bundle wrapping is the most complicated way of packing a suitcase though not as complicated as it may look at first.

It can take little practice to master the bundle wrapping technique but it is worth it. Bundle wrapping is the best packing method in all aspects, i.e. both space and wrinkle wise.

You can even pack wrinkled clothes and they will come out less wrinkled when you arrive at your destination. Furthermore, you can pack more clothes which always a bonus... as long as you stay within your luggage allowance.

The bundle wrapping technique means you wrap your clothes around a central core object. This means no folds, so less wrinkles.

Just follow these bundle-wrapping steps (or the photos below) and you will master the bundle wrapping technique in no time:

  1. Decide which clothes to pack before you start as adding items afterwards can require you to start your packing all over again, i.e. start by gathering ALL the clothes you are going to pack
  2. Sort the clothes according to how wrinkle prone they are. You start with the more wrinkle prone items (go on the outside of the bundle) and end with those less wrinkle prone (closer to the core)
  3. Neatly arrange the first garment (wrinkle prone) flat without folding it. It is good to use the bag as a support (see photos), this way you are guaranteed that the final bundle will fit in the bag
  4. Put the next garment neatly on the top but place it in the opposite direction
  5. Let the collars and waistbands touch the suitcase edge, this way you can fit more items into the bundle
  6. Sleeves, skirt lengths, trouser legs, etc. should hang over the edges as you stack more and more clothes
  7. When you have stacked all the clothes, put your core object on the top of the pile. We like to use our packing cube as core object but you can use anything you consider suitable for the job
  8. Start wrapping up your bundle, starting with the last item you put in the stack. Neatly wrap the ends of each garment across the core object until you have nicely wrapped bundle and you are done

Your bundle can be as big as it needs to be, i.e. depends of the number of items in the bundle. The final bundle of all your clothes will look kind of like a pillow. You should be able to pick it up in one piece.
When unpacking your bundle, just work your way through the bundle in reverse order.

Sometimes you don´t want to unpack your bag at your travel destination, e.g. when only staying for a night or two and then moving on. You can then take out some items from your bundle and rewrap it. Your clothes will stay in much better shape than if left folded or rolled in the suitcase for couple of days.

The following photos show the bundle wrapping technique step-by-step.

All luggage items gathered together
1. Start By Gathering
Together ALL The Items And Sort Them
First item laid on top of suitcase
2. Neatly Arrange The First Item Without Folding It
Second item laid on top of first item
3. Put Next Garment On The Top In The Opposite Direction
Adding further items
4. Continue Stacking Your Items, Start With Those Most Wrinkle Prone
Ensure collars and waistbands touch edges
5. Let The Collars And Waistbands Touch The Edge Of The Suitcase
Core added to the center
6. When All Items Have Been Stacked Put The Core Object In The Middle
Sart wrapping items one at a time
7. Start Wrapping Up The Bundle, Starting With The Last Item
Continue wrapping each item
8. Continue Wrapping Up Sleeves, Trouser Legs, Etc.
Wrap each item neatly
9. Wrap Each Item As Neatly As You Can
Continue wrapping items
10. Work Your Way Through The Stack
Last item wrapped
11. Almost There
Neatly packed suitcase
12. Neatly Packed Bag

We now always use the bundle wrapping technique when packing a suitcase. Because it works, the clothes are in better shape when we arrive at our destination and we can pack more, which we always seem to need.

We recommend trying the bundle wrapping technique next when packing a suitcase. It is not as complicated as it may look at first glance and we are sure that you (like us) will be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

Few Travel Packing Tips

Packing a suitcase is about making the most of the limited space available, i.e. to fill all space as efficiently as possible. These travel packing tips may be useful in this respect (no matter which suitcase packing techniques you prefer):

  • Travel Packing Lists can reduce the risk of forgetting any must haves and can help you to stay organized when packing a suitcase
  • Compression bags are great if you are travelling with bulky items. They shrink them down to a fraction of their size, giving you up to 80% more space
  • Packing Organizers (packing cubes, folders) can help you to stay organized when packing / travelling and allow you to fit more into your bag
  • Packing folders are great for business travelers and those travelling with more formal wear, e.g. when going on a romantic city break or on a cruise
  • Socks and underwear can be excellent fillers in shoes and empty pockets of space
  • Bring something to keep your dirty items separated from clean items, you can get special laundry bags or use plastic bags or even packing organizers

This video offers further travel packing tips for packing a suitcase.