How to Effectively Pack a Suitcase

Those of you who travel frequently for work know the challenges and restrictions when it comes to packing a suitcase to take on a flight. With baggage size limits gradually growing smaller by the moment, many travelers are opting for lighter luggage to avoid hefty baggage fees. After gaining many frequent flyer miles, I would like to share some tips with you on how to effectively pack a suitcase.

I am definitely a girlie-girl who has to take several changes of clothes and shoes and a whole array of toiletries and beauty products when I travel. Since my laptop, notebooks, and other supplies needed to do my job take up about an entire personal-size bag, I had to learn how to pack efficiently for every trip. Plus, who wants to haul heavy luggage around or take the risk of checked bags getting lost at the airport?

“How can you fit four pairs of shoes in your luggage?” This is a question I heard from my former colleagues. Easy—I have small feet! Shoes have to be strategically planned. Always wear the bulkiest pair of shoes on the plane and on the trip home to save space. Flats and flip-flops don’t take up much space, so they are easy to pack. I also pack all of my socks and electronic cords inside my shoes to save space in my suitcase.

Packing is all about the layering. Layer the items in your suitcase and pack layers of clothing so you are comfortable on the road and have different style options. Neutral-colored clothes (black, white, gray) are easier to match and can create a variety of looks without too much planning. Shoes and other bulky/heavy items should be placed in the suitcase first as the bottom layer. This will also make your bag roll easier. Next, layer in bulkier clothes such as pants and sweaters. I generally fold pants and bulky sweaters and roll all of my other clothing. Next, fill in the nooks and crannies of the suitcase with rolled clothes and other items you might need to have access to during the flight. My oversized purse or backpack (small, personal bag) is for my laptop, notebook, makeup, and electronic device chargers. I always pack my liquids in a clear zipper bag that is waterproof and place in an outside compartment of my carry-on suitcase where it is easy to access for security purposes. This way if a liquid toiletry does leak, it is not all over my electronics or clothing.

Another tip I want to share with you is to purchase space-saving bags or packing cubes for larger trips or to use in the winter when clothes are bulkier. Ziploc, Samsonite, Sharper Image, and other brands have these bags available for purchase. You can get reasonable options for about $10. It is also worth purchasing a clear, quart-sized plastic bag with a zipper for toiletries instead of using Ziploc bags which tend to tear easily. I always pack a trash bag for dirty clothes, and when you smash all the air out of the bag, it condenses your clothing to fit better. Space-saving bags work great for this purpose as well.

For all of you ladies and some gentlemen, try to stock up on samples or trial-sized toiletry items for easier packing, especially since the sizes are limited to three ounces for liquid, creams, and gels. You can receive free samples from many retailers or cosmetic counters. Don’t worry about packing shampoos, conditioners, or soaps that the hotel provides for you unless you have skin/hair sensitivities.

Other items I can’t live without include a lightweight scarf, a light sweater or jacket, and my headphones. All of these items can be worn on the plane in layers, so no packing is necessary. You can always shed layers if you get too warm. Plus, a sweater or jacket can make a nice pillow for your flight.

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