In 2008, airlines started to charge for checked baggage. Passengers were left with a choice: pay extra for their luggage, or relearn how to pack their bags to maximize space.
Packing your bags to save space is an art form that can be accomplished by employing a few simple techniques. To maximize the space in your luggage, it’s often more about how you pack than what you pack.
Tips for Small Suitcases
Most trips that will last 10 days or less don’t require more than a carry on or small suitcase, if you pack smart. With some strategy, you can take everything you need without sacrificing style or comfort. Skeptical? Try the following tips on how to pack a small suitcase and see how efficient you can be.
- Roll Your Clothes: Tightly roll the clothes to prevent wrinkles, then pack them into a packing cube to keep them from unrolling in transit. New to rolling? There are pros and cons of rolling versus folding.
- Combine Your Outfits: Two pairs of pants and three shirts can turn into 6 different outfits. No need to pack entirely new clothes for every single day.
- Reconsider the Shoes: Find a comfortable shoe that looks great and can reduce how many you carry. Consider wearing bulkier shoes on the plane and put the sandals in your bag.
- Buy Toiletries Later: If you’re running out of space, consider buying toiletries after you arrive.
Still running out of room? Wear an extra shirt or sweatshirt on the plane to free up space in your luggage.
How to Fold Clothes to Save Space in Luggage
Trying to get as many clothes into your bag as possible can all come down to how you fold them and where they go in the suitcase.
Many items, like jeans, shorts, and t-shirts, can be rolled. To maximize the space and simplify getting dressed each day, put your undergarments in the middle, then roll the outfit around them. Grab one bundle, and you’re ready for the day.
There are some things, however, that shouldn’t be rolled. Delicate items, certain pants, suits, and sports jackets should be folded to prevent wrinkles and damage. Fold along the seam to prevent unsightly creases, then load them vertically instead of stacking them. This method allows you to see each item without dumping the entire bag.
Related content: See our guide on How to Pack a Suit in a Carry-On Bag
Using Packing Cubes to Save Space
Organization is key to packing efficiently. Throwing everything into your bag in a jumble, then sitting on the suitcase to get it closed makes for good comedy, but it’s not practical and can create a lot more work later when everything is a wrinkled mess.
Don’t randomly shove things into your baggage wherever they will fit. Maximize the space you have using soft-sided packing cubes to organize things by the day or activity. Then, place them in your luggage and use any leftover space to tuck in smaller items and accessories.
Using packing cubes, you compartmentalize your items before traveling, and they stay neatly organized when you arrive.
For some pro tips, see our guide on How to Use Packing Cubes To Get Organized.
Using Expandable Bags to Save Space
Get the most out of your small suitcase by choosing one that expands. Expansion zippers can be left closed or unzipped to increase the interior packing capacity when you need it.
Using the space-saving packing tips above, you can keep the extension zipper closed on the way out. On the trip back home, unzip it to expand the bag so you can fit in souvenirs and anything else you picked up on our travels.
Keep in mind, however, that some expandable bags can get too big for the aiplane’s overhead compartment when overstuffed, which will force you to check the bag. To avoid this hassle and getting stuck with checked-baggage charges, follow these five tips to avoid overpacking.
Efficient packing makes for far less stressful travel. With a bit of planning and these space-saving tips, you can have everything you need without lugging around more baggage than necessary.